Another flash fiction Friday! The prompt came again from an Instagram challenge, this time the goal was that severe weather was to significantly impact the story. This story is actually a situation that would give me nightmares, but there’s a happy ending, so I just have to remind myself of that!
There’s a heartbeat of silence between the thunder and lightning. The heat from the sky lights up my patch of the world, throwing everything into sharp relief. Everything in me says to turn back. Go home.
But I can’t.
Fist-like raindrops batter down on me, each one worse than the last. It feels like I’ve been out here for days, but I can’t give up. She needs me.
The search party was called off hours ago. The chief of police claimed that stumbling around in the dark and the rain wouldn’t help. The thought of his apologetic face haunts me.
Again, thunder rumbles through the air, and for a moment I swear I can feel the air vibrate with the sound. The lion’s roar of the sky echoing in my ears.
This time, when the lightning comes, I train my eyes to the ground, hoping to find something in the mud. I search frantically, hoping for something, anything.
The light is gone almost as quickly as it came and I’m left to trip over an exposed root, landing hard on my cheek. Wet earth fills my nose and I stumble to my feet. Trying to wipe my face clean, I find that the battering rain has already washed the dirt away.
“Keira!” I shout, but the wind takes my words, whipping them away from me.
I don’t see the tree until it’s too late. It’s leaning, its branches reaching out for the storm as if it craves the exhilaration of being part of the sky rather than the earth. To answer the tree’s plea, lightning flashes again, this time, striking the tree.
In one moment, the tree splits. One half falling away and landing on the ground.
There’s no time to scream. No time to move.
Blinding pain fills me, my leg twisted under the thick trunk. For a moment, I let exhaustion and fear win. Closing my eyes against the wailing sky, I let the tears escape.
The truth hits me. I may never find her. I will have to claw my way out from under this tree and then drag my broken leg home. And I will have to leave her.
Another crack of thunder rips through the sky…and with it, I hear a scream.
For a heart-stopping moment, I think that I’ve screamed. My frustrations finally having torn from me, but my mouth is still tightly clamped shut.
The realization surges strength through me. I heave at the trunk, my hands slipping on the wet bark. It lifts only an inch, but it’s enough to drag myself free.
“Kiera!” My voice is so hoarse that I choke on the last syllable of her name.
Lightning is my answer, and dimly I register that it took longer for it to come. The storm is finally moving on.
“Kiera!” I scream once again.
The rain is still pounding down, the huge raindrops hitting my throbbing leg. The pain makes it hard to concentrate.
But then, finally.