Young Cheros had never seen the sky, nor had any of his friends.
Cheros lived on the first planet of a distant solar system. The planet was tidally locked, which meant that the gravity of the nearby sun held the planet in a vise-like grip. The same side of the planet always faced the sun.
Defying incredibly long odds, intelligent life had arisen on this planet. But long ago the inhabitants of the planet had abandoned the surface, and moved underground. The reason was simple: the very high winds on the surface of the planet. Because one side of the planet was very hot, and the other side of the planet was cold, there were incredibly strong winds always rushing between the hot side and the cold side, as hot air followed its natural tendency to move into colder places.
After putting up with the continual annoyance and danger of the planet's high winds, the civilization on the planet had finally decided to move everyone underground. Great underground cities were built, along with vast hydroponic gardens. The cities were powered by geothermal energy.
There was only one legal way to see the sky, and Cheros wanted to take advantage of it.
“Let's go wait in line to use the periscope,” said Cheros to his lady love Luta. “I've never seen the sky before.” He was referring to a tube-like viewing apparatus that had been constructed to allow underground citizens to see the planet's surface, without risking their lives, like submarine captains looking at the surface of the water above them.
“We tried to do that last year,” complained Luta. “The lines take like...forever.”
Cheros finally persuaded Luta to wait in line with him in the long line to use one of the periscopes. Finally his turn arrived. He looked through the aperture of the long tube-like device, and was able to briefly look around the surface of the planet above him. But it only lasted a few seconds.
“Hurry up, it's my turn now!” said the next person in the long line.
“It was so beautiful!” enthused Cheros. “I saw the sun, the clouds, and the surface of the planet. I've got to see it again.”
“I'm not waiting in that line again,” said the lovely Luta. “It was too long.”
“No, I don't mean that,” said Cheros. “I mean, I want to actually go on to the surface.”
“You're crazy!” said Luta. “That's against the law.”
“Laws were meant to be broken,” said the adventurous Cheros.
Cheros thought long and hard about a plan to get to the surface. After exploring around, he finally found a metal tube that seemed to lead to the surface. There was a sign in front of the tube:
EMERGENCY SURFACE ACCESS TUBE
FOR USE ONLY IN CASE OF FIRE
UNAUTHORIZED USERS WILL BE JAILED
Cheros brought his lady love Luta to the tube.
“Let's go up that tube,” said Cheros. “It will be so wonderful when we get up to the surface. For once in our lives, we'll be able to breathe fresh air.”
“It's too dangerous,” protested Luta. “You know the winds on the surface gust too fast. That's why our whole culture moved underground.”
“Darling, you said I wasn't romantic enough,” said Cheros. “So now I'm being romantic. I want to take you to the surface, and give you a kiss underneath the sun and the sky. This is our only chance.”
Luta finally gave in, and they both climbed up the metal ladder in the steel tube. They opened a round access door above their heads, and climbed on to the surface of the planet. The wind was blowing furiously, but it was only a moderate annoyance.
The young lovers looked around, astounded by the beauty of the surface and the sky above them.
“You see that?” said Cheros, pointing to the sky. “That's a cloud! A real cloud. Isn't it beautiful?”
“And look at that round thing,” said Luta. “It's the sun! We're seeing it with our own eyes!”
The lovers gave each other a romantic kiss. They started to walk around a bit, to get some rocks that they could take back as souvenirs of their visit.
But then an enormous gust of wind arose, and lifted Cheros far up into the air, like a leaf being blown from the ground to far above the treetops.
Knocked over by the blast of wind, Luta looked up and saw Cheros for the last time. He disappeared, carried way up into the sky by the mighty wind. When Luta last saw him, she saw only a little speck high up in the vast sky. It was as if the clouds had sucked up Cheros, so that he could live among them.
“Farewell, my darling,” sobbed Luta. “Farewell forever.”
Weeping at her loss, Luta returned to the metal access chute, and sadly climbed down the ladder, back to her underground city. She vowed never to return to the dangerous planetary surface again.