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Pink Clouds in the Morning
By Annemarie Bogart

I used to be afraid of thunderstorms. The darkness crept over the heavens. Streaks of light scratched the grey skies, opening up bits of brightness only to be devoured again by the darkness. The thundering explosions rattled the house. Thousands of liquid pebbles pelted the windows. Torrential rain blinded your vision, if you dared to look. I peeked once. A flash of twisted light sent me cowering under my blanket.

I didn't realize at the time the sky held far more ominous creatures. Back then I was only a kid. What did I know?



Emily tugged on her father's sleeve. Jim rolled over and shielded his eyes from the violating sun wafting through the bamboo blinds.

'What is it, honey?"

He squinted at the red block numbers. 8:54. The sun's glare on the digital clock made the numbers hard to read.

"Damn. I'm gonna be late for work!"

He jumped up and wiped the dried gook from his eyes. A stray piece got away and landed back on the cornea. He rubbed the eye's whiteness to a bright pink. Great, late AND red eye. The boss will can me for sure.

"It's Saturday, Daddy."

Saturday. Jim fell back onto the pillow. He exhaled a stale-smelling sigh of relief.

"It's Miffy, Daddy."

The neighbor's white fluffy cat that thought Jim's shed was its own personal lounge area.

"Daddy's tired, baby. I've been working over-time all week. Can't this wait?"

Jim snuggled back into his cozy bed. Another half-hour of sleep sounded like a plan.

"But, it's dead."

Good riddance, he thought. But he knew he had to play the sympathy card for his young daughter's sake.

"Well, Emmi, that happens sometimes when cats roam the neighborhood."

Jim closed his eyes, hoping to hear five-year-old feet retreating from his bedroom. The bed shifted just enough to accommodate a small child. Opening one eye, he saw his daughter waiting for him on the edge of the bed. He prepared for the barrage of follow-up questions. Then he thought of the one question that may stall the inquisition.

"Where's Mommy?"

"She's in the garden, Daddy."

His daughter's voice wavered slightly. The garden. Great. The bees that hovered around Anita's prized white roses terrified his daughter. No chance she would go out there. All hopes of quality snooze time just went out the proverbial window.

Jim sat up and gathered the little girl in his arms. Her body trembled. Tears pooled on her bottom lids.

"Aw, honey, it's okay."

Okay, Jim, tread gently on the death subject. (His wife would most likely scrutinize anything he said. His areas of expertise involved bugs, sports and fixing things. Everything else fell under Emily's mother's realm. Turn of life events, well, actually end of life events, definitely were her area.

"How about we talk about this when Mommy comes inside?"

His daughter stiffened under his grasp. Her shoulders shook as she sobbed softly. Jim smoothed the girl's thin blonde hair away from her freckled face.

"But the clouds may get her, too!"

The clouds? Jim wondered if "clouds" could be a preschool code word for something else, but nothing stood out.

"The clouds? What about the clouds, honey?"

"They killed Miffy."

Oh boy, her imagination meter's hitting the red today. Kids. Jim tried his best to stifle a smile.

"Tell Daddy everything."

Emily wriggled free and sat up to face her father. She meant business.

"Okay, I was on the back porch watching the cotton candy clouds. Mommy said clouds can look like things if you look at them real good."

She wiped the clear snot from her nose with the back of her pink flannel sleeve. Anita would have admonished the girl for that. Jim almost smiled but caught himself. Concern mode, Jimbo, act concerned. No matter how cute she looks.

"Well this big ginormous one started to pass over the yard, much bigger than the rest. And it was pink, not white like the others ones."

Ginormous? Is that even a word? Note to self, check dictionary.

"It started turning into a doggie's head! Not a cute doggie either. Its eyes were all mean, all scrunched like mom's when I make a mess. Then it's teeth, Daddy! They started getting bigger and bigger!"

Someone needs to figure out how to bottle children's imagination and sell it to Hollywood.

Jim wiped the remaining wetness from her reddened cheeks.

"That's when I noticed Miffy sleeping on the top of the old shed, you know, like she always does when it's hot."

Yep, I know. If only I had a BB gun.

"Well, the dog cloud dropped lower and got closer and closer to Miffy. Then its mouth opened and it gobbled her up! It turned a darker pink, almost red, and just kept floating away."

The tears started flowing again. These were heavy duty tears, not like the sprinkles she shed before. She gulped in some air between wails. Jim hugged his little daughter tight. He never saw her act like this before; she didn't cry very often. It's time to get Anita in on this.

"Come on, let's go get Mommy."

Grabbing her shaky hand, he got out of the bed.

"But that's just it, Daddy! Another pink cloud was following the first one! It was heading right towards Mommy!"

Emily screamed more than cried. Jim looked out the window. He saw the shed roof's grey-speckled shingles. His eyes focused on a glistening red stain in the spot where Miffy usually lay. Blood? Something like white fur stuck to the crimson glob.

Looking towards the sky, he saw a reddish-pink cloud floating westward, further into town.

"What did this other cloud look like, Emily?"

He closed his eyes then opened them again. The blood still lay on the roof. The cloud continued moving away. Okay, it's not a dream or a figment of my imagination, but there has to be an explanation.

"A shark… a big one, Daddy. With a fin and all."

Jim looked towards the garden area, already knowing the overhang obstructed his view. He couldn't help it, his concern controlled him.

"Stay here, honey."

His heart thumped against his ribcage. A cold sweat formed over his brow. Believing the impossible, Jim darted out of the room and bounded the stairs at Olympic athlete-caliber speed.

"Anita! Anita!"

Her name echoed throughout the property as he bolted past the screen door and dove over the porch railing. No time for steps now. He heard her blood-curdling screams coming from the garden.


Her roses were planted on the borders of a cobblestone path leading to a small garden patio about forty feet from the house. Forty feet never seemed so long.

White roses scattered across the cobblestone path, many streaked a dark shade of red. Drops of fresh blood spread over the area like a Jackson Pollack painting. Jim's wife was gone. Her wide-brimmed straw hat lay in the middle of the blood-spattered scene.

In the skies above, Jim watched the blood-red shark swish its tail as it floated away.


It's been four years since the occurrence. Over thirty people disappeared that day. Some eyewitnesses went to the media to tell their tale. They became laughing stocks. The cops combed each murder scene to no avail. Every case remains unsolved yet open pending new evidence.

Now you understand why thunderstorms don't scare me anymore. There's an old saying, "Pink clouds at night mean a sailor's delight, pink clouds in the morning, sailors take warning." Maybe sailors knew more than the rest of us. Those fluffy clouds sneak in without a sound. If you didn't watch out for them, they could just eat you alive.