As the twilight turned to full dark, Melissa tossed fat chunks of wood on the coals used to cook the meal. It didn’t take long until we had a proper campfire going. I felt good, and not just from the two bags of s’mores I had made.
“Well, that concludes the ceremony,” Melissa said. “I have some tents and sleeping bags, if you want, or I can drive you back into town to the hotel.”
The camping option appealed, but the breeze suddenly prickled and turned noticeably colder, at least to us. The breeze turned into a gust. Melissa’s phone lit up and emitted an awful noise that could only be a weather alert.
She checked it. “Oh shit,” she confirmed. “Thunderstorm is forming around us. Just got an urgent alert. We better pack up. This area gets a lot of lightning strikes.”
“Thunderbird, right?” Nat asked.
“Huh?” She glanced at Nat, then back to her phone. “Well, yeah, he would be responsible, but storms like this happen all the time. We should definitely get out, though.”
I stood up, as did Jack, and we walked away from the camp, back to the clearing where I had started this whole mess.
“Where are they going?” Melissa started pouring water over the fire and kicking dirt over it.
“I don’t think you need to worry about the storm,” I could hear Nat’s smirk.
“The storm is probably for our benefit,” Anna-Maria said.
Jack and I stood maybe twenty feet apart in the small crater, and began ionizing the air above us. We only had a little ambient static charge from the time during the feast. Electricity really was everywhere, generated by our bodies or the friction of clothing or the friction of a light breeze on the skin, and storm riders were batteries, soaking it up.
We combined our efforts from that trickle of a charge, ionizing the channel into one big path with a small branching about thirty feet up to feed into each of us. The cloud bank already started to flicker with internal lightning.
“Come on, you bastard, jump,” Jack said.
We had managed to ionizing a few hundred feet up, but didn’t dare try to take the path all the way to the clouds. We just didn’t have the charge. Besides, our ionized paths didn’t stay that way. The wind could dissipate them, too. The large paths made by the cloud bank and the ground were more likely to remain in place because of their mass, but we were just two lone storm riders.
Suddenly, the hair on my arms stood up.
The opposite ionizing path from the clouds connected. Lightning slammed into us.