Thunder and Lightning
"Thunder and Lightning."
On an unnamed street, separated by a wide, barren desert of pavement and traffic signs, ridden with potholes and neglected buildings, lie a shed for those in need of shelter; whether it be from the sun, the wind, and for the purpose of this story, the rain. A strong pouring of water from the heavens above, an amount that has fed the elderly sewer drainage a fair helping of water and dirt. In this shed sits two people of note, a girl under her twenties and a child who has lived for about eight years and counting. The former girl has unkempt hair, sat on the bench with such posture that anyone would feel second hand back pain; the latter girl, sat firmly, her hands tucked neatly but slightly on her skirt. Occasionally, the two would meet eyes and the younger one would smile receiving no reply from the stranger.
With nothing to entertain herself, the younger one placed it upon herself to observe the something in the distance.
A run-down building in front of the shed.
She recently watched a program about ghost huntings, and the building's appearance, she thought, was the perfect hideout for a specter.
Her facial expressions matched her thoughts and imagination, she leaned forward as if to watch something. The older girl looked at the child, an eyebrow raised and creased, she looked across the street to find nothing but cold water and wet concrete.
In every image of apparent something, the child audibly voices out a low "Woo..." of fascination. In every illusion of mind and eye, the child cheered. In every cheer, the older girl grew more and more confused. Then, as if the clouds want to show their playful side, the storm raged even more, releasing the sound of thunder and the distant flash of lightning onto the ears and eyes of the two relatively dry girls. The younger one jumped out of her seat, the older one squinted her eyes stoically. A silence in the shed was felt for a moment, it was heavy, and smelled like sewage (...in account of the floating dead rat that just seconds ago climbed out of the drainage to see the sky for one last time.)
There is something magnificent on the capability of humans to cooperate when a common goal is established. Whether it be a group project, a disaster, strangers band together to work and solve their problems together. And in this shed, this phenomenon would soon occur, in the form of an alleged spectral entity.
"...Charlotte... something?" said the child slowly, with squinting eyes to read the pinned name tag on the older girl, meeting failure halfway in account of their distance.
It took seconds for the girl apparently named Charlotte to respond, she contemplated ignoring the child but in a boring shed with nothing better to do, she decided to finally respond with a lowly common greeting, and a slight wave! A wave of the hand! She was surprised with herself, she wasn't the socialite type. As common courtesy, she asked the child her name, Martha, according to the lively kid, evidently ecstatic of the conversation her former stranger companion has allowed.
The two talked for a while. After every conversation, an awkward pause engulfs the two, prompting the more-experienced-in-life girl to continue the conversation, just to avoid the dreaded and physically painful awkwardness brought about by the silence.
"What were you doing earlier?" asked Charlotte, referring to the weird staring at the distance.
"Oh? That!" Martha's voice squeaked a bit. Her companion soon regretted asking, as the child went on great lengths to describe the other worldy creature she has conjured, its reasons for haunting, et cetera. Charlotte's mind soon drifted from reality, being bombarded of such terms only heard in "trash" ghost televion shows: "EMF" and "ectoplasm". Soon the words of her borderline friend successfully became buried in her mind, deep enough not to be understood; allowing a faint, high-pitched bits of sound to be heard, from somewhere.
Charlotte stood up and looked for the origin of the sound. The child seeing her companion, asked what was happening, only to be hushed; Charlotte cupped her hands around her ears, prompting Martha to do the same.
Only the amplified noise of raindrops hitting the pavement were received by the two's artificial satellite dishes for ears. Not a second more and a gasp made Charlotte look onto the child; she was pointing at something across the street.
"I knew it, ghosts are real!" Martha yelled.
Indeed it was something small, a shadow of a head was seen in a split second by the two, with horns.
"Horns?" The more cynic, older girl asked, as Martha continued to describe what she thinks she saw.
"Yes! I think so. Triangular things on a head, what else could it be?" The child then nodded, with a pleased expression on her face; in contrast of Charlotte's.
"Do I go? I want to go, can I? Can you carry me there? The flood's too high. Please? Please? Let's go!"
Martha incessantly shook the older girl, her eyes close to being asleep. A minute more of this and Charlotte decided to take action.
"Do you know who has horns?" Charlotte asked, stopping her young companion on her tracks.
"Bulls? Bisons? Asian water buffa--"
"No! The Devil himself!" Charlotte yelled, her eyebrows raised, attempting to scare the child.
"What does he do?"
"Well, uh." She has not thought about this far. The plan was silencing the child but this has only raised further questions. Scrounging up all the brain power available, her tongue produced an answer.
"He strikes good people with lightning!"
A lightning bolt struck in the distance as if on cue.
The child sat back down with her left hand on her chin, with a gaze directed on the floor; if she was a sculpture, she would be on the row of famed philosophers in Rome.
The storm showed no signs of ceasing anytime soon. Fortunately for the two, the city government, this time for once, properly funded the waiting shed to be constructed sturdy.
Half an hour has passed since the first exchange of words by the two occured. Charlotte has been thinking of damning the rain and making a run for it, her house is only ten minutes away after all. The only thing that stops this thought was her young companion's existence and her being left alone. Martha has been silent for a while since the identity of the ghost has been confirmed by a reputable source (Charlotte, n.d.), and in this view, she whispered something under her breath. Charlotte heard, but didn't understand what.
"What was that?" She reflexively asked.
"I want..." Martha still is looking at the ground, her legs swinging as if she is on a swing. "I want to see the Devil!"
The two looked at each other. A clash between pure confusion and inspiration. Of fake stories and true belief. A fleshy tap was heard inside that shed that day; the origin of which can be pointed to Charlotte's forehead and her right palm meeting each other.
"Look, he is evil and eats people."
"Didn't you say he strikes people with lightning?"
"Has to be cooked first."
An audible and long "Oohhh." was the child's response.
She fell silent and appeared to be deep in thought once again. Amongst the abnormally numerous thunder and lightning being heard and seen from both distant and near, the two sat in silence, both stirring deeply in their thoughts as if it was a solemn moment similar to humans feel in the privacy of their daily work on their privies.
Charlotte's eyes soon widened as she saw her companion, having stood up from her dry post, Martha's hands were above her head.
"What the hell are you doing now?"
Martha took a deep breath and bended her knees ever so slightly. Like an olypmic diver.
"Diving?!" Charlotte rushed forward and pulled back the kid by her waist. The two fell on their bottoms on the concrete floor. The one laughing, the other one was one step away in committing assault and battery.
"That flood is three feet deep, you would have died!" The older girl was referring to the evaded blunt force trauma via asphalt.
With a defeated sigh, Charlotte pulled out a bunch of dry towels from her bag.
"Did you want to go there that bad?" She asked her companion whilst drying Martha's hair off with the cloth. "Why, aren't you scared?"
"I heard my Dad said," Martha coughed, her voice deepened but still was squeaky. "Fear hinders success."
Charlotte took another dry towel and with a quick movement, rubbed it all over her companion's face, swaying her in the process, Martha laughed as the older girl replied.
"Don't count out fear that easy you know." She crossed her arms while thinking about adult words to say. "It's what stops you from doing dumb things."
"And good things!" Martha added. "If I was too scared to talk earlier, we wouldn't be friends, see?"
"And if I wasn't scared for you, you would be drowning in the flood right now!" She rubbed the towel all the more vigorously on Martha's cheeks.
Afterwards, they sat again in silence. Fools feel the need to say something, wise men speak up only when they have something to say. This quote was expressed in this very shed today whilst the rain weakened down a bit.
The drainage evidently is working, as after only half an hour, the flood is now only a foot deep, there is still rain, but it was more of a light downpour compared earlier. There were still lightning and their corresponding thunderclaps in both the distance and in proximity though and the sky was still dark. Charlotte then stood up, picked up her bag and stretched out her right arm out of the shed, palm up the sky.
"Hey, you going home? Will someone pick you up? This just might be the eye of the storm." She turned back towards Martha, still sitting neatly. The girl wasn't answering, only staring at the distance. Charlotte looked what she was staring at and it was the old decrepit building she saw the "Devil" at. She sighed. She stepped off the curb, put her hands behind her back and motioned her companion. "Come, you'll get wet if you walk with your shoes."
The girl's eyes came back to life and with a large smile, she was on Martha's back, the two of them waddling through the flood, making their way, slowly but surely, into the Devil's lair. The flat streets were still abandoned, save for rare single motorcycles braving the flood.
Suddenly, a bright flash of light came down from the sky, prompting Martha to tuck her hooded face onto her ride's shoulders. Then came the thunder, which buckled her with a yelp. All of which transpiring in a snap. In contrast, Charlotte reacted to nothing, only giggling for a while and periodically asking Martha if she's okay.
"It won't hit you. You're a good kid, right?" She reassured her younger companion.
"But... didn't you say the Devil strikes good people with lightning?"
As if on cue, another flash of light caught Martha offguard and a subsequent strike of instant terrible heat near them knocked the two off balance.
The younger one fell onto the flood water on her back but Charlotte fell in a manner much worse, onto the curb. If there was blood, Martha couldn't see it as the water was dark, muddy and dirty. Her vision was blurry still, but was only also brief, losing her consciousness after seeing a motorcycle stop nearby.
It has been three days since then, Martha was only hospitalized for two days, being lucky to buckle away with fear from the lightning as she did.
"I'm off then." She said to her mom, grabbing the basket of fruits and homemade meals her mom told her to bring. The typhoon soon left the country and there was the sun above and a sprinkle of clouds. Martha's best Sunday dress was bright under the sun's light and even though it wasn't Sunday, it was a special day.
Walking past the waiting shed and onto her destination, she saw the old decrepit building they were going towards to. She steeled herself and put on the fiercest face a little girl could do. Her basket on tow, she kicked down the rotten wooden door of the building and scanned the surroundings.
"Where are you?" She yelled. "Come out!"
Then, a movement from her peripheral vision prompted her to look towards it, throwing an apple reflexively. "Take that!" Much to her surprise, there were four horned shadows, one was the largest among the four.
Racing up to the corner where the shadows were, she jumped and was about to throw another apple when she saw the shadows' origins.
"I told you, it wasn't the Devil!" She raised a kitten with black marks on its head above the hospital bed. Martha then removed the blanket from the basket, revealing the other two kittens. "Don't worry their mom left soon after, I'll return them later."
The two fell silent and awoke the two sleeping kittens in the basket by the sound of their laughter.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, RubinWrite a Review