Wednesday, August 4, 2010

bitter milk, pt. 13

The storm hit the city while Nicole was in the alley, bunkered underneath some cardboard. There was nothing in the house - it had been stripped clean by who-knows-what. The sky went black and the rain started with only a sudden howling wind as warning that it had arrived. Within moments the rain soaked her through the cardboard. Nicole shivered and rose to her feet and, scared, hurried out the alley, then stopped when lightning struck a building two blocks away. She yelped and started running.

 The hail started a few seconds later. At first the hailstones were harmless and small, but they kept getting bigger - stinging at first, then bruising, then dangerously large hailstones - breaking car windows and badly injuring anyone still caught out in the open.

 Nicole jumped into a chained-up storefront, the windows pockmarked with hailstone holes, and huddled together, shivering, bleeding, and waiting for the storm to pass.

The building that got hit by the lightning was on fire now. People inside were running out the front doors; some of them ran out into the streets and tried the impossible task of dodging hailstones - some got lucky, and some just fell in the street and were pummeled as they crawled back for shelter. Others stayed in the shelter provided by the burning building, hoping the fire would burn out before it got so far, or perhaps that the storm would outpace the flames.

And the lightning continued to flash overhead. With every strike another building seemed to get hit. Despite the wind, the storm seemed never to move - the thunder was always right there, impossibly close and impossibly deafening. And the sky was completely black. The streetlights flickered on, then flickered off with all the lights in the city.

 Nicole had her eyes held shut and her paws over her head. The blood was still trickling down her face - she felt it touch her tongue - but she was so cold she didn't move at all, except to shiver.

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