The Storm Drones
Truly, it wasn't Luca's fault. He'd left the room for literally fifteen minute to use the bathroom and refill his water bottle and when he'd come back, the weather had taken a turn.
In Atlanta, the temperatures were spiking back up - they'd already surpassed 120. That storm system held at bay off the coast of Florida was starting to organize into a hurricane. A twister-like pattern was brewing in the sky above Virginia. And a front was developing over North Carolina that was already coloring the radar pink.
Luca took one glance at the screens. "Oh, crap."
He darted to his chair in front of the dashboard and surveyed the levers. Everything was out of calibration. Luca didn't get it. When he'd left the room - literally fifteen minutes ago - everything had been in order. All the storm drones with their cooling air and temperature regulators had been online. Luca spun the dials and pulled levers as fast as he could and at last the alert tone shut off.
System has detected unplanned weather volatility. Please address discrepancies in prescribed climate patterns.
"Wow, thanks for that update," Luca said. "I didn't know that."
"Luca!" The crackly voice boomed over the intercom.
Luca winced. He put his hand to the talk button and leaned toward the microphone. "Yes, Mr. Jefferson."
"What is going on down there? The southeastern seaboard is going haywire."
Luca wetted his lips. "Yes, sir. To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what happened but I've got everything fixed now. Weather patterns are on track back to programmed."
"What do you mean you don't know what happened? The dials don't move themselves."
"Look, I know you're doing a two-man job, but can you try to hold it together until Nora gets back from maternity? I really can't spare anyone with these storm systems in the upper central."
Luca sighed. "Yes, Mr. Jefferson. I will."
Luca leaned back and watched the Atlanta thermometer dip back to a constant 105. Not ideal, but the best they could do given the conditions. There it went to 108, 107, 106, 107. Wait what?
Luca sat forward. The temperature was climbing again. What was going on? On the control panel, the dials were moving on their own. Luca moved them back, and then they started sliding back again. Luca looked up at the screen with the rotating picture of the storm drones. They were all sparking like something had short-circuited.
A small panic rose in Luca's throat.
Luca pressed the talk button. "Mr. Jefferson! You need to see this." Nothing in response. "Mr. Jefferson!"
"Luca, it's going to have to wait. The West Coast drones are going haywire. The Gulf Coast storm barriers are failing."
"It's happening here too."
On the other side of the line, he heard a string of curses.
"Mr. Jefferson, what's happening?"
"We all knew the storms would win one day. I just didn't think it would happen so suddenly. Do what you can, Luca. That's all we can do."