Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Working on Summer Storm

I'm posting the opening to the rewrite of Summer Storm. This is not the complete chapter, just the first few pages. I'd posted it in my regular journal, but I think this is the far wiser spot.

The work is going very well, and I'm really enjoying it. And I'm going to get back to it, rather than posting more here. (grin)

Chapter 1

Lightning flashed so brightly that for one heart-pounding second I thought a bomb had gone off over the city. I hit the brakes at the same time thunder shook the world and the wind picked up with a frantic gust, bouncing my Subaru. I still thought it might be the end of the world until the hail started hitting the car.

Just a storm after all.

Although just didn't appear to be a good word for the sudden fury unleashed around me. I had gotten lucky. If I hadn't played the good son and gone out to help with some paperwork at my parents' house that morning, I would have been walking to work in this mess.

Hail the size of nickels began to fall, and then got larger. I hit the gas and darted for the underpass beneath the railroad crossing about two blocks ahead while hunks of ice pinged against the roof. The car slid on the hail-slick street, and came to an ungraceful stop beneath the old corroded bridge. The ding of hail stopped on the roof though I could still see if falling in droves outside my little shelter, turning my view up 13th Street into a veil of running colors, swirled by a vicious, erratic wind that changed direction with each gust.

Dangerous storm -- lightning hit a tree somewhere not far ahead. Even through the torrential rain, I could see it shatter and blinked in the after image. Odd patterns played across my eyes, and for a moment I thought I saw odd shaped things racing across the intersection a couple blocks away. I blinked: They disappeared. Good. I had enough weird in my life.

I leaned back, intending to wait it out, and turned on the radio. The lighting still brightened the early morning day, and trailed static on the stations, but I could finally hear voices.

"....totally unexpected. An unusual cold inversion along the Missouri River came out of nowhere, and the warm front hit it and... chaos," a woman said, her voice breathless. "We're getting some of the wildest readings on Doppler that I've ever seen!"

Static rose over her words. The storm didn't look any less wild.

".... Laka Manawa," a man said. "Damndest think I ever saw! The sky lighted like a bomb went off --"

"There was no bomb," the announcer said so quickly he cut the man off. Wise man to stop that one before it went very far. "Just a very unusual storm. We have another call..."

"... angels calling out to hold tight, to hold back. It's the apocalypse..."

My. The storm had obviously unsettled a few people. I fiddled with the controls a little, watching hail build up on the ground like a fall of hard snow, though the winds didn't seem as strong now. A huge limb swept past me in the growing rush of water which had begun gathering in the depression beneath the bridge where I sat. I'd have to go soon. Lucky for me I only have about five blocks left to get to work.

"... flying through the sky..."

When another limbed wedged into my little sanctuary, I started to ease the car forward, despite the hail. The road was slick, the hail immediately chipped my windshield, and the rain came in torrents.

"... Adams Park," a woman said, her voice breathless. "And it's raining huge rocks!"

I glanced upward and discounted that one. The hail was bad enough. I fought the wheel of the car and pushed down on the gas, fearing I would be swept up with the fallen limbs and other debris --

And my cell phone went off; Age of Aquarius rang out, startling me into a breathless curse that was more sound than words. My boss calling, of course. She has an incredible knack for calling at the entirely wrong time. I ignored it for a couple rounds of 'This is the dawning...' before I pulled over to the curb and yanked on the emergency break. I had made it a little more than a block. My hands shook as I took out the phone.

"Julia," I said, hoping I didn't sound too breathless.

"Summerfield." She sounded distracted, and I could hear the police band radio in her office squawking in the background. Things sounded pretty lively, too. I turned down my radio and could still barely hear her. "Where are you?"

"About four blocks from the office."


"No. I drove out my parents' house today."

"Well, Bless the Lady for that one," she said. I heard her lean closer to the police band, but the feedback made me yank the cell phone away from my ear. I thought I had heard someone talking about Valkeries this time, though. Damned odd weather when you can get the Angels of God and the Valkieries in the same storm. "You still there?"

"Yes. Just waiting the storm out."

"What's that odd pinging noise?"

"Hail hitting the car." I could count the insurance money with each of those pings.

"It's hailing here, too," she said.

"Five blocks away. What are the odds?" I smiled.

"I don't know. I'll have to find someone who can find that one out."

Irony is lost on this woman.

"I'm glad you have your car," she said. "Tessa told me last night in a reading that today would be important. Hold on. I have to check something."

Tessa, the astrologer, had a little shop about two blocks from the office of Wolton World News, where I worked. Julia ran the small, but rather well known (or maybe infamous), privately owned newspaper. Wolton World covers stories on the unusual side... and Tessa had been right predicting this one. Angels and Valkaries...and falling rocks.

Julia Wolton, owner and publisher of Wolton World News, had a knack for smelling out good stories that fit the paper, even here in Omaha -- not exactly the arcane capital of the world. She had people who reported to her from several places around the world had two reporters locally -- me and Jacobs.

Well, if you could call Jacobs a reporter. I knew he got far too many of his stories from the bottom of a beer bottle, and I don't think he went out to investigate anything unless he feared he might get caught skipping out on it.

There would be an accounting for his actions someday, I knew. Karma. I'd seen it work too often in the past to doubt that Jacobs wasn't setting himself up for a good fall. I would try not to snicker.
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