Sunday, July 08, 2012

Microfiction:Close call

Jordan jogged along the shoulder of Canyon Road, the main north-south artery that was the outlet for dozens of neighborhoods in the northeast part of the valley.  The road followed a bench of foothills at the base of a mountain that rose steeply to a great height just a few miles east of the city limits. 

It was early evening, in midsummer; a daily run after work was part of Jordan's routine.  It was source of exercise and mental decompression at the end of each workday.  He ran at a moderate pace usually, not building for competitive racing, but wanting to burn calories and maintain good fitness.  His routes were out and back road runs, turning around at different spots depending on how long a run he felt like. 

As he reached the turnaround point, he noticed that a wide cumulonimbus cloud had built up to the south and seemed to be moving toward him fairly quickly. Flashes of lightning lighted up the underside of the cloud.  Jordan looked up with a twinge of anxiety at the power line that ran along the roadside all the way back to his apartment.  The thought of lighting striking the lines or a pole as he ran alongside made him shiver.

He started the run back at the same moderate pace, but after a half mile, he noticed that the storm was moving quickly in his direction.  He quickened his pace up to a more intense rate.  After a while, slowing down to ease the burn a bit, he noticed a lightning strike parallel to him off to the west.  There was also a thick column of what looked like rain below the base of the storm clouds.  

It was time to speed up the pace a lot.  Jordan picked up to just less than a sprint.  He felt a sense of relief at each power pole he passed, focusing on the next one as a mark of being closer to home and shelter. 

The storm was very close now, lightning strikes every few seconds around and behind.  Jordan was now a few hundred meters from the back door of his apartment.  He launched into a full sprint, not intending to slow until he reached the door.  His lungs and legs burned with the fire of spent energy.  Turning the corner, he raced through the parking lot and grabbed the door handle. Sliding it open, he tumbled inside and lay on his back gasping for air.

Thirty seconds later, an intense burst of marble sized hail begain battering the windows and roof. and lasted for fifteen minutes.  Getting caught in that would have been painfully miserable.

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