FlashFic: The Storm

The static levels were too high. The hairs on his arm not only stood on end, they were vibrating. Something was coming.

Roger manned the little weather station alone. The meters fluttered then stood in the red zones. He frowned. Cold logic told him it was impossible. It told him there was some explanation. It told him to sound the alarm. He froze until sheer panic slammed the alarm button. It echoed through the building. He felt more than heard the oncoming storm. Storm? He’d never heard of readings like this.

He ran to the window in the cinder block wall. The thick cloud in the distance made his hands shake. It was viciously dark. Like a buzzing, snapping beast, it ate its way over the horizon. Tendrils reached down, each ending in an explosion of damage as it reached the ground. The carnage was hideously precise. The city, destroyed. Suburbs, gone. His own town, shattered in a whirlwind of dark lightning. Each exploding, drawn up and spit out as the heartless cloud moved closer.

The thin remainder of cold logic told Roger he had to warn others. The equipment was useless. He grabbed the phone. Crackling and a shock threw him across the room. He slammed against the wall and crumpled, arm shooting pain to its shoulder. Biting his cheek, he dragged himself across the floor and up using a chair. Back to the window, arm hanging useless. Every muscle reverberated. The machines popped and sizzled. Get out, they said. It’s coming, get out.

He darted from the building. Run, logic said. No, not the car, useless in this storm. In this thing. He made the mistake of looking up. It stopped him in his tracks. The cloud blotted out the sunny day, spreading across the sky. The onrushing sound was deafening. The pressure began to crush him. It shocked him into moving again. Running. Running away from the weather station. Running toward nothing.

Roger’s entire body quivered, throbbing. He cried out, the sound echoing in his head. The explosion threw him off his feet. He landed amid broken cinder blocks and a tire that rolled on its rim. A flash of time to marvel that he survived. Enough time for his pulsating body to ache and roll over.  Time to shriek as a thin, dark streak of lightning speared him.

It lifted him up. It held him fast, his body stiff. Pain screamed through him. It was abruptly shut down. Everything was abruptly shut down. The lightning dropped him. It moved on. It took the fear and pain away. It took Roger away. What was left rose awkwardly. It slammed its shoulder into its socket. It began to walk along with the broadening darkness, pausing while the creature above destroyed the amusement park, stopping while the creature exploded the little town beyond it.

Others were stabbed by the dark lightning. They were lifted, dropped to the ground. They stumbled out of the wreckage and joined what was left of Roger on its pilgrimage. It saw blood spurting from a damaged drone. That drone won’t last long, came a thought. A thought. A sliver of Roger hiding within tried to contact the thought. The sliver was cold logic. The sliver faltered, fearing for Roger’s brain functions under the control of the sparking, crackling creature.

The drone that was once Roger stumbled. The sliver observed the effect. It reached, experimenting. The drone stopped. It tilted its head. It resumed shambling with the cloud. The sliver grabbed and clawed. The drone fell to its knees and held its head between its hands. There was a moan deep in its throat. The sliver, now rippling and waving through pathways, forced its way into lobes, touched sensitive places, retreated when the drone spasmed. It was on the ground, twitching, hurting. Roger’s sense of self took painful hold. It heard the humming in the remaining part of the drone’s brain. It forced Roger to work past the hum.

Get up. Walk. Don’t let it know. The thoughts formed with great effort. Each one made the next easier. Each one made him more Roger. Ahead in the distance, the darkness reached down and wove a wall. The cloud poured into it, leaving daylight. Roger shuffled along with the others, stepping through and around the rubble of a small town. He peered ahead. Drones walked to the wall. It reached out and grabbed them, impaling them on dark lightning and pulling them in.

There was a truck ahead on its side. Cold logic and panic combined. Roger stumbled to it and crouched in the upturned bed. Drones passed him in crowds, a horrifying, silent parade. When the last of them had gone, Roger dared to peek through the cracked windshield.

The cloud became a viscous, roiling black. It coalesced into a roaring sphere. He watched as it lifted from the dust, leaving a whirlwind behind. It shot up, soon a black dot in the clear sky.

Panic and relief overwhelmed logic. Roger lay in the dirt, whimpering and shaking as the sun set and the moon rose.

“We got a survivor over here!” Roger heard. “You’re lucky, buddy. First survivor in all these tornadoes.”

“Not a tornado,” Roger shook his head. It poured out. “Not a tornado. Not a tornado.”

“Right, buddy. Not a tornado. Don’t worry. We’ll get you patched up.” Roger felt a sharp sting in his arm. As he slumped, he heard, “Sure, not a tornado. Like anything else could do this.”

Thanks to @Selorian for the first lines, a post on #storystarters on Twitter.

© 2010 Jessica Rosen

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24 thoughts on “FlashFic: The Storm

  1. Olivia Tejeda February 5, 2010 at 6:10 am Reply

    That was very intense, you sustained the fast pace and action through to the end. I was a little unclear on what happened to Roger. I thought he was killed, but then he wasn’t. I re-read and realized my mistake, but it was a tad confusing.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 5, 2010 at 9:37 am Reply

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment, Olivia. I appreciate your feedback. Sorry to hear it was confusing. Maybe I need to rework that section.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  2. Mel Morton February 5, 2010 at 10:45 am Reply

    Enjoyed reading this tense story.

    Very descriptive. I particularly liked, ‘Like a buzzing, snapping beast it ate it’s way over the horizon.’

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 5, 2010 at 11:21 am Reply

      Thanks so much, Mel. That was one of my favorite lines, too.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  3. Marisa Birns February 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm Reply

    First story I read this morning and it certainly woke me up!

    The line where the drone snapped it’s arm back in its socket is so vivid, I winced.

    Very well done!

    I, too, wrote my story from a first line I found at #storystarters. 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm Reply

      Thanks, Marisa. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Have a full house again this weekend, but am making an effort to read stories. Can’t wait to see which #storystarters inspired yours.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  4. Deanna Schrayer February 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm Reply

    As others have said Jess, this was very intense. I felt all my muscles tightening as I read. I once knew a man named Roger who worked in a little concrete building off the coast of Miami, on an island of sorts that was more like a sandbar. I don’t know exactly what his title was, but he watched the weather patterns, looking for hurricanes and tropical storms, and controlled the levees. Needless to say, it was him I pictured while reading this story. Great work!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm Reply

      Wow, what a wild coincidence! Thanks for the kind words, Deanna. Looking forward to reading yours.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. PJ Kaiser February 5, 2010 at 9:27 pm Reply

    Jessica – I too got a bit confused in some of the action, but i love the way you expressed the action in descriptive terms. Your verbs had me on the edge of my seat – very graphic. Well done!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 7, 2010 at 5:43 am Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, PJ. Writing flash is teaching me how to write tighter novels with more conflict.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  6. Johanna Harness February 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm Reply

    I love reading your flash, Jessica. It always feels like a gift when I see you’ve posted something.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 7, 2010 at 5:44 am Reply

      That’s so generous of you, Johanna. Thanks very much. High praise from such a talented author.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  7. David J. West February 7, 2010 at 4:14 am Reply

    I really liked that Jess, so many wonderful visuals. Anything with tendrils is awesome.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 7, 2010 at 5:45 am Reply

      Thanks a bunch, David. The tendrils thing made me laugh. Cthulhu fan?

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  8. mazzz_in_Leeds February 7, 2010 at 9:49 am Reply

    Creepy!
    “Viscous, roiling black” – great stuff
    Definitely edge-of-your-seat reading here!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 7, 2010 at 10:17 am Reply

      Hey, thanks, mazzz. Love that it had such an effect on you. Thanks for letting me know.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  9. Cathy Olliffe February 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm Reply

    Weather stories! Love ’em! Man against nature, or in this case, man against not-nature. Either way, exciting tale. Thanks!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm Reply

      Thank you, Cathy. Glad to know you enjoyed it. It was fun being creeped out while I wrote it.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  10. CJ February 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm Reply

    This was such a cool idea for a story and you totally pulled it off. Great job!

    Like

  11. David G Shrock February 8, 2010 at 7:57 pm Reply

    Whew! Tension all the way through. Exciting, vivid material, almost a bit much in the middle. Enough going on to fill a longer story. I approach flash the same, good practice at focusing on the moment, making the words count. Great material in this one. Enjoyed it even if a little tuckered out now.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 9, 2010 at 3:57 am Reply

      I had to pare it down, trying to find the essential story. It wanted to be a bigger story. Who knows, maybe it will become one. What better challenge to technique than to take on a story of overwhelming proportions to the MC and find a way to convey it within the confines of flash?

      I really appreciate your comment, David. Thanks. I’d say I’m sorry it tired you out a bit – but I’m not really. Very cool response.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  12. Dana February 9, 2010 at 2:11 am Reply

    Your description of the giant cloud totally creeped me out so I think you did a great job 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 9, 2010 at 3:58 am Reply

      Creeping you out is a very good thing. Thanks for letting me know, Dana.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

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