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Storm
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By Alana Crawford

Her voice trailed off as she really focused on the blacker clouds beyond the hills close to the western mountains. Even from this far away she could sense a wrongness in it, and as she stared, she saw the sheen of lightning within the cloud.

She held up her head, the rain splattered onto her face, its cold wetness dribbling down her neck and sinking into her clothes, soaking them. Thunder boomed from above, making loud crashing noises as it reached its peak. The lightning above her head flashed, as though it was dancing with the rumbling clouds. Her nostrils flared, taking in the wet ozone smell.

Once more she lifted her head, but instead of feeling the rain, she felt a force that was impossible to describe. It was as if the rain had whipped up its tempo, striking her face and stabbing her, like a hundred knives all coming down at once. She doubled over; desperately she tried to stand up straight but slipped and skidded in the mud. She tried to stand again, but the wind and rain battered her. She fought against it, and dragged herself back to her feet.

Lightning flashed, lighting up the horizon for all to see. Between flashes she walked blindly, arms outstretched. Another flash of lightning lit up the sky, she stopped in her tracks, there was movement far off in the distance. She stumbled towards it, tripping over tree roots and fallen branches. Debris flew around her, narrowly missing her head. She fell forward, sprawling on the ground with a dull thud. She lay there, face first in the dirt breathing in the wet musty smell, while above the storm continued to rage.

She struggled to her knees, then her feet, uncurling upwards. She started to run, shielding her eyes from the bright streaks of lightning that surrounded her. She looked up; a swinging lantern was coming towards her, battling the storm. Her legs ran at a speed they had never run before, they were a blur of blood, flesh and dirt. She slowed down slightly, gasping for breath, her lungs begging for air.

The light bobbed steadily closer, a strange yellow mist hung around it. She started to sprint again, running towards the light, getting closer step by step until she could make out a face in the eerie light. She looked closer, her eyes squinting through the blanket of rain. A pair of eyes gleamed back at her. She felt her heart jump to her throat; she tried to swallow it down. She couldn’t. The eyes got clearer as the face that they belonged to came closer. She took a step backwards, falling down into a puddle filled with twigs and leaves. She could see a body now, and a glint of silver that the person seemed to be holding.
*
He finally reached her and smiling, he pushed the knife down, stabbing her. He pulled the knife up out of her stomach. She was still conscious. Withering in pain, she looked up at her killer, as once more he plunged the knife into her side. She fell limply at his feet. The thunder rumbled and boomed overhead, as though nothing had happened.

He ran then, running with the lantern swinging chaotically from his left hand. The weapon he had used lay forgotten on the ground beside the body. He could see a clearing in the trees and started to sprint towards it, he jumped across a pond size puddle as if defying gravity. He stumbled on landing, going over on his ankle, cracking it hard. He was almost there. Limping towards the clearing he looked back, his wet hair plastered to his face.

He could hear sirens wailing, their noise faint in the cacophonous storm, but getting louder as he staggered on. He had made it through the trees and he could see the lights of a small town up ahead. If he could just make it to that town, he could blend in and pretend he’d been there all night, then he could catch a plane in the morning and ship out. No such luck. A bright spotlight came out of nowhere and blinded him. He tried to keep running but crashed into something and wacked his hand on something hard and metal. A deep voice came through what sounded to be a megaphone “hands up!” He didn’t.

Blindly, he ran around trying to find a way through the police barricade, the voice spoke through the megaphone again “stop or I’ll shoot”. Still he kept running. Not hesitating, the officer pulled the trigger. The force of the bullet knocked the weapon backwards, as it sped towards its victim. It passed thorough his chest easily, almost too easily for the cops satisfaction. He fell to the ground, his eyes open wide, his mouth agate as another bullet found its mark in his skull.

In those final moments the storm died down, the thunder and lighting stopped, and the rain eased off, making way for dawn to break through. As the officers looked up the sky started to turn orange and they could hear the chirping of birds. The only sign that there had ever been a storm was the pond size puddle but even some of that had drained away.

It was as if the night’s events had never happened.



Brian Falkner Books