Cloud Palace

“The insomnia still refuses to relinquish me. And yet somehow I find myself able to knit words together.”

I wrote this Story in answer to the following prompts:
Sadje’s What Do You See – picture above from Google Images
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Glum
Your Daily Word — Zilch
Pensitivity’s Three Things Challenge — Impress – Peace – Solitude

Cloud Palace

There’s zilch to worry about except falling when hang-gliding at 10,000 feet. Wes gave a gentle tug on his control bar, turning his great orange kite-like sail away from the wind a little.

“Yeehaaaa!” He yelled as the exhilarating glider gained a little speed. Flying like this wasn’t a way to impress people for him. This was an escape from the anxiety-inducing stress of life on the ground. Here in the blue sky, surrounded by wispy white clouds the glum vanished, replaced by peace and solitude.

Wes had started the flight with his long-time friend Penelope. She never stayed airborne as long as he did.

Looking behind and below him, Wes could see Penelope’s glider making a landing on the hillside atop the valley. The pink sail looked like a butterfly it was so small from up here.

“I’m safely down, Wes. You okay up there?” she asked over the radio-mic system they used for safety.

“Nice landing! I’m loving it up here, I’ll come back to earth soon.” Wes tilted his sail as if waving to her.

“Show off!” She remarked with a chuckle.

Wes just laughed back as he began a starboard turn. It was then he felt the glider lurch. The keel began to vibrate. Then the landing wires started rattling against the king bar above the sail.

“Wes, look out! Dust devil!” Penelope yelled over the radio.

“Of course, the only weather phenomena that could screw up the good days fly —Waaa!” The hang glider lurched hard to the port side and spun fast.

The horizon rotated at stomach-churning speed.

Wes wrestled with his control bar, desperate to seize back control of his glider.

Inside the vortex of hot, dusty air, the light aircraft was nothing more than a toy.

The leading-edge tubes bent to the extreme as the wind threatened to tear the sails from the batten ridges.

 Wes felt nausea rising in his stomach, blood pounding in his ears. The glider was climbing in altitude at a rapid pace. Then the roaring wind vanished and the glider seemed to freeze on the cold air surrounding the fluffy white clouds.

“Holy, mother! That was quite a ride!” Wes breathed as he relaxed again. He looked about below him. He needed to reorientate himself to be able to land. Spotting Penelope’s sail a mile below and behind him, he made to turn.

 The hang glider ignored the instruction.

It was then he saw it, a pure white fantasy palace sitting within a large cloud. Two majestic towers rose like guardians on either side of the cathedral-like central building. The whole structure seemed to glisten with silvery filigree patterns.

“What in the world!” Wes tried again to turn his glider. Even with every fibre of his strength, he couldn’t force the control bar to move. He knew then, he was going to the castle whether he liked it or not.

Within a couple of minutes, the glider lowered itself and landed at the top of a long staircase of curved steps.

Wes crawled out of his flight bag. Standing, he noted the steps just disappeared into the cloud beneath him.

This was the front terrace of the cloud palace. Crystal-white floors led around to the left. It was here, the grand entrance doors opened wide.

Wes made to walk toward them. Although he felt no fear, he needed to find out why he was brought here and to demand his freedom as soon as possible.

“Stay where you are!” demanded a feminine voice.

Wes spun on his heel searching for the speaker. His eyes fell upon a female wrapped in a dress of shimmering silver and golden-brown. Two large earthy-brown wings were folded behind her, matching her long shining hair.

“You were not brought here as a guest. Therefore, you will not do anything without permission,” she warned.

Wes held up his hands. “Understood, no need to throw me off the cloud. Just release my glider and I’ll happily fly away.”

“Then you have no interest in what you see here?”

“Of course, I do. You brought me wherever we are despite not wanting me here. So, if I ask questions, you won’t answer, will you?”

“This is the Palace of the Oracles. The home of the harpies. When your kind says they see angels, it is us sending messengers.”

So, you have a message for me?”  

“No, a warning. You will promise never to return here. We will clip your wings for good if you do.” The harpy threw open her wings.

Wes recoiled as a savage flap of air threatened to knock him off his feet. “I never intended to come here in the first place. A dust devil carried me up into the clouds, I immediately tried to descend again. But you somehow forced my glider to bring me here.”

“We had to, we knew you’d see the palace before we could cloak it. Now, we are a peaceful trusting kind. This is why we shall allow you to leave. Go now, and never speak of this place and never let us see you again.”

With no choice, Wes turned his glider and prepared himself to take off. “I shall always fly, but I’ll never attempt to return. Only mother nature will bring me back should I find myself here again,” he said before taking off at the run.

“Good luck, human!” yelled the harpy flapping her wings.

The glider launched Wes into the sky. He quickly kicked back into his flight bag and descended as fast as possible.

Within moments the castle of the oracles was gone as if it had never been.

Wes circled his way toward the ground and made a smooth landing beside Penelope’s glider.

“Wes! What happened? Are you okay?” She cried as she helped him from the glider and hugged him.

“That was a hell of a ride!” he admitted.

“The dust devil took you so high. I was so frightened the altitude would kill you.”

“Me too!” Wes smoothed Penelope’s blonde pigtails. “So, sorry I scared you.”

“It’s okay, I’m just glad you made it back safely. What did you see up there?”

“Nothing, but cold air and clouds.”

“Liar,” Penelope scowled and went to her kit bag.

“What?” Wes opened his arms as he made to tend his glider.

Penelope took out her Canon Eos and showed him a photo of steps coming out of a cloud. “That’s what,” she poked him with a smile. “Tell me?”

Wes began folding his flight bag as he uttered the only words he could think of just then, “Nice photo.”

The End

Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!

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