By Lady Euphoria Deathwatch
Andy had left work for the day and walked down the street without a care in the world. The sun was shining and the breeze was just the right temperature. Birds sang in the trees while squirrels ran up and down the bark. He couldn’t help himself and started whistling a tune, something he hadn’t done since he was a boy. In fact he felt like a boy again on this golden afternoon.
Harriet had the day off and was walking down the same street to shop. She was going in the opposite direction and could see the storm clouds on the horizon coming towards them. The sheer dreariness of the coming storm made her sick inside. She grumbled under her breath as she made her way toward Andy waiting for the light to change so he could cross the street.
As the sun shown down on the corner of Main Street and Park Avenue they met crossing the street. Harriet growled at Andy’s whistling and Andy gave Harriet a friendly wink. Flash Crash! Lightning out of the blue. They were both hit and knocked to the ground. People ran up to them and tried to revive them.
Andy found himself in a strange place. It was a dark and misty forest like place. There were forms just out of range that he couldn’t quite make out that watched him and skulked about. He hoped, wished, wondered about the small weak light in the sky, wanting it to grow into the beautiful warm sun again and burn away the darkness all around him. He screamed and shouted at the things on the periphery to no avail. He felt cold and scared. He didn’t want to move but felt that he had to follow the light.
Harriet was now looking up into the sunshine. It hurt and her flesh felt like it was burning. The people around her looked like they had halos from the brightness. She closed her eyes to the glare. She could hear them trying to help her, she just couldn’t answer back. The pain was too much. She only wished that they would leave her alone and stop hurting her.
The ambulance driver told the police officer on the scene that only one of them seemed to be making it so far. The police officer held the crowd back so the paramedics could do their jobs.
Andy waited for a long time before he felt up to moving and to look for some shelter in the mist for the night that must soon be coming. At times the light in the sky seemed to be getting larger, at others he was sure it was smaller than at the start. He told himself that the mist was making it look that way. He walked through thick brush and briers, all the time keeping the weak light in sight.
Harriet could feel the cold shaking start from deep inside her. “Shock” she heard someone say. She had her eyes closed against the brightness and the pain. The shaking was making the pain turn into agony. She tried to stop the shaking but she couldn’t control anything any longer. The siren started to wail and it strangely calmed her, like it was doing the screaming for her.
Loaded each into separate ambulances, they made their way at top speed to the nearest hospital with a burn unit. The police had cleared the road for them.
Andy was getting tired of fighting the brush and slowed his movement toward the light. He used all his strength and concentration to make a narrow path. He was hurting and tired but he just had to get closer to the light. Small as it was he knew it was where he needed to be. When the greenery opened into a clearing he ran for all he was worth for the other side, afraid that the light would fade into night.
Harriet was bathed in white warm light. The shaking had stopped. They must have given her drugs for the pain because she couldn’t feel anything any longer. Her eyes were still closed and she let them do whatever it was that they needed to do to her. It felt like floating and she just let her body ride the waves of warmth. The voices didn’t concern her any longer. The words didn’t make any sense to her anyway. If only the light would fade and she could sleep like this.
The stretchers were brought into the emergency room one after the other and a separate team of doctors and nurses worked on each of them with all the skills and equipment they had. The young adults in their care were going to get every chance to regain a life to live in full.
Andy heard the bugs of night starting to make noise. It sounded kind of like beeping in this strange new world he found himself in. He checked to see if it was his cell phone, but he had lost it a while back. The light was getting closer and lower in the sky. Night would be falling soon and he still hadn‘t found a place to stay. He didn’t want to. All he could think of was getting to that cool pale light.
Harriet was getting a headache. The meds must be wearing off. She tried to open her eyes but they wouldn’t work. Nothing worked in fact. Everything she tried to move on her body stayed still. She started to panic but couldn’t make a sound. Would they think she was dead and send her to the morgue, then bury her alive? ‘No, they gave her meds and that was what was keeping her from moving. It would wear off any minute.‘ she told herself.
The gurneys were moved one to the morgue and the other to a room in the intensive care unit of the hospital. The families and friends gathered in the waiting room were told of their respective conditions. Unable to visit, they were left crying and clutching to one another. They drifted off to make arrangements according to their loved ones status.
Andy waited holding his breath as the last of the light faded from view. In the darkness he sat where he had stood and cried in sheer frustration. When he was done crying out all his anger and pain he was resolved once again to try all the harder in the morning. He sank into the cold darkened greenery and slept.
Harriet was in a drug induced coma but her mind dreamed on. She found herself with a lantern in her hand looking down at Andy sleeping on the forest floor. After a while she got tired of waiting for him to wake on his own and poked him with her hospital slippered toe.
Andy woke with the light of the lantern just inches from his face. He could feel the warmth of it on his cheek. His body was chilled with the damp into his very bones but he didn’t want to move and frighten Harriet away.
“I’m not standing here all night.” she said to him and waited for him to rise before pushing the lantern into his hands. “You can carry this for a while, I’m tried to death of the brightness of the thing. I hope I never see it again.“ And she turned and walked into the darkened misty woods.
In the doctors lounge, two very tired doctors sat and talked about the day they had encountered. The two people from the same lightning strike had them both too busy to talk before this.
“I still can’t believe what a day I had. We tried to keep her alive, we really did, but she just stopped trying and died despite the fact that she had the lesser injuries of the two. I just came from finishing the paper work. Twelve o’clock midnight was the time she expired. Now that doesn’t happen often.” said the first.
The second shook his head. “That is funny. But I can do you one better. The guy I had was dead and sent to the morgue when he woke up on the table and scared the devil out of the coroner getting ready to prep him for autopsy. I had to pass him on to the next shift because I was swamped with paperwork for sending him down there in the first place but I know for certain he was gone when I pronounced him and signed the papers.”
The door opened and the still white lipped coroner slumped down in the nearest chair. All he said was, “Midnight! It had to happen to me at the strike of midnight.”