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When Lightning Strikes

for the unofficial 'Silent Thought' challenge by JBaz

By Heather HublerPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - September 2023
Created with CanvaPro

This was written in response to the amazing challenge by JBaz which you can read about in the link below! Give it a try :)


The frigid rain slicked down the girl's back, splattering against her calves as she hurried for shelter under the awning. Benjamin took it all in with impassive eyes. Nothing escaped his field of vision when he was stationed next to the large floor-to-ceiling windows. And he was always positioned there.

He knew what was whispered about him in snippets and hushed conversation, he was too young. Robust. It was a tragedy for him to stay paralyzed when there was nothing preventing him from moving.

But his gaze never wavered, his face never crinkled in thought. Sometimes he wanted to do both and more.

He wanted to jump to his feet in a rage, throwing his wheelchair through that horrid window. Bleed from the cuts on his hands and feet. Scream til his voice was hoarse. Grab Mae out in the pouring rain and kiss her til they were drunk with lust.

Instead he stared straight ahead, noting the bareness of the garden stretched out before him. The hare and squirrels that normally foraged and played, now tucked away from the storm's harsh spray. A few birds jockeyed for space in the massive oaks that stood like sentinels along the wide drive up to the main doors.

Otherwise, the world was quiet, almost barren. He felt a kinship to mother nature right then, a body teeming with life yet drowning in sorrows.

Benjamin ignored the sounds of Mae chattering in the hall with the other nurses. Her sweet soprano seeping into his rigid veins trying to coax things from him that he simply couldn't give.

God love her, she tried though. Over and over, not a sign of impatience, just a gentle hand and a firm tone that bounced around his hollow chest like an endless echo. 'Let's get up today, shall we?' 'Why don't we take a stroll through the garden?' 'I know your mind is holding you in there, the memories, the pain, but you can still live.' 'Please hear me, Benjamin, you are worth it.'

Months she'd tried to reach him, but Mae didn't understand. Couldn't understand. She was the kind of person he'd been, before.

Compassionate, naive, full of He didn't deserve those things now.

Soft footsteps alerted him that he was no longer alone.

He didn't want to hear Mae's speech today, he didn't want a lot of things. He just wanted–


He let the void claim him.

"It's time for your session."

Oh how those five words were almost enough for him to fight back. Almost.

The darkness roared, washing over his mind.

Doctor Farthe was no more dedicated to preserving life than Benjamin was a man seeking sainthood. The doctor only liked to use him as a mystery to be solved. Or a pincushion he assumed couldn't feel the atrocities that the 'good' doctor subjected him to.

The long walk down the hall was unnerving as the charlatan pushed his wheelchair. He wondered sometimes if the man had made some deal with the devil in order to step with such quiet menace. How no one else could see it...

"Ah here we are, Mr. Sales. I thought we'd try something new today."

It was the first time since the incident that he considered genuinely trying to move. He wasn't even sure he could, but 'something new' meant 'something awful'.

But didn't he deserve this? Wasn't this some sort of penance?

Flashes of memory shot through him while the electric current ravaged his body.

A lightning strike. The smell of burning wood. Screams for help. His little girl.

He went for her, ignoring the cries of others, and in the end they all died. Benjamin was the sole survivor.

After all this time, he finally succumbed to the self-hatred, sorrow, and rage. He wept and screamed til his voice left him.

Gentle arms came to cradle him as he let it all go.

"I've got you," Mae whispered over and over, her soft strength a balm to his battered soul.

"The doctor's been arrested," she said through tears of her own. "I'm so sorry it took this long for them to believe me, but we're going to get you out of here as soon as possible. You have too much life left to live."

And for once, he agreed she might be right.


Author's note: This was supposed to have been written in one sitting, but my life never allows for that. I thought I would have some uninterrupted time...I didn't. So this was written in two sittings, but I made a promise to myself that I would not re-read what I'd written when I sat back down again, nor would I think about it until I had that chance. I believe I succeeded at both. I did edit for grammar/punctuation before publishing. This also went over the word count by about 50ish words (sorry, not sorry).

Thank you for reading!

Short Story

About the Creator

Heather Hubler



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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (37)

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  • Thavien Yliaster14 days ago

    Dear Heather Hubler, May I have Your permission to use Your fiction story, "When Lightning Strikes," for a video I am making? Sincerely, Thavien Yliaster

  • Thavien Yliaster2 months ago

    He's not truly paralyzed as his anatomy seems to be perfectly healthy, but his mind has trapped him? Sounds like a serious case of post traumatic stress disorder. If it's not that, based on his period of grief I'd like to assume that the doctor was injecting him with a chemical that preventing his neurons from properly firing, causing him to lose locomotion, especially to his skeletal muscles. I do wonder if the doctor did something to upset Benjamin's calcium levels or anything that would affect his control over his troponin. There's tons of bad apples in the medical field. Especially sadistic ones. Goodness, taking a look back at Your words, Heather, I'm assuming that the doctor was trying to electrocute Benjamin like one would to a prisoner in an electric chair as opposed to inducing electrotherapy treatment (my dad had some done one a few of his muscles in college and he regained practically his full range of motion). Thank goodness for Mae. A lot of people think that stoicism is only a toxic masculine trait, but it's a healthy virtue that's present in both men and women. Without Mae's strength in comforting those in need it would not surprise me if Benjamin would've given up earlier.

  • Dana Stewart2 months ago

    Now this is a twist. You packed a punch with this one. I seem to always need to read where I left off if only to get in the right frame of mind. Congratulations on the Top Story!

  • Thavien Yliaster2 months ago

    I need to come back to give this a proper read and comment.

  • It was really fun reading fiction from you. Great use of description. I am so used to your poetry. My favorite line: "Doctor Farthe was no more dedicated to preserving life than Benjamin was a man seeking sainthood." Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Harmony Kent3 months ago

    Fantastic, Heather. So captivating, and I had no idea where it was headed. Congratulations on a well deserved Top Story! 💕😊

  • Very good

  • Very Elaborately written and Composed 😊Great job and Congratulations on your Top Story, Friend 🎊📝🦋🦋🎉

  • Gina C.3 months ago

    Powerful, emotional, and so descriptive! I really love the idea of continuing without re-reading what you wrote beforehand - definitely has potential to make an interesting outcome, and I so love what you've done here! This was so well written and compelling. Congrats on Top Story, you Queen! 🤗❤️

  • Carol Townend3 months ago

    You have done a great job of this story Heather, and I hardly saw a mistake. It is a very descriptive story and a really good read.

  • Hannah Moore3 months ago

    Good work though, and yes, one sitting is seldom allowed!

  • Naveed3 months ago

    Excellent!!! Congratulations on Top Story!!!♥️♥️💕

  • Wow! Powerful and emotional, and so beautifully descriptive yet sparely written to let us get to know the nuances of the Benjamin. 💙Anneliese

  • Alex H Mittelman 3 months ago

    Great work! So descriptive!

  • Antoinette L Brey3 months ago

    Very good, congrats on top story

  • Veronica Coldiron3 months ago

    Survivor's guilt is so painful. This was SO well written!!

  • Cathy holmes3 months ago

    Congrats on the well-deserved TS, Empress.

  • JBaz3 months ago

    Told you this was awesome. I am so happy for you, this was such a good story, and well written. Congratulations

  • Celia in Underland3 months ago

    Wonderful! Congratulations! 🤍 I hope this notification made you wonderfully giddy and proud xxxx 🤍🤍🤍

  • Donna Renee3 months ago

    Yes!! Congrats, Heather ☺️❤️😍

  • I was so excited when I saw that this was in the Fiction community! I've missed your stories! At the risk of sounding dumb, why was the doctor arrested? I mean what were the atrocities that the doctor subjected him to? So sorry my looney partner for being such a blur case. Your story also had a poetic touch to it! You nailed this challenge!

  • Most intriguing, Heather. You draw us into the prison in which he has secluded himself, allowing the doctor to punish him as an act of penance for surviving (flashes of Judd Hirsch in "Ordinary People"), before finding & accepting deliverance. Well done, Heather.

  • Tiffany Gordon 3 months ago

    gorgeous prose! fabulous storytelling! Loved the outcome! You write beautifully my dear! :)

  • Great story telling, and loved the ending

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