Chapter 40: Perfect Storm

The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin

I leaned over, grabbing the doorframe with one hand for balance. I looked out through the storm and down into the yard. A man was standing at the edge of the cornfield, looking at the house. It was hard to make anything out. The storm clouds had darkened the sky, and the rain was falling in torrents. I was immediately soaked to the skin, just for leaning out.

“Who is that?” Dahlia echoed her sister.

“Get back from the door,” I said, using my other hand to push Calla behind me and then to tug Dahlia back. “Get back, further into the loft.”

The girls looked at each other, and then at me. “Go!” I commanded. They withdrew while I ducked down at the edge of the door, looking out again. I hoped that I’d be less conspicuous that way, but I had to see what was going on in the yard.

The man walked towards the house, undeterred by the roaring wind. He didn’t seem to care about the rain, either. His dark silhouette just marched forward. He was wearing some kind of coat, but I couldn’t make out any other details.

Was this Zebediah? It seemed likely. Where was Johnson when I needed him?

I wiped rain off my face as I peered into the darkness, trying to see more. There was a sudden flash of lightning, and it lit up the yard. The man was standing closer to the house, staring at it with his head tilted up. Like he was measuring it, or something. I couldn’t see his face, but his long hair was blowing in the wind, despite the rain.

I blinked, rubbing water from my eyes. There was another blast of lightning, and this one knocked me back on my ass. It was blinding, it was so close, and the thunder was like a cannon going off. The house lit up and I saw that it was on fire.

“Holy shit!”

Calla screamed from behind me, or maybe it was Dahlia. Their home was burning. I looked into the yard, but the stranger was nowhere to be seen.

The wind, however, seemed to be even stronger than before. One of the doors came loose and started flapping and banging with every gust. I had to roll out of the way to avoid getting hit. Calla and Dahlia both rushed forward to help me to my feet. The telescope fell over with a clatter as the wind continued to build. We turned to run back to the ladder, and get lower to the ground.

There was another lightning strike, and this time it was Dahlia’s turn to scream. There was a man standing between us and the ladder. He stood in shadow, his long coat dripping water onto the wood floor. His dishevelled hair was like a sea of reeds around his face. His beard was an untidy mess.

“Zebediah,” I almost snarled.

He looked up at me with a smile. “Hello, Diggory.”

I pushed the girls behind me, as if I could stand between them and danger. The wind blew at our backs, while we faced this murderer from the future. “Stay back,” I growled.

Zebediah took a step forward. Instinctively, we all took a step back. He took another step, and so did we.

Calla, standing on my right, gave a little shriek as she lost her footing, going over the edge of the open doorway. I spun around, grabbing for her. I caught her arm as she slipped, so that she was hanging over the yard. I fell against the floor, which knocked the wind out of me. I grabbed at the doorframe of the open door, trying to keep myself from going over with her.

Wind and rain pelted us, and I felt my fingers slipping. Fortunately, because I’d caught her, the fall would only be about a metre or so. Without my intervention, she could have been seriously hurt. Calla looked up at me, her eyes wide with fright.

“I’m going to let you go,” I called down to her. “Run for help!”

She nodded, and we both let go at the same time. She dropped the last three feet and rolled with it, getting muddy but preventing a broken ankle. Calla clambered to her feet and ran.

I stood up, rubbing my sore ribs, and looked at Zebediah. He hadn’t moved throughout the preceding events, but simply stood there, staring at Dahlia and me.

“What do you want?” I asked.

He ignored me. Zebediah looked at the girl, and held out his hand.

“Come here, Dahlia.”

“How do you know my name?”

While he was distracted, I ran at Zebediah. He looked at me barely a split second before I would have tackled him. His eyes, a sharp blue, seemed to blaze like the lightning outside. I felt a wind pick me up and slam me into the couch, which fell over backwards.

“Mr. Johnson!” Dahlia cried out. She rushed to help me.

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Woah this is some intense stuff

Wow this is really intense. 0.o!

Crap!!!

This really is intense stuff

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