The Balloon by Derrick G7RWU

I am going to tell you about a strange happening to an acquaintance of mine called Andy. Ho was a radio enthusiast, of course, and had just taken delivery of a two metre hand hold. His experiences from this moment on you will just not believe! Anyhow here comes the story you can believe it or not!

In case you might get the impression that Andy was some kind a ‘’Nutter’ I should explain that he was in fact a very clever young man, as far as I could tell.

Anxious to try out his new ‘handy’- Andy hopped into his not so young Volvo Estate, and set off towards the South Downs, with his mobile radio antenna waving in the slip stream.

Having parked, he walked up to the top of an adjacent hill to try out the new little Beasty. After a few CQ’s he managed to make a few local contacts in Seaford and Eastbourne,

Hoping to a QSO somewhat further a field, optimistically, from across the water, he carried on walking along the top of the Downs, to a higher position. Rounding a hill with a few Lushes, he came across, what he thought from the  distance was a grounded Hot Air Balloon, laying on it’s side.

Now here comes a funny part of all this. It so happened that at about the same time, I was scanning The VHF bands at my QTH. Switching over from six metres, to the two metre band on FM, could hear what sounded like someone in distress. After making contact discovered it was Andy and in a very disturbed state of mind.

The most important thing he wanted was help. He told me that he was hungry, but he couldn’t eat the Egyptian Food, as it made him sick. Could I please bring along some cheese and pickle sandwiches, at least two rounds, and a can of Pepsi.

I felt sure that something was wrong, and that my immediate help was probably vital, so I said, “Sure thing Andy, I’ll be along with your order pronto. Where exactly are you? What is your location?”

After a jumbled explanation from him about finding a hot air balloon, and that he had parked his car a few miles from Jevirigton and that he was hungry, and would I please hurry up with the cheese and pickle sandwiches, he said quite clearly and calmly “I am in Egypt!”

Naturally I was surprised to hear this, mean to say! A QSO across the water to France is good with a hand held. But Egypt? No way! I asked him if he was sure ~ ~ about being in Egypt. “oh yes” he said. In fact I think I am in Ancient Egypt, you know, Pyramids Temples, Cleopatra, Slave Girls, and all that kind of thing”.

Trying not to laugh, I asked him how it was that we could talk to each other on two metres, if he was in Egypt, and how was I going to bring the sandwiches to him. How did you manage to get to Egypt so quickly from the Downs?

Impatient for me to get moving he hurriedly explained that he came across this stranded partly inflated balloon. It was a shimmering affair, coloured bright blue and green. The whole thing flopped and billowed in the wind. He went up to examine it more closely. The balloon fabric enveloped him and he found himself inside it. Turning round to try and get out, he could not even see the balloon fabric. He seemed to be in an immense building, with huge columns supporting it and hordes of weird looking people surrounding him.

From all this garbage I was convinced that somehow, Andy had got himself tangled up in the either the ropes or fabric of the baboon, fallen over, and banged his head, or maybe there was some kind of gas around.

I arrived on the scene, after getting what details could, and found Andy’s car. I had brought my own hand held unit, and maintained contact as I hiked up the adjacent hill, the signals helped me to find the balloon. When I got to it I could hear Andy prattling away with his delusions from inside the fabric cover. I searched for a way in. I did not want to fall over and bang my head.

Whether it was a hot air balloon or not I could not be sure about. It had curious markings like ancient Egyptian script, and there was an empty basket attached, by means of rough looking ropes. From my first quick impressions, the basket appeared to be made out of reeds.

I could hear Andy talking inside. I have a nearly naked girl in here with me. She’s a belly dancer. There are some weird looking guys here who want some sort of payment for her, and they are getting very aggressive. One of them has a knife. Help! Get me out of here!

The balloon fabric cut easily, and I soon ripped a three sided flap, and stepped inside. It appeared as I expected.

It was the inside of a balloon, but filled with what lean only describe as a fog, with a musty smell. Standing in front
of me was Andy.

One hand was holding his transceiver, and the other was wrapped round the waist of a young dark skinned girl. Although at first I could only see Andy and the girl, as I breathed in more of the ‘Fog’ began to be aware of other outlines. I quickly dragged Andy outside, with the girl still in his arm.

Once outside in the good Sussex air, Andy sat down and set to work demolishing the food I had brought, all the while keeping his eyes on the girl who sat beside him. She looked like a little Barbarian. About five feet tall, she was the colour of light brown sugar.

For clothes she had on a few small pieces of muslin and a multitude of beads and bangles. These decorations caused a constant clanging and clattering noise as she moved.

The sandwiches being finished, we all set off down the bill towards the cars. When we were half way down, I looked back towards the balloon, and was surprised to find it was no longer where we had left it. It had apparently vanished.

The wind must have blown it out of sight I thought. I stopped and looked again, but no sign of the balloon, could hear the little Barbarian clanging and clattering as she ran down the hill, with Andy running after her. They disappeared into the trees and bushes at the bottom.

Catching up with them, I was about to remark about the disappearance of the balloon, when I was astonished to see the Little Barbarian fading away. Literally fading away, until she vanished as well. She was there next to Andy one minute and gone the next. Completely gone. bangles and all. Andy didn’t see this happen.

At first he thought she was hiding, and ran round the bushes, searching and calling. Sherryzardy I Sherryzardy! Where are you? Her real name may have been ‘Scheheradaze’ of course. The calling and searching went on for ages. I tried to tell him that she had vanished along with the balloon, but he only thought I was crazy. He was devastated for along time after these events. He had really fallen for that beaded and bangled muslin clad girl.

Ii is no use asking me to explain how or why those strange happenings took place. I just want to live peacefully in my Shack, with all my wires, valves, transistors, and six packs!,

Andy believes he stepped into a ‘time warp’, and that the balloon was from Ancient Egypt, and that Sherryzardy was sent up in the basket as a sacrifice, to one of their Gods. When I said that I didn’t think the Ancient Egyptians knew anything about hot air balloons, he replied “Well we do not know everything about them do we? “ Which I suppose is true.

If you would like to know what Andy does now, apart from operating on the airwaves, with his Radio Station, well can tell you.

First of all, he has not been able to forget the Little Barbarian’. New girl friends don’t last very long. He goes walking on his own quite a lot. His favourite walks are along the South Downs. He hopes to find the balloon again. He takes his ‘Hand Held, of course, and wears a back pack, filled with what ho calls his ‘Trade Goods. Things like hand mirrors, coloured plastic beads, odd pieces of jewellery, boxes of matches, arid all sorts of bric-a-brac.

On these walks lie tends to get carried away, so if you do happen to see him, during your travels, suggest you keep well away.

If you cannot avoid him, he is very likely to stop and enquire whether you have seen what he is looking for, He will say’ “I hate to bother you but have you seen any stranded hot air balloons, coloured green and blue?”

If you haven’t moved away by then, he will go on to tell you of his visit to Ancient Egypt in a Time Warp, and how he hopes to meet a Belly Dancer again because he believes he loves her. It is all very sad really.

If any reader, does get a sight of him, or of a stranded balloon, please write, with the details, to the Editor of this magazine.

I am sure he will be very pleased.

Derrick – G7RWU. March 1998.

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