The aroma of rain seeped into the worn car as Tristan steered it into a field and jostled his two companions. They could see nothing until lightning struck the sky violet. The field was illuminated for a split second, exposing the shadows cast behind the distant Scotia pines.
"This is beautiful," Mac breathed.
Tristan reached for the tripod lying beside his seat and dove out of the van with Calder crying "Wait, Tristan!" as he clamored out after him. Mist coated his eyelashes the moment he stepped into the field. Lightning struck the sky violet and illuminated the field, casting shadows behind the distant trees.
"You bloody eejit," he shouted as Tristan planted the tripod in the grass and began checking the shutter speed. "You'll get yourself killed, as well as the two of us!"
"Perhaps we should see if there is something taller in the car that we can stand around here somewhere," Mac searched the area around them as lightning flashed and a growl of thunder rattled their internal organs. Calder squinted up through the rain as chills prickled up his spine.
"We need to move! It's coming closer!"
"Stop interrupting the storm!" Tristan returned.
"I'm sure it has a loud enough voice to speak over me!" Calder shouted as thunder rumbled across the heavens as if to prove his point.
"Smells like rosemary and honeysuckle out here," Tristan answered with a smile. Mac snatched his sleeve and dragged him away from the tripod, shaking his head in frustration. Calder raised the palms of his hands and moved toward the tripod to collapse it.
"You two get to the car, and I'll get this. We're leaving."
A roar and a bright flash consumed him with pain.
. . .
"Do you suppose the sheep are all right in this storm?" Abigeál murmured into the darkness.
"They should be," Cairbre responded. The creak of an opening door downstairs and the slam it made when it closed sent him upright. He switched on his lamp and eased out of bed, then sneaked toward the door and drew it open. Abigeál was at his heels as he made his way silently to the living area.
Suddenly, another light switched on. Abigeál shrieked and leapt back, only to see her third eldest son with rain-soaked dark hair and a rumpled suit.
"Da and Ma" Calder announced with a suppressed smile, "I have been struck by lightning."
"You cannot be serious," Cairbre snapped as Abigeál rushed to him. "What happened?"
"A colleague of mine asked me to help him research the storm," Calder gave a watery smile and gently removed his mother's hands from his cheeks. "I'm all right, Ma."
"Is it really possible to have escaped all harm?"
"The lightning struck me palm and flashed up me arm. Here," Calder rolled up his left sleeve to reveal an aborescent erythema up the underside of his arm. "The capillaries in me arm burst and created an impermanent Lichtenburg figure, also known as a lightning flower."
"Have you been to the emergency department?" Abigeál asked.
"It's pathognomonic of a lightning strike," Calder continued. "There, see the shoulder of me suit is singed? That is where the electricity left me."
"Calder," Abigeál snapped. "Have you seen a doctor?"
"No. Most doctors have no idea how to treat keraunopathology."
His parents stared at him a long moment. Eventually, Abigeál moved toward the kitchen and said "I will make us all some tea."
"Remain calm, son, and take a seat," Cairbre moved toward his recliner and dropped down into it. He waited until Calder eased himself onto the sofa and added, "Did you ever lose consciousness?"
"I was stunned and collapsed on the ground. Mac drove us here, and I was sprawled across the backseat with me head on Tristan's thigh – I'll ponder how awkward that was later. I was able to move by the time we were almost here. Tristan almost would not leave without coming in and explaining the situation, but I convinced him to leave when I came in."
Cairbre nodded. "After your mother brings you tea, you will go to sleep upstairs in your old bed. I know you're still excited, but you need the sleep."
. . .
The crack of thunder startled him awake. Rain showered against the windows. His entire body prickled with a deep awareness of the electricity in the atmosphere. He raised one arm, whose muscles were rattling to the point where he could not hold it steady.
"If there is a God, He has me attention."
He shivered beneath the covers and closed his eyes. A sharp pain pulsed in his temples, but his mind already drifted back to sleep.