The storm had hit not long after 6pm that wintry evening. Old Andrew from down the road, was still outside with his camera and I did think that I should go and persuade him to go inside. The night would brighten up occasionally from the lightning, almost painting the landscape outside my window with light. In between that, a smaller, more localised area would be illuminated. It took me a fair while to realise it was Andrews camera flash.
What is he taking pictures of? Endless pictures of rain?
Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed my thickest coat and headed outside. The material would withstand the weather better than most, it was a necessity out here. Leaving the warm safety of my house, I walked against the rain towards the lone figure in the distance. The gutters were flooded all along the street and the excess water was spilling onto the concrete, creating an almost beautiful rhythm. It did not make the icy daggers of raindrops that hammered against my face, any less painful.
The flashes were more frequent now both from nature and Andrew. The gaps between the flash and the thunder were less than a second apart.
“Andrew, what are you doing man?” I shouted, grabbing him by the shoulder as I reached him.
He turned, a look of almost serene peace on his face. His eyes focused on mine and he smiled. Then he turned and took another picture, aiming his camera almost at random at the sky.
“Can you see it?”
I admit I saw nothing. I gripped his arm firmly and tried to lead him back home.
“No I cant leave. He is out there somewhere, just waiting for us.”
The old mans voice was surprisingly strong for someone whose body looked so frail.
“Come now Andrew, we have to get indoors.” I may as well have been whispering the amount of notice he took of me. Shaking off my hand, he turned to the sky and took another picture. The timing could not have been better as the sky lit up brighter than I had ever imagined. The lightning combined with the cameras flash made it look like the middle of a bright summers day.
I could see individual houses on the nearby hills. Rivers flowing down a mountain, into the sea. Fishing boats, bobbing around in the storms wind while the waves crashed against the harbour wall.
None of those things were real. They couldn’t be, I lived in the centre of the city.
Seeing my reaction, Andrew laughed.
“You see it don’t you?”
I nodded as the light faded, leaving after images burned into my vision until they too slowly faded to black.
“Now listen son, just listen.”
So I did.
I really wish I hadn’t.
When I returned home, I switched off my house lights and stared out into the city.
Everything had changed now.