Flash Friday 21/03/2014: Hunter of the Clouds
“Your mother never did tell you why I got the greenest plants this side of the desert, did she?” Grandpa Trevor loaded two shells into the double barrelled shotgun.
“I always thought it was weird.” Thomas folded his arms, watching the procedure. “Everywhere else looks like a barren wasteland, but your garden always looked like something straight out of the Jungle Book. I’m expecting a singing bear to come out from behind a tree at any moment. I just assumed you had very green fingers?”
“Green? Pah. All these fingers are these days are old and wrinkly. It has nothing to do with how green or nimble they are, no siree. Just a little bit of magic.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen any magician use a double-barreled shotgun as a wand.”
“Then you’re watching the wrong magicians. This baby here is the exact reason why my garden is so great. You won’t read about this trick in Harry Potter, that’s for sure.”
Thomas looked around the garden. He could not help but think that he was missing something important, here. “So, what do you plan to do with the gun? Perform a stick-up on the grass and force it to grow? Load your shotgun shells full of seeds?”
“If you quit using your mouth and use your eyes, I’ll show you. See, what is it that makes plants grow? You’re grown now, you should know this one.”
“That’s easy.” Thomas began naming items off of his fingers. “Sunlight, nutritious soil, lack of herbivores in the area, and water.”
“And why is it that nobody can grow nothin’ round these parts?”
“Because the latter is missing. There’s no water for miles around here. Everyone has to hire out the fire service just to get their garden watered.”
“What’s an easy, free way of having your plants watered?”
“I dunno.” Thomas gave a shrug. “Use someone else’s hose.”
Grandpa Trevor stopped maintaining eye contact with Thomas, choosing instead to scan the sky, covering his eyes from the harsh sun. “Free, but not easy. What I’m talking about is Mother Nature’s own special way of keeping Her green grass healthy. You know this one, c’mon.”
“Wait.” Thomas frowned. “You mean the rain?”
“But the reason this place is dry as hell is because there is no rain. You’re meaning to say that the only reason your plants are successful is because the rain comes down only in your tiny patch in this place?”
Grandpa Trevor didn’t answer. He was looking upwards, like a dog spotting a bone. “Son, if I wanted you to get some orange juice, but there were no stores around, and you find an orange tree, what would you do?”
“Take an orange off of the tree and squeeze it.”
“Well, that’s what we’re doing right here.” Grandpa Trevor slowly lifted his gun to aim into the sky. “We’re squeezin’ oranges.”
Thomas looked into the sky, in the general direction of where the shotgun was being pointed. It took him a while to find the target, primarily because he was looking for a bird, or maybe even a low-flying plane. It’s only when he paired up what he was just told to what he was seeing, however, that he saw the madness.
“Are you aiming for that cloud?” Thomas pointed. “Have you actually gone mad?
“No siree Bob. It’s common knowledge that it’s not possible to shoot a cloud. Turns out, that’s not the case.” Grandpa Trevor repositioned the shotgun on his shoulder, putting pressure on the trigger. “Turns out, it’s just that nobody knows where to shoot ’em.”
Thomas had a lot to ask Grandpa Trevor. The biggest question on his mind was the one asking him if clouds even had jugular veins. Just as he opened his mouth, however, the area around Grandpa Trevor exploded with a gigantic wall of sound, almost knocking Thomas to the floor. Two shotgun shells hit the deck, still smoking. The only thing still upright and in shape was Grandpa Trevor himself, watching his prey closely.
“That didn’t feel like a shotgun blast,” Thomas said, standing up and dusting himself off. “That was more like a mortar.”
“Have to shoot ’em high else they’ll never hit the target. Good idea with the mortar, though. I’ll see if I can fit one in on my pension.”
Thomas kept watching the cloud. He didn’t see the point where the bullets hit, probably because it was like trying to watch an ant hit an open sea. What he did see, however, was a very sudden darkening of the underside of the cloud, followed by a deep rumble. As the cloud floated overhead, what looked like a curtain of glitter began to fall from it. Then, in a sudden wave, it began to rain heavily.
“Well.” Grandpa Trevor rested on his shotgun, looking up as the rain dripped off of his face. “That’ll do ’em for another few days, I reckon. Now let’s head inside and dry off before we catch ourselves a cold.”
Grandpa Trevor walked inside, leaving Thomas to continue staring upward at the sky with his jaw hanging open.If they could discover the cloud version of a bandage, they could strike it very rich.