Brick House Pt. 03 Ch. 04bytedszabopub©
All content copyright 2012 Ted Szabo
This is part 4 of a longer work, "Brick House.". It includes chapter four. While this chapter does not have erotic content, many of others do. It is included for the convenience of readers interested in the larger story.
I was about halfway back from my afternoon class at the engineering mall when the clouds burst. Heavy, round drops splattered on the sidewalk in front of me and I could hear them impacting, with surprisingly loud "tings," on the metallic surfaces of cars around me. A few seconds later, I felt the first wet chill of moisture spreading across my scalp. Great, I thought. Spectacular. With another ten minutes left between me and the apartment, and no convenient places between there and my current location to wait out the weather, a cold soaking was pretty much assured.
It had been a hectic day, starting out with a last-minute cram session for an impending aerodynamics exam, followed by the exam itself. After the test I had made my way to the library for a couple hours of brainstorming with several other students I had engaged with on a group project. This had gone fairly well, and I felt that the team had an excellent chance of acing the assignment. From there it had been a short trek to the lecture hall where my Transactional Information Systems class was being taught, and I spent the next ninety minutes watching the prof hurl various inscrutable algorithms onto the surface of an electronic white board and furiously tapping notes into my tablet. I had left the hall tired, somewhat baffled, and determined to go back to the apartment and embark on a deep review of all my set theory notes from the previous semester.
The rain began to fall harder now. With the initial vanguard of watery troops dispatched across the field of battle, the raindrop horde was clearly ready to cast the main body of its muster into the fray. "Heh," I muttered to myself with grim laugh, "I wonder if they'll send in their 'storm troopers?'"
I immediate shook my head, castigating myself for uttering the wretched pun, even with no one else around to hear it. "Bad geek, bad! " I muttered.
As I neared the apartment, I found I increasingly had the street to myself. It appeared that most of the other students that normally traversed this part of campus had probably decided to delay their movements until the downpour passed. Of those few that were out and about, the majority seemed to have done a better job than I of planning for the weather, and were wearing water-resistant jackets or carrying umbrellas. I saw only a couple other unfortunate scholars who were getting as thoroughly soaked as I.
Drops of moisture began to combine in icy runnels down my back, and my head and neck might as well have been immersed. My shirt, a plain cotton short-sleeve, was rapidly soaking through. I increased my pace, tromping sullenly through newly formed puddles.
A thunder clap rolled over me, preceded by a jab of lighting that had flickered in my peripheral vision less than a second before. Boogers, I thought, pretty damn close. Thunderstorms were common in the area and, this time of year, were prone to spawning tornadoes. I comforted myself with the fact that I at least ought to be able to get indoors before any twisters hit. A few second later, another lightning bolt struck—close, I thought, probably striking the stadium, and the accompanying thunder was atop me in a shuddering crush of sound. Clearly, this was not good--the heart of the damn storm was right on top of me. I worked through pretty much my entire vocabulary of four-letter words over the course of the next fifteen seconds, cursing my luck and lack of foresight and remedial cursing skills under my breath.
Contrary to expectations—mine, anyway, the sky was strangely light. Boiling black thunderheads almost completely darkened perhaps two thirds of sky—the two thirds in front of and immediately around me--but the cloud cover directly to my rear was minimal and a fair amount of ambient illumination still was still present. This created stark, strange variations in luminosity that somehow made every detail of my surroundings "pop." I felt like I had walked onto one of Frank Miller's chiaroscuro splash pages.
I turned a corner and squelched my way across an empty intersection, congratulating myself on the fact that I was entering the home stretch—just a couple blocks to go. At this point I crossed the crest of a gently sloping hill, a residential neighborhood stretching before me, two stories of brick-façade apartment buildings of the same design and generation as the one I lived in arranged in neat procession to either side of the street. By this time I was alone, with no sign of pedestrian or vehicular traffic in sight. Since there were no garages or parking structures in the area those students with cars had no choice but to park at the curb, and the street was lined with empty vehicles, silent and still.
This was the moment, the precise moment, at which my world turned white. Not the flat, neutral white of a paper sheet, or the throbbing off-white of a fluorescent bulb, but the pure, consuming, monstrously bright white at the tip of plasma torch. My entire field of vision was filled and, just for a moment, every car, building, hedge, and freshly created puddle of water disappeared from view.
At the same time an abrupt, painful din struck my ears—a sound I felt in my teeth and jaws. My very own thunderclap, up close and personal.
An instant later the world returned in all of its soggy gray glory as the car alarms in a half-dozen nearby vehicles simultaneous went off, filling the air with an obnoxious variety of honks, multi-octave slurs, and clamorous toots. I stood transfixed for moment, in the midst of the cacophony, dazed and mute.
What the hell, I asked myself, had just happened? I glanced at my limbs, half-expecting to see an assortment of hideous burns—but there was nothing. Perhaps, I thought, a bolt had struck nearby, nearly missing me. I peered around, looking for any evidence that might support this notion, but there were no signs of telltale damage to any of the nearby trees. The precise nature of what had happened at that moment never became clear. It was, I told myself, just one of those things.
Late that night I was awaked by an knot of throbbing pain just behind my eyes. it was the first in a series of headaches that would plague me for years to come. A few weeks later I received a head injury, the result of a foolish and perhaps slightly comical mishap, and from that point on the headaches became both increasingly severe and much more frequent.