When Lightning Strikes

for the unofficial ‘Silent Thought’ challenge by JBaz


This was written in response to the amazing challenge by JBaz which you can read about in the link below! Give it a try 🙂


The frigid rain slicked down the girl’s back, splattering against her calves as she hurried for shelter under the awning. Benjamin took it all in with impassive eyes. Nothing escaped his field of vision when he was stationed next to the large floor-to-ceiling windows. And he was always positioned there.

He knew what was whispered about him in snippets and hushed conversation, he was too young. Robust. It was a tragedy for him to stay paralyzed when there was nothing preventing him from moving.

But his gaze never wavered, his face never crinkled in thought. Sometimes he wanted to do both and more.

He wanted to jump to his feet in a rage, throwing his wheelchair through that horrid window. Bleed from the cuts on his hands and feet. Scream til his voice was hoarse. Grab Mae out in the pouring rain and kiss her til they were drunk with lust.

Instead he stared straight ahead, noting the bareness of the garden stretched out before him. The hare and squirrels that normally foraged and played, now tucked away from the storm’s harsh spray. A few birds jockeyed for space in the massive oaks that stood like sentinels along the wide drive up to the main doors.

Otherwise, the world was quiet, almost barren. He felt a kinship to mother nature right then, a body teeming with life yet drowning in sorrows.

Benjamin ignored the sounds of Mae chattering in the hall with the other nurses. Her sweet soprano seeping into his rigid veins trying to coax things from him that he simply couldn’t give.

God love her, she tried though. Over and over, not a sign of impatience, just a gentle hand and a firm tone that bounced around his hollow chest like an endless echo. ‘Let’s get up today, shall we?’ ‘Why don’t we take a stroll through the garden?’ ‘I know your mind is holding you in there, the memories, the pain, but you can still live.’ ‘Please hear me, Benjamin, you are worth it.’

Months she’d tried to reach him, but Mae didn’t understand. Couldn’t understand. She was the kind of person he’d been, before.

Compassionate, naive, full of optimism…life. He didn’t deserve those things now.

Soft footsteps alerted him that he was no longer alone.

He didn’t want to hear Mae’s speech today, he didn’t want a lot of things. He just wanted–


He let the void claim him.

“It’s time for your session.”

Oh how those five words were almost enough for him to fight back. Almost.

The darkness roared, washing over his mind.

Doctor Farthe was no more dedicated to preserving life than Benjamin was a man seeking sainthood. The doctor only liked to use him as a mystery to be solved. Or a pincushion he assumed couldn’t feel the atrocities that the ‘good’ doctor subjected him to.

The long walk down the hall was unnerving as the charlatan pushed his wheelchair. He wondered sometimes if the man had made some deal with the devil in order to step with such quiet menace. How no one else could see it…

“Ah here we are, Mr. Sales. I thought we’d try something new today.”

It was the first time since the incident that he considered genuinely trying to move. He wasn’t even sure he could, but ‘something new’ meant ‘something awful’.

But didn’t he deserve this? Wasn’t this some sort of penance?

Flashes of memory shot through him while the electric current ravaged his body.

A lightning strike. The smell of burning wood. Screams for help. His little girl.

He went for her, ignoring the cries of others, and in the end they all died. Benjamin was the sole survivor.

After all this time, he finally succumbed to the self-hatred, sorrow, and rage. He wept and screamed til his voice left him.

Gentle arms came to cradle him as he let it all go.

“I’ve got you,” Mae whispered over and over, her soft strength a balm to his battered soul.

“The doctor’s been arrested,” she said through tears of her own. “I’m so sorry it took this long for them to believe me, but we’re going to get you out of here as soon as possible. You have too much life left to live.”

And for once, he agreed she might be right.


Author’s note: This was supposed to have been written in one sitting, but my life never allows for that. I thought I would have some uninterrupted time…I didn’t. So this was written in two sittings, but I made a promise to myself that I would not re-read what I’d written when I sat back down again, nor would I think about it until I had that chance. I believe I succeeded at both. I did edit for grammar/punctuation before publishing. This also went over the word count by about 50ish words (sorry, not sorry).

Thank you for reading!

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