The man wheezed, barely able to pant his words. “I’m cooked.”
His wife halted. “Take a break, honey?”
He placed his feet onto the arid asphalt path, strewn with small stones from its lack of use. Above him, the morning sun beat down, already frying his brain. Sweat dripping from his brow, he pulled the bidon from its cage, and dragged another long sip.
“Careful, honey. Save some for the journey back.”
The man had been hoping to refill the bottle when they reached their destination, but rather than explain to his wife, he could only rasp, “Much further?”
This place was meant to be the highlight of their bike tour. The Astradome. For the treasure it held for them, it absolutely *had* to be on high ground, and Davy had felt every metre of the climb.
“The guidebook said this trail was five klicks”. His wife sounded almost apologetic. “And that sign we passed back there said just one to go.” She had been looking forward to this trip and did not want to give up. Zoe pointed to a bench not twenty metres away. Nestled under an olive tree, which provided a tiny amount of respite from the merciless sun.
“Here, let’s sit there for a bit, let you catch your breath.” Zoe pushed her bike forward. “Come on, big man, we’ll get there.”
A short while later, Davy looked at his Apple Watch. The latest version. “Pulse is almost normal. Shall we go for it, my love?”
“Don’t forget, you can use the motor to help you.”
“Nah. That thing ran out way back.”
And Davy was panting again, as they finally reached the Astradome. He gulped as he was assaulted by the cool, climatised air.
“Two over-sixties, please, plus two bikes.”
“Ah, you’re just in time, madam. The show starts in twenty minutes. What’s more, we’re quiet today, so you should have an excellent view. If you just follow the path to the top of the ridge, you should have a ringside seat when the show starts.”
At the appointed time, the pair felt the strong flow of unusually damp air around them as something, somewhere, noiselessly started up.
“Oh, look, Davy, isn’t this truly the vacation of a lifetime?”, gasped Zoe, breathless in wonder at the magnificent vista before her. “Don’t they look just like white, fluffy balls of cotton wool? Clouds, real clouds”.