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Thunder's Day

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The afternoon of May 23rd, 10832 Kimota Avenue, the Whiting residence:

The knife beat a staccato rap against the well-worn cutting board as Alicia chopped a handful of celery stalks into thin half-moons. Next to the board was a plate full of potatoes, tomatoes, okra, and zucchini which had already been sliced and diced, ready for the cooking pot. The boiling water on the stovetop and the knife’s tap-tap-tap obscured some light jazz and loud conversation coming from the next room.

Shandra, Alicia’s mother, pushed the rice pot to the back of the stove with her slender, graceful hands. She looked up and smiled as the dog--a useless ball of long hair only slightly larger than an adult’s foot--suddenly bolted for the front door, yipping at the top of its little lungs.

“Sounds like your brother finally got here,†she announced happily.

The brother in question was Sam, one of the Whiting family’s middle children. He was up for the long weekend, taking a break from the demands of medical school. Tall, lanky, and handsome, he took after his mother’s side of the family. The raucous noises of the rest of the clan greeting him came from the living room.

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Eight hours previously, a warehouse in Greenbank:

Thunderstanding leapt rapidly among the stacked boxes and shelves, lashing out with her fists, elbows, and feet against the horde of gun-toting thugs she’d unexpectedly uncovered in the place. She moved gracefully, using her opponents’ numbers against them, denying them fields of fire as she took them down. In a little over a minute, she whittled thirty goons down to four.

“Give it up, boys,†she commanded, “You can’t take the Thunder.â€Â

Three of them hesitantly started to raise their hands. The fourth screamed and charged her with a large knife in his hand. With a laugh, she jumped straight up and kicked him in the head three times. The force of her blows sent him sprawling on the floor and her flying into an aerial somersault. The muscled heroine landed in a three point stance, her right fist slamming the ground with a spectacular boom as it shattered the cement. Crates bounced about, the stacks shuddered loudly, and the thugs lost their footing.

Standing, a crooked smirk on her lips, Thunderstanding cracked her knuckles. “So, what are you losers doing here?â€Â

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Late afternoon, the Whiting residence:

Eliza’s bright laughter filled the room, riding over the deeper guffaws of the rest of the family. Of all of them, she took after dad the most; shorter, higher-voiced, and pale. She’d left Deadbeat Dave back at the apartment, which happily put that eight-hundred pound gorilla of an issue out of sight and mind. Relaxed and smiling, she was just their Eliza, the pretty one.

Next to her on the well-used brown leather couch sat Josh, the baby. He chuckled and raised a Lowenbrau to his lips. He’d developed a taste for foreign beer at college, an affectation the rest of the family hoped he would outgrow along with his penchant for painting his fingernails black. At least his many tattoos were all strategically placed so as to be hidden by his work clothes.

Suddenly looming across the scene, Mike moved his massive frame to steal the chips back from Sam. “Quit Bogarting the snacks!†he boomed jovially. Well over six feet tall and sporting the stereotypical cop authority belly and crew cut, Mike looked every bit the thug. Sharp as a tack and twice as street smart, he milked that impression for all it was worth.

His wife, Kim, cultivated a different but equally no-nonsense look. Even on relaxed days like today, she had the piercing look of a perfectly coifed bird of prey. A line from an old Cake song always reminded Alicia of her: “Her fingernails shine like justice!†None of the family doubted that she would someday replace her boss, district attorney Dan Durgan.

To Alicia’s left were mom and dad. Tom was a barrel-chested man whose once rock-hard muscles had long since been softened by office life. His kind eyes and easy smile made it easy for Alicia to put aside, though never forget, the hours they’d spent screaming at each other. Shandra was a tall woman with broad shoulders and child-bearing hips. Fiercely proud of her family, she currently stood close to her favorite son.

Sitting easily in the seat of honor--dad’s favorite chair--and handsome enough to star in a soap opera, was Sam. He raised his long-necked beer bottle and proposed a toast. “To family!â€Â

“To family!†replied the chorus. Behind her smile, Alicia ached to punch him in the nose.

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