Lemme tell you something…

Posts tagged “thunder


Copyright 2016 by E.C. McMullen Jr.

I don’t believe in magic, so what happened to us after the fire I can only chalk up to a reality I’ve never experienced, that can be rationally explained by a knowledge beyond my understanding.

The night before the fire our little house was rumbled by thunderstorms – lightening storms to be accurate I guess. It was all more electric than rain. Living in a farm house about 30 miles from our nearest neighbor and around 100 from the nearest town, we thought it was safest to stay indoors and not attempt driving to a safer place.

The next day we awoke to smoke.

Connie bounced off of the bed, her feet already moving, in air, before she touched floor. She ran to the window, throwing the curtains aside.

“Our farm’s on fire!”

Fearing the worst, we got on the roof. Everywhere we looked our fields of sorghum were ablaze. We were surrounded by fire.

Thinking fast I ran to the tractor to hitch the furrow while Connie got to the water pump and brought it to full pressure.

The fire closed the circle around us, so at a risky, yet not fool-hardy distance, I followed along the closing circumference of the ring, digging a shallow trench of dry moat around our house. Connie tossed the water hoses into the ditch. Then, all we could do was wait as the water slowly filled the moat.

Our house was the axis pin of the approaching fire, our livestock were getting fidgety, and I didn’t want them running into the fire to escape. it. Animals make weird choices in a panic so, except for the chickens, we tied all the livestock to the posts closest to the house.

Firebug embers floated overhead.

“We should have watered down the house,” Connie said.
“I know,” I answered. “One thing at a time.”

I ran to the wheelhouse where we kept all of our fire extinguisher canisters. Though a fire this large was unheard of, crop fire isn’t an unknown quantity on the farm.

The heat created a smoke typhoon, choking us, so back inside the house we went. Either the moat was going to work or it wasn’t. Whatever was going to happen now was out of our hands.

We opened our front door and the cat ran out.

I should correct myself.

At that time in our lives, “a” cat ran out, as we didn’t own a cat.

She ran out of our house, tail in the air like a question, and toward the moat and fire. Not knowing what was going on, but instinctive to me as a man born and raised on a farm, I immediately ran after it to bring her back to the relative safety of the house. You gotta save the livestock.

She ran through a still dry part of the moat and right to the fire’s edge. Where she approached – and this is what knocked me for a loop so hard I could only stop dead and stand there, jaw agape – the fire stopped, then retreated.

She slowed to a walk and instead of running toward one part of it, she walked along the edge of the ring. The fire backed away, the circle began widening. She walked the large ring around our house and the fire not only retreated, it shrank. That part makes sense to me. It already consumed the fuel of our fields behind it. It had nowhere else to go.

In an hour the approaching fire was out. In two hours the smoke stopped. In the distance, we could make out the rest of the fireline still burning as it moved outward in the opposite direction away from us and into adjacent farms. The circle widened as far as the eye could see. We became an oasis.

The cat that saved us, now our cat, sat on her haunches near one side of the burnt rim. And there she stays to this day.

She never moves away from that rim, even when it rains. And when it does rain, there’s no more lightning.

Year after year, little by little, our crop circle grows, extending further out into the char, and they grow well. That’s good because, for whatever reason, neither Connie or I can step beyond the circle of plant life and into the burnt area. It’s not like we bump against a wall. More like we try to move into the burnt ash and our bodies just won’t obey.

It’s the same with our livestock. Nothing that can walk or fly moves into the ash. Hopefully in time, the ring of plants will extend enough that the burnt circle isn’t there any more. Connie and I would love to see our friends and family again.

In the meantime, at least we’re alive.

Electricity works, but not the phones, the Internet, no communication at all. No planes fly overhead. I’m glad we have so many books.

Another weird thing is our kitchen. All of our food in the cupboard never runs out. Not the flour, the rice, the coffee, nothing. It’s always full.

If I was superstitious I’d think we were dead and this was some unheard of afterlife. Obviously the thought has visited my mind. Connie and I spend a lot of time searching for answers and finding none.

As for the cat, she never seems to eat. If I go out to her, she appreciates a kindly pet on the head or scratching her back a bit. She purrs, but remains at her post. She stays there at the edge of the circle, staring at the charred rim as if defying whatever is on the burnt side to confront her.

One more thing I should write down here is, we never named her. To us she is The Cat. The Cat who came into our lives at just the right moment. Considering the circumstances, we feel we belong to her as much as she belongs to us.

Fact of the matter is, she’s the one who chose to come into our lives and she’ll be the one who chooses when to leave.


Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Art & Artist: Unknown. If you can prove you are the artist, please contact me and I’ll credit you.

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Photo from My-Walls.org

Photo from My-Walls.org

Copyright 2012
by E.C. McMullen Jr.

With apprehension, Caleb looked away from the Oldster, to see the rising dust cloud over the mountain’s rocky crest. The horsemen were coming for him. How could they raise such dust on a rocky mountain?

Shaking his head, Caleb forced this question down. No distractions. Focus.

He was standing on a mountain. Rock! Could he really be feeling the ground shake from those things, those horses hoofbeats?

Damn it! His mind fought to betray him with needless, needling questions. He had to focus on the here. The Now. The Moment.

It was the horses with the Oldster. They pawed the ground in anticipation. It was their impatient hooves that rumbled the mountain.

“Your wish is now, Caleb,”  the Oldster intoned with deep gravity.

His wish: Caleb was closer than ever before to his wish. The very presence of the Oldster proved this.

Caleb’s wish would come true: Immortality. But the Oldster grants the wish with a price. Not all are worthy of their dreams.

“At the edge of the river,”  The Oldster said, “await the spirits of your wish, your eternal youth: the feline and canine, in a balloon.”

Caleb turned his head to look into the valley, and sure enough, a hot air balloon; bright colorful dot on the rugged desert landscape, was inflating.

“Your will, Caleb, and only your will alone, will get you there in time. Allow anything to slow you down, anything at all, and your life will leave without you.”

Caleb’s rational mind had so many questions. His brain wanted to pick apart everything the Oldster said, everything that was happening, and analyze it right down to the minutia. But that was his mind’s attempt to blur the moment, to procrastinate. No time in Caleb’s life ever required more concentration than now.

“Choose which horse you’ll have for your vitality, as you and the horse will become one.”

All the horses were eager to run, but only one was looking right at Caleb as if she knew him.

“Every minute you ride will be a year of your life, and the horsemen of time will chase you down, as surely as the storm of death behind them.”

Caleb looked back to the mountain’s crest. Of course. It wasn’t the dust of riders. That was a desert storm.

Caleb chose the horse that chose him. She took the bit without hesitation. He swung up and over her back, and with merely a nudge of his bare boots into her flank, she shot off so fast she nearly left him behind.

Down the mountain they went, watching only the switchback trail rushing toward them. The Horse had a mind of her own, and was quick to react and act, so Caleb didn’t need to steer her clear of the treacherous dangers of the path, he only needed to hold on.

The balloon ahead was upright and expanding. It would be rising soon. He had to reach it before it was beyond reach.

As fast as they rode, sound was still faster, and Caleb could hear the thunderstorm, and the horsemen behind them. They weren’t gaining, but they weren’t falling behind either.

Yet through all of this, every bit of it, Caleb was a man of reason. His rational, curious mind reeled with unanswered questions and demanded that he stop and analyze everything: Pick it apart and figure it out.

A part of his mind told him he was really still back in a dry river bed, dying from exposure and dehydration. No immortal ‘Oldster’ had come to save him. All of this was sunstroke hallucination.

His horse, which he hadn’t bothered to name in his rush, began to slow from exhaustion. The sound of his pursuers grew louder.


The riders were fast approaching. Caleb was pursued by no ordinary cowboys, but heatwave hell furies riding out of the mouth of morning’s dark from a Lewis Carroll nightmare.

‘The teeth that bite, the claws that snatch!’

With fear’s icy panic, Caleb brought all of his knowledge to the fore. Instead of questioning anything, he forced himself to answer everything.

“Impossible physical feats are achieved because we believe!”  He howled to the sky. “Stamina and endurance because we believe!”

A part of his mind, as if a distant observer, dismissed his words as cornball.
‘You’re smarter than that,’  it sneered.

Yet Caleb shouted down his doubts even louder.

“The perfect Omnivore can be created by nothing more than a few thrown switches on the spiral ladder!”  he shouted.

Caleb’s yelling on the outside beat down the negative nattering voices within.

“So too Immortality is possible!”  Caleb roared. “It’s locked within our DNA!”

His horse ran faster, making time.

‘Think,’  his doubting side told him. ‘This is fantasy. Supernatural.’

“All reality is natural by definition!”  Caleb crowed. “So this too is real!”

The bow was sprung and the arrow of death flew toward his heart. Now was not the time to question but do. With immortality there would be time enough to research all of this: pull the veil of mystery from the truth.

Somehow, some way, with some one, the primitive creature that was the Oldster, made a deal for immortality. Eventually it outlived everyone it ever loved, then everyone it ever knew. Then everything it ever knew, and eventually its own species.

It saw another dominant species rise and thrive and eventually die. It saw humanity rise and thrive. Everything was eventual. Even the loss of hope: Caleb felt it with the Oldster. There was no human definition for the word ‘Alone’ as acute as the very presence of the Oldster.

Just learning what it endured in a life that spanned millions of years had, according to the creature, put every other human off the idea of its proffered gift. They chose instead to welcome death.

But not Caleb. His desire of knowledge, to see what was on the other side of everything, understand it, know it, and create from it, was unquenchable.

“My thirst is unquenchable!”   Caleb shouted.

His doubting side whispered ‘FAILURE!’

Thunder from behind. The lightening strikes and rider’s hooves shook the very air in shockwave.

Caleb laughed out loud at his terror. As Horse and Man they moved swiftly across the valley floor, toward the river and balloon.

So concentrated was his focus, that sometimes it felt as if he, and not the horse, was running across the valley floor on two legs. Then, just as swiftly, he could feel all four of his hooves galloping across the desert.

“…you and the horse will become one.”

Caleb laughed again and they gained speed. Yet as Caleb looked toward the balloon, he saw it skirt a bit across the ground. It was so light now that a mere errant breeze could move it – and it moved farther away.

Soon it would be rising beyond his reach.

Caleb kicked his boot heels into his flanks – the horse’s flanks – their flanks.

“Faster! Faster! FASTER!”

So it was that Caleb, man and horse, rode furiously toward water and clear blue skies: as eternal youth slowly rose before them, and death thundered from behind.


Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Photograph: Photographer Unknown. Stock image available for free at My-Walls.org.

Music: Ghost Riders In The Sky. Performed by Johnny Cash. Penned by Stan Jones.

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Want more? Buy

PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection.
It’s a veritable trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller tales – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
Now on sale for $9.00 in Trade Paperback and in eBook for $1.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).
Buy the paperback at Amazon and the Kindle eBook is free!

Crave still more?

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself, as well as  John Carpenter, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, also the late  Ray Bradbury, Wes Craven, plus many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.