Airman by Eoin Colfer

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By Eoin Colfer

Conor Broekhart was once born to fly.

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Quickly. ’ In the fraught minutes that were to follow, Vigny proved his skill as an aeronaut. He perched on the basket’s lip, gripping a stanchion in one hand and the gas-release line in the other. With a tap of his boot he pushed the tiller wide. Le Soleil swung in a gentle arc. Vigny intended to set her down inside the velvet rope. Declan Broekhart stayed at his wife’s side. Strong and stubborn as Catherine was, the gunshot had shocked her system. This had the effect of bringing forward her child’s due time.

Below the plume of smoke, King Nicholas could breath again. Each successive gasp of fresh air drove the toxins from his system and returned strength to his limbs. ‘Come down, man! ’ Nicholas grinned, his teeth a flash of white. ‘I almost died, Victor. ’ These simple sentences were a considerable effort, and each phrase was punctuated by a fit of coughing. ‘That’s it now,’ said Vigny. ‘The old Nick. ’ The king came down slowly, his journey interrupted by several explosions. Once his feet had found purchase on the top rung, Nicholas descended quickly.

The boy who became the man. We should have seen it. But hindsight is an unreliable science and, in truth, there was perhaps a single incident during Conor’s early days at the palace that hinted at his potential. The incident in question occurred when Conor was nine years old and roaming the serving corridors that snaked behind the walls of the castle chapel and main building. His partner on these excursions was the Princess Isabella, one year his senior and always the more adventurous of the two.

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