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In retrospect, I wish I’d continued recording, for what I saw in that instant is difficult to describe, even now. Suffice it to say that it had a body like that of a manta ray—upon who’s tail the balloonist had been impaled—or a manta ray combined with a bat, albeit huge, and that it was covered with a kind of camouflage which reminded me of pictures I’d seen of Jupiter—just a roil of purples and pinks and browns. I suppose that was when it first hit me: the possibility that there might be a connection between this thing and the Jupiter 6 probe. That the probe might have brought something back, even if it had just been a sprinkling of microbes on its surface. And then there was an explosion somewhere above us, the concussion of which rocked our balloon, and we all looked up to see Gas Monkey—my God, it was like the sun!—on fire; and yet that wasn’t all we saw, for as it dropped it became evident that there were more of the bat/manta ray things attached, suckling it as it fell, crawling upon it like flies. Then it passed us like some kind of great meteor—its occupants shrieking and calling out—and was gone below, the heat of it still painting our faces, its awful smell, which was the smell of rotten eggs, filling our nostrils. And then we were just drifting, all of us crouched low in the basket … and the only sounds were those of Karen sobbing and my own pounding heart.
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Wayne Kyle Spitzer
Clouds: An SF/Horror Story
Copyright © 2018 Wayne Kyle Spitzer. All Rights Reserved. Published by Hobb’s End Books, a division of ACME Sprockets & Visions. Cover design Copyright © 2018 Wayne Kyle Spitzer. Please direct all inquiries to: [email protected]
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this book is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
“Meet you at the top!” Kerber hollered—cockily, as always—as he climbed rapidly past us. He gestured toward the cloud ceiling. “We’ll leave a light on!”
Sean and Karen looked at each other as his balloon disappeared around the envelope of our own.
“Everything a competition,” sighed Sean. There was a deafening roar as he toggled the blast valve. “Had to show us he could beat us on the ascent—even at night.”
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