Featured Student Submission: Thunderstruck by Claire


One day a group of friends went on a hike to an abandoned cabin they heard about. They walk up a road until it comes to an end. They climb over a gate on to the trail.

“Hey, Spence are you sure we should be here? I think we are trespassing.” Cali asks worriedly.

Spencer turns and laughs. “It’s fine people come up here all the time, they let you, as long as you keep the gates closed.” He turns back around and keeps walking. It is misty and it’s drizzling.

After a few minutes, Cali whispers, “Did anyone hear that? It sounded like a knife hitting something.”

“Oh, calm down.” Jaime says, “it’s just the nearby construction.” They continue to hike. They round a corner and Cali runs forward, “I think I heard footsteps.”

“Yeah, I heard them too.”

“Oh seriously, not you too Emerson.”

“No, I’m with them on this one Spence.”

“Jaime seriously? We are four people walking, of course you heard someone, it was us!” Spencer shouts. They continue arguing, as they walk through the woods. “Spence would be either the first or last one to die in a horror movie.”

“I bet first!”

“Jaime’s right, this is how people die in movies.”

“You would die first Cali.”

They keep talking until they come to a tree with a dead bird in it. It’s chest was open and feathers were everywhere. They go quiet as they notice it. Everyone looks at Spencer who smiles, but before he can speak Cali Shouts, “We need to leave! Now! Has anyone else noticed the fog getting thicker? Anyone?”

Spencer interjects, saying that it was probably just a hawk and the fog isn’t that bad. He turns and starts walking, everyone soon following suit. They start to bicker again. The fog eventually gets so bad they can’t see and it is raining hard. Cali announces she is turning back. Jaime tries to stop her to no avail, as a last-ditch effort they point out that this is how people die in movies. Cali storms off nonetheless. They discuss what should occur next and decide to keep going. Just as the cabin is in sight Emerson pauses “was that a scream?”

“Nah, just a bird.”

“You sure?”


“You’re only pretty sure?”

“Let’s hurry up it’s raining really bad now.”

They race down the hill to the cabin, it is a small wood building structurally sound, but not in the best condition. Jaime moves to the door and opens it. They hurry inside and find an old wood stove and some dry wood of various sizes. Just as Emerson closes the door they hear thunder. Spencer lights the stove once they decide to stay the night. They eat their snacks and chat for a bit. Jaime gets a call from their mom asking where they are.

The next day they hurry home looking forward to having breakfast. At lunchtime, Emerson gets a call from Cali’s dad wondering where Cali is. After a quick lunch, Emerson calls the others to meet up. When they get together Emerson explains what was up, and insists they have to go back and look for Cali. They head back up and slowly look around for her. An hour and a half later Spencer shouts, “Hey guys? Come over here!” the rest of the group rushes over to where he stands.

They look over the ledge and see Cali spread out on the ledge below. Emerson Calls the cops while Jaime scrambles down. She is breathing, barely.

A week later the group went to the hospital after school to check on Cali, like they have done every day since the fall. They sit there and tell her about the day at school, things that their classmates did and other things they think she would find funny. After a while, her heart monitor starts beeping faster. She opens her eyes moments later. She’s struggling to talk, but she manages to say that her head really hurts. Two nurses come in to check on her and Spencer calls Cali’s dad. Her dad comes in a half hour later overjoyed to see her conscious.

A month after her recovery they are hanging out at Emerson’s when it starts to rain. She is frightened and moves closer to Spencer. The rain gets heavier and starts to thunder. Cali screams and curls into Spencer’s side. Everyone moves over and tries to comfort her. She is terrified. When it comes time for them to sleep she situates herself in the middle of the group and curls up in a blanket.

She has attacks like that, one every time there is a storm and it only gets worse as time goes on. It gets so bad her dad gets her a therapist. One day she has an attack at the therapist’s office. Her therapist talks her through it, she recovers a little bit. Her therapist concludes that the best course of action would be exposure therapy.

So, when a thunderstorm is next forecast the group gets together to decide whether they should just go camping or go to the cabin. Cali decides that because the cabin has a whole other set of triggers involved they should go there and get it all over with, in one go. They pack their supplies and head out. The rain starts just as they cross the gate. They try to talk as normally as they can. When they get to the point where Cali fell she freezes. The rest stop and ask her what is wrong. She sits down and thinks, whispering every now and again. She decides there isn’t a problem and starts to stand, just then thunder booms through the air. She drops and curls up crying uncontrollably. Emerson goes over to comfort her. After a few minutes, she gets up and wipes her face.

They continue to walk Cali making small squeaks each time they hear thunder. When they get to the corner that had the dead bird Spencer hurries forward to check for anything that may alarm Cali. He sees a dead calf hide torn apart and missing large pieces of its flesh, some crows fly off when they notice him. Before he can react Cali and the others come around the corner. They all freeze and look at her. She looks at the calf and laughs “It was a stillborn the rest was scavengers. I have seen things like this before, I live on a ranch.” They look at her, dumbfounded, “Oh come on guys, the bird from last time was never even a point in my trauma.” She walks past Spencer grabbing his arm and dragging him with her. The rest of the group starts walking.

When thunder next rings out Cali stumbles and clutches Spencer’s arm closer to her. As they continue to walk Cali lets go of Spencer and walks ahead. She slips and falls, everyone rushes to her but she just stands up wipes what mud she can off of her clothes and keeps on going. They crest the hill and spot the cabin. “Well that is underwhelming” Cali laughs shivering.

“Yeah, hurry up though. You’re going to catch hypothermia.” Emerson says half-jokingly. Cali runs down the hill, slipping but not falling, Jaime was not so lucky. She pushes open the door and steps inside. Spencer follows heading straight to the stove lighting it.

“Who is ready for dinner?”