Jack and I found Jeff surfing into the heart of the thunderstorm. Like most monsoon thunderstorms in the desert, the storm was intense and would probably be short-lived. But then those short, intense storms had a way of rupturing reality in a hurry.
Fortunately, the flight from Wichita to Vegas took less than a minute by lightning, so the storm had not yet broken.
“Call the ball, Slick!” Jack shouted to Jeff.
“I found the trouble spot, follow me!”
Jeff dove in with his cloud board, straight into a dense, writhing mass of black clouds. As we made our way through, we could see less with the light, but the Jeff seemed to know where he was going in the soup. Soon we hit the heart of the cell, where a churning mass of cloud and win seethed with energy. This would be where the lightning came out, and it would be where a rift would open, too.
“What’s your plan?” I yelled.
“Absorb the lightning it shoots out, send in wind to slice small pieces from the heart. We can’t stop it, so we ride it out.”
I looked to Jack, who nodded, then shrugged at me.
He doesn’t have any more clue than I do. We’re used to dealing with tornadoes, having to bleed off a gigantic, slow buildup of a storm, not this.
We circled the heart of the storm on our boards, doing as Jeff did, believing this would be an easy gig.
After diving through the eye of a tornado and channeling its energy into a rift, this thunderstorm should be a piece of cake.
The wind surged up from nowhere, going from ten miles an hour to sixty. Just as quickly, the heart of the storm began throwing off rapid discharges of car-thick lightning throughout the clouds and down to the ground. We caught half of them ourselves, but we soon hit the limit of what we could hold.
Jeff took it all in stride, sending out shearing blades of wind into the heart, slicing off small pieces. Jack and I copied as best we could, but we weren’t that practiced. All our efforts seemed to just barely keep a rift from tearing open, but I couldn’t tell why it didn’t.
And then it was over. The heart of the storm dispersed with as little warning as when it formed. I joined Jack and Jeff on a cloud. All three of us huffed and puffed from the effort, until I finally got enough breath back to ask, “So how about a good buffet?”
To which Jack added, tastelessly, “And some hookers?”