08: Tempest

8.1 meters per second.

The single rain drop arced it’s way down, catching the attention of the service crew. Implausibly large, the size of a fist, it shimmered and glowed as it fell and that disturbing sound the rain made – ‘vnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn’, got louder until it smashed into the side of the ‘box’ with a thud and an explosion of colour.

If it was just the one drop, then it’d be ‘interesting’ but everyone knew that one was the forewarning. The clouds overhead were phasing and getting deeper in colour; that usually was warming enough but the first drop is the start of the countdown.

This storm was shaping up to be a good one. They saw it crest the horizon and in less than 30 it hit them. The clouds were shifting deep oranges and purples by the time they were overhead and when they opened, the sky became a technicolour sheet with the volume turned to eleven. Even inside, surrounded by the thick skin of the box, if it were not for the comms link, there would have been no way to hear one another.

Luckily they had noticed this one coming and Soo was able to get things ready. The screens had been put up and everything that was out in the open, hurriedly collected and either stowed away or snugged hard up against the box. By the time that first drop hit, they were already clambering aboard, the toughened chassis skin would be enough to keep them safe.

Soo remembers the last time a crew she was working with was not so ‘ready’. The storm came from the south east and the rain slammed into them before anyone realised what was going on. From a crew of 17, 6 managed to get back into the box, the other 11… 3 had been ‘pulped’ and the rest, well, the helmets did little. It was from that point on that she made it a point to only work with crews that had the brains to install dissipators, the screens that shredded rain before it hit whatever was under it.

The storm passed as fast as it came. Stepping outside Soo could smell the electricity in the air and looking around, she could still see the technicolour shimmer on the ground before it vanished and everything just looked wet. It wouldn’t last – as soon as the clouds passed everything started to heat up again and within half an hour, it was as if nothing happened.

They unpacked all the stowed kit and got back to work, with one eye on the horizon. It was storm season after all and everyone wanted to get back in one piece.

copyright 2020 Gerard Thomas

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