NOTE: Yesterday in Hail On Earth, the Fenton family had just witnessed a sudden hail storm that left their lawn covered in ice which Sally promptly converted into an opportunity.


Melissa packs the lunch boxes with her little brother Nathan while their mother is scavenging for old product samples in the basement. The berries are at risk from Melissa’s hungry eyes but Sally emerges with the equipment she was searching for in hand to intercept her daughter’s stealth attack on the unsuspecting bowl.

“Melissa Ann!”

“Just one…Please? Uncle Boris doesn’t need ALL of them.”

She’s right. Sally is just erring on the side of caution since the last batch of berries she brought to her brother didn’t take. This time she imported them from much further North, from Nunavut, in the hope that they would be more fertile. Just the same, she doesn’t want her daughter eating any more of them just in case they too are contaminated.

“Let Uncle Boris test them for us, darling. Then you’ll be able to have all the berries you want. OK?” Melissa sighs.

The contraption Sally salvaged from the basement storage room looks like an upright vacuum cleaner from the 20s which isn’t too far from its intended purpose. It’s an ultra-light remote-control all-terrain suction device with a shoot out the top designed to pick up garbage washing up on beaches and shoot it through a large curved tubular attachment.

Sally made a fortune selling them to environmental groups and small towns all over the world. It works wonders for a community clean-up party. All the volunteers need to do is to walk behind it in single file and take turns filling their collection bags. And now she is about to test it on her front lawn. If it works, she can re-market it as a technology that can clean up the harmful chemicals deposited by hail storms before the ice melts in the summer heat.

The kids grab the lunches and their napsacks, put on their masks, and follow their mother out the front door.

The trial is a success. Sally sends five rain barrels in turn on Melissa’s Segway after the BeachBuster and piles them into a trailer hitched to her Hummer. By the time the Fentons reach Boris’ estate the barrels will be ready for tapping.

Meanwhile, Boris is analyzing the harvest report for his orchard and frowning. The trees desperately need water and it hasn’t rained for weeks. His farm just happens to be on the wrong side of the county line. By the time the wind blows his way, the communities up wind have precipitated most of the moisture out of the air and filled it with CO2 from the dry ice cloud seeding particulates. The irony is that CO2 is what drives his business but without water his trees choke and every year the sky bandits raise the price.

Boris sends his harvest manager back to the field and heads through the glass walkway to the greenhouse.

A few hours later, Boris’ phone chimes in. His sister, niece, and nephew will arrive any time now. He gives final instructions to his head gardener and calls the domestic staff to ready the gazebo. He heads back to the main house.

The yellow light indicating the filters are nearing capacity flash on Sally’s dashboard. She checks her location. “10 minutes to destination,” the on-board navigator declares. Melissa squeals in anticipation.

This is the family’s first trip to the orchard. It took Boris 3 years after he started operations to build the stringent safety record required before anyone under the age of 12 could visit the estate. He too has been dreaming of the day where he could share his passion with inquisitive young minds.

The red Hummer pulls into the garage with filter room to spare. Boris stands at the top of the main entrance to the inner complex beaming down at them. He runs down the staircase and greets the kids with hugs and tickles.

“We brought you a present Uncle Boris,” Melissa blurts out. She disappears into the back of the truck and returns with a big bowl of berries. “These ones are from Nunavut.” Boris gives her the biggest bear hug imaginable. Melissa then runs to the trailer hitched the back, dragging her uncle by the hand. “And this too.”

Boris pulls back the tarp and stares at the clear rain barrels filled with hail pellet slurpies, confused. He turns to Sally and asks: “How did you—“

“—Time to take back the sky dear brother,” she winks.

…to be continued in The Corporate Weather Machine.