Thursday, 16 February 2012

Forty Second Friday Flash: 42

>Please read first<

** With this being my 42nd Friday Flash I thought I would play with the number 42. and being a The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fan and the fact I'm reading a biography about Douglas Adams it was an obvious course of action that only struck me last night. Please read the notes below. Hopefully the story works. I've rounded it to 420 words.

*** "In 1966, mathematician Paul Cooper theorized that the fastest, most efficient way to travel across continents would be to bore a straight hollow tube directly through the Earth, connecting a set of antipodes, evacuate it (remove the air), and then just fall through.[5] The first half of the journey consists of free-fall acceleration, while the second half consists of an exactly equal deceleration. The time for such a journey works out to be 42 minutes. Remarkably, even if the tube does not pass through the exact center of the Earth, the time for a journey powered entirely by gravity always works out to be 42 minutes, as long as the tube remains friction-free, as while gravity's force would be lessened, so would the distance traveled at an equal rate.[6][7] (The same idea was proposed, without calculation, by Lewis Carroll in 1893 in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.[8])"

**** this story in no way reflects my political leanings or lack thereof.

***** If you have your 42nd story coming up I challenge you to use the 42 theme too

- 32 minutes from impact -

Gerald stared at the screen. His eyes were streaming. Why did he insist on going to the game? Maggie was on the other side the tube. People were running riot all around him. It would be a miracle if he reached the tube in time.

A man landed with a sickening splat a few feet away from him. Gerald jumped back, shook his head and ran on. Since the announcement that a giant meteor was headed for Earth 10 minutes ago the world had gone mad. The authorities said it was for their own good. They would have kept them totally in the dark, but some rogue insiders were going to leak the news and they beat them to it.

He had gotten on the phone instantly. Maggie was crying. He had done his best to calm her down.

The queue to the 42 wasn't as bad he thought it would be, but was it short enough? It was remarkable civilized most were.

Maggie was on the other end.

“Almost there my love,” he said.

“Me too,” she said. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“We won't be able to touch, but at least we will be a little closer.”

“You think of everything my dearest.”

“I try,” he said, forlornly looking up at the moon. It was no wonder the world leaders had convened an urgent meeting there. I bet they weren't laughing at Newt Gingrich's plan for a permanent moon base now. Although with the Earth gone or whacked out of orbit it might send the Moon off on a collision course with something else.

- 22 minutes to go -

“I'm in position,” she said.

“Me too, on my count, 3...2...1... go.”

Gerald pressed the big red button in his little lifepod. Even though he had chosen the course because of his love for Maggie, a part of him was hoping being near the Earth's core when the meteor struck would protect them from the worst of it. Most of all he hoped it wouldn't lead to an even more painful death.

The connection through their cellphones was awfully fuzzy. He listened as Maggie recited one of her favourite poems off by heart. He didn't mind, he loved her voice and he knew it would help keep her calm.

- 15 seconds to go -

“I... I love you,” she said, her voice cracking.

“I love you too, my dear.”


  1. Uh oh. I'm compelled to try and respond in 42 words. But I shouldn't.

    I suspect if certain death was falling from the sky then it might be better not to know.

    How many's that? Thirty seven? Five words to go. Stop.

  2. "Sickening splat". Love it. You have such a wonderful way with words and description! Also intrigued by the exact word limit concept, might try it myself sometime soon, when I find the inspiration. This comment is also 42 characters in length. See.

  3. One would think that being in the centre of the earth when the meteorite hit would save them from the initial impact effects, the harder bit would be surviving the long term effects of the disaster. There ya go... Forty Two words.

  4. That was an intimidating preamble, Craig, but I appreciated the props to the great Adams. A good use of your #42.

  5. Such an apocalyptic write, Craig (a genre you clearly like a lot). I'm also a Hitchhiker's fan. Forty two is a fabulous number.

  6. I feel I can do a better job than Pete with replying in exactly 42 words. Here it goes...

    Really inventive, Craig. Zooming through the earth is such a cool concept. A great way to 'celebrate' 42 flashes.

    Nice work!

    Donkeys. Damn!

  7. I like how you've got multiple splats going on in this story. I love the idea of the tunnel and that it takes 42 minutes.

  8. A very clever use of Adams' ideas yet taken in a completely different way. Any Vogon constructor fleets nearby?
    Cool story.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  9. Good look at the emotions surrounding an imminent End of Everything. Actually, they should be OK in there as long as a tsunami doesn't flood out the tunnels. It's the next three years that will be rough. Another 42 word response, W00T!

  10. I liked how you carried us along through this piece, you certainly have a knack for this genre. Nice Work!