Where the Sky Stops
The sun had gotten up a few hours ago. It had gotten a little under halfway through its trip to the other side of the world when the Prometheus drifted into the air above the town.
Captain Holden Swash sat astride the prow and looked across the clouds at the tower.
He knew what it was, of course. It was famous. More accurately, it was what made this town famous. But what it really was wasn’t always what it was when you asked people about it.
If you asked one of the Pillars of the Community, it was an object of pride. A few of them would even get flowery, bordering on poetic, when they described it.
It was a monument, a big metal statement of WE ARE HERE that stretched from the heart of town clear into heaven. Glowing with pride, they’d recite the fact that the tower even pierced the clouds if any were foolish enough to try and cover it.
These people were generally the ones who’d had to pay for the thing, but never mind.
If he squinted one way, it looked like bug antennas. Big metal bug antennas, that’d been designed by someone who’d liked the swoopy arches the Japanese put on things.
If you asked the conversationalists, the real bone deep ones, the towers were the big metal horns of the devil. Or Progress, which was pretty much the same thing to them.
He could almost see their point, kinda sorta. If he looked at it plainly, it was just a place to dock his ship for the always-vital fuel and supplies. Looking at it from over the clouds, it was something else.
It meant drinks that weren’t chilled by the high altitudes. It meant sleeping without crosswinds and slipstreams nudging him through the seams of the ship. It meant feet on the ground and horizons he couldn’t see past.
It was the place where the sky stopped. And if it was a devil, it was an annoyingly necessary one.