“Hey! Where are you going?”
“Just going out to catch lightning.”
“Oh alright then, be back for dinner though, ok?”
We were low on electricity. Being the only one who could fly meant it was my chore to get more, the same way my brother did the dishes to help out. Sometimes genetics skips a generation.
Emerging from the bunker, a cooling bank of rain drenched my face, the swollen clouds late for a meeting, rushing past overhead chased away by menacing claps of thunder.
Looking around, straps on my jacket flapping noisily in the wind, I turned 360 degrees, taking in the flat deserted plain guarded by one discernable object: The Old Man of Santoro, an oak tree scorched by lightning strikes, leafless and seemingly lifeless, yet it grew each year, branches like a waiters fingers, pointing upwards, balancing the sky.
I pulled my goggles up from around my neck, fixing them in place, colours muted by the tint. Thinking of Superman, a derided figure in my family, I mocked him for needing a phonebox, for lycra. Here I was, in ordinary clothes.
Launching into the air, I felt the exhilaration as if it was the first time every time, my bodily senses confused and panicked by aerial assaults. Arcing towards the heart of the monstrous grey-white cumulonimbus, arms tucked by my sides, rubber gloves on and a conductor in my back pack, I zipped so quickly the rain hit my goggles to be instantaneously clawed away by the air pressure.
The thunder claps were nearing as I plunged into the towering cloud, where the adrenaline really kicked in, only able to see puffs of grey as the wind whistled warnings in my ears. If a plane were to meet me, I’d have no time to react.
The thunder rumbled so closely I could feel it splitting.
Suddenly a line of electric zipped straight down, illuminating all, forcing me to close my eyes even with the tints on.
Fumbling I pulled the chord on my back that revealed the conductor.
All I had to do, was predict where the next strike would be and position myself as close to it as possible. Storm systems move fast I was racing against the clock.
Son of a bitch! Who was that? They came from above. I had company, someone in red and black charging ahead of me their conductor exposed.
CRACK! In a explosion of pink and white light, branches of lightning lit up everything, like electric veins of impermanence. Whoever was in my flying zone, they were no longer there. And as much as I chased, I never got close to any more lightning, flying back disappointed, dropping out of the clouds, a pitiful speck shed from the belly, and I zipped past The Old Man, noticing smoke from the upper branches…
“Ricky! Ricky! What are you doing up there?”
“Didn’t you hear me? It’s dinner time.”
As she walked away I heard her saying, “That boy, always has his head in the clouds.”