Up, Up, and Surprisingly South

This week is a fictional short story! I hope you enjoy it.

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It was a crowded spring day. The sky was blue with a few of my favorite clouds in the sky- Cumulus. Who wouldn’t love fluffy, white, poofs?

I fasten my hat on a little bit closer as a gust of fragrant wind rushes past me. The wildflowers dance on either side of the main attraction.

For a little town in northern Montana the novel idea of the world’s first hot air balloon was the most exciting thing we had heard of since the horseless carriage. The line is miles long as I tiptoe anxiously to see the opened gate.

The waiting patrons are happily chattering about stepping into the highly fashioned basket attached to the enormous rainbow colored balloon. The large “SF” emblem blazes across the royal fabric. The Stemson Family has been innovating air travel for years. Many failed attempts riddled their past track records, but today that is all put to rest.

The beautiful flower fields, mild weather, and silent anticipation make the wait both bearable and excruciating. My sister Ginny, pats my arm with excitement as the balloon inflates and slowly drifts into the sky hanging stiffly at the end of a thick coarse rope.

A lady and her husband wave furiously at the peak of flight. A stranger in the same ride leans over the opposite side and clutches the edge. His face has turned a contorted pale color.

Ginny laughs in my ear as she wildly point towards the man bent in half over his decisions. The conductor solemnly hands the customer what appears to be a small brown bag. I can only hope I won’t react the same way.

“Oh Ginny don’t behave this way. That poor man is sick to his stomach. You better pray to your lucky stars that you don’t turn out the same. You’re nearly eighteen for Mary’s sake.” I chide. My sister replies between snorting fits.

“I know my dear sister. Truly, but I can’t help myself. I dare you to say it isn’t the least bit humorous Violet.” She retorts.

“I’d be a liar if I did.” We erupt into a fit of giggles.

Time passes a bit faster, once we turn to people watching. A little girl in a purple dress, her father with a swanky handlebar mustache, and his son a little rascal with a bright red ball board the craft next. Upon boarding, the boy promptly drops his red ball at the height of the trip. The conductor looks mighty displeased.

Soon after an hour of waiting it was finally our turn. A small inconvenience in our way.

“I’m sorry ma’am we only have one spot remaining for this ride.” The attendant said sheepishly.

“That’s alright we will wait until the next turn. My sister and I would like to ride together.” I smile cordially.

“Oh no we do not.” Ginny yanks my ticket from my hand and gives it to the attendant.

“Ginny!” I exclaim as she nudges me forward.

“Go on Violet. You’ve waited long enough. Why don’t you go amongst those clouds you’re so fond of. Nimbo-Cirrus or whatever they’re called.” She smiles devilishly.

“They’re called Cumulus, Ginny.” I say through narrowed eyes and mouth “Thank you.” to my dear baby sister.

The three patrons and I step into the basket, making room for the conductor. A shrimp of a man with speckled yellow teeth and greasy orange mangled hair bows far too low to me. He looks nervous as sweat beads on his brow.

The other man is cool and collect. He’s not much taller than me, but his confidence exudes an air of a far taller stature. His hair is jet black and wildly tangled about.

Finally the white haired conductor smooths his frizzing hair and straightens his tie. Muttering to himself about his near retirement.

“Gates closing!” He calls as the attendant begins to secure the door we stepped through.

The door is nearly shut when a young man in tattered graying clothing bull rushes through the crowd. He wildly brandishes a gun in one hand while he swings a wooden cane in the other. Patrons flee, this way and that as they attempt to miss the stray bullets and wild swings. A few fail to dodge the attacks.

A feral look sparks in the assailant’s eyes. He guns down the attendant as he flings himself into the basket. Three bullets left. The balloon begins to ascend higher and swifter into the sky. The attendant attempts to clutch on to the last of the rope as his leg oozes blood. It’s in vain. The man in gray unsheathes the cane to brandish a thin sword, and cuts the anchoring ropes free.

The conductor holds up his hands as he stammers a quick plea until “shrimpy”  from earlier abandons ship before he can catch a bullet. The madman’s eyes gleam with a new plan as he tosses the old man over. I clutch onto the support ropes, my eyes locking with the stranger next to me. His once cool composure has changed to fight or flight.  

No words are exchanged only quiet desperation as the man in gray advances.

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I hope you enjoyed that story! If you did please don’t forget to “like” and feel free to leave a comment below! Thank you so much

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