She stood there, rooted in place, as the wave advanced further and further across the sky.  Almost with the speed of wildfire sweeping through a dry, choked wood, the shelf cloud rolled towards her, crackling with electricity and darkening the world around her.  Lightning danced across her eyes, her expression hardened in the face of imminent destruction.

All around her, people ran for their lives, simple souls instinctively fearful of death, of meeting their end.  Riddled with concerns impossible for her to empathise with.  They saw the approaching storm as their doom, an oppressor, a judgment come to hold them to account for their sins.

What sheep.

She held out her arms, as wide as they would stretch, her head hung back to savour the change in the atmosphere, the sizzle in the very air that sent each hair on her head flowing out, reaching into the gloom like tentacles, testing the void for a sense of when the strike would hit.

Soon.  Very soon.  She could feel it racing towards her, almost as though homing in on her, ignoring the fleeing cattle and seeking out the one defiant figure standing in its path.  Except it wasn’t defiance.  Defiance would imply the desire to stop what was coming.  This was a willing plunge.

Lightning flashed again, and with it, images and memories, some repressed, some having never been possible to purge.  All of them danced across her vision like luminous ghosts.  The laughter and jeering of a classroom of peers.  The disappointed frown of a stubborn father.  The stinging crack of a lover’s slap.  The platitudes of a regretful employer.  The plaintive moans of a slow-dying mother.  The tear-stained note of an unhappy daughter.  The last memory printed itself onto her eyes as though floating in the air right before her, and her lungs released a wailing howl, an enraged shriek against creation itself, every tiny hair on her arms standing bolt upright, static shimmering over her body like a robe.  She screamed at the sky, demanding it do its worst, urging it to.  She called down her own doom and shut her eyes forever against the world that had destroyed her.

The air crackled.  The cloud rumbled.  The wave rolled over her, eclipsing the rest of the sky, and everything, for one perfect, drawn-out second, went utterly still.

Then she was bathed in light and fire, and everything came alive for the final time.


Christopher Moore


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