[Story] Lichtenberg Figures

Raindrops on glass
Raindrops on glass

“Pick up the pace!” Rourke shouted, running as fast as he could, despite carrying the tripod and camera bag equipment in his arms.

“Wait for me, damnit!” Naoya pulled herself up the stairs, lugging similar equipment behind him.

Her words were lost to him as he pushed the roof door open and the thunder greeted them. She could hear the rain rushing into the open area left by the door, and a moment later, felt the rain pelting her. Rourke shouted at her. She had to close her eyes and hug the camera equipment close to her as she fought against the rain.

“Here!” suddenly she felt his arm grab her and he pulled her from the door. It slammed shut behind them from the sheer force of the wind.

She could feel him pulling her around the entrance to the door, towards the back where the wind was not quite as strong. The rain still pelted them both, but at least she was not receiving the full force of the wind with it. She opened her eyes to find herself looking at a sheet of rain pouring down in front of them.

“Get your stuff out! We won’t have another chance like this!” Rourke had already set up the tripod and was mounting his digital DSLR camera on it.

Naoya saw that he had wrapped most of the camera body in plastic. The lens was also covered in plastic, the protective bubble wrap extending slightly further from the lens to protect it. She had no doubt it would take the pictures they wanted to.

“You are crazy, Rourke,” she muttered to herself, and then took out her own waterproof camera. It was not as high tech as Rourke’s, but it was waterproof and would let them get a clear photo, and that was all that mattered.

“If Mrs Jyin wants Lichtenberg Figures we might as well give them to her!” he grinned excitedly, his smile infectious. Naoya shook her head, despite a small smile playing on her own lips.

“We could get killed.”

“Life’s short!” and his words were punctuated by a sharp thunderclap over their heads.

“Where is it headed?” Rourke asked in alarm.

Naoya licked her finger and held it up into the rain. She felt the wind blow. Without hesitation, she pointed towards one end of the roof.


“Yosh, let’s do this!” Rourke ran out into the rain towards the direction she pointed, and set his camera up.

Despite the pounding rain, he took a moment to look through the viewfinder, his right hand holding the shutter release remote. Naoya, following a step behind him, stopped and bent a little, taking a photo of Rourke setting the shot. Right at that moment, there was a large thunderclap, and the lightning struck the ground right in front of the camera.

“Aargh!” Rourke jumped backwards, right into Naoya. They fell back in a huff. Naoya shouted in surprise.

There was another thunderclap, and another lightning struck the ground on the roof. Naoya felt a shiver run up her right hand.

“Towards the door, now!” Rourke had gotten to his feet and was dragging Naoya away.

“But the camera!”

“Later!” he pulled her away from the ground and close towards him as they rushed towards the meagre shelter the door’s roof offered.

The lightning strikes continued. Rourke held Naoya close, as she stood transfixed, watching the lightning dance across the roof.

“Are you taking this?” his voice broke into her thoughts, and Naoya found her hands holding up the camera to her eyes, her finger pressing the shutter button mechanically, always a second too early.

As she took photos of the lightning striking the ground and around the camera, she was aware that Rourke was still holding her close, and she could feel his heart beating fast against her upper arm. He was warm, she thought, and panting from the mad dash they had made. She could hear her own heart beating in time to his, running high on adrenaline.

She kept snapping away till the viewfinder warned her she had no more film. Then she put the camera down. The wind was dying down, and the thunderclaps were far away. There was only her and Rourke, standing under the small roof, breathing fast.

“I don’t have any more film.”

“I’m sorry,” Rourke put his head on her shoulder. “This was crazy.”

“It was,” Naoya replied, but did not move out of his embrace. “Are you alr…” Naoya had turned towards Rourke, and he kissed her.

They stood a long time under that roof, even though the rain cleared up, and eventually the late afternoon sun began to shine gently down.