HOLD YOUR BREATH, PINCH YOUR NOSE AND DIVE HEAD FIRST INTO THE ABSURD WORLD OF THOMAS HOWARTH’S UNI CONFESSIONS.
Beetle Cole stopped walking and tilted his head, eyes narrowing like those of a lawyer: ‘Work together?’
‘Yes,’ I said. Behind my back I tore up a cigarette packet, scribbled illegibly on one of the pieces, and then held it out towards him. ‘I’ve got a contract here. Just come and sign it.’
‘Is that… an official document?’ He edged closer, enticed.
‘Yep.’ I obscured the nonsensical scribbling with my fingers. ‘Just climb on up.’
The waterfall over which we stood raged noisily, white and hungry.
He approached cautiously and joined me on the roof of the bus, which continued to balance on the edge of Nottingham’s Golden Gate Bridge, as donated by San Francisco after the war. The waterfall over which we stood raged noisily, white and hungry.
‘Just a little closer, Cole, come and sign it and then we can clear up this whole mess.’ I beckoned with a Biro, but he clocked the true nature of my contract.
‘Those aren’t words,’ he spat. ‘That’s just some scribbling.’
I whipped the Biro at him, striking him across the nose. Blood rolled down over his lips. He roared towards me and the bus shifted. Inside, my Gold Bars fell from the table and threw the weight of the vehicle over the bridge.
Cole grabbed my ankles as I took hold of a suspenson cable, and the bus slipped beneath our feet. It disappeared into the frothing torrents below, leaving us to hang. A crowd was amassing. I made upwards onto a high platform and Cole followed.
As I gathered my senses, double-checking each one, Cole tapped at his mobile phone. One of my hobbies is the study of mobile phone button noises, and, familiar with the model in Cole’s hand, I could decipher the text he was sending from the bleeps emitted.
‘Golden Gate Bridge,’ he was scribing, ‘send balloon.’
We grappled aimlessly for a few minutes, really rather nervous at the prospect of actually killing each other
He’d sent the message before I could kick the phone from his hand, but I did so anyway out of spite. We grappled aimlessly for a few minutes, really rather nervous at the prospect of actually killing each other, and then shared a cigarette whilst pondering our options.
As the orange tip began the final stage of its migration towards my lips, I heard something; heavy sound, like the rushing of the waterfall below. It cut out, and then repeated. Cole was back on his feet.
I saw now what he’d meant by ‘send balloon.’ A hot air balloon was looming towards our platform, rushes of flame billowing up from its basket into the main body of the vessel. From the same basket came a wave of BB gun pellets, striking the metal at my feet. Balloonist henchmen were firing upon me. Cole pursued me along a rattling beam, BB pellets bouncing around us. I tucked the cigarette behind my ear. We grappled once more, this time a bit less nervous about committing murder.
BB guns were cocked and aimed down at me
The balloon was over us now, like an angry thought bubble. A rope was lowered for Cole. He grabbed it and was lifted into the air. As BB guns were cocked and aimed down at me, Cole laughing heartily, I flicked my cigarette upwards with the nonchalance of the Beat Generation.
The hot air balloon erupted into a fireball. Cole was swallowed up by the expanding flame as I slid down one of the bridge’s suspension cables, channelling sweat from my armpits to prevent friction burns.
I landed into a hero’s welcome. As remnants of the balloon dispersed high above, embers on the breeze, I was crowd-surfed to the edge of the river. A police scuba diver was emerging from the water. She removed her mask, and a tsunami of golden locks fell about her shoulders.
I took the Gold Bars and I took her, in that order.
‘An entire busload of passengers dead,’ she related solemnly. ‘But I managed to save these.’
She revealed my McVitie’s Gold Bars, unharmed in their packaging, and smiled warmly – nay, seductively. I took the Gold Bars and I took her, in that order.
And so that, my dearest of readers, is the story of how I became the University of Nottingham’s leading Doctor Who gossip dealer – and a warning to those who might seek to replace me. Spoilers.