One day a cloud appeared above Joseph K’s head. He didn’t pay much attention to it at first, most people don’t care about such things. As the day wore on however, he started to notice it. It was a small, fluffy white cloud, casting an irregular, light-gray shadow, roughly centered on Joseph. What he paid most attention to was that shadow but, he thought to himself, it might just be a big cloud very high up. On the second day it was raining and the cloud was there of course, cause that’s where clouds are supposed to be when it’s raining, but Joseph didn’t notice. On the third day the rain had stopped but even though the sun was out it wasn’t shining on Joseph. It seemed no matter where he went or what he did, he was always in the shadows. It might just be coincidence, he thought, after all there were other clouds in the sky that day.
On the fourth day he really started paying attention; it was a bright sunny day, just a single small cloud in the sky that seemed to be hanging right above Joseph. When he went to lunch with his colleague Conrad, he pointed out the cloud to him. “I think that cloud is following me,” he said. “That’s ridiculous,” Conrad replied, “clouds don’t follow people around.” “I know,” Joseph said, “but I think that one actually is.” Conrad shook his head then looked down at his phone, cause that’s what people do when they don’t know what to say. Sensing there was no point in continuing to discuss the cloud, Joseph started complaining about the office printer which had malfunctioned that morning. This was always a popular topic and Conrad joined in, mentioning how he had to clear a massive paper jam just the day before.
After lunch Joseph suggested going for a walk, he was hoping to be able to prove that the cloud was following him, but Conrad had a meeting directly after lunch so they made their way back to the office as quickly as possible. The cloud was following them, Joseph noticed, but in such a short distance it might just have been the wind. During the afternoon Joseph had a hard time concentrating on his work; he kept looking out the window to see if the cloud was still there. He couldn’t see it directly due to the overhang of the roof but there was a roughly circular patch of shadow on the ground which usually wasn’t there on sunny days. “That must be from the cloud,“ Joseph thought to himself. When it was time for a break he passed the coffee machine close to his desk and went to the little pantry in the other end of the building, just so he could look out the window there. Sure enough, the round shadow was there as well. ”It really must be following me,“ Joseph reflected.
Like most men his age, Joseph wanted to stay fit but he found it difficult because he spent his days in the office sitting in front of the computer. In order to get at least a little bit of exercise every day he rode his bicycle to and from work. Most days he would ride directly home so he could spend as much time as possible sitting in front of a different computer. That afternoon however, he decided to take the long way home. As he was biking he kept glancing upwards and whenever he did, that small, fluffy cloud was always there. He even tried to lose the cloud a couple of times, quickly switching direction for a few hundred meters then switching back again. The cloud followed him even then. When he got home he Googled for clouds following people but couldn’t find a single mention of it.
By the time the weekend rolled around Joseph had made it his mission to document the cloud so he could show people that it really was following him. He first tried taking photos of it in different locations but the cloud’s shape wasn’t distinctive enough to be recognizable; the photos just looked like a bunch of very similar clouds. He then went home and dug out his old selfie-stick from the back of the closet – he rarely had any reason to take selfies nowadays and hadn’t used it for a long time. He mounted his phone, extended the stick then started experimenting with different angles. After a while he found a camera angle where both he and the cloud were visible. He started strolling around in the neighborhood, filming himself and the cloud all the while. Just like before, he changed direction abruptly a number of times and just like before, the cloud followed him no matter what he did. After about an hour he stopped at a cafe where he sat down with a cup of coffee to edit his video down to reasonable length. He then posted it to Twitter and Instagram. He got a few likes but nothing more.
The next day he woke to a whole slew of notifications. His posts had gotten a few hundred likes and retweets, as well as a bunch of comments. About half the comments were positive and the other half were either skeptical about the authenticity of his video, or downright negative, accusing him of faking the video. For some reason Joseph felt a strong urge to prove those strangers on the internet wrong. He needed to show that his video wasn’t fake and he resolved to recruit Conrad to help.
The first thing Conrad said when they met at the office on Monday was “Holy shit, that cloud really was following you.” Joseph smiled in response. “Is it still there,” Conrad wanted to know.
“Yep, still there”
“Can I see?”
“Sure, we just have to go outside”
They were supposed to be at their desks working but Conrad was too excited to wait. They each grabbed their empty cups as if they were going for coffee, then headed for the front door, sneaking past the receptionist. They didn’t have to do that, she was too busy scrolling on her phone to notice anyone leaving the building. They took a short walk around the building, Conrad spending most of his time looking up at the cloud to see that it followed them. When they came back in, the receptionist looked up at them, a puzzled look on her face, she muttered a greeting then went back to her phone, and they got to their desks without anybody really noticing that they had been gone. It can be like that in a big office sometimes, people just don’t pay attention to what their colleagues are doing.
At lunch Joseph told Conrad about his plans for making a new video and Conrad immediately agreed to help. Conrad borrowed some camera equipment from a friend who liked to go hiking. Early the next Saturday they set to work. They rigged up the camera on the front of Conrad’s bicycle and adjusted it until they found an angle where both Joseph and the cloud were visible. They then spent the next couple hours filming as Joseph rode around on his bicycle, getting clip after clip after clip. By the end of the day they had sorted through all the clips and found one that showed clearly how the cloud was following Jospeh around, no matter where he went or how swiftly he shifted direction.
Joseph uploaded the video to Youtube and linked it to hisTwitter account. Since he had gained some followers since posting his last video, this one quickly got views and by the end of the day it had gone viral.
When the video went viral Joseph’s life changed. He became known all over the world as That Cloud Guy – or TCG as some much cooler people called him – he was invited to do collaborations with other Youtubers, he was interviewed by several news outlets and there were even a few companies who offered him deals that he never took. Although the video clearly showed the cloud following him there were still those who doubted its veracity and a few “rational” and “skeptical” Youtubers made debunking videos which, strangely, made Joseph’s original even more popular. As so often happens on the internet, when you don’t make any new content people’s interest fades, and Joseph didn’t really have anything new to post. He could of course make new videos about the cloud but it would just be more of the same, so after a few weeks his popularity dwindled and the view count on the video stopped at roughly 2.3 million. There was a steady trickle of new views from the so called Boomers, but for everyone else his video was yesterday’s news.