The Great Escape

This is today’s Google Masthead:

….. so let’s all celebrate with him.


Harry Houdini sat in the corner of the pub, raised his pint of Guinness and wished himself a Happy 137th Birthday.

He had performed many wonderful feats of escapology during his lifetime. However, they all paled to the level of smoke-and-mirrors-David-Copperfieldery when compared to his annual birthday trip to the pub now that he was dead.

Harry's homeIt was so impressive because it was effectively an escape in two parts. His body had to lift the lid of his coffin, push its way through six feet of earth, push aside a load of gravel and then fight its way through the dozens of bouquets of flowers that people insisted on still leaving upon his grave. This was pretty routine for a man who had once been manacled to an albatross,a bouncy castle and a statue of Ozymandias and had been dropped into an erupting volcano. He had escaped with just singed eyebrows, mainly because the statue had taken most of the force.

His only problem had been the year when he emerged from his grave just at the wrong time, and had spent two hours running from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

While this was going on his soul also had to escape from heaven, which involved slipping on an angel’s costume that he’d bought in a fancy dress shop in 1922, sneaking past St Peter (note to new readers, I do sometimes write posts that don’t have saints in them), then picking the lock of the pearly gates with a key that he had made from a piece of manna.

Once outside he simply had to let himself fall. The four-thousand mile an hour plummet  from the skies was still his favourite birthday present to himself, though the squelchy, sucky thud in his ears as his soul re-entered his body was still one of the most disgusting things he’d ever heard.

He loved this day every year. He came to the same pub and sat in the same corner. No-one paid much attention, since he didn’t look his age. When you live in a coffin things like sunburn and holes in the Ozone layer tend not to be a problem for your skin. Neither are laughter lines.

He never bothered talking to anyone, he’d always preferred silence (he could have answered Conan Doyle during those séances, he simply hadn’t wanted to). He would just stare around him in wonder at the changes in fashion, at the variety of new drinks, and at the fact that Alex Ferguson was still Manchester United’s manager, since they’d fought each other for the British Bare-knuckle Boxing Championship in 1897.

He finished his pint and stood up to go. Just for a second he considered having another, then thought better of it.

When you’re going to spend the next 364 days underground in box you don’t want to overload your bladder.


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