Friday, May 15, 2009

Daily Story 30: Winds of Change

The scattered trailers and pre-fab homes of Hígado Verde rocked gently in the wind. Mrs. Oakboot's green muumuu unfurled like a lopsided pterodactyl, threatening to pull free from the clothesline and soar off over the desert. The residents were all gathered in Scooter's General Store, the only permanent building in town. The children took turns sneaking out, shielding their eyes against dirt as they watched the cloud roll towards them in the distance.

The teenagers passed around a bottle of antidepressants, dreaming of glory.

The weather man laughed at some joke that had been lost to the haze of static and gestured at his map, which was covered in cartoon suns and colorful arrows. Hígado Verde was far too small to be featured, but where it should have been the forecaster had stuck a bright purple cloud with a question mark. The people paid little attention, spending their energy instead on various debates about sports and philosophy that were silenced as Jenny Mugrath burst through the doors.
"Stormchasers! There's stormchasers coming!"

The child's excitement caused only groans in the adults. Everyone cleared out of the store, and to a man they knew that the egotistical stormchasers would think it was to get a better look at them. In reality the townsfolk just wanted to make room in Scooter's for the rare customers. Scooter himself had also prepared for this eventuality, removing all of the price signs from the shelves the night before. The storm chasers loved to flash coin around and Scooter loved to overcharge them, so in the end they all went away happy.

The already dust-filled air was churned up further as a fleet of battered Jeeps rolled towards the store. The men all looked roughly the same - long flowing beards, robes of garish materials, and wide-brimmed pointed hats adorned with stars and moons. Most carried wooden staves. The Jeeps rumbled to a stop and their occupants piled into Scooter's General Store, laughing and slapping each other on the back, completely oblivious to the looks of disdain.

The people of Hígado Verde watched the storm approaching, a flickering purple cloud rolling over the sun-baked hills to the South. Beneath the cloud reality wavered, the rocks and dirt just a mirage under which lay an infinite abyss of raw potential. One by one they marched down into the lead-lined basement of Scooter's, and the stormchasers drove directly towards the cloud. Only the teenagers remained, staring at each other as they waited for someone to flinch. Finally Lola Turwilliam caved.
"I'm out. I'm too nervous, I'm going to picture something awful."
Two of the others, relieved to not be first, followed her into the basement with an apologetic look backwards. Jeremiah Hollister and his friend Billy Twark watched the others go, then turned towards the approaching cloud.
"Jerry... I think we should have held out for anti-anxiety pills 'stead of antidepressants. Let's go inside, maybe try this next year."
Jeremiah didn't even look at his friend. "It's okay, Billy. Head on down, maybe I'll follow you in a minute."

He could see the storm chasers reaching the cloud, or the cloud reaching them, and the tiny Jeep in the distance reared up into a massive furred beast. Storm chasers were flying through the air on staves and brooms, conjuring up exotic animals to breed or sell. Mrs. Oakboot's muumuu broke free and drifted high on an invisible air current straight towards the excitement - Jeremiah thought he saw it turn into a swarm of insects, but he couldn't be sure. The storm was getting closer, and he reminded himself how much better he could make his life in just a few seconds of creativity. Some had pulled it off; they kept it simple, focused their minds, and twisted the world around them into whatever they needed. Others had worried about something, and that worry had become real - even experienced storm chasers had been swarmed by goblins and boogeymen they themselves had subconsciously created.

The air was starting to shimmer, and Jeremiah took a deep breath. He looked at the basement doors, knowing he could still make it if he ran... and then he closed his eyes and thought of gold.