Tag Archives: thunder

it was a dark and stormy night

Finally, my cliche story after everyone else has delivered:

“The night rumbled, dark and stormy. The shot echoed the thunder, and Abigail shuddered as she dropped the gun and stepped uncertainly backwards. She stared at the pool of blood forming  under the intruder. His eyes stared blankly through the mask, and Abigail crept forward slowly to pull up the mask so she could see the face of the man who had hunted, and haunted, her for the past year.  She gasped as the mask revealed….”

Clara jumped as the phone shrilled. She glanced out the window,  surprised to see the weather now mirrored the book she had been reading with such rapt attention. Dark clouds had replaced the bright sunshine she had come home in. Clara grabbed the insistently ringing phone.

Five minutes later she had swiftly changed her clothes and grabbed her purse. Gerry,  her friend having a dinner party later in the evening, had sliced his hand while preparing the roast. He hadn’t wanted to go to the ED, thinking that she could get there faster than he could get to the hospital. Thinking he was probably right, Clara directed him to wrap it in a towel, keep it above his head and not get any blood on her dinner!

The sound of thunder chased her as she ran to her car. She had always hated storms, and this one was increasing her nerves about Gerry. She pushed her little BMW she as drove down Rt 3 to Gerry’s road. She knew once she got to his twisty road she would have to go much more slowly. The late 90’s Beemer was her pride and joy, she never liked taking it down his road on the best of times. As she slewed around the corner onto Gerry’s road, she looked at the waving branches nervously. Wouldn’t like one of those to come down on her after the new paint job she and her brother had just finished the paint job on the car.

Gerry’s grandmom had just passed and left him a house out here in the woods. His brother Jamie shared it with him, but was currently at college. He sometimes came home on weekends, though, and Clara wondered if he would be home for the party tonight. She liked it better when the boys had lived in the city, she thought wryly as she navigated the narrow lane. One final turn and she would see the old farmhouse. The farm had flourished once, but that had been a long time ago; now the trees had grown up and the fields had disappeared.

Normally Clara liked the house, it was cozy and filled with family memories. Tonight she just wanted to get there.  She peered through the windshield as her wipers tried valiantly to push the slashing rain. Clara cast a wistful  glance at her purse with her book in it. Normally the only way she liked to ride out a thunderstorm was curled up with her book.

As she went around the final curve, she heard a tremendous crack of thunder with a corresponding thunk behind her. Jerking the car to a halt, Clara looked back. A large tree had come down across the road, just missing her rear bumper.

Clara sighed, she knew she wouldn’t be able to get her low slung car back over that. Sometimes she wished for a Land Rover. Hopefully the boys would be able to cut it and she could get home tonight. At least she had traded her shift for tomorrow, so she didn’t have to worry about work.

Tamping down her fear the accident had caused, Clara turned forward again and drove up to the house. The house sat in the dark; power must be out, she thought. Wonderful. Parking and grabbing her emergency care bag plus her steel Stanley flashlight, Clara went up onto the big porch and pushed open the front door.

“Gerry?” she called. “Gerry, where are you?”

When she got no answer, Clara became concerned. Had he lost enough blood to pass out? Maybe it was more serious than he let on. I should have made him go to the emergency department, she thought guiltily.  Clara rushed into kitchen, bumping into a coffee table on the way.

“Ohh, ooohh, ooh!” She mumbled, finally getting the flashlight adjusted in her full hands so she could actually see where she was going. Flashing the light around, she didn’t see Gerry anywhere, not even on the floor. Setting her bag on the kitchen island, she looked around more intently.

There was a lot of blood on the butcher block, with a trail to the refrigerator. Gerry putting dinner back, Clara surmised. Pointing the light at the refrigerator, Clara recoiled when she saw the vivid red hand print on the white appliance. A bunched up towel sat on the floor near the island. What had happened here?

Clara suddenly realized the storm had passed, leaving quiet in its wake. Quiet that allowed her to hear every creak in the old house. She was intensely aware of being alone. Gathering herself, and chastising herself for acting like the heroine of her thriller mysteries, Clara walked over to the stairs. She had to check Gerry’s room and see if he had passed out there. Besides, she reminded herself, not like she could get out anyway. She hoped Gerry didn’t need an ambulance.

Clara crept up the stairs, unable to shake her edginess. Gerry’s room was clear. A sudden noise down the hall made her jump, and ignoring the voice that said all the blondes in the horror films should not go down the hallway and neither should she, Clara went to check out Jamie’s room. Maybe Gerry had gone in there for some reason.

Pushing open the door, Clara flashed the light around the room. In the corner she saw wide glassy eyes reflecting back at her.

“Gerry!”

Clara rushed in, dropping to her knees next to the body. Reaching out for a pulse, she encountered cold smooth plastic. She backpeddled sharply, inhaling deeply before realizing that it must be one of Jamie’s models. He was a design student. And he always liked putting the models in odd places to scare everyone.  Tree limbs banged on the window, jumping her once more.

“Damn!” she cursed.

Clara ran down the stairs and out the door, panting heavily. Wind still tossed the branches, but the clouds were racing away, leaving the starry night behind. Clara leaned on the porch railing, gathering herself. As she stared out into the night, lights  flashed up the drive. Clara stared in amazement as the car parked and Gerry, Jamie and their friend Ami piled out. Gerry waved his white bandaged hand at her cheerfully.

“Hey, Clar!”

“Where have you been?” Clara demanded. “I have been here, and by myself, in the dark with the creepy noises and blood all over the kitchen and…”

“Whoa, whoa, I’m sorry!” Gerry interrupted her. “Didn’t you see the note we left you?”

“Note? What note?” Clara waved her arms. “It’s pitch black in there, you know!”

Jamie walked up the stairs and wrapped his arm around her, rubbing her shoulder. He steered her over to the porch swing and set her in it, still holding her. Clara gave up and let him pet her until she felt better.

“Ami showed up right after I called you,” Gerry explained. “Her doctor is only a few miles down Rt 3, so she took me there instead of waiting. It was pretty deep. It hurts a lot too. We did leave a note,” he ended plaintively.

“And I was cutting the tree up so I could get by when they got back, so I left my car down there and came back in Ami’s. It is still a bit rough, didn’t get all of it pulled away by myself,” Jamie said. “Not sure your car will make it out tonight.”

“Fine, fine,” Clara said. “It just wasn’t…. fun, you know.”

“Well, I think the power is out for the night, but we have a generator. We’ll get Jamie to start it and we will finish   making dinner to make up for your fright.  Although,” Gerry paused, “maybe if you didn’t read those horrifying murder books with the killers slinking around, you wouldn’t have been so scared.”

“Hey!” Clara said indignantly, “a lot of people read those. They’re entertaining.”

“But maybe not for you,” Ami finally chimed in. “Let’s face it Clar, you can overreact sometimes.”

“Let’s not worry about that right now,” Jamie said, seeing steam building in Clara again. “Let’s just get dinner going. Cutting wood is hungry work!”

Ami came up and linked her arm with Clara in apology as they all headed back into the house. Once the lights were on, Gerry and Ami started cleaning the kitchen to finish the cooking. They shooed Clara out, saying they owed her. She wandered into the living room. Seeing her purse, she pulled out her book.  Maybe they were right. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so frightening if she didn’t read this kind of fiction.

Clara put the book on the table and sat on the couch. She eyed at her book. Maybe it would be good to finish the book, just to get it out of her mind. She didn’t have to read any more scary books, Clara told herself as she reached for her book.  Snuggling into the couch, she opened the book.

……Abigail crept forward slowly to pull up the mask so she could see the face of the man who had hunted, and haunted, her for the past year.  She gasped as the mask revealed….”

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Cliche Sunday

Well! Summer has definitely found my part of the world. Not that I am complaining, but whew! We were working outside today, my app said it was 80 but felt like 90 (I live in a farenheit world). What did we do before apps instantly telling us why we were overheating? After much sweating, I came in to write today’s clichés. So my choice should not surprise anyone:  we are doing clichés revolving around heat! Which means you should expect a few featuring Hell or the Devil, as that is the epitome of heat 😉

het up: agitated, excited. Most of us know that “het” it a shortened version of “heated.” But many probably think that it is a fairly recent version, brought into existence by the American South. Sounds like a colloquial phrase a nice older man might say in wonderfully slow Southern accent, right? “Don’t be getting yourself het up, now….” It is, however, much older than America herself. It originates in the 14th century. The first known use (in print) in America was in The Freeborn County Standard, July 1884.

hell or high  water: going to overcome, no matter the difficulty or obstacles. This is an American born phrase, although exactly where and when it was born are not clear. One early (1882) print version is from the The Little Rock Gazette (although I am not quite sure what accent or culture  they are trying to imitate here):

    “Since dat time de best ob my friends hab become enemies, an’ strangers hab become friends. De debil had brook loose in many parts ob de country, an’ keepin’ up wid de ole sayin’, we’ve had unrevised hell and high water – an’a mighty heap ob high-water I tell yer.”

devil to pay: consequences of the action will be severe.  The origin of this one is quite literal:

“Don’t you know damnation pays every man’s scores… we knew we should have the Devil to pay one time or other, and now you see like honest men we have pawn’d our Souls for the whole Reckoning”  –Thomas Brown’s Letters From the Dead to the Living, 1707

There has been an argument that this was in fact a nautical term; “devil” being the center seam of a ship, and “paying” being the act of tarring the seam. However, Faust used this idea of paying the Devil with our souls long before any mention of the nautical use of the phrase can be found.

dog days: very hot weather during the summer months, specifically July and August. Often referred to as “the dog days of summer.” For this one we have the Romans to thank. They noticed that the extremely hot weather of summer coincided with the appearance of the Dog Star–Sirus. In that day, many of the astronomers believed the star contributed to the heat of the season. Thus, the phrase was born, and has lasted a considerable time!

steal my thunder: to take someone’s ideas and use as your own, to steal someone’s big announcement. This is a theatrical phrase, coming from the days when they had to make thunder for the plays in unique ways, from using sheet metal to rolling metal balls down troughs. Long before electronics made FX so simple. And therein lies the story of this phrase:

‘stealing someone’s thunder’ is that of the literary critic and largely unsuccessful playwright, John Dennis. In 1704, Dennis’s play Appius and Virginia was produced at the Drury Lane Theatre, London and he invented a new method of creating the sound of thunder for the production. We don’t know now what this method was (some texts say it was a refinement of the mustard bowl referred to by Pope, in which metal balls were rolled around in a wooden bowl), but it is reported that after Appius and Virginia failed and was closed, the method was soon afterwards used in a production of Macbeth. Dennis was less than pleased at having his idea purloined and this account of his response was recorded by the literary scholar Joseph Spence (1699–1768) and later quoted in W. S. Walsh’sLiterary Curiosities, 1893:

“Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder.” *

This one works because we are supposed to get thunderstorms due to the high humidity!

*http://www.phrases.org.uk

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