We were in a high mountain pass having just crossed back into France. The flat countryside below, bordered on one side by the Mediterranean, stretched to the horizon. Above us was an impenetrable blanket of grey cloud. I say ‘above us’ but it was only just – it felt as if we could touch it. There was thunder about and we were looking down on the rain.
Malcolm, surveying the scene, pointed out the small town of Sorède where earlier in the day we had stopped for lunch. The meal was memorable only because of the rudeness of the waitress. Pointing his finger towards the town, some eighteen kilometres away, he declared, “Sorède, I smite thee!” At that very moment, and simultaneously, came a crackling, sonic boom of thunder; a ragged fork of lightning launched itself on the country below while in the cloud around us it was as if a blinding arc light was switched on and instantly switched off. We felt our hair stand up on our heads – even Dennis’ which had the consistency of copper wire. There was no time to experience fear. Immediately the gloom returned, wraiths of steam smelling of ozone curled around us then floated away.
We took a few moments to let our ears stop ringing and our eyes to lose their starbursts, before Dennis spoke. “Malcolm. Did you notice where the lightning struck?”
Malcolm’s smile was almost apologetic. “I did. Sorède!”
To which I replied, “Malcolm, in future please be more careful in the exercise of your powers.”
by Hugh Marchand