Grounded

Sometimes being a servant was bitter work. It was a thankless job, for sure. The clothing was dull - being deep gray jumpsuits. And the pay? Barely enough to support one person, let alone a family. Luckily I didn't have one.

There was one thing that made it all worth it. The view. Standing on the end of a ladder, hanging off of a cloud did provide some magnificent sights. Of course, the danger of falling down 10,000 feet to the ground below slightly dampened that, but all in all, most people didn't mind the work. It kept th mind busy, most days.

Today was a particularly busy day on the cloud city of Celestia. The biggest festival in two decades was taking place this evening. Twenty years had passed since scientists had discovered how to solidify clouds enough to build cities on them. Celestia had been the first city built and it was now occupied by the very rich. They were the only ones who could afford to live so high in the sky, after all. A few poorer people were brought along, for labor intensive jobs, of course. The wealthy didn't want to break a nail fixing leaky pipes and air vents. And now you see where the hanging off a ladder 10,000 feet up comes in. Actually, it was below the city, where all the technical stuff was.

The first sign of the tragedy of today was spotted there, under the cloud. It was fluffier than normal. Usually, very condensed and thick, the cloud had started to poof out, like curly hair on a humid day. Running a hand along the underside gave more reason to believe something was wrong. It came out covered in moisture.

That was bad.

Climbing back up the ladder is a hard task on most days. The air up here is thin and it takes a lot of arm muscles to make the climb. Turns out, that was the easiest task of the day.

Rounding up a few buddies was harder. They were scattered around the city, doing their various jobs. Jared was the closest, by far. His jumpsuit was stained with oil from working with some pipes, and he had some smeared on his face as well.

"Still know how to fly a plane?"

Jared turned around and raised an eyebrow. "Yeah. Why?"

"This cloud's going down. We need to get out of here,"

His eyes widened almost comically. "What about everyone else?" He meant the wealthy people whose cloud this was.

A shrug answered him. "They don't care a bit about the little people, Jared. Why should the little people care about them?"

Jared looked troubled, but then nodded. "See you at the plane then,"

It took far too long to gather the five other people that could be considered friends. One by one, they rushed toward the plane that Jared had running. When it took off, with seven of us on it, a view of the city washed over us. It was low in the sky.

Gazing at the horizon behind it, Jared estimated that Celestia was down around 5,000 feet. Yesterday it had been its normal height.

"It's going to crash into the ground," Ernie commented.

"Or simply float down and give those rich bums a taste of living on the ground," Louis replied bitterly.

The plane landed in an empty field and everyone piled out. Ernie pulled out a twelve pack of beer he had found and passed them around. Together, we leaned up against the plane and watched as the city sank, gaining speed as it went. Around two AM, the cloud city, lit brightly with sparkling artificial lights, hit the ground and suddenly turned dark.

The cloud city of Celestia, after twenty years afloat, had been grounded.