The scientists built the giant balloon to look like an ark of glass.
All the townspeople came and snapped photos of it with their phones. They pointed up. Those who believed in God got in a circle and pleaded for mercy and sleep.
For several days and nights the scientists took shifts loading every kind of high powered telescope into the balloon’s undercarriage and when they finished and saw that there was room left over they loaded in a house belonging to one of their fellow scientists with his family still inside.
This particular scientist walked into his home and called out to his wife and three daughters and found them hiding in the upstairs ceramic tub hugging bed pillows. The wife could not stop shaking. He coaxed them out, one after the other, with gentle words and the promise of something hot in their stomachs.
In the kitchen, as they drank their green tea, breathing in its steam for good health, the scientist told his family the news: beginning tomorrow morning they were to live in the air and he would look down on all the towns and suburbs and cities and peoples through the telescopes and journal his findings. Farm animals and other supplies were being harnessed to smaller balloons built like glass arks as he spoke. You must understand we have questions about why so many of us can’t sleep at night.
The wife of the scientist cried.
The two eldest daughters of the scientist collected their mother’s tears in petri dishes.
But the youngest daughter went upstairs to her room and took off her pants and shirt and put on a dress the color of peach skin. She practiced her pirouettes. Then got dizzy. So she wandered room to room. With her fingers she set fire to her sister’s twin sized beds and with her mouth she sucked up the flames. She opened the window to let the moon in and, later, fell asleep on the floor in its dusty light.
When the scientist noticed her sleeping he rushed to find a pencil. He found a mostly blank journal. He carried in a telescope and looked at his youngest through the lens. He set it further back, to the wall, and looked again. Everything a peachy blur.
Charles Lennox lives and loves in Orange, CA. He has stories published or forthcoming in Quick Fiction, matchbook, NANO Fiction, ML Press, and others.