Lightning On Golgotha
By Jeffrey Kieviet
The crowd was keeping their distance. Everyone wants to see chaos, but no one wants to get close enough that it will set them on fire. Moss slowly stumbled across the beach, too shocked by the engulfing flames to be embarrassed by her nakedness. In a whirl, the mob surrounding her had grown to include a television crew, complete with a helicopter circling low above, and an ambulance in the distance. She found a sad irony that a news team had arrived before paramedics. Not that she needed them, the fire wasn’t burning her.
Every hair on her body was a living lick of flame. What had been invisible down on her arms was now a shimmering lace of fire, crackling as she raised her hand to examine the glow. Where her hair was more concentrated, her carpet and her drapes, infernos roared. Every time she turned her head, a wave of red-yellow sparks burned across her face. The fire was on her, was in her, and she felt its intense heat, but it didn’t hurt, it didn’t burn, it wasn’t devouring her, just encompassing her. Even though she hadn’t had a date in months, she had shaved her legs before coming to the beach. Now, as she bent down to look at her smooth legs, she saw little pockets of flame inside every pore.
Then she screamed.
In panic, fear, and hysterical madness, she shrieked and the flames shot outward, causing the crowd to jump back, a couple of the more eager bystanders fell on top of each other in a crumple. Smoke billowed up towards the clouds gathering overhead, and the flames extinguished. Moss felt her vision blur, and she fell to the sand.
The ambulance had finally gotten through; the paramedics examined her body, listening to wild stories from the individuals who saw a woman burst into a living flame. They checked her vitals, listened for breath, and even though the woman didn’t have a scratch (or burn mark) on her, there was no evidence she was alive.
Moss had expected paddles. In her dazed haze, she had heard the paramedics set up shop, she understood they were trying to defibrillate her, and she had expected paddles. But they were patches. Little stickers with wires hooked up to a little black box. In hindsight, she considered this a blessing, since as soon as the electrical impulse burst through the patches, she shot straight up into the air, rocketing past the news helicopter, leaving a shockwave trail that singed the eyebrows of the paramedic operating the defibrillator. Had he been bent over her with paddles, he might have died.
Her physical exhaustion caused by the fire was instantly forgotten as she sailed up past the clouds, looking around, her wits came quickly but muddled. She had that feeling of falling asleep, that less-than-a-second sink that causes one to jump before sweet slumber can embrace, only it didn’t stop, it was much more than a fraction of a second, and it felt like it coiled through her in reverse. Then, with a light, almost peaceful silence, she reached the peak of her ascent.
Looking down, the world seemed fake, like a child had made a meticulously small and detailed doll house, only it was the California coast, not a house. Her stomach turned as the feeling of falling up swirled into a plummet towards the surreal world below. And that’s when she noticed the lightning. She thought it had been stars in her eyes, the physical exertion she’d experienced in the last few minutes was enough to drain anyone of their composure, but now, as she wanted to scream and panic, gulping down air and she fell, she saw she was surrounded in snapping arcs of electricity.
Just as her hair had turned to flame only moments earlier on the beach, she now saw her flowing head of hair was a plasma globe, licks of blue-white lightning whipped around her face. Upon closer examination, the little hairs on her arm were similar sparks of energy, different from the fire before, but similarly static and shocking. Not to her, again there was no pain, but she could feel the air around her become stimulated by the electricity running through her flesh.
The ground whirled closer and closer, any hope of landing in the ocean vanished as she saw the wind had brought her disastrously inland. Not that she could have survived slamming into the ocean at terminal velocity, but the mind seeks whatever comfort it can find in times of panic. With a desperate surge of will power, she pulled on the energy within her, trying to find the source of the lightning. For a brief moment, she felt it, locked into it, and her descent stopped. At least, it felt like it did. There was a little hiccup in the air. And then the power went out.
Her lightning yielded to hair, her skin resumed the smooth complexion of a sunbather, and she returned to her freefall. But she wasn’t scared any more. She was tired. She felt her vitals shutting down, just as they had when the fire went out. And as the details of the ground came into focus, she lost consciousness.
Seconds later, like a meteor hailing from space, she impacted with solid concrete, sending splintered rock and debris flying in a ripple effect through the nearby parking lot. A crater that could have swallowed an 18-wheeler settled into the target zone. Moss gasped, the air had been knocked from her lungs, she couldn’t breathe. She wanted to turn, to look at her damaged body, to see how badly off she was after being burned, electrocuted, and thrown into the ground from miles above. She knew she shouldn’t turn her head, even if she was able to. She would only further injure herself if she wasn’t on death’s doorstep already.
Still unable to catch her breath, suddenly she realized she didn’t need to. She didn’t need to breath. She wondered if this meant she was dying. But she didn’t feel dead. She felt solid, secure, alive. Cautiously, she moved her fingers, felt them wiggle. And with an eerie ease, she sat up. It didn’t appear like a single bone was broken, nothing in her body hurt. Then, looking down at her arms, she saw hard, stone-like protrusions where her pores were. Reaching up to the back of her head, she found a granite mash of hair.
The fall, the impact, the collision had made her solid as a rock. She was invincible.
To Be Continued…
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