Romanese Fallracce was struck by lightning in the early hours of June 13th in the year of the Violent Unknown Event.
Fallracce, singer, arborealist, community organiser, spent most summer weekends with her husband and two sons, camping in and around the Black Forest. On the evening of the VUE, the Fallracces had pitched two tents at an approved camping site near Villingen. After a quarrel with her husband, Romanese slept in the family car, and at about six o'clock in the morning, she was woken by rain drumming on the car roof. To loosen the guy-ropes on her sons' tent, Romanese left the car and was struck by lightning. Onlookers said that for five seconds or more, Romanese's scarlet anorak appeared to shine brightly as though illuminated from inside. Romanese then fell into a sitting position, and finally flopped over into the drenched pine-needles. The pattern fabric of her underclothes was stencilled in burn marks onto her body and the metal clasps of her brassiere had melted and spattered small burn marks down her back. She was rushed to an emergency casualty department at Freiburg where she recovered consciousness to find herself listed as a victim of the Violent Unknown Event. A Freiburg newspaper singled Romanese out as a special victim of the VUE and Romanese herself did little to put the record straight. She grew to believe that it had been the very essence of the VUE that had struck her. She became a Bavarian celebrity.
With her husband and her two sons, and a growing band of well-wishers and adherents, Romanese visited the site of her lightning strike every June 13th. Six years after the event she was still being introduced at VUE functions as the woman who was struck by VUE lightning. The VUE victims in her audience took a certain amount of comfort from seeing Romanese naked to the waist standing on a rostrum talking confidently about her experiences. They could believe that the VUE was comprehensible as an electric shock, random in its choice of victim, arbitrary in the scale of damage it could commit and bizarre it its peripheral effects. They were conveniently, if erroneously, reminded that lightning was supposed never to strike the same place twice. By Romanese's example, they were thus immune from future disaster. There was the explanation of the VUE's immortality characteristic, to be immortal was synonymous with being immune to lightning-strike.
The mild idolatry accorded to Romanese was encouraged by her husband. Her sons were less convinced. Especially when their mother began to develop symptoms like a loss of memory and outbreaks of uncontrollable grief that shook her body and dangerously lowered her temperature.
Last year Romanese's name was officially entered in the VUE Directory, and she was classified as a middle-aged female woman speaking Candoese and suffering from intermittent nervous collapse and involuntary hypothermia. She refused to visit the site of her lightning-strike, though her sons occasionally made the pilgrimage. The rapid growth of the conifers and the cutting of new firebreaks have increasingly made the local geography unfamiliar.
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