Thunder Dance

Written and illustrated by Pauli Kohberger

The sky over Electricopolis is thick with clouds, trapping the sparkle of the top tier and reflecting it, soft and hot, into an ambient glow that seeps into every nook and cranny. The streetlights grow halos that shimmer in a dreamlike fog, and pearls of condensation develop on the windows of the stores.

Rain comes rarely in town, and when it does it is only after a long six, twelve, thirty-six hours of buildup, with the whole of the city holding its breath. Even those who live within the walls, unexposed, pay attention to the weather reports. Now? they whisper. Now.

But what really sets things off is when they hear the crack in the sky. The air becomes heavy, suffused with enough static to make anyone's hair rise up. That's the sign that the lightning's coming, and everyone turns on the television–

–to see Bob Sparker, game show host and town mystery, clambering up the half-completed skeleton of a building in Diamond Plaza. Though the firemen holler at Sparker to come down, he steadfastly refuses to listen. He hops, climbs and swings up further and further, his pale skin and beaklike nose standing out against the sky. His light, cottony hair flies back and forth in the wind.

He grasps the edge of the crane and looks up into the clouds, then laughs. Soon there's a flash of light and the BOOM of thunder. The crowd goes wild. Sparker leans off of the metal, throwing a hand out to arc into empty space. Another flash. Another boom.

He yells something to the air. The microphones strain to pick it up, but it sounds like "Is that the best you can do?" As if in response, the world lights up again, and the thunder comes almost immediately afterwards. It's getting closer.

And as he catches the lightning in his outstretched hand, even his laugh seems to crackle like a bulb in the dark. He holds onto the steel as he twirls around and around, sparks flying into the air. They light him in a way his electric chair could only dream of: onstage, his world is neon green and yellow, but up here, in the sky, there's only black and white.

Soon even the firemen can't be heard anymore. All of Diamond Plaza is deafened by the wind and the thunder and the rain, and the laughter of the man who brings it down.

The End.