Garth Owen

Smashwords edition

Copyright 2013 Ian Pattinson

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The holding pattern for the blimps could be eye-balled by anyone on the ground. Air traffic control just assigned them a segment of sky- with an exclusion zone for other airships- and they'd stick to it, hovering there waiting to be called. They would tack into the wind and make little adjustments to stay in their envelope and present a serene spectacle to any viewers.

The air above Ringway was particularly busy today, with eight airships, in a rainbow of gaudy liveries, hanging in the clear sky. There was only enough ground crew to land one passenger and one cargo blimp at a time. A silver airship, patched in grey and brown, was off-loading fresh fruit and veg, whilst a winding straggle of passengers trailed from the red and yellow Berlinluft blimp to the customs house.

Passports and visas were a technicality, borders being so porous nowadays, but some people liked to make it known where they'd been and come from. "Michiko. Yamagata?" the man behind the desk asked, checking the girl against the picture in her passport. She was tiny, delicate, and seemed to be cosplaying the Japanese schoolgirl fetish. Her pure black hair was cut in a bob level with her chin. A navy blue jumper was draped over her shoulders, the arms reaching halfway down the front of her white blouse as if shielding her small breasts from view. A wide black belt with a silver buckle held up a pleated navy skirt that didn't reach as far as her knees. The outfit was rounded out by knee-length white socks and black deck shoes. He reckoned she was in her early twenties- young and gorgeous, in his unprofessional opinion- a little too old to be carrying on the lolita act. Maybe there had been some man on the flight she had dressed up for. Or maybe she just liked getting immigration officials flustered. "What is the purpose of your visit?" he asked.

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