A Storm Within
"Git yer ass down them steps boy!" came the angry voice of his father behind him. Matty moved as fast as he could down the stone steps that led into the darkness of the cellar. His mother had Bud, his little brother, clutched tight in her arms as she quickly lead the way. Bud buried his face in her shoulder, his tiny arms around her neck. Before long they would disappear into the blackness.
Thunder rolled across the plains and echoed back from distant valleys as shards of fragile rain fell and shattered on the ground. Lightning streaked downward from the sky in jagged spikes making brief and violently beautiful patterns against a backdrop of darkened sky. Matty thought for a moment, as the wind whipped past the opening above, that he heard it whisper something.
"Git that lantern lit, Matty, you good fer nuthin'...." The last of his father's words swept away in a sudden gust of wind. Matty knew what his father was saying from the look on his face and the way his lips slid across grimy, smoke-stained teeth.
They would wait out the weather like they always did, but this time Matty couldn't shake the feeling there was something different about this storm. It came without warning. Rolling in from the west like a fast moving train along oiled tracks. It interrupted one of his parents' nightly arguments. They fought about whether to get the twelve year old pick up truck they bought when Matty was born fixed or to put it off another year while it gained more rust and decay. The latter would be a fitting choice given the forest of decaying farm equipment and out-buildings that surrounded their weather-beaten two story house.
Matty fumbled for the lantern he knew hung a foot above his head. A wave of red hot panic washed over him as he realized the lantern was not there. In desperation, he looked back to see if his father had entered the cellar.
"Dammit, Boy!" Matty's father shouted. The old man was already a few steps behind. He clambered down the first few steps and reached over his head to tug at the cellar door. He belted, "You sure ain't worth a damn boy! Git that lantern lit so I can see what I'm doin'!" He turned back to the door and slid a metal bar he carried with him into two brackets. He pulled on the partially rotted door and guided the bar toward a rusty clasp on the wall.
A small shard of light pierced the darkness and quickly grew to fill the tiny cellar. Matty's Mother shoved the lit lantern at him as she stowed a box of wooden matches into the front pocket of her apron. He shot her a smile and she winked at him as she knelt to grab Bud around the waist and hoist him onto her hip.
Matty spun around to see his father still fumbling with the bar.
"It's about dern time, Matty," His old man shouted.
The cellar door nearly buckled as a strong gust of wind threatened to tear it off it's hinges and carry his Father away with it. Matty felt a tinge of guilt as he dared to utter, "I wouldn't be so lucky."
"What the hell you babblin' about, boy?" Matty's father said as he gave the bar a jerk.