Lindsey called Danny's cell for the umpteenth time. Voicemail again, crap! He had promised that he would get a friend to drag him out of the water by 3:00 p.m. It was now 4:15 and she still couldn't reach him.

She was beginning to worry now. They had been dating for a year and he hadn't broken a promise yet.  She hoped he hadn't  run into trouble on the waves. He was an excellent surfer, and he never took stupid risks when he rode the big ones, but sometimes even the best surfers wipe out.

She walked towards her hangar at The Comox Valley airport, almost running now. She was a half hour late for her sightseeing tour. Her two customers were nowhere in sight as she headed for her Cessna single engine four seat-er float plane.

They had probably driven back to the main terminal, S**t ! They were her only fares for the day, she just couldn't lose them. She did her walk around quickly but thoroughly.  Maybe she should  head back to the terminal.

She went out to check the windsock. A fairly strong south wind, good. She would be heading  North towards Port Hardy with or without customers, and a good tailwind would be easier on fuel.

Just then her customers rounded the corner of the hangar.  After some whining about her lateness, they agreed to take the tour anyway. She had to give them an extra half hour of air time free, but at least she still had the tour.

When she had settled them in the backseat and secured their seat belts, She climbed in the pilot's seat and did her checklist as she started the engine. It was getting late. It was almost 5:00pm, they'd be losing light soon, so she wouldn't be able to go as far as she intended.

After they took off they headed North. She felt uneasy. It wasn't just about Danny, although she was worried about him  too. The air quality was odd. It was a bright clear day, she should be able to see for at least twenty five miles, but she couldn't.

There was a cloud formation of some sort that seemed to be blocking  visibility.  As she got closer to Campbell River, she got a better look at what was blocking her view.

Balloons, hundreds of them, and all flying very close to the ground. She hadn't heard of any balloon rodeos on Vancouver Island this week.  The woman passenger that was sitting directly behind her tapped her on the shoulder sharply.

The noise in the cockpit made conversation difficult, so the woman handed her a page torn from a note book. "Turn around . People are dying on the beach!" She had been taking pictures with a good telephoto lens, and she could clearly see what was happening on the ground.

The woman tapped  Lindsey on the shoulder again and handed her another note. "There are people in the balloons dumping black powder into the air!" The note read.  Lindsey tried the radio again, but  all she got was static.

She banked a sharp left and headed back to Comox. She had to alert the authorities.

The End

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