Hot Air Balloon :
A young boy was reading his town’s local newspaper, when he came across an announcement for a competition. They were giving away a number of prizes. First prize was a hot air balloon ride, second prize was a bungee jump and third prize was an electric toaster.
The boy had always wanted to fly in a hot air balloon. He dreamed of climbing up into the clear blue sky, soaring high above the clouds and following the breeze wherever it took him. Filled with excitement, he cut the entry form out of the newspaper, quickly filled it in and sent it off in the mail.
A few weeks later, when the winners were announced, the boy couldn’t believe his luck. He had won first prize. The hot air balloon ride. It was like a dream come true. He could hardly wait.
The morning that the flight was to take place finally arrived, and his parents dropped him off at a large field on the outskirts of town. It was filled with hot air balloons and people were walking around, making last-minute adjustments and getting ready to take off.
An instructor in a blue jumpsuit was there to greet him. He led the boy over to one of the hot air balloons and told him to hop in. Just as they were preparing to take off, the instructor got a call on his mobile phone.
“Hold on, I’ve got to take this,” he said to the boy. “It could be important. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Don’t go anywhere.”
With that, the instructor jumped out of the hot air balloon and walked briskly over to the side of the field where the cars and vans were parked. The boy stood waiting in the basket for a long time, watching the other hot air balloons take off and climb into the sky. He began to wonder what was taking the instructor so long.
Just then, a man who was dressed in a blue suit approached him and asked, “Are you ready to take off?”
“I don’t know,” replied the boy. “I’m waiting for the instructor. He said he’d be back soon.”
“Oh, he’s gone,” said the man. “His wife was in an accident or something. He sent me to replace him. So are you ready to take off?”
“Uh… I guess so,” said the boy, stepping back. The man climbed into the basket and began loosening the ropes. After struggling impatiently with the knots for a minute or two, he muttered, “We don’t have time for this. We’re already behind schedule.”
He took a small knife out of his pocket and quickly sliced through the ropes. The balloon suddenly took off and the boy was nearly knocked off his feet as it swiftly ascended into the air.
“That’s more like it,” laughed the man. “Up we go!”
A few seconds later, the basket stopped jerking around and righted itself, soaring smoothly into the sky. The boy listened with great interest as the instructor pointed out all of the controls to him.
“This here is the Gigowatt multiplier and it connects to the manifold distributor,” he said with an air of authority. “If you want to go up, you just pump the flux capacitor here and if you want to go left and right, you tug on the umbilical cords over there.”
As they passed over the town, the instructor began to grow a little uneasy.
“Do you think they can see us from down there?” he enquired anxiously.
The boy looked over the side. “Yes, I’m sure they can,” he replied.
The man shook his head. “No, I mean can they see our faces? Can they recognize us?”
“Of course not,” said the boy, suspecting it was a trick question. “We’re too high up.”
“Not high enough,” said the man. He seemed to be very agitated and kept repeating, “I hope they don’t see me, I hope they don’t see me.”
The boy wondered what was wrong with him.
A minute later, the man picked up one of the sandbags. “This is ballast,” he explained. “It’s what’s keeping us down. We want to go up, up up.”
He dropped the sandbag he was holding over the side and then began throwing out the other sandbags, left and right. The balloon began to rise slowly. Up, up, up, it soared into the clouds.
Then the man pulled off his coat and tossed it overboard.
“That lightened her!” he shouted triumphantly, “but it’s still not enough. We need to go higher, higher, higher!”
He began loosening his tie.
The boy was shocked and didn’t know what to think. “Nobody can recognize you at this distance, even if they had a telescope,” he said.
“Don’t be too sure of that,” replied the man. “They have sharp eyes at the home.”
“At where?” asked the boy.
“At the mental home!” the man shouted.
At that moment, the boy’s heart skipped a beat. A chill went down his spine as the horrible truth dawned on him. He was all alone in a hot air balloon with an escaped mental patient.
For a few seconds, the boy struggled to make sense of the situation. The maniac kept repeating his insane cries of “Higher! Higher! Higher!” as he took off his clothes and threw them out into the wind. When he finally tossed his socks over the side, the man stood there stark naked and said, “We’re not high enough yet. We need to be about ten thousand miles higher.”
The escaped lunatic picked up the last sandbag and heaved it over the side. The balloon rose slightly, but the maniac still wasn’t satisfied and again began to mutter to himself, deep in thought.
The boy was eyeing him nervously and had broken out into a cold sweat. He was desperately wishing that this was all a nightmare, and that he would wake up and find himself safe and sound in his own bed.
“I know!” the man suddenly cried. “There’s nothing else for it. One of us will just have to throw the other one out.”
The boy couldn’t believe what was happening. When he saw the sparkle in the madman’s eyes, it chilled him to the bone.
“Have you got a wife and children?” the man asked, abruptly.
Thinking quickly, the boy said that he was married and had fourteen young kids who depended on him for everything.
“Hahahahahaha!” laughed the maniac. “I have three hundred wives and five thousand children,” he declared, proudly. “And I have to get home to them in time to cook their dinner.”
The terrified boy decided that the only way out of this situation was to humor the crazed man. Playing for time, he asked, “And where do they live?”
“On the moon,” replied the maniac as he suddenly grabbed the young boy around the hips, lifted him up and tossed him over the side.