This is another of Chuck Wendig‘s Flash Fiction prompts. For this week’s FFF Challenge, Chuck used a random sentence generator to create five sentences. We were to choose one and use it somewhere in our piece. This one was clunky in execution as the sentence proved awkward to work into the story it spawned. I think it worked out okay, though.
Sentence prompt: When does the family document the thunder?
When the Thunder Breaks the Sky – 726 words
The thunder always terrified her. As a child, her parents dismissed her fear as the result of too much television combined with an overactive imagination. They limited her hours watching movies and screened what books she read but they didn’t see what she saw. In that split second in time between when the thunder boomed and then rumbled off into the distance, Alyssa saw the crack between the worlds. With every storm, with every peal of thunder, the crack widened and she grew more afraid.
As she entered her teen years, she learned to hide her fear. At least, until the first of the creatures slipped through the crack. It shot from the rip in reality and rode a bolt of lightning to the rain-soaked earth. Dark as midnight, it was an unrecognizable shadow upon the ground that consumed all living things it covered. Shapeless and formless, the creature moved along the ground like a sentient blob containing nothing but rows of jagged teeth and glowing red eyes. The eyes moved about its body as it devoured the living plant and animal matter in its path. And they saw her watching it.
She spent her early twenties in an institution. Her family reassured her that it was for the best. They only wanted to help. The doctors would help her overcome her senseless fears. Lyssa smiled, hugged them as they left, and didn’t let them know that she knew they lied. Her family was tired. They handed over a thick stack of paperwork containing all the records from previous psychiatrists, therapists, and neurologists. A second folder held other records, confidential records, private records; everything from her personal diaries to statements from her priest. They had documented everything except what was important.
“But what about the storms? What about the thunder?” Lyssa asked as she searched through the pile of useless bits of information.
“When does the family document the thunder?” The admitting psychiatrist dismissed her plea. “The thunder isn’t important, Lyssa, only your fear of it.” And she was taken away.
The first storm struck the area two weeks after she had been admitted. The doctors pulled her from her cell, strapped her to a roomful of machines, and elevated the bed so she was facing a wall of windows. As the rain soaked the earth, the first clap of thunder rolled across the sky. There it was! What had once been a tiny crack when she was a child was now a looming fissure teeming with creatures eager to explore this world. Alyssa stared into their glowing red eyes, watched as they pried open the rift to ride the lightning into our world. She struggled against the restraints, crying and begging the doctors to take her away. Her pleas fell on deaf ears as the machines lit up around the stark room, their random beeps and sirens signaling an influx of information that excited the doctors but ultimately meant nothing.
The second rumble of thunder shook the window panes and cracked open the sky. The room echoed with the cries of the doctors and technicians as they looked into the rift. They wept and huddled together, babbling about what they had seen. One illustrious psychiatrist, the greatest in his field, fell to the floor in a fetal position and soiled himself. Lyssa had little time to feel vindicated. As the thunder faded, the moment was lost, and the sky returned to normal, so too did the professionals. They dismissed the entire event as a mass hallucination… but they returned her to her room. As the days passed, every single one refused to admit that they still woke screaming from the nightmares.
Lyssa sits in her barren room, watching her world die through a tiny window. The tiny rift that once haunted her nightmares now hangs over the world like a scarlet cloak. The creatures have consumed one third of all life on Earth – plants, animals, humans – with no sign of stopping their gruesome buffet. As the ravenous blobs approach the institution, she scribbles a final note into her journal, a warning to any who may find it later.
So, that’s it. That’s what happened. I don’t know why or how. All I know is when someone asks you “when does the family document the thunder?” The answer is always “when the thunder breaks the sky.”