Flashes of blinding light return instantly into morbid darkness. Bang-Crash. Lightning cuts the sky, ripping invisible tears across its fragile skin. Soaring and wheeling interminably into the foray I plunge headlong. My feathers, of the purest white, gleam with dazzling intensity at each sudden flash. Missile droplets of water hammer my back, trying to penetrate the glossy armour of my outer coat. But I feel impenetrable. The giant hands of the storm toss me back and forth. Any sense of direction is immediately lost. Yet the adrenaline pulsing warm through my veins keeps my mind sharp, for now at least. A blast of icy air sends me rolling in mid air. For a brief moment I glimpse the wide sea waiting far below, like an open coffin. It will not take me just yet. Heaving hard with my wings, made strong from a lifetime spent flying, I force my way upward, ever upwards towards the safety that lies above the looming clouds.

. The clouds approach- the unknown. In my mind’s eye I see the paradise of the night skies that awaits beyond them. With my head projected up in triumph I enter the cloud.

The storm vanishes. The pelting rain gives way to hovering droplets and wisps and luminescent grey. Even the roaring tempest now below is only mouse-loud in the cloak of the cloud. The relaxing effect absorbs me and I let my wings flop calmly by my side. Not much further to go now. Graceful flaps of my wings swirl the vaporous air around me, lifting me rhythmically through the cloud. So close now. The calm intoxicates my mind. Deceptive. A tiny flower, caught in the wind, becomes caught on my feathery chest. Its petals somehow remain whole and unharmed. Absent-mindedly I peck at it and it falls away apathetically. Suddenly a slight prickling sensation scratches the back of my neck - An instinctive detection of atmospheric change, a natural warning. Received too late.

The thunderbolt bores effortlessly through the cloud. A tunnel filled with his limitless burning energy,...