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“I took a shortcut through the park once, and look where it got me.”

~ Noel Coward on Shortcuts

The dictionary's difficulty in defining a shortcut comes down to interpretation of the word short - i.e. does it refer to shortness in terms of distance, or time taken.

Humans however do not face the same quandary when approaching shortcuts, as all people's from all nations and planets know that the shortest distance between two points (excepting non-euclidean geometry), is always a straight line. Therefore any route which is physically shorter than the planned route is faster.

Shortcut Theory

Explaining the theory is best achieved through a series of examples:

Example A

You could take a shortcut...

We will start with the basics. In example A the standard route would be of course to walk around the minefield via the road/pathway. By cutting across the field, however, you can cut literally minutes from your travel time. Simply cross over from path to field as near to starting point A as possible, and then head directly towards point B as fast as possible.

Now, at this point it is worth mentioning a small drawback to this shortcut, which is the very likely possibility of being blown apart by a mine. If this should happen, someone might want to call an ambulance, but this should be avoided as an ambulance is likely to take an extremely long route from A to B via a hospital somewhere miles away.

So instead of calling an ambulance, have some friends stand by with bags. If you should explode, they can all run towards you, and the ones that make it can then push your various remnants into the bag and fling it towards point B before ducking for cover. If you should land short of point B, one of your surviving friends might want to call in a helicopter. Once the helicopter arrives, instruct it to lift the bag to point B. A shortwave radio could be handy for this, or else semaphore flags if you are worried about radiowaves setting off more mines.

The shortest distance between two points is to stomp straight over everything. - Old Roman Proverb

This is actually one of the earliest officially documented shortcuts in history, and was employed to great effect by the allies during the prequel to World War II. Adding to the potency of the shortcut was an almost constant stream of burning hot shrapnel, steel and explosions, all of which ensured that the British reached Berlin in next to no time.

Example B


This shortcut is a little more advanced than the first. To avoid a long, dull hike around the misty mountains, one may be at first tempted to simply hike over them. However, while this is the shortest path in 2D, in three-space you're taking an upward-arcing path, and thus not taking the shortest route -- through the mountains. First, head from start point B to the entrance at the front of the nearest mountain (marked on the diagram with an Asda-green 2). Be wary as you pass the marker numbered 1 as this marker coincides with a small lake, or large pond, where be monsters. The monsters should be easily dispatched with any dwarf-forged weapon. If you have neglected to pack any weapons for your journey you will either be drowned, or drowned and then eaten, or just eaten outright. In the event that this happens simply wait for fate and reincarnation to place you back at point B, and hope that you remember to bring your handy tools second time around.

Having gained entrance to the mines you have but a short jaunt ahead of you, through darkness and monsters and horror.

Exit at marker 3 and head to your finish, which is Example E. Now that was a fearsome shortcut.

Update: The Moria mines section of this shortcut has now been made much simpler by the disappearance of the Balrog, harming the reputation of the shortcut in many cutter's eyes. Until a replacement Balrog can be found, it is advised that travelers try running backwards through the mine or smearing themselves with fresh blood to bring the difficulty back up, and lessen the amount of time taken to get to the exit. - 17/03/07

Update: It has also been noted that the bridge across the last chasm is not there any more, but using the same axe you used to get past the monster in the pond, it will not take too long to mine some rock and build a bridge. During this process, it is advised that you watch out for orcs, as they will most likely storm you in millions. Once you have the bridge built, go across, and out the exit. It still took you much less time than going all the way around would have. Plus, you managed to kill millions of orcs and construct a bridge in the process! 03/17/07

Example E

Smb2j 5-2 warpzone.jpg

Example E is taken from Super Mario Bros Shortcut on the NES. Having catapulted yourself through the air above all structure and scenery you then run at heart-bursting speeds, your hidden body on the verge of hopping off the edge of reality.

This is a potent shortcut which skips you through three whole worlds to world 8, where the Hammer Bros will own you. It is worth keeping in mind, however, that in order to successfully execute this shortcut you will first have to obtain a plumbing NVQ of at least grade 3, as required by The National Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering for Pipe Travel. As this could take upwards of two years to do, you may find it quicker not to bother.

Note: Be forewarned; do not attempt this shortcut on the fourteenth to the seventeenth day of any month as Bullet Bill will be bleeding like a stuck pig and up for a war.

Shortcut Practice

You can practice your shortcutting technique wherever and whenever you like. Simply, When travelling from anywhere to anywhere else, always keep a look out for alternate routes which seem as though they may be - as the crow flies - more direct. If you do find an alternate route look for things like natural obstructions (hedges, forests, lakes, rivers, volcanoes etc).

Also take time to look out for groups of violent looking youths/escaped lunatics, dangerous wild animals (dogs, bears, leopards and so on), and any vegetable, medical, nuclear or human waste which may be seen in piles or in the form of swampland. If your alternate route contains any or more of these things then it is almost certainly a viable shortcut. The more hazards you see, the briefer and so the better the shortcut will be; a subsiding swamp in a forest full of lions guarding uranium dumps is ideal.

Shortcut Theory in Practice

Shortcut theory can be used almost constantly throughout daily life, whenever you wish to be in a place other than where you are.

When you approach a body of water; a pond, river, lake or ocean for example, and wish to be on said body's opposite side, instead of taking time out of your busy day to circumnavigate it simply walk straight through. Do remember however to take a sturdy pair of wellies and a cagoule on your travels, as there is some potential for wetness.

If you find yourself indoors, on any floor more elevated than the ground, and wish to be back on terra firma and outside of said building, rather than queueing for an elevator or sweatily arthriticizing yourself by jogging down flights of dull stairs, simply find the nearest window and defenestrate. You will be outside and at ground level within seconds, and with virtually no energy expended. It is especially useful to keep this shortcut in mind at times when perhaps stairs and elevators have ceased to be a viable means of reaching the bottom of a building - if they are, for example, obstructed by masonry and fire, such as during the 9th of November attacks on the World Trade Center.


If you are covering a larger distance, specifically a distance great enough for the curvature of the earth to obstruct easy viewing of your goal, you will find it much quicker to tunnel through the earth, rather than tread its surface. This is helpful if for example you are moving from one country into the next, for reasons of profit or war. Be wary, however, as cutting of this magnitude is very difficult and amateurs attempting subterranean detours often encounter suffocation, bears, lava burns and shoddy dinosaurs.

Once you've mastered global shortcutting the next step can only be intergalactic wormhole navigation, but since there is no proof that wormholes even exist it is best not to worry ourselves with such things. Shame on you, theoretical science. Imagining magical tunnels through space and writing books about them is not science, it is timewasting. It wasn't Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that put Stephen Hawking in a wheelchair, it was karma.

Famous Cuts and Cutters

  • Nightcrawler - Likes to take shortcuts through a fire dimension. May teleport into your room while you sleep and move your stuff around.
  • Doug McClure - Took a shortcut from Wales to the center of the Earth in a big drill. Was accompanied by Peter Cushing who was later murdered by Darth Vader.
  • Darth Vader - Took a shortcut to power by embracing the dark side of the force. Fed Doug McClure to a dinosaur.
  • Hannibal - Took a Huge shortcut across the alps, and then ate his travelling companions to celebrate.
  • The Donner Party - Took a shortcut to hypothermia and were eaten.

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