by Lauren Brazier
I lay my head back into the hot tub, breathing in the mix of bromine and dew-tipped grass, and relax into the feel of warm water caressing my skin. Bats are doing their sky acrobatics to catch their evening meals and I smile to myself. I knew I needed this escape. Life in this small, converted barn on a farm near Bleddfa is different from the fast-paced city where I used to be. Living on a working farm has its drawbacks, and I often feel I am in the way, but fresh eggs and milk daily from the farmers is wonderful. In the city I was just another number, but here I can be Meredith again.
I come back to reality with the distant hoot of a barn owl, and the gentle, yet cool contrast of rain on my cheeks. I am not leaving the tub any time soon; I'd rather feel warm bubbles on me than chilly rain. But to my right, a cloud catches my eye. It is eerily luminous against the velvet black sky. A cow is making a sad vocal sound – I feel a heavy drag on me. What is happening?
Lightning flashes before my eyes, I could swear it has a red tinge to it, but I don’t have time to think. It strikes the sheep barn up the hill. Flames gallop into the sky. I leap out of the hot tub, and I jump the fence as the adrenaline kicks in. The rain feels like tiny ice daggers against my bare skin, it wasn’t like this a second ago, but I don’t have time to worry, I just need to help put out the fire. As I run across the field I am suddenly stopped in my tracks, as one of the hedges begins to glow. No, it cannot be…