Thursday, 29 November 2012


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?


  1. Ha! Great ending, I didn't see that coming :)

  2. What a decision.How could anyone make such a decision. Knowing what Howard Hughes did with his money and the way his life ended I think would throw him out.

    1. Yvonne - thanks for commenting! I'm not sure who I'd choose......& that's the dilemma! ;-)

  3. Great flash fiction, very amusing--I would never let HG Wells go, he'd be the most entertaining! Howard was always a little creepy, don't think I'd sleep well with him around... so...

  4. It has to be something clever - HG Wells and his time machine, go back in time to avoid the problem, but he has to be on land to have the time machine - a circle has no end!!!

  5. Fabulous, Sue. This may be one of my favorites.
    I think, actually, I'd submit this someplace or other - it's THAT good. I immediately thought of The New Yorker, but maybe that's just me day dreaming. :)

    But this is just the quirky sort of thing they sometimes have a liking for.