Monday, May 23, 2016

Writing Prompt

Tell about a time you (or your character) experienced a storm.

Here's mine:
The sky darkened just moments before the crash of thunder shook the roots of the house. Lights flickered in tune with the lightening brightening the horizon. Lucinda pulled the blanket closer around her body and curled up on the couch, watching her dog for signs of nervousness. Within seconds she could hear the attack of the hail against the metal roofing of her house. Tree branches flung themselves to the ground in protest of the assault of the wind and the rain. Nothing could be out on a night like this. She glanced towards the window just as another flash of lightening lit up the sky. She had to blink against the sudden shadow she saw. No one should be out in this storm yet she could clearly see the shape of a person standing outside her home. Yes, there he was, standing by the mailbox, staring at her house. The lightning flashed again but the figure didn't flinch. Her dog suddenly stood and stared at the door her hackles raised and a low growl rumbling in her throat. Lucinda reached over and pulled her Bible close, opening the book to a random page. The figure rushed towards the house but disappeared before he got to the front door. The dog stared for a few more seconds, then returned to the pillow she had claimed as her own.


  1. The sky had turned black. Not like clouds were rolling in, but like a swarm of locusts were descending on them in a wave. And there was nowhere to hide.
    The first few pieces of black glass hit the ground, shattering into shards of molten cinder. Falling black and exploding orange.
    “Get into the buses!” someone screamed. They’d parked them in rows almost a mile from the Camp. Close enough, until the distance between had filled with the fiery hailstones. Now it was too far to run, but they tried anyway. The promise of salvation retreated somewhere behind the immediate need to avoid as much suffering as possible.
    Five minutes, running through the battlefield of hell, before even the fastest of them got to what little shelter there was in the buses. Skin blistered, hair smoldered, and clothes had blackened holes scorched through them. Even the soles of their shoes had softened and begun to melt. Those who fell behind fell, screaming as they lay writhing on the blistering ground.
    The Earth turned black and the sky faded to night. The air itself seemed to swallow up the light, and even the bus headlights could not penetrate the gloom. The air choked with the smell of sulfur and brimstone, burning like acid with each breath.
    A shrill whistle rose over the hissing crackle of the stone hail. Wind, a screaming banshee, tore at the crisped skin of the few who still struggled to make it to the buses. Picking up sharp-edged slivers of shattered tektite like a billion razor blades, flaying them alive.

  2. Acid (and Glass) Rain
    Excerpt from Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe
    Sanna Hines

    Chester, England

    Cory took a last slurp of his drink. Then he yelped, turning his head to look over his shoulder at a seared spot on his shirt.

    Sam slapped at his neck. His hand came away bloody.

    Cory shouted, “Shadow Scythes! Get up, Sam. We have to get inside.” He swore as a burn mark appeared on his shirt. Batting at a wisp of smoke, Cory tugged on Sam’s arm. Sam took a hit on his ear before they made it into the café.

    “What the hell is going on?” Sam fingered the raw section of earlobe.

    “Foe. Their Scythes set up a picture or make a drawing. When they look at you, whatever they’re doing to the image moves through your shadow to your body.”

    “Sounds like voodoo, at least the Hollywood kind.” Sam scanned the café. People sat at tables or on stools along counters with computers. No one paid any attention to him or Cory.

    “They could be anywhere,” Cory said, “on the street, in a building—anywhere they can see us.”

    “Tessa and your mother are out there. We have to find them. Those overhanging galleries should give us cover, but we’ll have shadows when we cross streets.”

    They made it to the first corner under the shop balconies before facing the unprotected area of the cathedral’s lawn. “Now what?” Sam wondered aloud. Both of them knew the answer: Run.

    Cory, burned on one ankle, hop-ran while Sam pulled him along by the elbow. Sam felt a sharp pain in his leg. Looking down, he saw a thumb-sized shard of glass projecting from his thigh. Blood stained his jeans below the pocket. “God,” he breathed, plucking out the glass. He slapped his hand over the wound, thinking of other places the glass could have lodged.

    They plunged ahead to get caught under the last overhang before the crossroads, pausing there to catch their breath and to search the intersecting streets for the women.

    Ping! A piece of glass, then others, rained on the street. Passersby stopped, pointed, and backed away, pressing Sam and Cory against a store window. Shoppers milled out, curious about the commotion. Sam studied the awning. It was thick, but it would not last forever. Already cuts were appearing in the canvas.

    Someone grabbed his arm. He tensed for a back-elbow but stopped himself in time. It was Tessa. Oh, God, Tessa. He swept her into his arms, packages and all.

    “Where’s Mom?” Cory bellowed.

    “I’m here.” Maggie shoved past Tessa and Sam with an armload of bags. “What on earth is happening?”

    It wasn’t the earth but the sky that answered. Lightning crackled, followed by thunder so loud everyone huddled by the building jumped. Embarrassed laughter burst forth from the crowd as rain—lovely, ordinary rain—poured down, erasing all shadows.

  3. Excerpt from The Vista: Book 1 of The Wildblood
    by S. A. Hoag

    A storm moved in after nightfall, the rain almost ice as it fell from a black sky. No thunder, sparse lightning and that was the worst part of it – the broken, eerie silence between downpours. Shannon didn’t like being in the city for any reason. Twice a week, four months a year she was anyway. It was her job. They might say ghosts weren’t real, but most of ‘them’ had never spent a night in the long dead place. Sometime after midnight, she gave in and headed for home.

    Crossing the Continental Divide, the rain turned to snow, huge white flakes splattering on the windshield and not melting. The road was mostly clear. Static on Shannon’s radio was thick, but minutes later, she understood two words. Code Seven. Active aggressive incident outside the outer perimeter, but active aggressive still. She kicked it into overdrive and came down the mountain full tilt, pushing the car and pushing her luck on a road known to devour Scouts.

    Then the outer marker merely went ‘blip’ as she passed it. If there was an alert, proximity warnings would have gone off all over Security. Alarms should be sounding in Dispatch and her car. She stared at the radio for a moment, realizing what she had stumbled in to.

    Wargames. The call-out wasn’t real.

  4. An excerpt from "Curse Bound", where Jessica creates her own storm while defusing some 'knots' in the flow of magic:
    The two rows of taps which ran along the rear lab benches exploded. Foaming jets erupted from ragged holes as the swan-necked faucets crashed through the drop ceiling, shredding the tiles.

    Drew stared at the white geysers. What he originally thought was water was actually snow. He held out a hand to catch a flake.

    Michiru scooted to the side as a metal tap clanged onto the floor a few feet away. “That’s new,” she said, peering through the blizzard.

    “Yup.” He examined the frozen pyramid in his palm. It was more hail than snow. “Never seen ice crystals make this shape.”

    She grunted, struggling to stand, and he hesitantly leaned down to help. He was wary of offering assistance, especially when it wasn’t asked for, and most especially when it involved Michiru. She tended to interpret offers of help as challenges.

    Michiru initially brushed his hand away, but relented when she couldn’t gather enough momentum to rise above a kneeling position. Grinding her teeth as she propped herself against the doorjamb, she nodded at Jessica, who was almost completely obscured by the falling snow. “Check on her. I’ll keep an eye on the hall.”

    He grimaced. “There’s no way the salamanders missed that racket.”

    “Agreed.” Michiru spat out an ice crystal. “We‘ll have company real soon.”

  5. Excerpt from Skyfall, one of my gryphon-shifter novels:

    Soar turns Cloud to the door and opens the hooks centered on her back then slides the straps from her shoulders. Her bra joins her shirt already stuffed in the front of her pants.

    “Be scared. Going out in that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” he whispers and slips his arms around her waist. “I couldn’t have stopped myself from begging you to stay and you would have given up everything to do it.”

    She gets her hands on the door and feels every large missile of rainwater crash into her palms like the door isn’t there at all.

    “We’re going out,” Soar orders. “Stay low and get to the ground as fast as you can. My van is two blocks away south, south east. If we get separated meet me there.”

    The rumbling outside increases from all directions at once as the warmth of Soar’s lips touches her just under the ear. He gives her some space to take wing, crowding the small concrete cubicle with more feathers. Voices several floors below tell her Cooper’s guard follows close behind.

    “Open the door, Cloud.”

    She shoves but it won’t move against the press of wind. Soar’s hands join hers as the wind lets up its assault just long enough for them to get it open.

    Then the wind changes direction, tearing the door from their hands. Cloud tries to pull her wings in tight but the heart of the storm drops on them. The deafening roar buries Soar’s shout then the tornado takes her. As she spins, she can see him fly to the side, mercilessly pressed against the wall beside the door. For half a minute there’s nothing but blackness, pain and shattering glass.

  6. The firestorm scene from Tony Mandolin Book 6, The CLone In The Closet:

    I only had time to scream, “Frank—“ before all hell exploded in my face. The barrels went up in a series of explosions. I recoiled, stumbling back against one of the tables, adding the sounds of shattering glass and tinkling stainless steel to the roar of the flames. The heat wasn‘t just unbearable, it was painful. I’d never felt pain like that and reeled backwards, falling into one of the lab tables.
    I heard screams, and right then I actually prayed. I’d never really done that before, but it’s amazing how far down the scale of pride a man will go when desperation is all you’ve got left. All I could think of was that it might be Frankie doing the screaming.
    I saw a dwarf rush past me, his beard awash with flames, and I started looking for a way out. The gas line was still spewing fire and it showed no sign of slowing down. I was in an oven as the entre.
    “Tony! Tony!”
    That was Frankie’s voice. I couldn’t see where it was coming from, and then a literal horror came rushing at me. At first I thought it was the big guy, wrapped in fire and thrashing his way across the floor, but then I saw the collar, and God forgive me, I was pleased.
    “Over here,” I yelled out. Even speaking hurt. It was like I’d swallowed fire.
    Another voice cut through the inferno, yelling harshly, “You’ll pay for this, Mandolin. I swear on the bones of my ancestors, you will payyyaagghhh!” It had to be the professor. His threat turned into a scream and then cycled upwards into agony.
    Hands grabbed me, and I jerked around, ready to lash out when I saw it was the real Frankie.
    “Tony, thank God I found you,” he said, “How about we get the hell out of here?”
    I gasped, “Yeah, but where? Our options are shrinking by the second.” I could feel my hair shriveling in the heat. If I survived this it was going to be overall aloe baths for a while.
    Frankie looked up and then he said, “Who’s that?” and pointed.
    I followed his finger and saw a silhouetted figure against an open doorway. As far as I could remember it hadn’t been there earlier, or maybe I just missed it in all the excitement. I wasn’t going to argue the point.
    “Come on, big guy,” I said, “Time to move.”
    And we did. For a man about the size of the Niners’ front four, Frankie can move when he needs to. I’m sort of fast, for a mature man of pale complexion status, but he was out that door with me on his arm while I was still thinking it over. We continued our sprint through the warehouse proper and into the deserted lot outside. I didn’t see much along the way, adding to my belief that Schteinenphrank and his dwarf gang had concentrated on the use of the old sub-basement for security purposes.
    An explosive roar brought my attention back to what we had just left. A mushroom cloud of fire was rising over what used to be the warehouse, sending orange and red highlights onto the surrounding wharf properties. It did not look good. A lot of the old buildings are essentially slightly damp kindling. Kind of like an old stack of corded firewood forgotten over the years.
    “You know, big guy,” I said, watching the flames as I lay on the cool damp ground, “That was actually a pretty lucky miss, the way you threw that second chair.” The pain I’d felt in the basement had gone, replaced with a distant fuzziness. My rational brain said it had to be shock. The other side didn’t want to think about it.
    He nodded, shrugging, “It slipped.”
    I looked at the fire again. It seemed to be swelling. “We should move,” I said, “I sure hope that chair wasn’t the second coming of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.”
    Frankie gasped, “Oh, my God, look,” he pointed upwards.
    A face was in the flames and it was looking down on us, and whatever it was, it was not happy. Its features moved back and forth in the fire, snarling and roaring, and all the time glaring at Frankie and me.
    The big guy made the greatest understatement of all time, “We need help, Tony.”
    I nodded and gulped, “Oh yeah… big time.”

  7. Zelia the Phoenix of Hope: Zelia and Dragon Island (work in progress by Zora Marie)

    Over the next several days Keller and Kafthry fished while Zelia used her powers to push them across the water, till one day the sky turned black and turned with rage. A huge storm brewed so large that it often sent the ship flying through the air instead of floating on water. If it were not for Zelia’s control over water and air they would have capsized, as she split waves and moved the ship from one wave to the next saving them from destruction at sea. By the time the storms finally cleared up Zelia was drenched in sweat and salt water which just insinuated the face that she was as pale as a ghost.

    Keller and Kafthry were so busy they had not noticed how bad of shape Zelia was in until Zelia’s knees started to buckle beneath her. Keller verily caught her before she could fall off the side of the boat.

    Alarmed, Keller gave Zelia some water, “Are you okay?”

    Zelia fought to stay awake as she replied, “I will be fine, just need to rest.”

    Keller picked her up, “Then rest, we can handle things for a while.” He laid her down with Jaxs just as she usually slept. This time, she saw the usual of what Loki did that day, nothing out of the ordinary happened to him that day and that comforted Zelia as she slept the rest of the day and well into the next.

    After Zelia fell into an unwavering sleep, Keller and Kafthry discovered just how rough of shape the ship was in. They repaired what they could, but it became apparent that the ship may not make it back to the mainland. All they could hope is that Zelia might have some ideas on how to repair the ship when she wakes.

  8. From Paradox: On the Sharp Edge of the Blade to be released June 2016.
    Regardless of where they were, it was getting dark and not just because the sun was ready to go down. There was a huge, black wall of clouds welling up from the northwest, and another storm front looming in the east.

    Logan had lived in Florida all of his life, and he knew what was to come. The wind from the Atlantic and the on-shore wind from the Gulf were piling clouds high over the center of the peninsula. A huge thunderstorm was in the making. He drew Serensaa's attention to the clouds. She nodded, and turned towards a more open area where there was a sizable stand of palmettos.

    The girl began cutting some of the large fan-shaped leaves free from the small palms. Logan pulled his knife and cut more. Seeing that he had understood, she cut some straighter branches from a tree. Then she stripped long fibers out of the palm fronds, quickly rolled them into thicker cords between her hands, and then used them to tie the branches together to make a low, tent-shaped framework.

    They used fibers to tie some of the fronds to the branches, then interlaced the stems together, making a mat of overlapping leaves that would shed water. It didn't take as long as Logan had feared, which was fortunate, for the first large drops of rain were falling by the time they had finished.

    Serensaa crawled inside and Logan followed. With the two of them inside, their improvised shelter was full. The two lay side-by-side with no room to sit up. He put his arm over her, and she turned to kiss him. As she did, the storm hit full-force. The wind picked up, blowing hard gusts of rain across the leaves. The drops made a racket as they struck the firm palm fronds.

    Serensaa broke off the kiss and grabbed at a corner of the structure. The wind was gusting so hard that it threatened to lift the shelter and destroy it. Logan grabbed another stick and held it in the ground. The shelter flexed and rattled under the impact of the heavy rain and the wind.

    There was a sudden flash, followed by a huge “boom” and the smell of ozone. Lightening had struck nearby. Central Florida was subject to very heavy lightening. Being out in the storm wasn't something Logan wanted to experience, however there was nothing else he could do; nowhere else to be.

    A second bolt struck, farther away, followed by a third, then a whole cluster of strikes all around them. Then there was a pause, followed by more strikes. The thunder cracked and rolled through the dark sky. The last lightning strokes seemed to be a little farther away, and Logan relaxed a little. The wind gusted harder as the trailing edge of the storm passed, then faded. The rain now fell directly downward softly, shedding off the palm leaf shelter.

    They hadn't escaped the water, though. They were lying in a puddle. It was amazing how cold the rain water was. The day had been sweltering, but now the two were shivering, trying to raise their body warmth.

    Logan looked out of the shelter. The rain had changed to a sprinkle and the wind was almost completely gone. Serensaa was shivering uncontrollably, as was he. He turned to her and wrapped his arms around her slender body. She dug her face into the side of his neck and cuddled as tightly as she could.

    The cold was miserable. Logan cynically wondered if their shelter had actually helped, or would they have been just as well off out in the weather?

    He decided that it had helped a little. They would have lost heat more quickly if they'd been in the direct rain. As he concluded that thought, he found that he was starting to feel warmer. Their body heat and the small, enclosed shelter, were combining to create a warm space as the evening grew darker.

    After awhile, Serensaa lifted her head, stared into his face, then laughed quietly. They kissed again. That activity seemed to warm them even more, or perhaps it simply helped them to ignore their discomfort.