It’s time for another Flickr story. This is one I wrote in the spring of 2014 after seeing this picture from the Twitter account @ThatsEarth. If I remember correctly, I think it’s Abu Dhabi, but I can’t swear to it. All I could think of was what’s under the clouds? Read on and you will find out what my answer was.
Jonah flew in his personal flight vehicle, or PFV as they called it, dodging the buildings and traffic around him. The protective sun shade was drawn down to protect him from harmful flare-ups and reflections off the buildings. It was another flight home after a long day and week of work. He needed this week-end badly.
He engaged the auto pilot as soon as he started in hopes of relaxing on the three-hundred mile flight back to his home when he drifted off to a fitful nap. It technically wasn’t outlawed to nap while flying, but it was certainly frowned upon. Jonah figured it wouldn’t be long before some do-gooder with an axe to grind would get the law passed. But for now, he drifted off while the PFV flew a familiar course on its way back to his home.
No sooner had Jonah fallen asleep when his PFV made a sudden course correction that jolted him sideways. His head hit the glass windshield. “Ouch! What are you doing you stupid thing?” he said out loud. The glass was reinforced to eliminate breakage, or at least reduce it to almost non-existent, and when his head hit it didn’t budge or crack, which was bad for his head. He reached up and rubbed his forehead, feeling the beginnings of a nice knot starting.
Of course his PFV didn’t reply, only continued on its path. Jonah looked out at all the buildings protruding through the clouds and felt confused. He wasn’t sure if the hit on the head caused it or if it was because he was somewhere he’d never seen before. The buildings looked…different.
He was used to seeing flat roof tops with green plants and trees and gardens and swimming pools. What he looked on now were sharp tips of sleek buildings that extended much higher than he remembered.
Frantic, he checked out both sides of the PFV and there were several spire topped buildings, glass and metal reflecting the evening sun. “Where am I?” he said out loud. He clicked the onboard nav system and spoke out loud. “Computer, where are we?”
“Cordero sector, section 19-563” the female computer voice explained. Jonah frowned. Cordero he thought. Why are we here…and where is Cordero? “Computer, return to home course immediately,” he said.
“Computer, return to home course now!” he said louder.
“Course set. Continuing,” the nav system replied. The PFV didn’t change direction but continued towards the tallest of the spired buildings Jonah spotted far ahead.
He didn’t notice it at first, but as he looked around, he saw that the traffic had dropped off considerably, almost to the point where it ceased completely.
Jonah switched the nav system to manual. He grabbed the steering wheel and tried turning but the PFV didn’t change course. It was as if the switch didn’t work. “What the…” Jonah said. He tried rebooting the system, a tricky maneuver while flying, but not out of the ordinary when a system wide crash like this happened. Nothing turned off. The entire PFV defied his attempts and continued on its course for the spired building now growing larger and larger in view as they approached.
Frustrated, Jonah stopped trying to reboot the PFV and decided to wait until it reached whatever destination it had in mind before he’d either have it repaired or grab public transport to take him home.
All day he dreamed of going home to relax and do nothing all week-end. This delay aggravated him. He didn’t need this after the terrible week he had.
Suddenly, the PFV dove down and banked to the left, circling the large spire topped building until it set down on a landing pad on the backside of the building just above the clouds.
The PFV powered down and opened its hatch, the ladder extending down to the platform. Jonah looked around and saw no one. He thought a moment then climbed out of the defective PFV. “Why not, it’s better to be out of that stupid machine than in it I guess,” he said as he climbed down. He wanted to be home now sipping a cold beer and watching mindless television but instead he was off in “Cordero Sector” and he was lost. He walked over to the door at the end of the landing pad that he assumed led to someone who might be able to help him.
When he stepped inside, he saw sleek black walls with fluorescent blue lights illuminating the halls in either direction, but no desk and no sign of help. Anger growing inside, Jonah spotted an elevator to his right. He walked over and pushed the button. Within moments, he heard a whoosh as the hyper speed elevator flew to his floor. The doors opened with a chime and he stepped inside. There were only four buttons on the control panel.
“What the hell?” he said out loud. From the looks of the building on the outside, there must have been at least a hundred floors, yet there were only four buttons. And they were labeled. The top button said “Food.” The next button down said “Restroom.” The third button down was labelled “Sleep,” while the bottom button was labeled “Home.” Jonah hesitated, unsure what button to press. “Well,” he said, then pressed the bottom button.
Immediately the elevator rushed downwards. Jonah steadied himself on the wall as the g-forces pulled on him. The trip lasted well over a minute, and even in a hyper speed elevator, that was a long time. And that worried him.
No one had been down to “street level” in his lifetime, at least not that he knew. Ever since the Winter Wars raged across the planet, the surface of Earth had been nothing but a boiling, heaving mass of pollution and worse. That’s where all the clouds came from. Above them, the world looked beautiful and inviting, but from the pictures he saw in history books and the news, the surface was uninhabitable. Nothing lived there. It was utter waste and destruction. The surface was boiling from the nuclear waste and the evaporation rose up to create the manmade clouds that blocked the sun from ever reaching down to it.
Jonah thought of all these things as the elevator slowed and finally stopped, opening with a chime. He looked out of the elevator to a sleek black hallway very much like the one he left moments earlier. He hesitated but stepped out hoping to find anyone to help him. The elevator doors closed behind him and he heard the whoosh sound as it ascended upwards. Panic started to creep into his thoughts and he fought to push it down, hoping to be out of here as soon as possible.
He turned right and walked along the hallway until he came to a door on his left. He looked around before he grabbed the handle and pushed down. To his surprise, it opened up.
Stepping through the door was like entering a different world. He stood in a large hallway that was like nothing he’d ever seen. Glass walls rose high in the air, curving above him. Outside he could see lush vegetation. He spotted snow covered mountains off in the distance and birds in the air. It looked light outside as though the sun shone down here, but that was impossible. Everyone knew it couldn’t penetrate the dense smog. He looked on the verdant world before him with wonder and astonishment. He’d never seen anything so beautiful in his life. The problems of his week felt so petty and worthless compared to the awesome beauty he gazed on.
He walked slowly along the glass lined corridor admiring the trees and brightly colored flowers on all sides of him. At the end of the corridor was another door, a glass one. Above it in bright green letters it said “HOME.” He smiled and tried the handle. It opened.
A rush of warm tropical air flooded over Jonah as he opened the door. The scents were mesmerizing. The sound of rushing water and birds chirping filled his ears. “Home,” he said in bewilderment.
Stepping into the warm air, Jonah was overwhelmed by the lush beauty. He hadn’t seen anything like this in his life. All he knew were clouds and skies, nothing like the wonderous landscape in front of him.
Home he thought over and over again. He was home.
Suddenly, his thoughts turned to his real home, to his PFV, to the towers above the skies. He started worrying he might be intruding on something malevolent. But the green expanse in front of him and the water rushing and the animals making sounds…all of it felt comforting.
“Where am I?” he said out loud.
“Why…you’re home Mr. Pelinski.”
Jonah jumped to the side, his heart racing fast. He hadn’t seen anyone when he stepped into the tropical garden.
“Who…who are you?” he said through shallow breaths. His heart threatened to burst through his chest.
“Please do not worry Mr. Pelinski. You are safe, you are home,” said a small robot, about the size of a cat. Jonah hadn’t noticed it sitting still, like a large rock, when he stepped through the door. His gaze was too fixed on the wondrous colors to notice anything else.
Jonah looked at the small robot with trepidation. It looked like a mini-human with two legs, two arms, and a face with eyes, nose, and a mouth though Jonah couldn’t understand why.
“You are home Mr. Pelinksi. It was your time. We have brought you here because you belong. This is for you Mr. Pelinksi. You have free roam,” the tiny robot said with a theatric wave of its arm. The robot was entirely grey except for its yellow glowing eyes.
“But, I don’t understand,” Jonah replied, his confusion showing on his face. He rubbed his head trying to take it all in and process it.
“Understanding is not required Mr. Pelinksi. Just accept. It is yours. There are others, but you are all welcome. You are home,” the robot repeated again.
Jonah stared off in the distance, looking over the small robot.
Others? It was my time?
Jonah’s eyes went large as a thought grew within his mind.
“Where am I?” he said to the robot. It looked up at Jonah and a smile formed on its metallic face.
“You are in Heaven Mr. Pelinksi. You…are home.”