“This is it Billy. This is what is going to make me and you famous my friend.”
“OK Jimmy. What exactly is it?”
“It’s a Moon Ballon, mate. It’ll take us into space. The bloke who sold it to me said it’s what Chinese astronauts use.”
“And how exactly does it work?”
“It’s dead easy. It’s even got some instructions. Look.”
“But Jimmy, they’re in Chinese.”
“Not a problem mate. The chap who sold it to me had a cousin who worked in a Chinese restaurant. According to him it just says we need a basket and a big gas bottle. The rest is self explanatory.”
“What we waiting for then, Jimmy? Let’s get going.”
Later that week there were reports of an unidentified flying object being seen in the night sky. Government sources said that the object had been destroyed when it had failed to respond to all radio communication.
It’s that bitch from number 43, won’t leave me alone. Every time I leave the house she’s there, by my side, those big doleful eyes staring up at me. Gives me the shivers it does.
Don’t get me wrong, she’s a real looker and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve been tempted. But she wants more than I’m prepared to give her. I know what would happen. It would start off as a simple walk together, then one sniff would lead to another and that would be that – my bachelor life would be over. Before long the place would be full of puppies and I’d never get out to the pub or a footy match with the lads. Best I keep out of temptations way.
I’m telling you mate, it was me. See it fits. I told you it would. That’s ‘cos I was the bird dancing with the Prince all last night. I know I shouldn’t have left like I did, running off at the stroke of midnight, but I had to. I’d left the kids with a neighbour and she’d said she could only mind them until her old man got home at 12. I didn’t want to leave them on their own for too long, not with them being so tiny. Well you don’t do you? Bleeding shoe fell off as I was running down the stairs. Then I couldn’t get a taxi and had to walk home in that rain. Soaked I was. Any way it’ll be OK now, what with the Prince having found the true love of his life. What did you say his name was again?
“That’s right son. Most of them have been knocked down but this one has been protected. A reminder of how bad things used to be.”
“Why was it called a photo centre dad?”
“It’s where people used to go in the olden days to have their photographs taken. I remember my father, your granddad, telling me all about it.”
“Did Granddad have his photo taken?”
“Yes he did but don’t tell your mum I told you. She gets upset if we talk about things like that.”
“Have you still go the photo dad? What does it look like?”
“No I don’t. It got lost in the great burnings when the Volgans took over the planet in ’63. They made us destroy all images and image taking devices. That’s why we no longer have any photos or videos.”
This is an example of our latest product. As madam is no doubt aware, government building regulations have become more stringent and heating costs are continually rising. So it is becoming ever more important to choose the most effective thermal insulation glass. This particular model has an A rating according to the British Fenestration Ratings Council, making it the most efficient on the market. Then, of course, there are its other special qualities. In particular the anti-leering facility. If madam had these fitted she’d no longer need to have curtains or blinds. Anybody looking in while madam was, for example, getting undressed, would simply see her skeletal form. For a little extra we can even make the skeletal image appear to become disjointed. Guaranteed to see off any lurking perverts. If madam was to sign up today I can take off a further 10% and have them fitted by Wednesday.
I never tired of this sight. As a kid I used to get really excited when we came over the brow of the hill and I caught my first glimpse of the Universe stretching out as far as the eye could see. Another forty minutes and we would be at the ferry port, well ahead of time.
“You kids excited?” I called out.
James and Sammy ignored me. They were plugged into the latest movie and were oblivious to everything around them.
“Hey, you two!” I shouted, “I’m talking to you.”
Sammy unhooked her augmented reality visor.
“Sorry dad, did you say something?”
“I was asking you and your brother if you were excited. Look, we’re almost there.”
“Dad, you ask us the same thing every year. We’re going to spend a week in a caravan on Pluto, just like we do every year. What’s there to be excited about?
“Look what he’s done Billy! Sure made a mess of the bridge.”
“Hasn’t he just Jimmy. Never thought he had it in him.”
“Don’t think it was our fault do you Billy? I mean we did give him a hard time.”
“No, course not Jimmy. We were just mucking about. Teasing him like. How were we to know he’d take it so seriously. I mean, what’s the harm in a bit of tripping and trapping on an old bridge. Not our fault he was so grumpy and short of sleep.”
“I know Billy but we should’ve thought. You know how bad tempered these trolls can get.”
“Maybe you’re right Jimmy but it’s a bit late now and we’ve got more important things to worry about. Once this dust clears and he realises we’ve escaped he’ll be up here looking for us and he won’t be happy. Best we keep moving.”