Jonathan Isobar rubbed his eyes and sighed. This was ridiculous. How did they think he did his job? Magic?
His desk phone rang and he jabbed his finger on the speaker button. ‘What, Sprinkle?’
Sprinkle Mizzle’s chirpy voice, redolent of sunshine after a summer shower sashayed out of the speaker. ‘Cathy Stratonimbus is here for your two o’clock.’
‘Cathy?’ Jonathan scrambled for his desk diary. ‘I thought she’d been given a rain check.’
‘She says you confirmed it at the Typhoon and Tsunami last Thursday.’
Jonathan squeezed his eyes shut. That rang a vague bell.
Sprinkle continued, her voice suggesting a possible break in the sunshine later, ‘She’s brought some samples. They’re outside.’
He stood and swiftly covered the distance to the window. Two weather formations wandered aimlessly around the carpark, one scattering what looked like butterbeans on the cars while the other formed and reformed into uplifting phrases. ‘Christ, he’ll go berserk if he sees this.’
Hurrying to the reception, Jonathan paused only to pick up a sheet he’d printed before greeting Cathy and easing her into the meeting room.
Cathy was essentially fluffy. She tucked herself into a chair. ‘Well, darlink, wot you think?’
‘Charming. Not exactly apropos, but we…’
A small dark stormy smudge appeared across Cathy’s countenance. ‘Not apropos?’
Jonathan drew in a deep breath, trying hard to stabilise the barometric pressure in the small room. ‘We have had issued some, erm, new guidelines. All clouds must come from a certified source…’
‘So? These came in on the jet stream today.’
‘Yes, but where did they pass over? There are sanctions in place, you know? And what about the content? Is it certified one hundred percent water?’
‘Well, obviously,’ small shards of lightening flashed from Cathy’s temples scorching the upholstery on a taffeta antimacassar, ‘that is what we pride ourselves on. But you know how it goes, Jonathan,’ Cathy’s emollient tones flattened the increasingly fractious weather pattern, ‘a few bits and bobs will always sneak through the mix.’
He glanced at the windows. ‘And what about those novelty clouds? You know what it’s like, Cathy. People these days are reverting to the traditional. They hanker for the old days. If we introduce something like that, well the climate change zealots will be up in arms and well, we won’t have a job.’
‘Pff, silly boy.’ She bathed him in balmy sunlight. ‘What’s wrong with the message system – cumulo-mindfulness? Everyone will look up and be inspired.’
‘I wish,’ said Jonathan, sotto voce. ‘They’ll either think it’s a government conspiracy or shit themselves that an alien invasion has just begun. No, we just need snow in winter, frosts in spring, sunshine in summer and showers in the autumn. That’s the underlying message from on high. That and proof that the clouds are all vegan, organic, gluten free, fair trade, allergen exempted constructs that have adopted all appropriate protocols and health and safety practices…’
‘… health and safety? What about thunder? Lightening? The occasional hurricane?’
Jonathan screwed up his face. ‘Yes,’ he flipped over the sheet, ‘that’s the last bit here.’ He swallowed. ‘You’re going to have to guarantee a failsafe early warning system.’
‘WHAT?’ Cathy’s face became a mass of low pressure contusions. ‘You mean…?’
‘Yes, we want to be able to guarantee the weather forecasts.’
Cathy stood and stormed towards the door. ‘I’ve heard some wacky things in my time retailing weather but if you think I’m going to be party to an arrangement that makes weather forecasting a respectable profession, you have another think coming.’