Feeling guilty about having kidnapped Zack, Liulah the cloud shepherd dragged him into an immense cloud. But why?
By piercing their way through several dozen walls, Zack and Liulah finally came to a huge chamber at the center of the mountainous parent cloud. Liulah stepped forward and spoke: “Father, Mother, this is Zagg. He’s my friend. He’s human.”
“Zack,” Zack corrected, but then reconsidered, “Or maybe it is Zagg. Yeah, let’s go with that. It’ll be my sylph name!” Why is she talking to an empty room? he wondered. Oh, well, it doesn’t matter, nothing matters except that I’m in a giant new cloud that’s waiting to be explored! “Zagg the cloud shepherd lived in the sky,” he narrated as he bounced off the soft crystalline walls, “and rode his faithful cloud steed like the wind!”
He landed at the base of a large mound in the center of the room, and was about to climb it when it suddenly began to move! He back-pedaled frantically.
“Hush,” said the lump, gesturing with a vague semblance of an arm. “Let the quietude enfold you.”
“Yes, dear one,” said another lump, gliding forward on legs that seemed to be part of the floor. “Whatever it is that disturbs you…it does not matter.”
“But it does!” Liulah replied.
“Right,” said Zack, “I mean, wrong. Nothing matters.”
The cloud beings nodded approvingly.
“Zack,” Liulah explained, “this is my mother, and this is my father.”
Zack reached out to shake their hands, but there was nothing to shake, so he waved at them. Their eyes were mere holes, much less human than Liulah’s. They had no noses at all, and their mouths were little more than slits. Both had benign, unchanging expressions. They stared at Zack and Liulah in blissful silence—not, Zack realized, because they couldn’t think of anything to say, but because nothing mattered, so nothing really needed to be said. And it was true…wasn’t it?
Zack knew there were things that used to disturb him, but in Mother and Father Cloud’s presence he couldn’t remember what any of those things were, or why they’d ever mattered.
“Father, Mother,” Liulah said, pressing on, “I made a mistake. Zack is human. He doesn’t belong here.”
“But I want to be here!” Zack protested.
“He wants to be here,” Father Cloud echoed.
“But he didn’t choose it!”
“He must have, or he wouldn’t be here,” said Mother Cloud.
“Observe,” Father Cloud added, “how swiftly he is changing. It is because he chose to be a sylph.”
“No, he didn’t! He was falling from the sky when…when I snatched him.”
Mother and Father Cloud began to chuckle, if you could call it that (they sound like amused bicycle pumps). “Humans can’t fall from the sky,” Father Cloud explained. “Peace, gentle daughter. All is as it should be.”
“No, it’s not!” Liulah screamed.
“And I have to fix it!”
Thoughts: Has anyone ever rescued you from yourself?
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