Fact # 4: The Storm
Alex remembered that night with perfect clarity; the smell of worms drowning in the cornfields, the faint white flashes in the sky exposing the black funnel clouds along the horizon. The intense winds, the crackle of thunder, the heavy rain pounding his face as he powered his bike along the flooded side roads were all too fresh in his memory.
“Holy cow, holy cow, holy cow, holy cow.” Alex had watched in horror as the power lines ignited sparks along the tarmac. The water on the ground reflected each explosion, like small rockets blasting aimlessly out into the trees.
The storm was the biggest to ever hit the tiny town of Timpleville.
As Alex glanced around to make sure he was still on the road, a white cat appeared in front of him. The tiny animal’s back arched as the bike raced toward it. Alex’s fingers searched frantically for the brakes as the handlebars shook wildly from side to side. Skidding helplessly along the slippery surface, Alex managed to swerve to the side, missing it by inches. However, before he could regain his balance, Alex crashed over a guardrail and into the raging creek below.
The intense rain caused the icy water to rush violently downstream. What was usually a two-foot deep stream with a gentle trickle had turned into a monstrous surge climbing well over Alex’s head. This same creek, where Alex used to catch crayfish with Henry during sunny afternoons over the past summer, was instantly a horrifying mess of furious waves and debris. Still trying to hang onto his bike, Alex frantically reached out for a large rock jutting out from the base of an uprooted tree. His hand scraped painfully along the jagged surface, ripping open his skin. The fast water tossed him around like clothes in a dryer. He had no choice but to let go of his bike and hope it would wash up along the bank.
Flickers of light bounced between the clouds as Alex clawed desperately at anything he could get his hands on. His fingertips scratched the sides of the riverbank, pulling up nothing but mud and grass. Alone and sinking, his screams left Alex with a mouthful of creek water.
Under the chaos, Alex found himself in a world of darkness. His muscles quickly tired from the pained attempts at keeping himself up and he gradually found himself slipping farther under the water. His body numbed as he was tossed and turned about. But as his head was pulled under, a cool, peaceful sensation came over him. The deafening sounds of rushing water totally disappeared, and the quiet grumbles beneath the surface left Alex with a feeling of acceptance. His mind became clear. Alex knew there was no point fighting it anymore.
As he choked and gasped out his last few breaths, Alex relaxed his body and closed his eyes. He imagined Daisy standing by the edge, waiting calmly for him to climb up and out of the creek. Alex would speak confidently to her and tell her how wonderful he thought she was. His friend Henry would be there, too. Alex would shake Henry’s hand and apologize for spilling beef curry all over his head. Alex also thought of his parents. His mum would give him a big hug and tell Alex that everything was going to be okay. His dad would smile and place his hand on Alex’s shoulder. The sun would be out. There would not be a cloud in the sky.
However, there was still something left inside Alex. There were too many people in his life that he cared about. Besides, his social life was just getting started, and he was friends with ‘the’ Daisy Darlington. Alex was not going to give up now. Just as life entered back into his body, a hand reached down into the raging creek and yanked Alex up to the surface.
He never knew who saved him. The girl quickly disappeared into the darkness.
That night, Alex was convinced he was rescued by a ghost.
As strange as that was, what stood out for Alex, was what Kaylee said to him the next day at school.
“I know who saved your life.”
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