Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

(This cemetery has a lot of deteriorated marble lambs.)

Last night I woke to a noise, a single gigantic peal of thunder. I’m used to thunder in many forms, but I knew even as I jerked awake that this was unique in my experience. It didn’t sound like any thunder I had ever heard, not a roar nor a crash nor a crack nor a rolling angry grumble. It sounded so unlike anything I was familiar with that I thought for a long moment that it had to be unnatural. An explosion at some local dynamite factory I don’t know about? A bomb going off? Why? Why in Rice Lake? I knew — knew — that there would be a physical sensation coming: the earth would rock or maybe windows would break.

I was wide awake waiting for that when the second, equally strange peal came. I don’t even know how to describe the shape of it, the weird way there seemed to be gaps in the sound, gashes: like looking down through layers of ragged clouds and seeing a storm sea far below. I woke up thinking of the ways people might have shaped such a sound, and now I started to think of the other things: angels crashing to earth, an alien ship landing, a Cthulhuoid tentacle smashing Mach as it slapped across northern Wisconsin.

Was I really awake? I certainly thought I was. There were only a few such peals, and then either I fell back asleep or they stopped. If I fell back asleep, clearly I was not as concerned as I might have been about the Last Trump or Godzilla rising. But this morning I still remember how strange they were. It is hard not to look for omens sometimes.

2 thoughts on “Rice Lake: thunder.

  1. We had one here in the middle of the night in KC that sounded like ir was echoing up abd up and up, as if to outer space. It was eerie.

    1. Yeah, exactly! It didn’t sound like it was passing through our air, anyway.

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