The following article was supposed to appear yesterday on The Final Twist Society blog. A lack of electricity in the aftermath of Ike has created a posting challenge, so I'm hosting the story here. Please use the comments link to leave messages for Cash and her fellow authors in The Final Twist Society.
If you have ever sat through a hurricane of any size and duration, you’re familiar with this emotional state. It’s far more than mere suspense. More like a toothache, because it doesn’t subside in a moment and go away. It drags on, and it grows.
This emotion is a good one to evoke when setting up the environment for a murder mystery or horror story; and since it looks as if it’s inevitable that Houston’s going to get clobbered with Hurricane Ike this weekend, anticipation of that reminded me of what dread entails: a period of waiting that, in the big picture isn’t all that long – a few days, maybe a week to watch a watery monster grow – but it feels like forever; dire consequences are likely to befall someone, and everyone knows it! And everyone is powerless to stop it. Someone will suffer, maybe die. The question is who.
If you’re in the path of Ike, will you be spared both the immediate loss and the resulting trauma? Even if you are, will you be one of the people who have to live through the aftermath? Coastal veterans know that means more powerlessness (literally), that extends past days into weeks, slowing every part of life down except disease and hunger; general disorder and frustration and irritation and the heightened emotions of other people… and an awareness of suffering not far off, if not in your own backyard.
No one knows who’s going to get it, but whoever it is, it’s likely to be bad. Dread.
What should you do? Should you flee, even though you know that the target is going to keep moving, and maybe if you had sat frozen like a hare, you’d have been spared…
Should you dodge out of the way, just a little, even though you know other people in more danger than you probably are need the resources and lodging and open roads? Even though you know none of them are open, and you’re going to be part of the huge problem of people out of their normal life situations trying to save themselves in a chaotic and dangerous environment – that you aren’t presently in?
No… you’ve decided to “hunker down”, a word described well elsewhere, a course of action equally necessary for the helpless and the brave. (Diana’s blog site) But once you decide to stay, then you come to know dread for sure.
You’ll feel it as you watch endless news accounts to see a spot over water move a quarter inch at a time – knowing that if it represents eighty miles or so, that will change many lives, including your own. You’ll dread the news when the storm (the muzzle of the gun?) turns more toward you – your life, your health, your home and community and everything you know are at risk, except the work you’ve got on a computer you’re ready to disconnect and run with.
Dread… before the storm, and then of the storm itself when it finally, finally gets here. The howling wind, the lashing rain, the pounding of waves of water on the walls of your house, until it comes squirting through the keyhole to your door. Hour upon hour of it. Will the house stand up to this? How many more hours of it do we have to tolerate? How long before the creaking of the house and the swishing of the battered trees outside end -- because they start shredding apart, snapping off, letting the torrent in?
I can only put up with so much dread, and so many of the TV weather reports. When it finally gets here, we’ll all be mentally exhausted anyway. I will probably mix something with rum in it, toast the emergency workers out there, and sleep through as much of it as I can. We’ll circle the recliners, push them back into quasi-lounges, and let the dog crawl underneath. The cat, most likely, will do even better than me, and sleep through the whole thing.
Wishing all on the Gulf Coast a safe weekend… and if you don’t have anything to read while you’re waiting for the insurance adjuster next week, check out the terrific books by writers of The Final Twist.
Our new anthology of short stories, A Death in Texas, will be out in October. Drop by the book launch at Kay Budget Books on Friday, October 10th, after 5:30 p.m., meet the Final Twist authors, and pick up a copy. I’m honored to say my story, The Best Man, will be inside.
Cash Anthony is a Writer, Director, Actor, and Producer
Ninth Lord of the Night - screenplay, novel adaptation, Blue CatSemi-Finalist
Taking Up Serpents - screenplay, multi-competition Finalist
Do Me No Favors - short film, written, produced & directed
Complaining Witness - short film, written, produced & directed
False Negative - short film, written & directed
The Best Man - short story, in A Death in Texas anthology
The Stand-In - short story, in Dead and Breakfast anthology
The Secret of the Acequia Stone - B&B play and puzzles
The Case of the Baker's Dozen - B&B play and puzzles A Week of Wednesdays - Novel (WIP)Other B&B plays, puzzles, clues and poems