Chapter 40: Blowing in the Wind

The commandos carefully loaded the cyanide gas canisters into the balloon baskets. They ignited the air-burners. The heavy cloth patchwork began to unfold and fill up with hot air.

When the balloons were perfectly round, two commandos jumped into each of the three balloons, and the balloons lifted slowly off the ground. The balloons tugged at their anchor ropes. Three of the remaining commandos hacked through the three anchor ropes and the three balloons rose slowly in the air.

When the balloons were two barn-heights above the unit commander’s head, they picked up a strong headwind blowing across the river. The balloons moved smoothly over the rushing river torrents, but then they seemed to stop in mid-flight over the river. The commandos increased the lapping tongues of flame in their air-burners in an attempt to gain height and possibly catch a stronger headwind blowing them toward the Uncharted Areas, but their balloons continued to be blown backwards toward their comrades.

The balloons reached a point high above the shore directly over their comrades and commander. Three lightning bolts split the grey sky, exploding the balloons, whose metal baskets dropped like rocks to ground. The baskets hit the rocky beach hard killing the commandos inside instantly. The canisters also hit hard, making sickening phew-w-w-w sounds.

The commander and the rest of the commandos near the crash site looked in horror at the bursting canisters as a scent of bitter almonds wafted through the air. The commander frantically fingered the button on his STU and shouted into it, “Commander, the mission is …”

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels

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