I dared not look up, instead keeping my gaze down. Snow crunched under my boots as my headlamp revealed my short puffs of breath. If I accomplished one thing in my mundane life, it would be climbing this mountain. The wind whipped against me. Making me pause until it died down. I hated this stopping and starting. My muscles burned and were frozen at the same time. This was by far my most painful experience. But it would be worth it. Once I reached the summit.
A sigh of contentment escaped me as I ascended. It took me three days, but I made it. In time to see the Northern Lights. I dropped my pack. Turned off my headlamp. Ripping off my goggles, I exposed my eyes to the frigid night air. I breathed deep. This was why I sat in the same cubicle for ten years. It was this spectacle that had given me hope, given me life.
Greens, blues, even purples danced above me in silent song. Flickered in lazy waves. I held my breath as tears formed and froze. It was more magnificent than I imagined. More breathtaking than all the pictures combined. It sent me into meditative peace. My heartrate calmed. My aching muscles forgot about the trek I had made. Everything centered on the marvel I witnessed.
The colors suddenly shifted. Convulsed and swirled in an organic pattern. A tendril broke away from the rest. Floated towards me. I remained motionless until I couldn’t resist any longer. Hesitating, I reached out a gloved hand. My finger grazed the tendril. Pleasant warmth flooded me, driving away the cold. I jumped back. Not expecting to make contact.
As the tendril snaked away, the form of a woman took shape. She was made of the Northern Lights itself; her hair never left the Lights, and her feet never touched the ground. Her eyes snapped open. Revealing themselves to be twin stars. She turned her gaze upon me. Partially transparent form lambent.
I stumbled back into the snow, landing solidly on my butt. I blinked several times. Couldn’t fill my lungs with enough air. Which had been difficult to begin with in the thin atmosphere.
“Peace, warrior.” Her mellifluous voice kept time with the Lights. “I have waited 1,210 years for you.”
My gaze darted around. Me? I was no warrior. I wasn’t even a weekend warrior. Surely not me. I resided to pointing at myself.
She seemed to nod. “Yes, you. My name is Aurora Borealis.”
Knees shaking, I pushed myself to my feet. Found my voice in my dry mouth. “That’s what we call this. I mean, you, I suppose.”
“Yes. Because that is my name. I have known yours, for you are worthy. You see, I am from the past. I live in the future. Yet, I am aware of the present. I have experienced and waited for this moment for centuries.”
I rubbed my eyes. The Northern Lights had taken the form of a woman, spoke to me, and told me I was worthy? I must’ve passed out after I reached the summit. I checked over my shoulder. I wasn’t lying in the snow, so this wasn’t an out-of-body experience. My gaze returned to the ethereal woman before me. Yes, she was still there.
Her form wavered. “I am real. You will come to belief in time. You always have. However, you must understand. They have killed my brother, Aurora Australis. They seek to destroy me next. You must unravel the mystery that will rewrite history and save us, as well as humanity.”
“What,” I finally blurted. “You want me to be some sort of savior? I barely made it up this mountain. Who’s ‘they?’ How am I worthy of anything? I never even made Employee of the Month. Are you even going to answer any of my questions?”
“Everything will come to fruition. You shall see. Take one of my children as a guide.” She lowered an arm. A star descended, decreasing in size until she captured it in a lantern made of the Lights. She handed her precious child over. “I must go. My faith resides in you. You have always been brave. Do not forget my words.”
With a final pause of affirmation, she retreated back into the sky. The Northern Lights receded. Faded into nothingness. All that remained was darkness. Only for a few moments. The morning sun crept up from the east. Setting the mountains on fire with the reflecting snow.
I stood in dumbstruck silence. Too many questions for my brain to comprehend. I had only wanted to see the Northern Lights. That was the one exciting thing I wanted to do in my life. I didn’t want to be recognized for doing something great. I just wanted to see the phenomenon that had filled my dreams ever since I was a child.
Was that it, then? Had I really been chosen? I finally looked at the flickering lantern. The star twinkled with unknown secrets. My gaze returned to the scenery in front of me. What was I supposed to do?
Before I could think another thought, I was, indeed, transported to the past.
*Author’s Note: Short Story Saturday brings a somewhat short story. I tried sending this to a few online short story publications, and it got denied. I like it the way it is, so instead of changing it, I decided to publish it on my own blog. I just won’t get paid for it. Which is perfectly fine. I don’t write for payment; I write for my own enjoyment. Hopefully, others will enjoy it as well.
Lightning never strikes twice?
It strikes again
Same place, same spot
Over and over
Leaving veined scars
Killing and reviving
At the same time
It’s an unnecessary punishment
Descending from the sky
Heaven’s divine anger
Does lightning strike twice?
Indeed it does
I watch it every day
Over and over
Leaving burned scars
Disfiguring and beautifying
At the same time
It’s a mystifying occurrence
Blasting the same wound
A person’s relentless rage
Lightning always strikes twice
But so do I
She stood with the quiet defiance of a self-assured queen. While the tempest around her raged on. The wind howled with a ferocity not seen in decades. Rain battered everything like an array of rapidly fired bullets. Still, she remained firm. Slowly stepping forward. One bare foot placed in front of the other.
All she had to do was make it across the natural stone bridge. Everyone deemed it impossible, that she would never make it to safety. But she would show them that she was the master of impossible. Her slender arms rose on either side of her.
Lightning struck the turbulent sea below her, sending salty spray to mix with the rain. The wind whipped her ebony hair about her face. Unfurled her crimson gown across the stone. Her pale skin contrasting the ash-colored skies. Still, she pursued onward.
Her striking eyes trained on the villagers that waited on solid ground. She was soaked to the bone, but she never felt the cold. Thunder rumbled the earth. Piece of rock plummeted into the crashing waves. More lightning streaked through the clouds. Yet, she crossed the natural stone bridge without hesitation. Startling the villagers as she strode by them. One called out, desperately trying to hang on for dear life, “How can you withstand this storm?”
She looked over her shoulder. A confident smile on her lips before she faded into the squall. “Darling, I am the storm.”
Always on the move
A new painting each day
Surely only Divine can fathom
The depth and flow
Saturating the sky
Shining day and night
No two identical
Embraced by sun and moon
Enhanced by stars
For all to enjoy
Yet only if you look
Take the time to observe
The wonders above your head
The glorious wonders
For us to discover
Slivers of hope
In mundane life
May we rise
And never be set
In benighted ways
It was a summer morning like any other; except the metropolitan area was covered in fog. But that was to be expected. It had rained the night before, and the temperature dropped nearly ten degrees. Nobody’s routines were deterred because of the natural phenomenon.
Alex woke up at five that morning. Just like every weekday morning. Went through her ritual of being ready in ten minutes. It took twenty minutes for her to get to work, and she planned her morning so she could get as much sleep as possible. Traffic never bothered her. There weren’t many who traveled along the same road that early.
She pulled her double-knotted laces tight, grabbed her water bottle and morning snack, plucked her keys off the table, and pecked her husband on the cheek. Trotted down the stairs of her split level and into the garage. She was running two minutes late in a schedule accounting for every minute.
The Wrangler roared to life, the straight six engine awoken from slumber. Alex maneuvered out of her subdivision with ease. Despite the fog. Thanking Jeeps for fog lamps.
On the main stretch of road that took her straight to her job, she had to pay more attention. There were dips in the landscape where the fog gathered thickly. She looked up at the sky. No sun could be seen. Sure, it was early, but the sun should’ve been peeking over the horizon line by now. The fog and clouded over sky blended into one.
Alex shrugged it off and continued. Further ahead, the sky did decide to clear, revealing multiple cloud patterns against a pastel sky. She loved nature. Admiring the skyscape until a particular vapor trail snagged her attention. It went straight up into the atmosphere until she couldn’t see it anymore.
Again, she shrugged it off. Just her perception messing with her from the airport about forty miles east. The sky disappeared again. Her thumbs tapped the steering wheel as a random tune played in her mind. Vision going out of focus momentarily.
Red lights appeared in front of her, and she hit the brakes, slowing at a stoplight. She blinked and looked around. The fog had engulfed everything. She could barely make out the rival gas stations occupying opposite corners. Barely made out the stoplight itself. When the light turned green, she continued at the speed limit. Versus the ten miles an hour over she normally did.
After two minutes of silence, the ground lurched beneath her, and a loud bang followed. Causing her to mount the curb in a mad dash for safety. White fingers gripped the steering wheel. Her wide eyes checked the rear view mirrors. The road was still there.
A distant roar thundered toward her. She ducked and covered her head as a shock wave exploded the glass from her Jeep. Ears ringing, she slowly sat back up. Shards falling from her. She swallowed. Eyes examining the area. What on Earth?
She searched the Wrangler. Eased it back on the road. The fog had been replaced with equally dense smoke. Crawling at a snail’s pace, she moved further down the road. A few cars were deserted. Abandoned in precarious places. Some people stood in groups while others sat on the side of the road in despair.
A fire truck flew by her. Then another. Cop cars, ambulances. All from separate jurisdictions. Alex remained pulled over on the shoulder now. Studying the horizon. It glowed. Faintly. But enough.
Her wonder was startled by a man throwing himself against the front of her Jeep. His clothes were tattered, burned, dusty. His eyes almost popped out from his skull. He waved an arm. “Get out of here! Go! Don’t you know what this is? It’s the end times! A missile has struck! Leave or die!” He disappeared back into the curtain of smoke.
Alex watched him run off. A missile? She sat in disbelief for a few moments. Threw the shifter in drive and forced the Wrangler around. Flying down the forty miles per hour road at eighty. Work was out of the question. Her jaw set. She needed to get back to her husband.
It hadn’t even been twenty minutes, and everything changed. She glanced at the rear view mirror again. Who knew what would be revealed when the smoke and fog cleared.
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