The wind was howling outside and the screen door kept banging against the front of the house. We were all hanging out in Mason’s living room watching TV and doing our damnedest to ignore the storm, but Jacob just kept on hollering anytime he’d hear the thunder.
“Hoowee! That’s my granddaddy bowling right there boys,”
“It’s just some fuckin’ thunder, calm down ya loud sumbitch we’re trying to watch the game,” Sam said, throwing an elbow into Jacob’s side. The two started wrestling each other and their roughhousing was nearly enough to drown out the bullets of rain hitting the windows.
“C’mon guys you’re gonna bust my couch. Knock it off!” Mason said, rushing over and trying to break the two up. Jacob and Sam tackled him to the ground and the three ended up in a dog pile on the ground. Colton and I couldn’t help but watch and laugh at Mason’s misfortune. Then at that moment, a flash of lightning followed by a loud crack of thunder came from outside. We all fell silent as the entire house went black. The kind of darkness where you couldn’t see your hand if it was right in front of your face. Our only salvation was the occasional bursts of lightning in the distance. They allowed a few brief moments for us to get our bearings, but beyond that, we were all left to the mercy of the pitch-black living room. For a few moments, we all stayed where we were, listening to the strong gusts of wind slam against the sides of the house. Without saying anything to us Colton stood up and navigated his way through the darkness to the front door. None of us had noticed he’d even stood up until he opened the front door.
“Where the fuck are you going? Don’t leave just cause the power went out man.” Jacob said from somewhere in the darkness.
“I ain’t leavin’, I’m going outside for a smoke,” Colton reassured him.
“In this weather? Whatever man. Hey, can I have your truck when a tree crushes you?” Mason said standing up and dusting the contents of the filthy carpet off himself.
“You sons of bitches best bury me in that thing,” Colton replied, letting out a chuckle before heading out the door.
“Well, what the fuck are we supposed to do now?” Sam asked. I could hear him trying to catch his breath on the floor beside
me. We threw some ideas around but ended up just sitting and listening to the storm again. Occasionally I’d hear a gust of wind and think that it was going to be the one to rip the house from its foundation. It was easily the worst storm any of us have ever lived through. The darkness of the room was the only thing hiding the panic on my face as we listened to the storm rage outside. My heart was beating like it was going to leap out of my chest and I had an overpowering sense of anxiety bearing down on me. That feeling was only amplified as the previously pitch-black room was filled with a blinding white light. It was enough to momentarily blind all of us, and before we had the chance to process what had happened an impossibly loud blast of thunder engulfed the room. It sounded like an explosion had just gone off in Mason’s front yard.
As soon as we were able to we fumbled our way to the door wanting to check on Colton. We figured that lightning must have struck right outside to have caused such a powerful burst. When we opened the door we all saw, to our horror, Colton lying on the ground, unconscious and smoldering. The tree next to him had been obliterated. The strike had caused flaming pieces of limbs and bark to scatter across the yard. When Jacob saw Colton on the ground in that state he could hardly control himself. He pushed his way out the door yelling for us to get Colton back inside. I ran alongside Jacob and together we grabbed Colton and began dragging him back into the house. He was a fair bit larger than Jacob and I, enough so that it was difficult getting him across the yard and back into the house. Once we passed through the doorway Mason slammed the door behind us as we laid Colton down. Sam started working immediately, checking for any sign of a pulse.
“He ain’t fuckin’ breathing,” he told us before he started some shoddy attempt at CPR. None of us were prepared for this kind of situation and the blast we felt had left us all dazed. All we were able to do was watch helplessly as Sam tried to revive Colton. Jacob paced back and forth trying desperately to keep his emotions in check. Mason had his back to the wall and his mouth agape at the situation unfolding around him. My legs had gone numb from the adrenaline flushing out of them and I slumped to the ground beside Colton. Sam didn’t stop trying to revive him for an hour straight, and he was barely able to move his arms when he had to give up from exhaustion.
I took in every detail of the battered corpse in front of me. He had burns, bruises, and open wounds all over his face and hands. I had no idea if that meant his death was quick and painless or if his last moments were filled with pain and agony. The smell of burnt flesh and smoke wafted through the house, but we couldn’t care less at that point. I’d occasionally see Jacob place his hand on Colton’s shoulder trying to gently shake him awake. The weight of misery in the room was crushing us, and all the while the storm continued to rage outside.
We sat there for two hours before we decided to stand up and attempt to call somebody, but Jacob refused to leave Colton’s side. Mason had grabbed a blanket off the couch to place over Colton’s body, but Jacob resolved to give him one last nudge on the shoulder. At that very second, Colton jolted upright taking in deep heavy breaths looking at us with wild eyes. We all jumped back mortified at what we were seeing. Colton looked back and forth at all of us with wild eyes. A few moments passed before Colton stood and hobbled over to the door. We all took a couple of steps back as he did so, watching him with collective bewilderment plastered across our faces. We were unable to look away as Colton forced his broken body to move. I had no idea how he was able to stand, let alone move, with his injuries. He limped and wheezed as he approached the door, clearly in a great deal of pain. The storm was at full force now, but he opened the door and faced it all the same. I heard him attempt to speak but his lungs had undoubtedly been damaged from the strike. He coughed for a minute as the violent rains forced their way inside the house soaking through Colton’s tattered clothing. He cleared his throat, raised his hand, and croaked out the words that will echo through my mind for the rest of my life.
“Peace, be still,” he said in a graveled voice, falling to his knees as the words escaped his lips. Before our eyes, the storm that had killed him a few hours ago subsided. We watched the last wave of rainfall shower onto the ground before we were met with silence. No drops of water hitting leaves or crickets chirping. It was just silent. We were awestruck, unable to even try and understand what we had just witnessed. Colton, amid our stunned silence, began to sob. Jacob somehow mustered up the nerve to speak.
“What in the absolute hell just happened.” His words were shaky as they left his mouth. He was visibly unsteady and stumbled back into the arm of the couch to catch his balance. Sam meanwhile was somehow able to crawl over to Colton and hug him, letting out sobs of his own. Mason slumped against the wall he’d been leaning on before and slid back down to the floor, unable to speak.
“It’s all real,” Colton managed to croak out between his sobbing breaths.
“what?” Jacob asked, still trying to process everything that had just happened.
“It’s all completely true,” Colton said staring through the doorway into the damp dark night. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I thought I knew what he was going to say, but I was only half right.
“Heaven, Jacob. Heaven is real, and I spoke to him” Colton continued. I could hardly understand him through his shredded vocal cords.
“Spoke to fucking who,” Jacob responded.
“To him. To God.” Colton replied without hesitation. Before any of us had the chance to process what Colton had said we watched as Jacob become angrier than we’d ever seen him before.
“We thought you were fucking dead, asshole! You had us sit here for three fucking hours thinking you were dead for some kind of sick fucking prank? Fuck you!” Jacob screamed, punching a hole in the wall beside him.
“This is the furthest I’ve ever been from a joke in my life,” Colton said turning around to face him, his gravelly voice sounding significantly better from how it had a few moments ago. His eyes were glazed over and tears were running down his cheeks, but when he turned around we were all able to see his face clearly. Where he had been burned and bruised before he was now completely healed. Only his charred, blood-stained, clothing and the lingering smell of his burnt flesh were left as any evidence that he was struck at all.
“I spoke to him,” Colton said standing upright with Sam still at his feet.
“What the fu- What the fuck are you,” Jacob asked with a distinct sound of fear in his voice. Tears welled up in his eyes once again as his rage immediately dissipated.
“I am-” Colton stuttered wiping away his own tears.
“I am the sword-” he said hesitantly. Jacob had opened his mouth to try and respond but was interrupted by Colton motioning for him to allow him to finish.
“The sword who leads the faithful. I am the light of the lord. I am the warrior blessed by his grace. I am,” he hesitated once again, taking a moment to compose himself.
“I am the Lion of God.” He finally said to Jacob who was now holding back tears. Colton then looked to Sam, to Mason, and then to me.
“And you are to be my disciples,” Colton said reaching a hand out to his best friend. Jacob took a moment, but walked forward and grabbed Colton’s hand. After that, we all situated ourselves in the living room and spent the rest of the night listening to what Colton had to say. We listened to him speak for hours about what he experienced after he was struck. Where he went, what he saw, and what he was told. We all listened, but Mason took it upon himself to write down every word on a bunch of old crumpled up pieces of paper he’d found.
Colton was never the religious type. Neither were any of the others for that matter. Mason’s parents didn’t even bother to baptize him. I, on the other hand, was raised in the church. I know the bible as well as anybody. My whole life I’ve felt a comforting presence at my church and in the presence of God, but as I heard Colton speak throughout the night I heard him change. When he talks now I don’t feel like it’s the friend I’ve known for years. He has this permanent scowl etched onto his face when he talks about what happened to him. Everything he says now sounds like he’s reciting some sort of new scripture. I’ve never known Colton to be a fighter, but behind every word I hear wrath. Whatever he experienced has lit a fire under him, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing. All I know is that I don’t feel comfortable around him now which is why I had to step away and write this. Just before I came outside though Colton turned to me and spoke these words to me.
“God, our Father, has given me not the spirit of the lamb, but the heart of a lion. With it, I shall banish sin and depravity from this Earth, and thou shalt be there to witness its fall. I say this to you the faithful, for thou shalt be at my side to drive away the wickedness of man. The children of Abraham shall be rid of deceit and treachery by my hand, and it is by my hand that they will know I am the Lord.” I will never be able to truly understand what happened to Colton. I don’t think any of us will. I do know one thing for certain though, none of us are prepared for what is about to happen next.
Credit: T.L. Carver
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