June 15

1752 — traditional date for Franklin’s experiment with lightning / electricity

 

When Ben Franklin attempted to prove lightning was electricity, he reportedly tied a metal key to the end of a kite string, then released the kite into the skies of a gathering storm.

Franklin was smart enough to stand on an insulated pad to protect himself.  Others who duplicated the experiment weren’t so lucky, and a few of them suffered severe burns.

Now, during the forty-fifth week of what’s become known as The Year of Perpetual Storms, there’s no need for the string or the kite.  All you’d need to do is walk outside with a metal key in your hand.

You’d be electrocuted before you made it to the curb.

Outside you see bright flashes and forked lines of hot light.  The lightning seems to come at once from the sky, and up through the ground.  It’s like a beautiful fireworks display that’s gone out of control, with many strikes hitting too close to your window.

A small animal’s body floats down the street.  Judging from the charred, damp fur, the idiot owner had forgotten about the metal clasp on the pet’s collar.

Another bright flash and strike.  Heavy rainfall is usually enough to douse the small fires that continually start, but you still worry that unattended flames might spread.

When the rain slacks off, you can wear rubber-soled boots and insulated clothing, and risk walking for short distances.  But if the water soaks through, the electricity might still find a way in, crackle over your wrists and neck, spike beneath the cuffs of your trousers.

Better to stay inside, a few steps back from the windows.  You are like a stay-at-home child waiting for the bells of an ice-cream truck.  If you’re lucky, the supply van will rumble through today, bringing a small crate of food — a week’s worth, if you really make it stretch.

You emptied the previous box thirteen days ago.