Last night, while Hurricane Sandy* ripped through the East Coast, causing massive flooding and blackouts (but luckily didn’t do much in my neighborhood–Fort Greene, Brooklyn–other than cause an Internet outage and the lights to flicker on and off a few times) I pulled out Ron Hansen’s excellent story collection Nebraska and began to read, for the third time, “Wickedness,” a brilliant story about a blizzard at the end of the 19th century that roared through the Midwest and killed scores of folks in the course of 24 hours.
Here’s how Hansen describes the beginning of the wicked storm through the eyes of a man who shares his last name:
A Danish cattleman named Axel Hansen later said he was near the Snake River and tipping a teaspoon of saleratus into a yearling’s mouth when he heard a faint groaning in the north that was like the noise of a high waterfall at a fair distance. Axel looked toward Dakota, and there half the sky was suddenly gray and black and indigo blue with great storm clouds that were seething up as high as the sun and wrangling toward him at horse speed. Weeds were being uprooted, sapling trees were bullwhipping, and the top inches of snow and prairie soil were being sucked up and stirred like the dirty flour that was called red dog. And then the onslaught hit him hard as furniture, flying him onto his back so that when Axel looked up, he seemed to be deep undersea and in icehouse cold. Eddying snow made it hard to breathe any way but sideways, and getting up to just his knees and hands seemed a great attainment. Although his sod house was but a quarter-mile away, it took Axel four hours to get there. Half his face was frozen gray and hard as weatherboarding so the cattleman was speechless until nightfall, and then Axel Hansen simply told his wife, That was not pleasant.
Hansen (the author) goes on for another 18 pages to describe many other Nebraskans who came in contact with the wickedness, either surviving or succumbing to it. And the story, which is at turns a horror story, adventure story, love story, and, of course, storm story, serves as the model for today’s prompt.
Which is this: to begin to write a piece of prose or poetry about a storm from the point of view of a person, animal, place, or thing that experiences said storm. A storm that could be a hurricane, blizzard, tornado, cyclone, tsunami, typhoon, earthquake, wildfire, volcanic eruption, or any other type of severe weather. And that could be pleasant, or not pleasant.
*Brooklyn Community Foundation has put together a list of ways to help those affected by the storm.