Only one person could have predicted it, but she did not and that was part of the problem. People stared at the sky in a mix of amazement, wonder and fear.
“Strange things are happening, I can feel it.” were some of the murmurs that could be heard from the gathering people when the clouds arrived. She could feel it too, she had been feeling it coming for some time, but she had ignored it. She ignored the growing unrest inside of her, something was not right, yet she continued on in her usual ways. In quiet moments, the feeling was always stronger, so she stayed busy. She didn’t know what to think about the bad feeling, if you could even call it that. It was not a feeling that she could place or define or explain, not that she had allowed herself very much time to try. It was so foreign and made her feel like maybe she was crazy, or at least, other people would think she was.
So, when the clouds appeared and split the sky all the way below the horizon, (and when do clouds ever behave so strangely?) she knew that somehow this was the manifestation of her unrest. She knew this, something, was coming. She had sensed something was not right, and she did nothing. On one side of the sky, it was as if flames had leapt up into the clouds, mixing with heavy smoke. On the other side, was a cool, dimly lit fog, with a ever so slight, promising sunlight. It had all started with the dark and impressive clouds that slowly blew in and seemed to stop once they had settled into position. Then, slowly, what was faint became darker and more intense. What was puzzling, became beautiful, turning to wonder and finally, fear.
The air had become very, very still. In fact, everything had become very, very quiet. Birds and other animals all seemed to be stopped; no chirping, no rustling. By then, everyone had pretty much gathered on the green. Most people were dazzled by the beauty, their faces turned toward the sky, but not she. Although she allowed herself a few seconds to recognize the beauty, she understood that behind it was danger in the flaming clouds and the stillness was unnatural. Yet, she did nothing, not knowing what there was for her to do. Then, a slight breeze drifted from the direction of the clouds towards the people. On one hand, it was very hot and dry and on the other it was cool and damp.
There had been a long enough silence before the breeze to lead people’s thoughts to fear. You knew, before you heard the word, “Fire”, was on everyone’s mind. That is when the running began, away from the flaming sky and as more people ran, the wind picked up and the heat increased, the sound of the air was almost like a roar. Chaos ran wild and free. The unspoken social rules of not running over someone or pushing them down, seemed to be forgotten, everyone was running for their lives away from those flaming clouds. Finally, before she even knew what she was doing, she bellowed, “STOP! STOP! You’re making it worse by running! STOP!”
The realization that she had finally done something, instead of watching, of finally knowing what could be done, startled her into a cool, calmness. It took a few minutes, but people did finally stop running. Panting, they looked back at the now, awful sky. The same sky as before, but now, a new judgement. The wind and dry heat died down and some damp coolness returned, but the breeze, that eerie, two-toned, hot and dry, cool and damp breeze never stopped. She did not know what else to do and now people seemed to be looking at her for guidance. This made her uncomfortable, as she was not accustomed to people looking at her, in fact, she was very good at blending into the environment, disappearing in the shadows. Her calmness started to waver and she began to feel hot, wondering if those flaming clouds were somehow picking up in intensity again. She glanced nervously at the sky, the flaming clouds, then to the right, to the cool, foggy mist and patient, yellow sunlight and then, she knew.
“We have to go in.” she said and pointed her finger toward the flaming clouds. “We have to go into those clouds.”
To be continued.