The Lightning Cometh
In Mid-June when the days are more humid than they are hot, the town had experienced a particularly dreary day when it started to storm. This storm was black, said many of the elderly ladies. It seems in small towns that when women reach a certain age they receive a touch of witchcraft. This town had been especially blessed, mostly because of the mystical prejudices that come with being the long descendants of the horrid Salem fires. Fires where, supposedly, only the arsonistic Wiccans escaped. But that may have been just a rumour. In the towns’ local library, they sorted family history next to mythology. Just to be on the safe side.
The storm on the other hand, was no myth. Every-one noticed the dark clouds. Dark, is a simple word. Think of these clouds in the same thought as tar. Slow, methodical, menacing: these were the clouds that nightmares presented. But when the rain came, it came worse than a pour. Worse than a shower. Worse than worse. The townsfolk, who braved the rain, connected the experience to drowning. And yet when a massive cloud covered the horizon and the rain flooded the lower half of the town, the people were content, it was just a storm. And then the lightning came. The children saw them as they were bolts of shadows. If the sun shone on real lightning, and these bolts were the places where the lightning blocked out the sun. Shadow lightning became a very popular saying in the next few weeks. The adults brushed off the thought of shadow lightning, blaming in on the pigment of the clouds. Because they were scared, scared of what shadow lightning MEANT, and what it would do. A town meeting was called when the storm lasted for three weeks. And the start of the third week many clouds and showers were arriving in other rural communities and small townships. Oddly enough these areas also had a large amount of citizens who had ancestors from Essex County, Massachusetts. But the town that first experienced the clouds were also the first to experience the side-effects of the shadow lightning.
Johnson James Jenkins VI was the great-great-great-grandson of a very popular Reverend on the county line of Essex County. All of the Johnson James Jenkins were the eldest sons in families of six; three boys, three girls. All Johnson James Jenkins went on to become Reverends. All except Johnson James Jenkins VI, who was given the choice of Vietnam or Prison. He chose Vietnam. And although Johnson chose to read a verse of the bible every day of his tour of duty, he was not greeted as a hero when he returned. And certainly not as a man of god. You see, when Johnson James Jenkins was in Vietnam, he saw the face of God. And it was horrible. Yet still his return came with even more bad news when he finally read the letters his wife had given. Sadly, their son, Johnson James Jenkins VII had died in a fire. Apparently, after reading the story of Joan of Arc, he and his friends tried to re-enact it with what they thought was fake matches. And the face of God is cruel. Now, in his dying days, Johnson James Jenkins VI holds on through the frequent town hall meetings and visits from his daughter. He did not believe in much supernatural business, or natural business for that matter. And through the long squabbling that the town mayor and citizens did, his patience grew to nil. With much of his rage building he finally burst out the door in a melodramatic fashion, turning all of the worried faces.
In the pouring rain Johnson James Jenkins VI held out his hands to the dark unmoving clouds and shouted these words, “This is not a sign; this is not the end of the world. This is a storm, nothing more!”
Johnson James Jenkins VI was then struck by a bolt of shadow lightning. The first thing to happen is that Johnson became a shadow himself. Then, with excruciating pain his mouth opened and bright red light shone from his mouth and from his mouth. The last side effect of the lightning is that Johnson James Jenkins saw the face of something much worse and much crueller than God, because this face was REAL. It was the face of his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather and his great-great-grandfather and his great-great-great-grandfather; all of them were burning and then he realizes that he’s burning, and the one holding the torch is his son Johnson James Jenkins VII.
The flash ended and the broken shell that was once Johnson James Jenkins VI fell into a mud-puddle. Dead. The first to rush to his side was his daughter, Jennifer. And when she went to check his pulse, she became a shadow herself.
Joanne Jane Jenkins screamed, but no sound came out, only a blinding red light that burnt her throat and bore through her eye sockets. Joanne also saw a vision that day; she was cut open from her stomach to her pelvis. She could smell the stench and feel the pain. Surrounding her were the fellow members of the Rotary club knitting with her intestines as yarn. But the worst part was what they were making looked ten-fold better that any of the pieces that hung so proudly in her house. And when she looked down, she realized that she too was holding knitting needles and bobbing and weaving. Her hands were soaked with blood. And then she saw nothing.
Another flash and Mrs. Jenkins love-struck pool-boy was shadowed, lit, and drown. Dead. The rest of town flocked back into the hall. And there they stayed until one by one they dropped. Some took the easy way out, or so they thought, and flung themselves onto the growing pile of bodies on top of the Jenkins family. They too became shadows, had lights blind and burn them and then each one would watch their own worse fears be acted out in bloody fashion. On the end of the third day only the women and children were left in the hall. All of the men had achieved death or went out to find help, unknowing of their fate. That night the clouds rotated and blinding red flashes of light were the only things to be seen out the hall’s windows. By the morning those too stopped, and with great caution the eldest of the women opened the door to see if the coast was clear, or if it was all just a horrible nightmare.
Marley Gibbs became the CEO of a well to do Insurance Firm after a secretive series of “negotiations” with her employer, a closet homosexual. The January after she became CEO the two married and both enjoyed their affairs with other men, while her husband could publicly announce that he was truly a happily married man. While Mrs. Gibbs kept her own name and enjoyed her staunch pay raise.
Marley Gibbs became the first victim of the final stage of the shadow clouds. She was eaten, from head to toe, by the corpse of Bob Harrington of Harrington’s Jewellery. When seeing the army of zombified former family members, most of the children rushed for the door in hopes of escape. The mothers of the children quickly ran after and that is how it came to be that the teenagers were the only survivors of the lightning’s holocaust.
The brave males, with zits on their face, toured the basement of the hall in quick fashion. In a closet they found two axes, a saw, and a broom. One teen took out his pocket knife and widdled the end of the broom into a spear. With the end of the world looming on them some of the guys and girls paired up and for the first and probably last time made love.
One girl sat in a corner with tears down her face. Her name was Harriet and she was crying over her lost best friend who ran out after her little brother. Susan Banner was dead and Harriet had loved her. Harriet Bouchard was an orphan and had only one friend. In school she was called Hairy Harriet because of her upper lip hair. Harriet often wondered if life was worth living. Yet, Susan Banner was always there to lift her spirits. They had become friends when they spotted each other in the doctor’s office when they were both in grade six. Susan’s mother had died in child-birth and her father did not know how to react when she hit puberty early. Harriet didn’t have anyone who cared about her. So through that day until the end of Susan’s life they were there for each other, when no-one else was. When Harriet was thrown out of the orphanage Susan offered her a room in her basement and went from best friends to sisters.
Harriet sat in the corner with her head down and wondered if life was still worth living. Then the window broke and the remnants of the decaying town members struggled to enter and feast on the succulent human flesh. Dozens of the teens died as the flocks of zombies increased with every intake of breath. Waves and waves of former community members were decapitated by the two axes wielded by the two teens with the most amount of chest hair. And finally it was down to Harriet and a few others against the walking dead, in the front Susan Banner, whose cheeks were still rosy, who was crying.
With all her might “Hairy” Harriet Bouchard grasped the saw from the slowly waking corpse of Johnny Baxter and started towards her best friend. This provided as a hearty distraction while the two boys with axes cut the numbers in half. An unnaturally blue and black blood flowed out of Susan Banner’s neck. In the puddle drips of tears were added by Harriet as she added one final, “I love you”. And then the biting started.
Harriet did not scream, or cry out in pain. Harriet didn’t wince, or run. Harriet wondered. She wondered if Hell was any worse, but doubted it. Harriet wondered.