The Cloud Reader

by 

Dow Kump

Chapter 2
TALENT DAY
 

                Thrilled to finally have a talent made Joe’s heart race with excitement. Stunned, he didn’t know how or why this had happened.   

                His cousins found him, and they wanted to see if he could talk. He was not ready to share his newfound gift. All he wanted to do was go home and figure things out.

                On the ride, Joe’s eyes were focusing on the clouds. It happened again—more stories appeared. His all-time favorite stories were action-adventure graphic novels. But what he experienced today was one hundred times better than those wonderful, adventurous books.  

                Joe reached for his phone and snapped a photograph of a floating beauty. With a few taps, he looked at the picture. Astonished, he could see a story in the cloud from his photo. The story was of a fire-breathing dragon with dark red eyes that hissed aggressively on top of the sun. It intended to destroy everything in its path. That story was a pass—Joe deleted the picture—he didn’t want nightmares.        

                The next cloud story was about a girl who played the piano beautifully. Anyone who loved her music found that their impossible dreams would come true.

                Now home, goodbyes were exchanged, and he went to the backyard to look at more clouds. “This is so great,” Joe said excitedly as endless stories were all around. 

                It occurred to him he had a fun title to call himself.

                Joe repeated it twice—it was a keeper. “The Cloud Reader!”

                A winning smile eased across his face—he treasured the name and the gift enthusiastically, hoping it would never fade away. 

 

                  Joe paused with his remarkable discovery. He learned something about the clouds. In this story, the main cloud was the setting, and smaller clouds sprang to life. They looked like characters from a cartoon. He pictured them clearly and kept going.       

                 Today was a special day. A group of clouds floated to the front door at the castle’s entrance. One word was written in gold: TALENT.

                “This is so awesome!” exclaimed Skippy, an extra-chubby cloud. 

                 It was a wonderful day that select clouds would each receive one extraordinary talent.

                Two puffy clouds, Fred and Marty, the blundering security guards, floated to the door. Their responsibilities and duties were to ensure everything was in order at the entrance.   

                Joe folded his arms and continued the story.   

                The guards were dressed in blue shirts, wearing caps and black ties. They stopped at the door. Fred rotated the dial to unlock it. Marty was busy looking at the clipboard reviewing the list of clouds permitted to enter the castle and receive their talent. 

              “Okay, okay, let’s back up. Could you give me some room to work? This job isn’t easy to do.” Marty impatiently huffed as clouds pushed in close, looking over his shoulder at the list.

 

             The cheerful clouds floated backward, cooperating. Their attention was drawn to Fred, spinning the dial, whistling an energetic tune. 

            “Forget the list,” a tiny, zippy cloud said and darted his way to the front of the line. “Me first!”            

            “Beat it, pal!” another cloud said aggressively. “I got here early; nobody gets in front of me.” The cloud inhaled and blew its hot air at the tiny cloud, launching it into the sky.

             Screams echoed from the cloud, swirling around and around like it was a tumbleweed caught up in a mighty gust of wind. 

             “Impressive,” another cloud gasped, watching her friend roll away. “I’m second.”  

            “That is good enough for me. I’m third,” another cloud responded, jumping in line.

             Joe laughed. The story was off to a thrilling start.

             Marty looked at Fred, whose hand was on the handle. His upbeat whistle faded. He scratched his head, trying the handle again, only to discover the door remained locked.

           “Do-over,” Fred mumbled. 

            He started to rotate the dial. The spinning stopped, and again he tried the handle.  

            Locked.      

           “Uh, Marty,” Fred whispered faintly. He nodded his head which meant—Marty, get over here! 

            His partner drifted over and saw Fred’s panicked face. “I can’t open the door. What is the combination again?” 

           The clouds behind the guards moved forward gradually. 

          “What is the hold-up?” a cloud asked, flexing his muscles. 

          “No, hold up here. My partner spotted a minor maintenance issue. Good observation, Fred,” Marty said nervously.  

           Fred nodded, agreeing with Marty.

           “Forty-seven, thirty-six, forty-four,” Marty whispered sharply from the side of his mouth. “Make it snappy.”

           “Hey, entertain them with funny jokes. Clouds love jokes,” Fred rattled out uneasily while spinning the dial again. 

           “I only know one funny joke. You!”

          “Very funny,” Fred mumbled back.

          “Come on. You only have one job to do—open the door on Talent Day. Why do you always forget the combination?”  

           Fred didn’t answer his partner’s question because he was thinking about the numbers.  

          “Experiencing difficulty?” a cloud asked.          

          “Nope, not at all. My friend excels as an expert castle door opener under extreme pressure.”    

           Marty looked at the group. He smiled, then whispered from the side of his mouth, “Get-that-door-open-or-we-will-have-trouble.”  

          “Whatever happened to the good old lock and key method?”

           “You kept losing the key, remember?”  

           “Oh, that’s right.”  

           “Hurry up. They are getting restless.”  

           Fred finished spinning the dial and jerked the handle.  

           Locked.  

          “Would it be a big problem to give me those numbers again?” Fred asked with a kind smile.

           The muscular cloud flexed his muscles. “Security can’t open it!” 

           Fred put his hands on top of his head and shouted, “I can’t take the pressure!”

          “Charge!” a cloud shouted, leading the attack.  

 

  

         “Whaaaaa!” screamed Fred and Marty as the clouds barreled into them, causing their caps to fly into the air.  

          Joe released a big laugh enjoying the delightful story. It now required one thing—snacks. He pulled from his backpack a favorite treat—peanut M&M’s. Joe comfortably laid down on the lawn and used his backpack as a pillow. He felt like he was at the movies watching a fun show.

          While munching on his treat, The Cloud Reader only wanted to do one thing—keep reading more. 

The Cloud Reader

by 

Dow Kump

Chapter 2
TALENT DAY

 

        Thrilled to finally have a talent made Joe’s heart race with excitement. Stunned, he didn’t know how or why this had happened.   

        His cousins found him, and they wanted to see if he could talk. He was not ready to share his newfound gift. All he wanted to do was go home and figure things out.

        On the ride, Joe’s eyes were focusing on the clouds. It happened again—more stories appeared. His all-time favorite stories were action-adventure graphic novels. But what he experienced today was one hundred times better than those wonderful, adventurous books.  

        Joe reached for his phone and snapped a photograph of a floating beauty. With a few taps, he looked at the picture. Astonished, he could see a story in the cloud from his photo. The story was of a fire-breathing dragon with dark red eyes that hissed aggressively on top of the sun. It intended to destroy everything in its path. That story was a pass—Joe deleted the picture—he didn’t want nightmares.        

        The next cloud story was about a girl who played the piano beautifully. Anyone who loved her music found that their impossible dreams would come true.

        Now home, goodbyes were exchanged, and he went to the backyard to look at more clouds. “This is so great,” Joe said excitedly as endless stories were all around. 

        It occurred to him he had a fun title to call himself.

        Joe repeated it twice—it was a keeper. “The Cloud Reader!”

         A winning smile eased across his face—he treasured the name and the gift enthusiastically, hoping it would never fade away. 

 

         Joe paused with his remarkable discovery. He learned something about the clouds. In this story, the main cloud was the setting, and smaller clouds sprang to life. They looked like characters from a cartoon. He pictured them clearly and kept going.       

         Today was a special day. A group of clouds floated to the front door at the castle’s entrance. One word was written in gold: TALENT.

        “This is so awesome!” exclaimed Skippy, an extra-chubby cloud. 

          It was a wonderful day that select clouds would each receive one extraordinary talent.

         Two puffy clouds, Fred and Marty, the blundering security guards, floated to the door. Their responsibilities and duties were to ensure everything was in order at the entrance.   

         Joe folded his arms and continued the story.   

         The guards were dressed in blue shirts, wearing caps and black ties. They stopped at the door. Fred rotated the dial to unlock it. Marty was busy looking at the clipboard reviewing the list of clouds permitted to enter the castle and receive their talent. 

        “Okay, okay, let’s back up. Could you give me some room to work? This job isn’t easy to do.” Marty impatiently huffed as clouds pushed in close, looking over his shoulder at the list.

 

       The cheerful clouds floated backward, cooperating. Their attention was drawn to Fred, spinning the dial, whistling an energetic tune. 

       “Forget the list,” a tiny, zippy cloud said and darted his way to the front of the line. “Me first!”            

       “Beat it, pal!” another cloud said aggressively. “I got here early; nobody gets in front of me.” The cloud inhaled and blew its hot air at the tiny cloud, launching it into the sky.

       Screams echoed from the cloud, swirling around and around like it was a tumbleweed caught up in a mighty gust of wind. 

      “Impressive,” another cloud gasped, watching her friend roll away. “I’m second.”  

      “That is good enough for me. I’m third,” another cloud responded, jumping in line.

       Joe laughed. The story was off to a thrilling start.

       Marty looked at Fred, whose hand was on the handle. His upbeat whistle faded. He scratched his head, trying the handle again, only to discover the door remained locked.

      “Do-over,” Fred mumbled. 

       He started to rotate the dial. The spinning stopped, and again he tried the handle.  

       Locked.      

      “Uh, Marty,” Fred whispered faintly. He nodded his head which meant—Marty, get over here! 

      His partner drifted over and saw Fred’s panicked face. “I can’t open the door. What is the combination again?” 

      The clouds behind the guards moved forward gradually. 

     “What is the hold-up?” a cloud asked, flexing his muscles. 

     “No, hold up here. My partner spotted a minor maintenance issue. Good observation, Fred,” Marty said nervously.  

       Fred nodded, agreeing with Marty.

     “Forty-seven, thirty-six, forty-four,” Marty whispered sharply from the side of his mouth. “Make it snappy.”

     “Hey, entertain them with funny jokes. Clouds love jokes,” Fred rattled out uneasily while spinning the dial again. 

      “I only know one funny joke. You!”

     “Very funny,” Fred mumbled back.

     “Come on. You only have one job to do—open the door on Talent Day. Why do you always forget the combination?”  

      Fred didn’t answer his partner’s question because he was thinking about the numbers.  

     “Experiencing difficulty?” a cloud asked.          

     “Nope, not at all. My friend excels as an expert castle door opener under extreme pressure.”    

       Marty looked at the group. He smiled, then whispered from the side of his mouth, “Get-that-door-open-or-we-will-have-trouble.”  

      “Whatever happened to the good old lock and key method?”

      “You kept losing the key, remember?”  

      “Oh, that’s right.”  

      “Hurry up. They are getting restless.”  

       Fred finished spinning the dial and jerked the handle.  

       Locked.  

     “Would it be a big problem to give me those numbers again?” Fred asked with a kind smile.

      The muscular cloud flexed his muscles. “Security can’t open it!” 

      Fred put his hands on top of his head and shouted, “I can’t take the pressure!”

     “Charge!” a cloud shouted, leading the attack.  

 

  

       “Whaaaaa!” screamed Fred and Marty as the clouds barreled into them, causing their caps to fly into the air.  

        Joe released a big laugh enjoying the delightful story. It now required one thing—snacks. He pulled from his backpack a favorite treat—peanut M&M’s. Joe comfortably laid down on the lawn and used his backpack as a pillow. He felt like he was at the movies watching a fun show.

        While munching on his treat, The Cloud Reader only wanted to do one thing—keep reading more.