That’s cracking, Grommit

I’ve said before that one of my favourite books is ‘The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. In one episode Douglas Adams explains what happens to all the missing biros that we lose without being able to fathom where they have gone:

There followed a long period of painstaking research during which [Veet Voojagig] visited all the major centres of biro-loss through out the galaxy, and eventually came up with a rather quaint little theory which quite caught the public imagination at the time. Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by Humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids, and super-intelligent shades of the colour blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to biro life-forms. And it was to this planet that unattended biros would make their way. Slipping quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely biroid lifestyle. Responding to highly biroid-orientated stimuli, in fact, leading the Biro equivalent of the good life. And as theories go, this was all very fine and pleasant, until Veet Voojagig suddenly claimed to have found this planet and to have worked there for a while, driving a limousine for a family of cheap green retractables.

So I had this vision of this wormhole, this crack, through which these pens slipped. Much like the crack in the universe in Phillip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’:

There, somewhere in the middle of the air, was a tiny, microscopic crack in her universe. It felt as if the air was numb around it. [Lyra] wiggled her fingers around the tiny crack. Yes, it was still small enough; no specter would pass through.

I love the idea that we are so close to something else, within a  paper of another world, close enough to sense it but not experience it. Multiverses. It’s an area, ripe to explore in fiction.

This week’s prompt from Charli Mills is July 30, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves a crack.  I toyed with the idea of a multiverse in a flash piece but, since I have been continuing the story of Mary and Rupert I had to drop that for another time and tried this…

Crack in the Façade.

‘Come on Mum, they’re here.’

Following Penny, Mary eyed Rupert and his mother.

While Rupert and Penny bought drinks, Mary sat opposite Alison, surprised how Alison had aged.

Alison said, ‘Thank you for coming. I wanted you to have this. It was your grandma’s.’

The ring was beautiful. ‘Your father should never have given me it.’

Mary nodded. Her anger – how could he have given this to his mistress – was tempered by the touching gesture.’

‘He said the stones matched my eyes. Fool.’

Mary nodded.

‘Careful, Mum. Your face has cracked. That’s a smile.’

‘It’s not. It’s wind.’



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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22 Responses to That’s cracking, Grommit

  1. Charli Mills says:

    Such a painful crack to follow–no wonder multiverses seem tempting! I’m glad you’re not escaping to other realms and are seeing this rich story through. It stands well on it’s own and I can just imagine the tension emanating from Mary. She’s going to crack! Great flash!


  2. lorilschafer says:

    I like this piece, but I confess I’m intrigued by the possibilities of the multiverse(s). Hope you’ll revisit the idea when your current series is done!


  3. Sarah Brentyn says:

    Fantastic. I didn’t expect to meet the mum. I wasn’t sure she was still alive. I’m getting really caught up in these characters’ lives. Nice job!

    Another vote for the multiverse / parallel universe flash. You must write one. We all await your brilliant story.

    P.S. Okay. I love Hitchhiker’s Guide so give me a break here when I ask if you have seen the ridiculous, absurd, so-bad-it’s-hilarious movie.


  4. somemaid says:

    Great end to that piece. I loved the wind bit at the end.
    On the subject of biros I discovered a stash of them yesterday, underneath the 3 year old’s bed. This could explain where they go in my house, but I suspect they’ve really been eaten by the pen monster.


  5. Archaeologist says:

    Your talk of wormholes in space made me think of an H G Wells story I read long ago, and meant that I had to spend the last hour tracking it down. This involved trying to find the collected short stories of H G Wells, made more difficult as my younger son, the Teacher is an English graduate and has rearranged the bookshelves devoted to English Literature to match his interests. So after getting side tracked by finding ‘A Shropshire Lad’, and re-reading a few of Houseman’s poems.
    Finally I found the book I was wanting, read three of four stories until I found the one I wanted.
    It’s called, ‘The remarkable case of Davidson’s eyes’. If you haven’t read it, do so, it is a wonderful mixture of the prosaic and the wonderful.


  6. Norah says:

    I don’t share your love of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide, though I do now appreciate knowing where all the biros go. I did try ‘reading’ ‘Hitch Hiker’ on audiobook – thought I should since everyone raves about it, but couldn’t take to it. The pictures weren’t good enough! I thought it was a little too like Star Trek meets Monty Python, neither of which I am a fan of (though I love John Cleese, especially in Fawlty Towers). So while I think a story about multiverses would be great, I’m not sure if I would be a fan – happy to try though! Having said that, I am enjoying the continuing story of Mary. Was it really the wind, or was she trying to camouflage a smile? Great flash!


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  8. Annecdotist says:

    I like the idea of the hitchhiker’s guide and have heard snippets on the radio – or was it even on TV – but I’ve never read the whole thing and doubt I ever will. Sorry!
    Loved your Flash though, both poignant and funny which is quite an achievement.
    Anyway it seems you’re to blame that we are all committed to the multiverse this week if we accept Charli’s challenge. Presumably you’re halfway there with yours?


    • TanGental says:

      Heck no! It was a total surprise. I’ll be careful what I say in future! As for the HHGTTG it’s best on radio and as with all comedy is perfect in retrospect but initially is patchy with some hilarious pieces. I heard it when I was 20 so it may not have worked as well if I heard it now. Looking forward to Anne through a looking glass..!


  9. Douglas Adams was great being interviewed also. I have never forgotten one where he told a story about buying a porsche after making so much money from the book but he said he could never drive it as every time he got in it he thought he “was going to invade Poland.”
    Really enjoyed your flash. I can see all your flashes in an illustrated book. Mind you it might be like Hitchhiker if the illustrations didn’t live up to the visuals you give me I’d be sooo disappointed.


    • TanGental says:

      I never heard him interviewed! So jealous. I loved his flights of absurd logical fantasy. And you’re right about the pictures. Glad you are enjoying the story.


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