Midnight In Death Valley

Written By Louisa Mow in Death Valley, CA
As we left Las Vegas, we looked back at the city through the rear view mirror to see the sun sinking below the horizon. The sky was rippling with different hues of deep purples and blues. Dark black clouds hailed in lightning from the gods, which cracked the sky in half. As soon as the lights of the city faded from view, all light was snuffed out and a dense inky blackness enveloped our car. A river of heat hovered above the asphalt and it seemed to melt the world and our souls. We had begun the descent into Death Valley. At midnight, a rusty melted and warped “Welcome to California” sign reflected back into our headlights. The sign marked the beginning of the end. Lightning seemed to strike the sky more and more frequently. Any signs of life, like a small shrub or tumbleweed, seemed to evaporate at the crossing.
We were alive, though, three travelers in a car about to cross one of the most desolate places on earth, in horrifying blackness, during a lightning storm.
The road continued on and our map indicated the delights to come; Furnace Creek, Dante’s View, Badwater Basin, Stovepipe Wells and Hell’s Gate.The cars thermometer hit 50 degrees centigrade and the heat stewed our bones.
As the witching hour continued we finally reached the lowest place in North America. Badwater Basin. There was nothing and there was nobody. Just a vast empty wasteland, and a heat that consumed everything, that left no survivors.
We stopped the car in the middle of the road, deep in the valley, and stepped out onto the cracked, dry, and salty dark grey ground. Forked lightening hit the peaks of mountains in quick succession.If there was a place on earth that was an actual “Mordor” it was here. The wind was burning hot and instantly cracked our lips and settled in our throats.
We could see the lightning was getting closer. It reminded us of its coming with each clap of Thunder. We need to leave quickly. 

The lightening kept creeping in on us and the strikes became so frequent we could see them hit the ground. The sky was beginning to look like a network of veins and capillaries that branched out with each strike, trapping us under her intricate web.
The gravel started to shake as the lightning hit the ground. The radio in our car played creepy music which eerily kept cutting in and out. At the top of the mountain, we watched lightning fall from the sky and strike the ground a few feet from our car and for a moment we were blinded.The smell of burning electricity was so strong it lingered for an hour.
At three in the morning, we finally found a rest stop. We got out of the car to stretch our legs. But something was definitely wrong.

Why was the ground moving?

It was covered - every square inch - with millions and millions of tiny cockroaches, pouring out of small pots and posts in swarms. They were marching in plagues, up and down the street lights and across the ground. Worse still, they had found their way up our legs! Arhgh!
We stomped and shook trying to get them off our bodies and out of our hair. We darted back to our car and drove away as fast as we could and got rid of the stragglers on our windshield with the wipers.
We drove for another hour - 4 am. With a clear horizon surrounding us, we finally parked our car next to a field. 

​We didn't sleep.

We were alive though, three travelers in a car about to cross one of the most desolate places on earth, in horrifying blackness during a lightning storm.