Daniel had his own theory about why clouds made nests: It was a form of doodling.
And unlike bored schoolchildren, clouds could use any type of matter as a virtual pen.
It seemed obvious to Daniel. After millions of years, the swarms grew tired of their jobs, and, to break the monotony, they sculpted towers out of whatever atoms they found lying around.
Daniel could relate. He’d been miserable as a janitor and had spent much of the time doodling on every two-dimensional surface he could find at the Humboldt Sector Hospital.
The doodling theory also made sense to him because it explained why the clouds destroyed their nests – they didn’t want to get in trouble.
Daniel erased unflattering pictures of his boss when the boss got too close; clouds destroyed their impromptu art when they knew someone was watching.
Daniel wished the clouds would relax and stop caring what people thought. Even when he worked at his dad’s cloudyard, he’d thought they worked too hard.
But there was no doubt they were fascinating to watch. Entranced, he stared at the telltale blur of the clouds moving through the air, enjoying their leisure time.
One of the larger clouds converted a shimmering metallic octahedron into a three-foot-tall purple cone. Another swarm dissolved an entire limb of the tower. Still another built a series of tubular strands of clear material at the object's base.
Until today, Daniel hadn't known that clouds made scents when they doodled.
Daniel smelled lilacs and diesel fuel. Unlike the stench that had accompanied him into the Stuck Station medical center, this odor was oddly pleasant.