Volcanoes are not nice places. Sure, on TV they look cool with a red hot lava flow streaming down the side of the mountain, but up close it’s not so fun. I watched as Carl in bare feet, jetted up the slope. He literally jetted up with fire streaming out of his feet. He flew straight up the side of the caldera to where the sprays of lava spewed out in equal measure with chunks of red-hot rock.
I set up a strong wind from the east to keep me from broiling. Fortunately we were in Canada so the wind brought relief with it as it came through. Other than that, my job was simple: I stood in place.
Carl Used white hot gouts of flame to widen the caldera, melting it and creating a thicker river of molten rock. The volcano continued to release lava and stone, but also belched forth great clouds of ash and gases. The violence of the eruption, the particulate friction, and the temperature difference caused the gases and ash to form into a violent thundercloud that instantly ionized channels straight to me. Lightning flashed down into me one after another.
It tingled after the first three, but on the fourth, I felt my capacity to hold the bolts go beyond what I was capable of. I had to discharge the rest out of my body. The ground around my feet began to erupt as lightning shot out of my body tearing holes in clothing as it did so. The lightning discharged with enough force to throw up more debris, which only added to the dust in the air.
I continued to discharge all the lightning, making myself feel like one of those little globes with the plasma filaments only instead of a half-dozen lazy filaments, hundreds of bolts discharged out of me even as the sky continued to shoot more at me. The world went blue-white even though my eyes were closed.
All I could do was continue to discharge lightning as more came at me. Time became meaningless. I knew it couldn’t have been very long, but the endless channeling of so much lightning exhausted me. With each discharge into the ground I thought I might finally get ahead of what continued to pour into me, only to have the energy surge once more.
Finally, I got ahead of the bolts, able to send enough of a surge into the ground that I could once again open my eyes.
The air stung my eyes, not with ash and heat, but with the ionized ozone the lightning had generated all around me. For all I knew I had been breathing nothing but ozone the entire time.
Carl stood outside the sphere where my lightning had struck.
“Reilly,” he said.
“Yeah,” I panted.
“I don’t like you, but that was fucking impressive.”
I started laughing, and he joined in.