Ride the Lightning by Aimee Nicole Walker

To the truth seekers, promise keepers, and the guarded hearts. This one’s for you.





“There’s a vicious storm coming, love. I can feel it in my bones.”

Jonah could hear his granny’s voice as clearly as if she were standing right beside him. Maeve St. John, the daughter of a lifelong sailor, had predicted changes in weather better than any meteorologist on television. Some people had thought she was bat-shit crazy; Jonah had known she was pure magic. When others would seek shelter, Jonah and his granny had sat on the porch and reveled in the beauty of a thunderstorm.

“You’re witnessing Mother Nature at her finest, Jonah. Life is like a thunderstorm—unpredictable, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous.”

From Maeve, Jonah had inherited his black hair, olive-toned skin, and weird green eyes with a hue so dark they looked black in certain lights. She’d also taught him how to read the clouds and study the wind. A strong breeze blew across the parking lot, and the sense of trouble made the hair stand up on his neck.

He’d blamed his headache on stress after spending twelve hours in endless meetings where he’d had to defend his skillset to his immediate supervisor in front of everyone in their division, including the deputy director. Just another miserable Monday. As soon as he stepped outside to leave, Jonah discovered the shift in barometric pressure was the real culprit for the skull-splitting pain. Granny felt the weather in her bones, while Jonah felt it in his sinus cavities.

The temperature had dropped at least ten degrees and the wind had intensified since his lunch break. Jonah hoped he had enough time to run a quick errand on his way home before the storm hit. He wanted to watch the show from his front porch, just like he’d done at his granny and pop’s house where he grew up. It wasn’t a matter of if the severe weather arrived, but when.

Nighttime thunderstorms were the best. The lightning was brighter as it split the sky and arced toward earth, and the rumble of thunder sounded louder and more menacing. Could this be the weather front that matched or exceeded the intensity of the maelstrom raging inside him?

Jonah debated going straight home, but he needed his Caramel Bugles fix after a day like this, and he’d blown through last week’s stash in two days. He loved his job as a criminal analyst for Georgia Bureau of Investigations, where he used technology to predict and prevent crimes and capture bad guys. He loathed his boss, Supervisory Agent Butch Trexler, just as ardently.

If brewing storms reminded Jonah of his granny, then Trexler reminded him of Pop. It wasn’t a compliment either. Oscar St. John had been one mean son of a bitch who had bullied and brow-beaten everything and everyone into submission. Trexler seemed to live for the moments he could demean and humiliate Jonah and flex his power over him. If things didn’t change at the bureau soon, he’d be forced to make a tough decision before the job took a hard toll on his health. Leaving was complicated. Someone dear to Jonah had stuck their neck out for him so he could get an interview for the position. He also didn’t want to give Trexler the satisfaction of running him off.

Jonah mentally shoved the thoughts aside and concentrated on driving across town to his neighborhood. Part of Thomas Square Streetcar Historic District had undergone heavy revitalization. Investors bought the homes for a low price, renovated them, and flipped the houses for a profit, which brought an influx of hipsters to the area. The other half, where Jonah lived, was the exact opposite. Residents and businesses flooded out of the neighborhood, leaving abandoned homes and buildings that bordered on derelict. His destination, Ling’s Corner Market, was the only surviving business in the strip mall on Bull Street near his house.

Several cars were in the parking lot, but only one caught his attention. The driver had backed into a spot instead of pulling in. When Jonah parked beside the car, he noticed the engine was still running. This wasn’t the kind of neighborhood where you left your keys in the ignition unless you wanted someone to steal your car, or you planned to rob the corner market because you figured the elderly Asian-American owners made an easy target. He quickly exited the car and made his way toward the store. Jonah must’ve wrenched the door open with too much enthusiasm because all eyes turned to him. Mrs. Ling was behind the counter and smiled softly when their gazes collided. Maybe he’d overreacted to the car out front and someone was just passing through and didn’t know better than to take their damn car keys with them.

No, his gut said he was right. Like the approaching storm, Jonah could smell trouble brewing. No one was acting suspicious as he scanned the customers. The patrons met Jonah’s perusal with stares of their own, ranging from curiosity to fear and even disgust. He was used to it, even if the reasons had changed over the years.