A crack of thunder jolted Fortney Curtis from his sleep. Lightning flashed outside his tent, and the ground seemed to buck beneath him. The storm generated an eerie symphony of light and sound that made him think of ancient Greek gods battling in the sky.
Fort had been through Kansas thunderstorms on campouts before, and they usually passed by quickly. Still, the intensity of this one made him shiver and burrow more deeply into his sleeping bag. He pulled the top over his head, leaving a small opening just big enough so he could see and breathe. A light, refreshing smell caught his attention. He recognized it as ozone, the smell of rain. Or was it actually the smell of lightning?
His father and Mr. Crawford, the Scoutmaster, were probably calmly observing the light show from their own tent, but Fort was sure the six younger Boy Scouts, including his eleven-year-old twin brothers, must be terrified.
The thought of the younger Scouts made his forehead throb. He had promised he would control his temper, but that morning, at the Newton Ranch headquarters, he had lost his cool and slugged one of his little brothers. Fort remembered the flash of anger and disappointment in his father's eyes.
The first chapter of The Brute is available as a PDF file.