The Storm Cloud That Came Inside

The cloud appeared one morning high above the office block. The sky shone with brittle winter sunlight except for the mass of dark cloud. Office workers looked up from their computers and phones in disbelief. Some leant from their high windows to stare out at the confusing spectacle. The cloud appeared to be still.

However its surface writhed with twirling , smoke like pulses of cloud. The banks of cloud shifted in colour from dark grey to dark brown and deep coal black. The cloud swirled in a steady, slow powerful surge.

The office workers began to take photos of the new sight with their phones. The cloud appeared aloof, unmoving and disengaged from their curious interest . The cloud reflected on the windows of the office block sending heavy, darkening outlines that blotted out the daylight.

As rain fell lightly in the afternoon, the office workers attempted to carry on with their duties. Computer screens gleamed with data and information as fingers typed on plastic keyboards.

It was toward the end of the day that the cloud moved inside . At first stretches of grey and white mist slowly reached inside through the office windows. Wisps of cloud began to drift across the long banks of computer terminals.
Streaks of cloud edged into the elevator and reception. Other streams of cloud gathered in the manager's office obscuring the walls and desk.
The office workers were amused at first but gradually their emotion turned to alarm and anxiety. The cloud now seemed attached to the office block.

From each window, open or not, rivers of cloud and mist flowed directly into the building. Soon every space was obscured by the cloud.

Office workers stumbled around with their hands outstretched in front of them. Surges of cloud rolled across the ceiling, blocking out the neon lights.

Then the cloud began to rumble and hum.

The manager tried to make herself heard but it was impossible.

The cloud rumbled as if a thunder storm had been confined in a tiny room. Small flashes of lightning suddenly sparked from deep inside the mass of cloud.

The yellow flames of lightning struck the office clock face, sending the time hands spinning around and around.

Computer screens shone in shimmering ghostly radiance as the lightning connected. Sparks flew into the cloudy air in shining bursts. Lightning knocked over discarded newspapers and magazines, coffee cups and ashtrays, data files and mobile phones. Coats and handbags appeared to leap across the office as thunder clapped and howled. The office workers struggled to escape, stumbling into one another in their growing panic.

Congealing around the computer screens the cloud poured with insistent, relentless rain soaked everything in its path.

The cloud moved swiftly into every room, every space in the office block. It blocked doors and corridors with long, shifting banks of mist and fog.

Cloud clusters broke away to pour along staircases and into side rooms and cupboards.

People ran, falling here and there.

Claps of thunder became increasingly intense.

Sparks discarded the cloud's core.

Darkness swirled around everyday certainties, defying the working day.

Flashes of white light seemed to steady themselves. Computer screens opened up in bright cascades of silvery shadow.

Numbers, user names, addresses, codes, equations, notes, plans and pass words began to lift up into the air shining as they floated upward into the cloud.

Words glowed in the air in trails that reached the ceiling and windows.

Sequences of numbers formed long lines that gleamed around the office walls.

The office block began to rock and shake as the lightning flashes became wilder. Cracks appeared on windows and doors and then spread across the ceiling and floors.

The cloud rolled back and forth like a pale sea pulling at the office walls .

Swirling paths of silver and emerald light rushed into the computer screens.

Clouds spread to other parts of the city entering banks, schools, factories, churches, shops and stations. Clouds moving in streams of grey and silver light flooded the underground network obscuring tunnels and platforms alike.

Gradually the stock market had to close as the clouds blurred the outlines of corporate data and investment fund managers could no longer see or find essential information.

Then the clouds found a way into cracks in the pavements forcing up the stones. As the clouds drove deeper they dug up the voices of the past. Sounds emerged from the streets as ghostly mouths opened. The stream of words flowed upward .

The spectres of deceased statesmen, nurses, bishops , teachers and children shimmered in the cloudy air.

Voices now elevated, singing, crying, pleading and whispering soared through out the city streets.

Deceased children could be heard singing around the city cathedral. Their voices sparkled like forgotten gems.

Streaks of emerald and gold shimmered as the voices of the deceased called out into the pale, misty sky.

Taxis and buses were soon taken over by the clouds .
Wide waves of mist flowed into the high streets.
Clouds filtered into the pages of books and magazines.

The white mist pushed out words of hate and intolerance and replaced them with images of skies and horizons .

Clouds lifted up the plinths of ancient statues and figures swept across the city sky. Statues of elder statesman and leaders, soldiers and priests drifted into the swirling sky.

The cloud flowed in every direction from the streets of affluence and privilege to the slums and ghettoes of the city. It cradled homeless rough sleepers and circled the hospices shining and flowing in bursts of clear light.

The clouds brought dancing bouquets of leaves and petals to surround places of decay .

Soon people abandoned their jobs and stayed away from the city centre. New trees grew beside phone boxes, grass and bushes emerged on pavements and bright flowers grew inside factories and theatres.

The clouds rolled back and forth across the sky's expanse. Soon it covered the world of days and nights. It flowed and flooded everywhere in expanding surges of mist and ether.

Then the storm stopped.

It ceased in a single moment.

The cloud drifted gradually back out of the office windows .

It rose across the sky until it was far above the crowded city.

As it moved away the sky seemed empty and sullen.

The cloud drifted further and further and further away until it was nothing.

Small trails of words and numbers could be seen faintly on the surface of the moving cloud.

Steadily it became more and more distant before it disappeared.

Silence flooded the entire city.

The day shone and birds began to sing as is their habit after the passing of a storm . The birds sang new words, new intonations of hope and desire.

Sunlight gleamed on the office windows.

The city never forgot the cloud, its tower blocks and skyscrapers wait in anticipation of its return.