Lightstorm, Chapter 9: Photographic Madness


Chapter 9: Photographic Madness


When they finally got back to the hotel at the end of the night, Jake jumped out of the helicopter and ran for his room, moving so fast that he wondered if his feet had even touched the ground. He found his briefcase sitting in its usual spot next to the ice-carved bed. He immediately tossed it onto the blanket and popped it open to find a few empty months left over.

It didn’t take long for him to decide which month to fill with his newfound glory roll. In his mind, only one month had the clout to carry the weight of the image he bore in his hands. Only one month was fitting enough to deliver justice to the poetry that his discovery had offered. As he unloaded his camera to place the roll of film in the vacant spot for December—the month to end all months—Jake smiled and marveled at his good fortune.

“The month of miracles,” he said, as he thought about his prize. “The only month worthy of such an image. It is truly the pinnacle of our achievement here.”

He closed the briefcase softly and wrapped it snugly in the muskox fur, making sure every inch of the case was covered. Once he was certain the container was protected, he folded his arms around it to make sure it didn’t move.

“What are you doing?” Kate asked from behind.

“Gotta keep the film warm,” he said. “Can’t let it lose its integrity.”

“My goodness, Jake. You never cared that much about your work before. Is this picture that important?”

Jake looked for a high place to set the briefcase so it didn’t have to sit on the ice. As he scanned the room meticulously for the best position, he thought the chair with the fur covering would’ve been an ample spot. He gently set it there so that it could stay warm.

“If you were up with me,” said Jake, “instead of taking pictures of giant snowballs, you could’ve witnessed the most amazing event of your life.”

“You mean watching you go crazy over a scene of nature that wasn’t under your influence wasn’t the most amazing event of my life?”

“If you had seen this…” Jake found himself at a momentary loss for words.


For the first time in a long time, he truly believed he was right in what he was about to say to her.

“You would have thrown out all of your other pictures in contempt,” he said.

She held her position for a moment, but then she smiled.

“That’s a bit dramatic, Jake. I think something happened to your head when you got bitten today.”

Kate strolled casually toward the fur-covered chair and listlessly slid the briefcase out of the way. Jake immediately intercepted his prized container and smacked her hand away.

“Don’t touch that,” shouted Jake. “It’s fragile.”

Immediately, her amusement took a dark turn.

“What’s gotten into you, Jake? I just wanted to sit down.”

“Sit on the bed. It’s just as comfortable. Please don’t move the briefcase.”

Jake slid the briefcase back to its safe and comfortable location.

“All right, fine,” she said. “I’ll sit on the bed. I hope these pictures are worth your going insane.”

Kate grumbled to herself as she sat on the bed.

“I’m not going insane,” he said. “I just think these pictures are too important to the world to ruin them. Believe me, you’ll understand when you see them.”

“Is this coming from the same guy who once thought taking a picture of a lion chewing a Pepsi bottle was important?” she asked.

“It’s not like that. This is on a realm so much higher than that. You of all people should understand.”

“I just think you’re making a big deal out of it. Are you sure you didn’t just look at the northern lights and imagine you saw this so called Lightstorm? I mean, a wolf bit you today. Isn’t it possible that you caught some repressed form of lycanthropy? Except instead of messing up your body, it messed up your mind? Isn’t that possible?”

In his heart, Jake wanted to prove himself right to her—to make it clear that what he had seen could not be reproduced in words. He wanted to explain to her the best he could the details of the miraculous event, but he didn’t know how. The best he could do was to show her the pictures. But to do that, he needed to develop them. And even though he would have gladly developed them on the spot, the reality was that he didn’t have a portable darkroom waiting for him next door. To get these photos produced, he had to take them home first. Therefore, he felt that any further conversation on the subject with Kate was moot.

“Snap every picture you think you’re going to want by noon tomorrow because we’re going home.”

“Jake, we still have three—”

“These pictures have to get developed. Something like this should not be kept silent.”

“Jake, I don’t know why you’re acting like this. This isn’t like you.”

“You’ll know soon, and then you’ll agree with me that this was the best decision.”

Jake sat on the uncovered ice chair and leaned his body over the briefcase to add to its warmth.

“Jake—” whispered Kate.

“Make sure nobody comes near us tonight,” he said. “Everything changes tomorrow.”

Upon saying that, he slowly closed his eyes, hoping that Kate would do her part to protect them through the night. Soon, everything was silent. Soon, the world would know.


Read Chapter 10

The stuff that keeps me awake at night.

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