Up in Smoke

by Sophie Bachard


60 seconds...

Okay, so I’m wired up. I’ve got Catherine wheels (ha ha irony on her), Roman Candles, Comet Chasers, everything strapped to my chest and around my waist, rockets on my back, the icy wind blusterin’ 100 miles an hour, my face like freezer meat.

I’m shivering and I can’t look down. I’d vertigo to hell — it’s 320 feet up here on the top of Big Ben. I’m roped to the clock but Karabiners won’t save me if I fall.

Okay, so police helicopters have spotted me — I’m probably on your TV news. But as soon as Bennyboy klaxons the new year 2008, I’m goin’ up in a blaze of glory. A kaleidoscopic explosion to cataract the night sky — just like my ex-girlfriend Cathy’s spewing condemnations of me: “You’ll never amount to anything, Brian”, she was always carping, “you’re a worthless waster, a good for nothing bum.”

Well I’ll show her. I’ll show all of them.

40 seconds...

It’s almost time. And the copper chopper has withdrawn. No more booming Totalitarian loudspeaker shouting in my ear to give up. When the clock strikes twelve and I make London’s skyline explode it’ll be too dangerous for the cops up here.

I’m gonna steal the whole blow, the Mojo, catch me on the six o’clock show, on every channel the world over. I’m gonna give ’em New Year’s fireworks they won’t forget.

Mark me a public holiday!

20 seconds...

I’m crapping bricks, but the crowds and the television crews below are anticipating my eventful departure. From up here they look like a million milling fireflies swarming on Westminster and spangling the Thames.

10 seconds...

Curse my trembling hands — the matches torn out of my numb fingers and whisked away on the wind like straw.

Ahhh I’ve got a match!

Now to strike it on the matchbox flint and light the dynamite fuse.

Damn, it’s started pelting with rain again.

No! No!

The match is soggy from the rain earlier... Aw, bloody hell! They’re all getting soggy!

So typical. What a bloody washout! Like everything else in my life. Cathy’s right about me after all. If I hadn’t roped my legs to the clock I’d kick myself. If only I had the foresight to bring a lighter instead of these stupid matches. I wonder where Cathy is now when I need her. She was always breathing fire...


Copyright © 2007 by Sophie Bachard

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