Apologies to Graham Greene, but this is not a play on his classic novel of the same name (far from it!) but the 3-word title for this week's 'THURSDAY@3' story seemed appropriate.
In a brief interlude of insomnia last night, the writing muse interrupted and I came up with the idea for this tale. With a little judicious wordsmithing I've managed to bring it in 'bang on the nail' at the 300-word limit I set myself for these little challenges.
I hope it amuses - please leave a comment if you feel moved to! ;-)
The Third Man
Well, it’s been quite a ride, so far. As I peer over the edge of the swaying basket at the Lilliputian vista below I wonder, briefly, how we've arrived at this extraordinary impasse.
I can’t work out the logistics of what brought us together in the first place. Albert, the scientist amongst us, has tried to explain a theory that involves complicated calculus and espouses the notion of time travel, which I can sort of comprehend, although I rather think that’s a tad fictional.
Hughes is the driving force of the mechanics; with his aviator’s experience of wind direction and velocity we are rather relying on his inspiration and inventiveness to keep us aloft safely.
Me? I'm the third man; the writer. As I drink in the details of our surroundings and try to work out how we came to be three men in a balloon I have the beginnings of a fantastic story in mind, if we can only get back to 'terra firma'!
My writers’ intuition is plotting the outcomes should we survive; Hughes is experiencing the first signs of agoraphobia and Albert is becoming ever more bemused by theoretical analysis. All I can think of is what to title this new novel!
And that brings me to a sticky point. Hughes has just informed us that we are losing altitude but if we ditch here, across the Alps, we will not survive the conditions; assuming, of course, we should manage to walk away from the inevitable crash-landing. The solution involves a question of ballast, or rather the lack of it, having utilised all we could find in the basket.
So I suppose it all comes down to that old question of who would you throw out of a balloon – Howard Hughes, Albert Einstein, or me, HG Wells?