Afloat, a short story.


May I never see a smog filled city again. May my lungs never have to gasp for untainted oxygen. I pray that my eye will never again well up at all the particulates stinging them. Had I not been in such a rush to leave this blasted ground I might have inscribed these words on the engine. But alas, time is short. The colonists are almost ready, and this will be the last trip for a good while. I thank my father everyday for giving me the knowledge of airship design. Years were spent developing our family’s craft and trade, alongside some of the finest engineers and metal-smiths of the age. My father died ten years ago, but he lived long enough to see the first aerial colony built. Just as they had finished setting the framework to launch into the skies, he took my mother an I aboard. The colony’s bones lifted off into a noon sun but lifted off successfully. I was barely an adult, but I too had labored hard alongside my father and his team to see this first colony take flight. It rose at a steady but increasing pace, a kind of stress test to see if the engines could support the weight of what we would build on its hull. The bare bones of our veritable fortress eventually steadied high above the smog clouds of one of our largest cities. The launch was successful. Unfortunately, one hour after the colony became stationary, my father began wheezing. His lungs gasped for air as he collapsed onto the metal floor on the viewing deck.

He died looking up at a blue sky.

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