Colin was the world's most romantic man, it was official.
Well, ok. His wife, Jean, had written into the local radio station, Hull Online, and told the presenter guy what he did for her i.e. washing up, ironing, rubbed her feet, was always telling her how lovely she looked (especially each time she bought a new dress), took her out for meals regularly etc.
She had won hands down. One woman from a different part of town had written in on greasy chip paper, and said 'my ubby takes me darn the tip every Saterday and we shoots rats wiv the air rifle. Vats ded romantic like, innit?'
Her/their prize (Colin and Jean) was a bottle of champagne, and dinner for two in a posh Hull restaurant. While they were eating, he asked her what she would really like. What was the most romantic thing she could think of that he could do for her?
As she was thinking, he suggested ...
'How about I apply for a sixty minute makeover for the house?'
'No thanks. Our house is nice. And anyway, you're not supposed to tell me!'
'We could go to Egypt, drive into the desert at night, and look at the stars as we fall to sleep. There's no light out there to lighten the black sky you know'
'Hmmm, that's sounds good. Tell you what though.'
'Fly me to the moon.'
'Fly me to the moon
Let me sing among those stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars ..?'
'Ok' he said, and started to wonder.
Six weeks later, she went to see her mother in Dorset for two weeks, while he stayed behind to work. As she taxied off to the rail station and was lost to sight, he got on the phone to the local council...
Incidentally, he had taken two weeks and three days off work
'Hello. I was wondering if you could do me a favour please. My wife wants me to fly her to the moon, so I'll be needing ...
Lordy, lordy. Did he work hard for the two weeks, and now he was looking forward to three days of ultimate romance; and to be honest, he just finished as her taxi pulled up. She climbed out of the vehicle, and her mouth dropped open.
In her back garden was a one hundred foot rocket made from extra, extra large industrial metal bins that had been welded together. He had painted it white, and wrote Apollo 2008 on the side.
It was a fabulous construction (that's what he'd ordered from the council. He had paid of course, and got permission to build Apollo 2008). There was also a massive crane! So massive that the top of it was up in the clouds.
He came out of the house laughing and greeted her.
'What on earth!?' she exclaimed.
'Remember what you said you'd really like?' he replied.
That night they sat there watching a DVD, hugging each other.
'Are you ready for your trip to the moon?' he asked.
'When?' she asked in return.
'Tomorrow afternoon. One O'clock.'
'Ready as I'll ever be.' she replied.
The next afternoon, they wrapped up warm. She was curious about not wearing a spacesuit. Wouldn't they need oxygen? What was the crane for? Why wasn't the fuel sending clouds of dry ice down the side of the rocket? Blimey, weren't those bins big!? The dustbin men would never have touched them.
He told her not to worry and to start climbing to the top bin, which housed 'her' seat, which he had made from a leather armchair he'd got from a charity shop. It was one of those chairs with a headrest, and the foot rest you could push out. He had also tilted it backwards so she could see out of the window.
He had spared no luxury for the woman he loved. He went up first, using the bin handles to climb up the side of the rocket. He had of course welded on some spare handles to make it easier.
He reached the top bin, and opened the door in the side of it. She was close behind him, and climbed in.
She sat in the armchair. Ahhhh, it was comfy. She could also see the sky from the window he'd put in the top pointed bit, which he had made from aluminium sheet.
He kissed her goodbye, for now.
He then climbed down the handles, and entered the fourth bin up. Inside was a bike. He had greatly modified the chain (which had been massively lengthened) and gearing system, which led to a second hand, antique shop wooden propeller in the bottom bit; or bottom bin.
The propeller came from a Spitfire or some similar plane and it was large, weighing in at 112lbs, but he had managed to fit it in position, with the help of a couple of friends.
Colin climbed onto the bike.
It has to be said that he was fairly fit, as he biked 40 miles every Sunday, on his racer, so the task in hand wasn't quite so formidable.
He was aware that he would use a lot of drinking water on the flight, and so he had built shelves around the inside of the bin, which gave support to numerous bottles of water which were fed to his mouth through a very complicated straw and valve system which only he could ever understand; boy, he was clever was Colin.
He also had tables of sandwiches, and bowls of boiled potatoes and bananas for energy, on the same tables, within easy reach of the bike. He would be hydrated and energised for the massive task in hand. No task which led to love and the satisfaction of the woman he loved was too great.
Colin then placed his intentional mind on the task, and the utter pleasure attached to its challenge and completion. Sometimes a man (or a woman) has to do something they thought they couldn't, in order to thrill themselves and someone they love: there lies aftermath contentment. That's Life. And thank fuck that's what it is.
Such was the brilliant gearing design, Colin had to work hard, but not so hard as to destroy him. He pedalled ...
His wife's chair vibrated and the whole rocket shook. There was, however, no fire and smoke from underneath it ...yet.
The grass around the bottom of the rocket was knocked sideways with the wind.
The propeller was spinning. The extended, elongated bike chain went an oily crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr around the well oiled gears, and the propeller went faster and faster ...until ...
The rocket began to rise! And rise it did, by the astonishing rate of twenty five feet a minute!
Colin pedalled and pedalled, and one of his luxuries, an LCD screen on the handlebars attached to a camera in the propeller bin, showed him how far he had travelled, which he judged by how small everyone on the ground was getting; he had attracted quite a crowd! The Robins wouldn't have such a big crowd today at Craven Park.
He had slowly travelled many thousands of feet, and a while and several bottles of water, and several beef sandwiches and bowls of energy giving complicated carb potatoes, and several bananas later, he switched screen to the camera outside of the 'West' bin door. Oh good, the crane was still there, and it was now starting to get dark. Perfect.
The propeller hummed that aeroplane hum, although it was travelling much faster than it would be if it were fitted to a Spitfire, such was the genius of Colin's gearing and chain system. He had also fitted a rather non advanced, basic communications system.
It consisted of a series of vacuum cleaner tubes with a funnel at each end. His was fixed to his handlebars. He spoke into it.
'Hello Jean, can you hear me? Over and out'
'Erm, yes Roger, sorry, Colin. Loud and clear. Over and out.' (hers was fitted to the arm of her chair).
'Yes. Good. I think it's getting dark now, and we're about to enter the clouds. So, if water vapour starts running down your window, don't worry. Over and out.'
'Roger Colin, over and out'.
Men! All the same! But, all I want is a nice one! All he has to do is be interested in me, and throw rose petals in my scented bath (which he ran) just like in American Beauty! Not much to ask is it? I deserve it.
She walked in the countryside with him, hand in hand; there was plenty of energy in the new romance.
Love was in the air! Wildlife could sense this. Birds sang, grasshoppers rasped, and butterflies just did what they do.
They came across a copse.
Fiction - All The Fun Of The Fair By Nick Quantrill Photographs by Darren Rogers
Jimmy held his hand out to the old man lying in a bed of wet cardboard boxes. 'Help you up, there?'
The old man took the hand. 'Good on you, son.'
Jimmy took the strain and pulled. 'No problem. You might want to get your face looked at, though.'
The old man took a tissue out of his pocket and wiped the blood from his nose. 'Don't worry about me, I'll be fine.' He laughed and wiped his hands on his trousers. 'So who are you, then?'
'New around here?'
Fiction - Side Orders - A Joe Geraghty Story By Nick Quantrill
'Ahmet's paranoid, man.'
I turned to Darren and shrugged. Ignoring him, I continued looking out of the car window and into the Hull night, the city flashing by. 'You've been robbed twice this week' I said. It had just turned midnight. People were staggering home, the streets slowly emptying, but plenty of drunks still wanted their fix of fast food.
'Bad luck, Joe. That's all. It happens.' Darren laughed. 'It's cool to have a bodyguard, though.'
'I guess so.' It'd make a good story down the pub, if nothing else.
Fiction - A Story About My Brother By J.W. Robinson
I was about twelve-years-old when my brother, James, came home from the supermarket carrying an enormous cardboard box and announced that he was going to live in it. He had been behaving strangely for a while. My mum said it was a phase he was going through and she didn't like to antagonise him too much; he was prone to emotional outbursts. Nevertheless I think she worried when he took that box up to his bedroom and climbed inside.
Fiction - Mary and Me By Leah Scarpati
The train station was full of children, a mass exodus of sorts. Some were crying, others were brimming over with the obvious excitement of their impending 'holiday'. A variety of ages, the children were all dressed in their best clothes and stood around on the platform with their boxed up gas masks hung over their shoulders and suitcases littered around with their names and destinations printed on them.
'Now you listen to me Billy,' his Mother said. Her voice wobbled a bit.
Fiction - Incident Number 33217 By Grant
Colonel Hafetz strode purposefully down the hall of the Knesset. He gripped the attaché case firmly and braced himself for his meeting. A quick reveal of his ID causes one of two guards stationed to open the door and announce:
'Mr. Prime Minister, Colonel Hafetz.'
Colonel Hafetz enters and a silent Prime Minister gestures him to sit.
The Colonel places the silver case on the desk, unlocks it and turns it to
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Summertime By Julie Hines
The curtains of early darkness are drawn back for summer.
Gardens become beautiful this time of year.
Contrast of flowing colour. The fragrances of the pink Fuchsias draped in deep purple emphasizing their elegance. The Stock has a powerful aroma. Yellow Marigolds resembling regimented soldiers.
Placing the bulbs into her basket, she made her purchase.
Fiction - Fiend By Jarrett
It happened when I was only seven. They let their eyes off of me for only a moment and he snatched me away. I never saw them again. They are the only ones I ever loved. In fact, it was so long ago I don't even remember how it feels, and to be honest I don't want to; I'm sure it will only bring pain.
I don't know why he did it. I'll never fully understand why he did, but I've come close. I guess like me he yearned for that same feeling so many people take for granted, love.
Fiction - Leonard By Frankie Lassut
Ring ring, Ring ring ...
Leonard smiled, and tubbed his hands together. He picked up the phone, and went into voluntary professional mode:
'I've got nothing to live for. The credit card companies are threatening to take my house away to
pay my bills, which they have piled the interest on.
My wife got fed up of it and left with my children, and my firm has collapsed.
I don't know what to do.
Fiction - One All By Mike Watts
The knock on the door sounded official; usually callers just pressed the bell, but this morning, they didn't...
Dean's heart rate moved up a notch.
'Who the fuck's that?'
He stood up from the chair that he was slouched in and walked over to the window.
Parting the curtains slightly, he observed two powerfully built characters standing there.
One was holding a clip-board; his sleeveless arms were loaded with tattoos
Fiction - The Dance Of The Pheasodile By Tim Roux
I have to admit that I am in a bit of a predicament.
I have regained consciousness to discover myself swinging upside down outside the plate glass window that wraps around the lawyers' office where my wife works - where she is a partner, in fact. I am bumping up against the pane as I dangle here. I can see several of the office staff taking pictures of me with their mobile phones, and feverishly distributing them somewhere over the ether.
Fiction - Conversation By Scott Rorrison
Rome! Have you ever seen the Colosseum? Beautiful isn't it; how strange it is that things of immense beauty contain contrasting qualities. From the outside tourists marvel at the grand scale and arresting architecture, it is ideal for a photograph or postcard. Step inside, though, and a whole complexity of emotions will haunt the senses. Stand on the arena floor and wonder how many men and women have followed your steps into oblivion.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Mother From Hell (following on from A Depressive and a Botched Suicide) By Laura Fry
Outside, a woman in late middle-age tries to look through the large crematorium doors.
Despite the November wind, she is dressed in six-inch stilettos, thin stockings and a tiny mini skirt which leaves nothing to the imagination.
One mourner hears a sound over the music and makes her way outside, aghast.
Fiction - Loved Ones By Emma Williamson
I remember the day my mother and father split up. All the family had gone out for the day with our parent's friends, Claire and Craig and their two daughters, Lauren and Molly. Me and my two younger brothers, Jasper and Cohen were in the ball pit with Lauren and Molly.
'Silver, drink!' Jasper announced, he was only 3 years old and hadn't quite grasped the concept of full sentences yet.
Fiction - What Colour My Dear? (Exercise in experimenting with different voices)
By Michelle Dee
"What colour my dear?"
"Blue. Yes blue to match my mood."
"Why so blue dear on such a promising day?"
"Well I'll tell you. I have just this moment been turned down yet again for employment; that is the third this morning if you please. I am doomed never to find a suitable position.