If someone says “Do you want a go?” you have to say “Yes” don’t you? The trick to mounting a penny-farthing (I think) is to instill sufficient momentum by scooting, before climbing the steps built into the frame up to the saddle, and starting to pedal. If you don’t have momentum, staying atop the machine is entirely dependent on balance. The saddle is around five feet off the ground, which may not sound much, but it seemed a long way to fall. Luckily, the concrete was there to catch me.
By mid-morning, Kev has finished sifting and answering emails, and so decides to call Jed Stevens, construction manager, at the test facility, on the other side of town.
“Hi. You’re speaking to Jed Stevens, Astra Space Mission. How may I help?”
“Hi Jed, its Kev. I just wanted to check you got those logic cards I sent you?”
“Oh, hi Kev. Yes, thanks: received, installed, tested and working fine.”
“OK, good. So is that everything? Nothing to prevent us running the dress rehearsal on the Astronaut Capsule next Monday?”.
“Yes, everything is good. Indeed, we’re taking advantage of being in front of schedule and running the dress rehearsal now.”
“What, you mean today?”
“Even as we speak.”
“I wish you wouldn’t do that Jed. We put the schedule together for good reason. All sorts of things rest upon events happening to plan: not late but not early either.”
“We’ve worked hard to get in front. We don’t want to just squander the time we’ve gained. It could give us some leeway if we hit a snag later.”
“You should spend the time you’ve gained checking and double-checking that everything is in place to enable you to work exactly to the plan and specification, so there are no snags. Every time you deviate, you create more problems.”
“You’re not being reasonable, Kev. I have to have some room for manoeuvre. We understand the implications of the changes we make.”
“What changes? What else have you done?”
“Just little adjustments, here and there, nothing you need worry about.”
“I am worried. Don’t tell me not to worry. That spec and plan were honed to perfection. I want to know exactly what you’ve changed and I want to know now.”
“Perfection, my arse! The spec said we needed to fill the test chamber with three bar of air pressure. Our compressors won’t give much more than two bar. Obviously your perfection engineers didn’t think of that. So we had to come up with a solution.”
“If we missed something, you need to tell us; not just do your own thing and keep quiet about it. We’ll keep making the same mistakes if you do that. What’s your solution?”
“You don’t need to worry, like I said. It won’t cost you anything. We were quite clever, really. We still had those liquid oxygen tanks left over from the previous mission. So we just used oxygen instead of air to pressurise the chamber. Neat huh?”
“You’re not telling me you have three astronauts sitting in three atmospheres of pure oxygen?”
“No, the astronauts are in the capsule, which is in the chamber. It’s not like they’re breathing it. It’s just to recreate the launch pressures on the capsule hull, for the dress rehearsal.”
“You fucking imbecile! Don’t you realise that, in three atmospheres of pure oxygen, steel burns like paper and aluminium burns like dynamite? Get those men out now.”
But the phone clicked dead and, a fraction of a second later, Kev heard the boom from the other side of town.
Gordon Besford carried his virginity like a millstone. The swinging sixties and sexual liberation were long ago and, at eighteen year of age, he felt cheated. His mates boasted of regular sexual encounters, though they were conspicuously short on detail. Meanwhile, all the women of his age that he knew gave the impression that they were virgins. Something didn’t add up.
His ex-girlfriends had been a big disappointment. Only Jennifer had even permitted him to play with her breasts and that was the absolute limit she set on their intimacy.
Sally was Gordon’s latest girlfriend of three months and, at long last, matters sexual seemed to be on the up. Gordon really liked Sally. She was pretty and sensible; displayed little of the childish regression that his previous girls had hidden behind. He genuinely enjoyed Sally’s company and conversation but, most of all, he lusted after her body.
Sally had initiated French kissing on their second date. He was thrilled and encouraged by this show of independence and reciprocated desire. Gordon felt that Sally would take him all the way, provided he let her set the pace. So he suppressed his urges and went with the flow.
After four weeks, their meetings settled into a pattern: they were together at her parents house most evenings, usually kicking around in the lounge or kitchen. But every Saturday night, her parents went to the local pub from eight to eleven, and Sally wasted no time in leading him to her bedroom.
He liked the way she gave him clear instruction as to which parts of her were on or off limits by guiding his hands, groaning with pleasure at his touch, but tapping his wrist if he wandered too far, as they kissed. Most of all he liked the way the on limit grew a little larger every Saturday night.
By Bonfire Night, they were both naked except for their knickers. Genitals were still out of bounds but Gordon felt things were moving apace and it was only a matter of time. On the second Saturday of December he decided, albeit with some trepidation, to try using Sally’s tactic, took her right hand from behind his neck and guided into his knickers. He expected resistance or, at the very least, some reciprocal trepidation on Sally’s part. Instead she eagerly sought out his erection, began to massage gently whilst purring in his ear, as though she had been waiting for the invitation. Gordon was so bowled over by this affirmation from Sally that he was moved to tears.
The following Saturday, Gordon could sense the impatience and expectation in the air as they waited for Sally’s parents to get ready and leave. The very moment the door clicked shut behind them, they dashed up the stairs, giggling with excitement and tearing off clothing on route. Gordon was slightly alarmed when Sally pushed him back on her bed, leapt on top of him, her hand immediately seeking his cock as she snogged him hungrily. Still she would not permit his hand inside her knickers but grunted and panted as he fiddled with her clit through the sodden cotton.
The fourth Saturday was Christmas Eve and her parents stayed in. Gordon couldn’t cope with being with Sally yet unable to play with her, so he went home early. They met again on Christmas day to exchange presents. As they parted, Sally whispered in Gordon’s ear “They’re going out tomorrow afternoon”.
Her parents had already left when she opened the door to him.
“Hello” he said.
“Fuck hello” she barked “get upstairs and get your knickers off!”
He obeyed at a gallop. This time, she too was naked as she jumped on top of him. Is today the day he wondered. But no, their activities were much the same as nine days previously, albeit with the added excitement of full nudity. He enjoyed what they did together and felt closer to Sally than ever before but still worried that she held so much in reserve and winced when he thought he still carried the label “virgin”. She recognised that he was brooding as they parted.
“You want to go all the way, don’t you?” she asked as she was dressing.
He was surprised at the question, first because of her directness but also because he thought the answer was obvious.
“Oh, yes Sally” he pleaded.
“Mum and Dad are going to a party on New Year’s Eve. We’ll do it then.”
“God, yes, do you mean it? Don’t tease me. Are you serious?”
“Yes, it’s time. I want you.”
The next five days dragged interminably. Gordon could not think of anything else but their planned sexual encounter. His excitement was palpable but also he was fearful. Could he perform to Sally’s satisfaction? Her confidence scared him. Was she really a virgin?
New Year’s Eve found Gordon in a state of acute agitation and near exhaustion. He’d spent the previous day and all night worrying about Sally and whether he would measure up to her expectations. He’d had no sleep and felt like he had a cold coming on. He spent the day trying to find something to distract him but nothing seemed to help. By the time he presented himself at Sally’s house at eight-thirty, he looked like death warmed over.
“God, what happened to you?” was Sally’s greeting.
“I’m just a bit tired” he replied.
“Do you still want to do it?”
“Yes, of course I do” he lied.
“Look, it’s no big deal. If you’re not feeling up to it, we can take it easy and try another time.”
“No, I really want you. Please don’t make me wait.”
“O.K. come on then.”
They stripped, she pushed him back onto her bed and they started kissing and heavy petting, as before. Gordon started to relax a little and enjoy the stimulation.
Sally broke off kissing and panted into his ear “I’ll go on top the first time”.
She straddled his hips and guided his penis to her vulva as she sat back. He felt her warm and wet against his throbbing penis. This is it he thought and his every muscle stiffened involuntarily in anticipation. He was trembling with excitement. She still held his shaft tightly in her hand and started to rock back and forth. He expected to slide into her but instead he felt his cock being crushed, harder and harder as she pushed down upon him. Sally grimaced with pain but kept to her task, pressing down harder whilst manoeuvring his cock with her hand. Still he felt he was not inside her and, worse still, because of the mauling his penis was taking, thought he could not avoid orgasm for much longer. Then, in an instant, he was inside her and coming, but also squealing and writhing in agony. Sally climbed off him and turned to inspect the damage. Gordon’s frenulum, the tie between foreskin and glans (bell-end) had ripped open and was oozing blood into the stream of semen flowing from the tip. Gordon sobbed.
It all happened so fast. The whole thing was over in a matter of a few seconds. Now they’re calling me a hero and talking about rewards, contacting the local paper, all sorts of nonsense. I’m a bit embarrassed really. If I’d had time to think and decide a course of action, then they could be correct in their praise, I suppose. But it wasn’t like that. It was more like a knee-jerk reaction, automatic, as natural as blinking. I just realised immediately what needed to be done and I did it.
We come to Granny’s November 5th bash every year. The whole family is usually here: aunts, uncles, cousins: maybe a hundred of us all together. It’s generally good fun, lots of fireworks, a huge bonfire and lots of fantastic food. But there’s always one who makes a twat of himself and that one is almost always my cousin Billy. This year was no exception. I think he’s a bit simple, not quite the full shilling, but we’re not allowed to discuss it. I saw him come from behind the garage with the petrol can and that gormless grin of his, at a trot. I immediately put down my toffee apple. Then everything seemed to go into slow motion. I looked up from the apple in time to see him go sprawling as he trips over the lawn edge, launching a shower of petrol towards my sister Mary in the process. She’s doesn’t notice him or the petrol and is still waving her sparkler, writing her name in the dark. I grabbed the table-cloth and started to sprint towards her, leaving pots, food, drinks and Mother’s scream in my wake. Mary ignites with a huge “woof” a fraction of a second before I hit her and wrap her in the table cloth as we crash to the ground together. Neither of us suffered more than a slight scorch.
Kevin was enjoying his Thursday post-work wind-down in the spare bedroom, playing chess on the computer, when the doorbell rang. A glance out of the window revealed Preeti’s mother. Her unexpected appearance brought all of Monday’s events flooding back from his memory and he gave an involuntary shudder. He’d been driving his tedious commute to his office through morning rush hour, much as any other workday. His mind was barely on the road or traffic. Suddenly, a figure in red shot out from behind the bus shelter twenty metres ahead, bounced off the bonnet of the blue car that had just overtaken him, arced backwards through the air like a spring-board diver and landed centrally in the lane in front of him. Instinctively, he’d hit the brakes, felt the snatch of the seatbelt on his collar bone, heard the squeal of tyres from behind and beside him. Everything came to rest and he fell back into his seat.
A red coat in the road contained a very still little girl, arms and legs at strange angles, long black hair fanned out over the tarmac behind her, no sign of any blood. A prickle of fear gripped him. “She’s dead!” he whispered to himself.
He opened his door and forced leaden feet to carry him to the girl’s side where he knelt down. The driver of the blue car, was also knelt, but in the gutter beside the bus-stop, noisily retching his breakfast into the drain.
Kevin instinctively picked up the girl’s wrist and felt for a pulse: nothing. He was aware his hands were shaking. The waiting bus passengers were walking towards him in a line, like sheep zombies, shocked and staring. Kevin yelled at the young man leading them “Have you got a mobile?” He seemed incapable of speech but moved his hand towards his coat pocket “Phone for an ambulance, now!” He seemed grateful for the instruction.
The crowd of onlookers was steadily growing. Kevin shouted at them “Does anyone know first aid?” Blank looks; enquiring looks to and from other enquiring lookers but no positive response.
Kevin had never attended a first aid course. He only knew what he’d seen folk do on the telly. He had to do something. This girl was already dead. What harm could he do?
He raised himself up on his knees, placed the heels of his hands atop each other, to the left of where he judged her sternum to be and started to press down in a jerking rhythm. He was aware of the murmur of approval and concerned tones from the crowd. He could hear a woman sobbing. Mr Blue Car’s retching had stopped. He caught snatches of muffled conversation “no point”, “already dead”, “does he know what he’s doing?”, “when’s the ambulance coming?”, “who is she?”. This last question prompted him to inspect the girl’s face. She was pretty, dark lashes and eyebrows to match near ebony hair, Asian colouring, Indian he guessed.
Suddenly, a piercing scream behind him and someone fell over his back. A stout woman stepped in and pulled someone away from him saying “Let him work, he’s doing everything he can.” But the screaming didn’t stop. He glanced up at the woman, mother he guessed, barely restrained, struggling to get to her daughter. He scream slowly developed into a piteous keening interspersed with “Preeti, oh Preeti, not Preeti.”
Kevin, still in his car-coat, was sweating from the exertion and starting to wonder how much longer he could keep this up when Preeti gave a cough and spasm, as though she’d been punched in the guts. He found a pulse, checked she was breathing, then pulled wrist and knee over so she lolled onto her side. Mother was weeping “Is she OK? Oh thankyou. My Preeti. Will she be OK?” Someone in the crowd started a half-hearted round of applause, but not many joined in, though Kevin could feel the collective sigh of relief.
The ambulance arrived shortly afterwards, then the police. There was much scurrying around, moving Preeti, lots of questions from the police, taking down of details and statements, measuring the positions of the vehicles and their skid marks. Kevin didn’t see Preeti’s Mum leave though he guessed she went with her daughter in the ambulance. It was almost lunchtime when Kevin finally arrived at work and his boss was hopping mad.
Kevin opened the door and Preeti’s Mum beamed at him. “Mr Walton” she said and smiled some more.
“Kev, please” said Kevin, smiling back “I’m guessing Preeti is on the mend?”
“She’s doing really well, thanks to you. May I come in for a moment, please Kev?”
Kevin felt a sting of embarrassment “Oh yes, of course, please do”, stood aside, then wafted her into the lounge and into an armchair.
He took the opportunity to look her over as she walked through. He guessed she was about ten years younger than him and as pretty as her aptly-named daughter. She perched erect and prim on the edge of her seat in her bright summer frock, making him feel slovenly as he lounged on the sofa opposite.
She began in a very formal tone “My name is Simran and I’m Preeti’s mother, as I’m sure you guessed.” He nodded. “Preeti is everything I have in the world since the death of her father, six years ago. The debt I owe you for her life is beyond calculation.”
“Hey, I’m just glad she’s OK. I didn’t really know what I was doing. No-one else seemed to have a clue either. I was just the first one there. It could have been anyone….”
Simran held her long fingers erect to silence him. “That simply won’t do! Preeti was dead. You brought her back to me. No-one else offered any help or contributed in any way. I have quizzed the police on this. The doctor’s and ambulance crew have confirmed to me that Preeti owes you her life.”
“Well, if that’s true, then I’m very pleased I was able to help. She’s a very pretty little girl.” He added lamely, thinking how stupid it sounded: as if only pretty girls deserved to live.
“Thank you” she gave a slight bow “now to the debt….”
“No, really, there is no debt. You can’t pay me for helping her.”
Now Simran snapped at him “Are you suggesting my daughter is worthless? A debt is a debt: it is a matter of honour, but also, a personal desire of mine that you should be suitably rewarded.”
Kevin felt hurt “Of course I don’t think she’s worthless: that’s why I saved her! I just don’t feel right accepting money from you.”
Her formal demeanour seemed to soften at this “Well, I am pleased about that, because I am not a rich woman and I would not feel comfortable putting a monetary value to my daughter’s life.”
Now he was confused. Simran continued to look at him, waiting. “So, what did you have in mind?” he tried.
“Anything!” she said immediately, as though she anticipated his question.
Even more confused, he said “What do you mean by “anything”?”
Again, he thought she had her response prepared “Anything that is in my power to give is yours.”
“Well, “anything” is a very big word indeed. Don’t say “anything” unless you really mean anything.”
“I said “anything” and I meant “anything”. You only need to tell me what you want.”
Now he was annoyed. He knew she couldn’t possibly mean “anything”! That was just silly. He tried to think of something outrageous, just to call her bluff and show her how silly she was. He struggled for something for a moment but nothing sprang to his mind. Then suddenly he blurted out “How about if you become my sex slave?” then gasped. He couldn’t believe he’d said that out loud. He looked at her face in fear, expecting anger or tears or disgust. But none of those things: to his amazement, she just smiled, nodded and said “I shall be honoured to make you happy that way.”
He felt like he’d been slapped. Had he heard correctly? He could barely speak.
“You’re not….are you….you’re not serious?”
Suddenly, she was out of her chair and upon him, standing over him, grabbing at his hair, pulling his head back, then in a fierce whisper “What do I have to say to make you understand: you are my hero, I want you like I’ve never wanted anyone before. I AM YOURS!” Then she stepped back, took his hand, giggled at his still gaping jaw and said “Shall we go upstairs?”