There we were in the basket of a hot air balloon. Indigo Roth, Eolist Petite and I. Roth was looming up from the basket with his head awfully close to the flames of the burner. Ms Petite didn't have that particular problem as she could barely see over the edge of the basket. I had my hand wrapped around a rope.
I looked down and Ms Petite was busy screwing a holy shit handle to the rim of the basket. This is always a good idea when transport and Indigo were in close proximity.
On the far side of the basket Indigo was steering the balloon with a steering wheel. He felt happier when he was driving. The steering wheel wasn't attached to anything, which made Eolist and I feel happier.
"Where do you think we are?" Eolist asked.
"I've no idea. Slobbering-under-the-Bed kinda disappeared after we went straight through that glowing fog bank," I replied.
"I did try to guide us around it, but it's like this steering wheel isn't attached to anything." Ms Petite and I looked at each other. "It doesn't look like there is much down there."
"Odd, isn't it. We should be over England where there are fifteen pubs and twenty-four curry houses per square mile. I can't see a single one."
It was peaceful floating along in the balloon with the gentle rush of air and creaking of the basket. The peace was occasionally interrupted by the firing of the burner. What was below looked like desert with rolling dunes and the occasional patches of scrubby grass.
Roth was the first to spot something a little odd. "Look!" he said.
"I can't see!" replied Ms Petite, bouncing up and down.
"It's probably just a mirage," said I.
"Nope, definitely not a mirage. Look there's a sign over the door, but I can't make it out from here. Mirages never have signs over the door." He seemed very sure of this.
At this point I felt a pull on the rope I held in my hand. I followed the rope and looked over the side of the basket. On the end of the rope was a very well dressed chap of asian appearance.
"Hello?" I asked.
"Would sir mind pulling me up?"
"Excuse me, but what are you doing there?"
"Hanging on a piece of rope, 40 feet above the ground." He seemed anxious, "Would sir mind pulling me up?" he repeated.
We started pulling the man on the rope up towards the basket. Eventually he was lifted over the rim and into the basket. He paused. Dusted himself off and laid a white napkin over his right arm.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"I would have that would have been evident, sir. I am your waiter for the evening." He handed us a menu each. The menus were each bound in fine brown Italian leather, with the gold lettering spelling out the name of the establishment and the word menu.
"What were you doing on the rope?"
"A good waiter anticipates his customers every wish. I am here to take your orders and show you where to land."
At this point the couldn't-be-a-mirage-with-a-sign-over-the-door came into closer view. All three of us whispered the words, The Euthanasia Curry House.
"What is the big circle with a B in it for? The one next to the big circle with a H in it."
"The B circle is for balloons to land. H is for helicopters."
"What is the barrier with bales of hay and old tires for?"
"In case Indigo drove you here." replied the waiter.
The tale continues at Eolist Petite's Blog with Balloon too and/or while i waited...