Marco had the best job in the world, at least to his own mind. Most of the time he didn’t have to do anything at all, and when he did have to do something it usually wasn’t very demanding.
Since a couple of years he was the resident Air Traffic Controller at the Western Villerwood Zeppelin Tower. It was Marco’s first “real” job and it hade taken considerable effort and no small amount of luck to get it.
He’d studied meteorology at the Royal University of Kul Viller for four years while supporting himself working extra wherever he could; delivering news papers in the morning, house cleaning during the weekends and the occasional bar/café job now and then. It had been a tough time but in the end it had all paid off. He’d gotten his degree, not with the best possible grades but well enough above average that it gave him an extra edge when trying to get a job.
Now here he was. Western Villerwood was a quiet, peaceful part of the country – the Kingdom of Viller. The tower sat on the border between the giant Villerwod in the east and the Snaggfell Mountains in the west. It supported air traffic to and from the town of Roed, a mostly hobbit settlement.
The town wasn’t on one of the main trade or travel routes, but it was large enough that the Royal Viller Zeppelin Company had deemed a tower and a zeppelin line connecting Roed to Kul Viller, the nation’s capital needed. It wasn’t heavily trafficked though; one tour in the morning and one in the late afternoon during weekdays. In the weekend only one tour per day was scheduled.
Marco’s job mostly consisted of keeping track of the weather conditions and reporting them via telephone to the Royal Meteorological Institute of Viller; three times a day during winter and five times during spring and fall. He also reported current weather conditions to approaching zeppelins and airships via radio when requested.
His final and most important task was assisting zeppelins and airships with docking and recharging at the tower. These days it was mostly a matter of making sure the appropriate lights were lit on the platform and of connecting the power cables to the battery-recharging units of the zeppelin.
A few times during the summer an airship pulled by air-rays would dock. In the olden days this would have required Marco to care and provide for the creatures while the ship was moored to the tower. Fortunately, these days if someone was wealthy enough to travel in traditional style they would be bringing along their own caretakers who tended to the creatures.
This suited Marco perfectly. The air-rays were beautiful but they were large creatures and providing them with the care they needed was hard work. Electrically powered zeppelins were much more convenient. All you had to do was connect the cables and the rest would take care of itself. It wasn’t as fashionable, but it was safe and reliable.
It was Saturday, just before lunch. The zeppelin for Kul Viller had left an hour ago, carrying a bunch of youngsters eager to celebrate their weekend in the big city. Once upon a time, just a couple of years ago in fact, Marco would have been jealous of them, but after his years at the Royal University he was content with his quiet life in Roed and knew to appreciate it.
Rather than spending a night in the bustling clubs and bars of Kul Viller, Marco was looking forward to lunch at Anne’s and to spending the afternoon with his pipe and a good book.
It was summer; the days were warm and the evenings long. You could drag your favorite chair out on the bridge at the top of the tower and sit there reading undisturbed for hours. Being a tower atop a hill the view was spectacular and unless it was too windy you could comfortably sit there until well after dark.
This was one of the privileges of the job that Marco enjoyed the most. Having to get up once or twice to check on the weather conditions was a small price to pay for such luxury. It was almost like being on holiday cruise on a luxury airship, except he wasn’t moving and it was his job so he got paid for it.
The pay wasn’t much, but as the Company expected him to work seven days a week, all year round they let him live for free in the Controller’s apartment. It was situated on the second topmost level of the apartment; just below his office/control room and the bridge. It wasn’t big, but it had that homey feel a place gets when it’s been loved and lived in for a long time.
Air traffic controllers had lived in the apartment ever since the tower was built, more than 150 years ago. It had been redone and renovated multiple times and while it now sported new furniture and all modern conveniences, some of the original decorations still remained, giving the place a feeling of age and history.
Marco decided it was time, checked the instruments in the control room and noted down the values in a ledger. He went out to the bridge and walked one lap around the tower, checking the sky and the clouds in all directions. Coming back into the control room Marco dialed the number to the Royal Meteorological Institute of Viller. He read out his observations; a series of words and numbers that roughly meant it was going to be a beautiful summer’s day.