Today’s story is derived from a single father’s recall of the experiences of his three-year-old son, credited to DeviantArt user alapanamo. It’s a short but harrowing account of increasingly troubling events which occurred mere weeks after the man and his son relocated from the noisy chaos of the big city to an idyllic ranch house in a quiet suburban community.
The young father doesn’t get into specifics regarding his former spouse; he only says the move was a way of washing away the “dirt and grime” of their recent past, and that he was looking for a fresh start for himself and his son.
That’s why he particularly enjoyed the opportunity to show the boy his very first thunderstorm. He looked on the pounding rain, thrashing winds and searing bolts of lightning as a kind of purification.
Fortunately, his son loved the whole experience; while the sound and fury of the storm captivated him with wide-eyed wonder and each clap of thunder made him jump, he was not that afraid… because he knew his father would keep him safe.
The next morning at breakfast, he was glad to hear the boy chatting excitedly about the storm… particularly the lightning, which he said continued to flash outside his window through the night.
It wasn’t until a few days later when this interest in lightning began to cause concern.
“I saw the lightning at my window last night,” his son said, describing how it illuminated his entire room.
There was nothing odd about his enthusiasm… were it not for the fact that there hadn’t been a storm the previous night. For that matter, there hadn’t been a single cloud in the sky, because he remembered how clearly he could see the stars from his own bedroom window.
He figured his son had been dreaming, and dismissed the matter, telling the boy he would be sure to let him know when another storm was coming so he could watch again. But over the next week, his son brought the matter up again two different times, claiming he could see the lightning illuminating his room at night.
It’s at this point in the man’s writing that the first pangs of guilt and regret begin to surface. He doesn’t mention details at first, but later makes a brief mention of watching a local news report about police searching for a suspected pedophile in the neighborhood. It’s clear he’s trying not to dwell on that point, but he continues to torment himself for his initial failure to notice the clues.
The realization finally hit him one morning over the breakfast table, when his son told him excitedly about the previous night.
“Guess what?” the boy said, his voice filled with wonder. “There’s no more lightning outside my window!”
Hiding his relief, the father played along, hoping this would be the end of the child’s obsession. “Oh really?” he asked. “I guess the storm finally died down, huh?”
The boy looked at him with a confused expression, then shook his head no.
“I thought you said the lightning went away,” he told his son.
“No,” the child replied, his eyes still wide with excitement. “Now it’s in my closet.”
The pair’s shared testimony played a key role in the eventual arrest of the suspect, but the man is still tormented by the prospect of what might have happened had he not taken his son seriously.
Even now, he still isn’t ready to see the photos the police collected from the suspect’s large collection…