'Cloud' is about a family of four on vacation, making a visit to Pikes Peak in Colorado. On that day the mountain is a place where two very different worlds collide. A storm arrives at the peak just as they decide to leave. They unwittingly abduct a child, however, this 'child' is a cloud. The family discovers what has happened only after they arrive home. They decide to reunite the child with his family by traveling across the country to intercept the parent storm. Unfortunately, someone else saw the abduction too. He decides that he must have the cloud - he witnessed some of the strange things the cloud can do - and he believes he can turn it into a valuable weapon! This ruthless man employs the considerable resources of his company to track the family down and try to take the creature by force. The family has to use every bit of cunning, resourcefulness and luck to remain even a single step ahead of their pursuers as they are chased across the country.
At face value, 'Cloud' is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story, but it is also much more than that.
To children, it is simply fun.
To adults it is an allegory.
Under the surface of the story, 'Cloud' deals with the issue of how to 'keep the faith' when confronted with new facts that are at odds with faith. These challenges to faith occur increasingly every day as archeologists and scientists uncover new information.
(Please be aware that while the story includes this 'struggle', it is neither intrusive nor found in great abundance. You can read over the occasional line and ignore it if you please).
You are entitled to your beliefs and 'Cloud' does not ask you to change them. For me, certain scientific knowledge is inescapable; the 'fossil record', scientific evidence in support of evolution and the age of the Earth. I have held fossils in my own hands. I've seen the progression of change found in the fossil record with my own eyes. Science shows us that our planet is billions of years old, not thousands. Through my understanding of physics, I know the long age of the earth is correct.
Some of us can deny the existence of evolution, the age of the earth and the existence of the fossil record. I cannot deny them, for me they are real. These things are not sinister and not evil; they are simply there.
This leaves me and many others that I know in the difficult position of reconciling faith and science. These scientific truths are 'in my face' - I cannot deny their existence. I've lost many, many nights of sleep, lying awake puzzling what these facts mean about the existence of God. I know others wonder too. This is part of what led me to write 'Cloud'.
The story 'Cloud' is an allegory, in which the cloud, while supplanting some Biblical events, stands in for new archeological and scientific fact.
The cloud, by his presence and actions is 'in the face' of the mother's faith; she cannot deny his existence - he is right there before her eyes and interacting with her.
She is challenged in maintaining her faith as she finds that the biblical stories she believed in may not be correct. She represents any of us whose faith is challenged by evidence that we cannot ignore.
The reader is not urged to change or re-examine their faith. The exploration is simply to consider ways of resolving this challenge, a challenge that may become more common as time goes on.
Some people are uncomfortable with this subject: they may be the ones who will need it the most. The dog tethered to the shortest chain defends his turf most severely - and take issue with 'Cloud'. To them I say, be at ease - there is no attack on faith here. The story contains only hope for a cure to nagging doubt that plagues some of us!
This subject is dealt with in a fairly sublime way. To kids who read the story, this struggle is all but invisible.
To kids, it's a fun story. To adults, it's a fun story that also exposes an often secret, internal struggle: 'What to believe?', 'How to keep believing?', 'Is any of it right?'. Who doesn't have some measure of doubt, however small?
It is easy to like the story itself - and many adults will find the thoughts surrounding the underlying struggle to be very grounding indeed.
'Cloud' - an enjoyable story for all, a valuable allegory for adults.
Everybody on the mountaintop sensed a powerful, unseen, ominous presence. It filled them with fear. Suddenly, dark, menacing ‘creatures’, wraiths made of black cloud completely encircled the summit house, where everyone had taken shelter. These dark, ghostly entities were visible only when flashes of lightning split the darkness. The wraiths pressed against the windows, as if trying to get in. When one would leave, another would take its place. There were so many of them that you could not see out of the building. At one point three of these dark ghostly creatures poured into the summit house flowing through cracks in the doors and windows. Panic ensued. People were screaming, cowering in corners, hiding under dining tables, scrambling for anything to hide behind. They were filled with overwhelming fear and dread. Some were literally paralyzed with fear, and just dropped to the floor where they stood. This menace was like nothing they could have imagined. A few people passed out due to the terror. Some men tried to attack the creatures, throwing chairs, tables, anything they could grab, at them. The thrown objects passed through the entities without harm. These men were not so lucky. The beings began to glow a brilliant red and then hit the men with large bolts of electricity. The men dropped to the floor, out cold. The panic in the summit house grew beyond reason. The ‘creatures’ moved from person to person, from wall to wall, probing everywhere, as if they were searching for something. Then just as quickly as they appeared inside, they went to the fireplace, and vanished, flowing up the chimney and back outside. The Ranger could not reveal that information: no one would believe it.
Some of the people in the summit house would be haunted by memories of this event for the rest of their lives. The sounds of a summer thunderstorm would bring them back to this night, a night of bright flashes of lightning tearing the sky, non-stop thunder making the entire mountain shake, and what they could only call ‘demons’ staring each one of them down.