I’m camping out?
Okay, it’s a campground in a deciduous forest. Big trees. Northern California?
Am I alone? No other sleeping bag in my tent.
It’s early morning outside the tent.
No evidence of a passenger in the jeep.
But there is a book with my face on the cover. Curious. Coverage is the title, an autobiography of…my career as a news anchor on TV. So I must be a vacationing TV news anchor.
It’s a quiet day in the forest. I’ve got nothing better to do. After building a fire, hustling up some food and coffee and getting comfy in the hammock, I read about the life I lived that I have no memory of.
Strange, but parts of the book concerning a Darcy Davidson are highlighted. I have to skip around and find out why.
For a decade Darcy Davidson was the sexy weather girl on KTLZ. Then she was promoted to anchor on the evening news. I was her co-anchor, hired at the same time from a position in Provo, Utah. Together we built the evening news into the top rated local newscast in the market. Darcy was so popular that she even continued to dabble in the weather when she’d fill in on occasion for vacationing meteorologists.
Darcy and I were never friends. Lord knows I must have tried – if my other self here is anything like me – to be friends with her. She looked damned good back then. But she’d have none of it. She never considered me her equal in experience, and attributed the popularity of our newscast to her on air talent. From everything I’ve read so far it appears that I started acting quite indifferently to her off screen, even getting sarcastic at parties about the “weather witch.”
I finally had the feeling that Darcy simply had it in for me for personal reasons that I’d never understand. Maybe I reminded her of someone who hurt her in the past? Unjustified contempt just has to be ignored. That’s not a puzzle worth working on.
I stop reading when I take notice of a very sudden change in lighting overhead. Above the trees clouds are forming. Is it going to rain? Ah well, if it starts I’ll get back in the tent.
At the self-perceived height of Darcy’s talents and panache a younger, supposedly sexier version replaced her. I got a raise and an extended contract. The new girl and I got along just fine and the show’s chemistry was improved.
Then considered “older” talent at 39, Darcy was offered an on-air reporting position. Seething below the surface, she accepted the change resentfully. While I stayed under the lights and before the studio cameras as the face of the evening news, Darcy was sent to cover forest fires. She had to go to murder scenes. She covered grieving families, funerals and city council meetings while I attended awards dinners.
Because of her meteorological background Darcy was assigned to cover a volcanic eruption about to take place near Ashland.
When Darcy arrived she met archaeologist Randall Brighton, who had a unique collection of ancient texts regarding strange effects of eruptions on the atmosphere and local people of early mankind.
Darcy and Brighton camped with scientists nearest the impending eruption. Brighton was searching for any last early hominid clues that were about to be buried in ash for millennia. Brighton was aware of tales revealing incantations purposefully hidden from the world of power mongers, texts regarding electromagnetic weather control.
But those texts were not in conventional form; rather they existed within tiny ancient protein pellets. The only thing to read was the label on the chest…
DO NOT INGEST WITHOUT AUTHORITY OR READINESS
…and no one could read the language it was in, at that time. The night when the volcano blew, those pellets got absorbed into Darcy and her few companions through the skin as they inadvertently slept atop lodestone…
“It took a year before I realized that I was affecting local weather,” the Witch tells me, a hollow voice from the dark forest canopy towering above. A sudden gust extinguishes the campfire. “Then another year to learn to control my influences.”
“All so you could intimidate your former workplace rivals at your own expense? You know there’s a drought in California,” I say in the dark, groping for some kind of defensive weapon. “You should focus on being helpful. Imagine what people would pay for a little rain?”
“You were always paid more than me,” the Witch claims, “even when I worked twice as hard as you.”
A thunderclap knocks me off my feet, deafening me and throwing me into the embers of the campfire. Stunned, it takes a moment to register that I’m burning. I leap out of the embers but I still feel the heat.
My ears pop. The pressure around me grows. Humidity rapidly fills the air. The pressure becomes painful in my ears. The air thins out making breathing labored. Then I’m drenched by an instant downpour. The force of the water slams me to the forest floor.
The air seems sucked away as treetops crackle above and debris whirls about me. My own tornado forms beside me. Three deciduous trees are uprooted then spun about, breaking many other trees. With limbs, bark, dust and miscellaneous small particles in play I flatten out hoping for the best.
An unnerving silence befalls the area preceding the random thuds of hail stones the size of oranges. Stupidly looking up I catch a small fleck in my right eye that hurts like hell. I curl up and cover my head as hail pummels the campsite, pounding me on the back. It feels like giant bees are stinging me.
When that’s over a dense fog moves in. I shiver, making me realize that it’s now almost unbearably cold. Someone is in the fog moving toward me. It’s her.
“You always looked down on me,” Weather Witch declares, her face inhuman, unrecognizable. How can this be that beautiful girl who once seduced a city?
“Funny,” I reply. “That’s what I always thought about you.”
Weather Witch brings her hands together. Frantic lightning bolts strike me…