This free short story is a phenomenon. Well actually, as the title says, Melvin in a phenomenon.The events and characters described herein are products of the author’s imagination.
Copyright © 2021
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction of the free story in whole or in part in any form. This short story may not be copied or redistributed without the sole written consent of the author.
Low, dark, sinister looking thunderclouds were moving in quickly. Clouds so low in the sky, he felt he could reach up and touch them.
Melvin’s Saturday was paying off as he stood on the partially sandy, North shore of Stumpy Lake. The fish were biting. And, he appreciated the partly cloudy, blue sky when he first arrived.
He regarded the quickly approaching thunderstorm to the West, but just as well, fought the large Crappie on the business end of his fishing line. With this last fish, he’d call it a day.
As the fish was being reeled in, Melvin’s right side felt cool and wet as the rain began to blow in. Mighty thunderclouds moved over him, so he had to hurry. Melvin reeled in the fish and dropped the big Crappie in the bucket and grabbed his supplies to carry on the long walk back to his car.
A powerful gust of wind briskly blew off his hat as the storm advanced over the wetlands. It was almost as dark as night. Melvin became frightened as he stepped quicker towards the shelter of his car.
He wasn’t fast enough. A sudden, powerful updraft of wind scooped him up, spinning him into the air like a propeller. Melvin was overcome. He couldn’t struggle as he was enveloped by the dark clouds controlling him.
Before he passed out, his eyes caught the brightest, flashing illumination of lightening, up close and personal.
Melvin had no recollection of when he was dropped in the weeds on the opposite shore of Stumpy Lake. Or, how long he’d been unconscious. It was phenomenal. But, he was seriously shaken up, shivering with fright.
He thanked his guardian angel for landing him on his back in the murky, weedy shoreline. He could have drowned. Especially thankful he didn’t die in either event.
As the initial shock wore off, Melvin felt a strong tingling sensation through his body. The same type of feeling he gets in his forearm when he bumps his ‘crazy’ bone. From the middle of his spine, up through the back to his neck, he felt the charge of…something. No explanation came to mind.
The heavy rain shower quickly dissipated, so he felt he’d better sit down for a minute. He sat down on a stump, who’s tree had been cut down not too recently.
“What the hell is that?”
Jumping up and away from the stump, Melvin turned to see the stump had caught fire. Smoke and sparks spewed from the spot he was sitting.
Melvin was unharmed and wondered why. The electric feeling throughout his torso persisted.
The path he had walked from the lake shore was scorched, burned and blackened, just as the fallen timber his feet scaled over was now burning coals. At that instance, he realized he was naked as the day of his birth.
“Where the hell are my clothes? Did they get peeled of me when I was in the storm clouds? Were they burned off my body?”
He was barefoot from the moment he woke up in the weeds and didn’t realize his shoes were missing. Melvin had no feeling in his feet. No sense of touch. No pain…only the feeling of electricity throughout his body. Either it was a phenomenon, or he was dreaming.
Yet, he could see. He breathed, relishing in the atmosphere, he breathed deep. But he had no sense of smell.
“This has to be a bad dream,” he cried. But, could not shed tears.
Suddenly concerned for his nakedness, he continued on through the nearby woods, looking for his car. He hoped it was left unlocked.
Moving fast as he was able, Melvin walked over the fallen leaves in the woods, and noticed every step he took set them on fire. He physically felt nothing but the electrical charge. If that’s what it was.
He placed his palm on his chest, then his forehead hoping to notice if he was warm, or even hot. He didn’t think he was on fire, but in his current state of panic, he couldn’t decide.
“How can this be?”
He registered no heartbeat. No pulse. Then recalled how his sense of touch did not exist.
Finally, his car came into view. Hooray! He had left the window down. He wanted relief, privacy and shelter his car would provide. He stepped up and grabbed the door handle.
He was astonished as the handle suddenly appeared red hot. But he was able to open the door so he jumped inside.
The car’s interior flamed up. The source of the fire was where he sat. Panic erupted as Melvin jumped from his car. No idea if he’d been burned. He outwardly cried and no tears developed.
At this point, he surrendered. He couldn’t fight if he didn’t know the enemy. There were no answers as to why or how this phenomenon became him.
The flames throughout the woods became intense as the fire engulfed a massive section of pines. Melvin had two miles to cover where help would be. Naked or not, he had to get to somebody.
He reached the dirt covered, two-track road he came in earlier and ran towards town. At least the road wouldn’t catch fire. He hoped.
The winds came up again, swirling through the forest, enabling the fire’s intensity. It was spreading furiously. Quickly. Melvin ran harder, looking at the white hot inferno at his back. He felt no heat.
The swirling winds he couldn’t outrun scooped him up, propelling him higher and spinning like a cartwheel. The phenomenon is angry. Lightening flashed from behind the clouds, blinding Melvin just as he passed out.
He woke up, finding himself lying naked in a field of Sumac near the side of the dirt road. An intensely burning forest fire appeared about a quarter mile away. From where he sat, he could feel the heat.
“I can feel the heat!”
Anything he touched no longer burned. Contrasting the heat in the air, he felt the cool earth below his feet. He could smell the burning forest as it moved toward him.
Is a phenomenon, what happened to me? If it is a phenomenon, would anybody believe what occurred today? Thank goodness I’m alive and have to get the hell outta here!
Naked Melvin got up and continued his mission, feeling like a new man, running down the road for help. Few minutes passed when two fire trucks appeared, barreling toward him, followed by a red pickup. The Fire Marshall and a passenger
The pickup stopped next to Melvin, it’s driver identified as the fire chief, alarmed at the man with no clothes. The passenger responded the same.
“What the hell happened to you?”
“I – I can’t explain. Help. Help me please.” Melvin was short of breath.
The passenger got out of the pickup carrying a first aid kit. Then, he opened a steel box in the pickup’s bed and grabbed a blanket.
Both fire trucks continued to the fire. The other man who stayed with Melvin identified himself as a paramedic, who tried making him comfortable.
The stranger wrapped the blanket around the panicked, naked man and asked what happened. Still trying to calm himself, Melvin began telling the story from the beginning.
“The thunderstorm! It was so strong, the winds carried me up into the clouds. Dark clouds. Lightening. The heavy rain. It was such a powerful storm.”
“What storm? It’s been sunshine all day.”