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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

The Man Who Fell To Earth

A loud bang, sudden unexpected motion and intense cold wrenched Lance from sleep.

He could not have know that failure of a pressure bulkhead in the ageing airliner, just minutes before touchdown at Southampton Airport, had ripped a hole in the fuselage adjacent to his seat. He knew, however, that seconds previously he had been inside an aircraft, and now he was in the open air and tumbling earthwards.

Having recently undertaken a charity parachute jump, he instinctively spread his arms and legs and arched his back to effect a stable, face down descent.

It was a clear, summer afternoon, and the familiar topography of Southern Hampshire lay below him like Google Earth.

Autobiographical highlights flashed before his eyes: There, in this vision, was Gwen. She had captured his heart since they had first sat together in Miss Watson’s class at primary school. She dreamed, however, of fairy-tale romance, and, despite resolute attempts to win her hand, Lance had never matched Gwen’s na´ve, chivalric aspirations. Despite that, he loved her passionately.

Suddenly, the face of Oswald Mordred entered the vision. His massive wealth and superficial charm had enchanted Gwen to conclude that Oswald was her prince. To Lance’s despair, Gwen and Oswald had married after a whirlwind romance.

Gwen had soon learned, however, of Oswald’s unfaithfulness, and she now felt as if trapped atop a loveless, though materially comfortable, castle tower - awaiting rescue.

Lance looked down upon the Hamble estuary where Oswald’s luxury yacht, ‘Oswald’s Kingdom’, was moored. An unnatural calm descended upon him as a plan formed in his mind – finally, he could prove his undying love for the fair Gwen.

He spread his coat and noted with satisfaction that he could retard his descent and effect sideways motion.

Henry Johnson from Winchester fell past. Lance recalled him as the passenger who had occupied the seat next to his. Lance waved, but Henry seemed, somehow, preoccupied.

Returning to his quest, Lance banked to the right and set course for Hamble Marina. He calculated that, travelling at two hundred miles per hour, he should, in the finest Kamikaze and Exocet traditions, be able to sink ‘Oswald’s Kingdom’. Lance knew that Gwen was away, so could not be on board. It was Saturday afternoon, however, and Oswald almost certainly would be.

Lance flew onwards. Eric Robinson from Andover and Albert Henderson from Basingstoke dropped past having delegated their plans to gravity. Lance identified the flight crew of the budget airline by the logos on their parachutes.

At last, his target came into clear view, and he prepared for his final approach…

**********************************************

Six months later, Gwen jumped, with a parachute, from a Cessna over Southampton. She wished to experience the manner in which Lance had executed his last heroic and romantic act as he had sunk ‘Oswald’s Kingdom’ with the loss of Oswald and two of his many mistresses.

Gwen had inherited Oswald’s wealth. Looking down upon Hamble Marina, she sighted her newly commissioned luxury yacht at the mooring once occupied by ‘Oswald’s Kingdom’.

There had been no finer hero after whom to name it – someone who had, at last, met her romantic ideals. Gwenevere would forever be reminded of his passion and valour as she sailed on ‘Lancelot of the Skies’.