I’ve never felt so landlocked. The earth is dry and cracked, baked hard and brutally resisting our tent pegs. The air is dry and still, drawing moisture from my eyes and skin to satiate its eternal thirst. My face is dry and red, sunburned already despite my best intentions. My feet fall heavy – heavier than usual in their steel-adorned boots – as we trudge through the farmyard toward the stage that will be the center of our world for the next three days. As the first wail of electric guitar splits the air, a surge of excitement shakes its way through my sluggish veins. Drought or not, it is time to transcend.
2. “Didn’t you see it?” I ask, shouting over the gravelly, growling mess of doom metal dominating the night air. The whole sky was briefly torn down the middle, a purple bruise emerging from a jagged streak of a scar, and then gone again. He shakes his head, “I think you’re mistaken,” he says, “Perhaps it was the stage lights reflected on the clouds.” Before he can elucidate further, a second spike of stark white spiders across the sky, leaving violet in its wake. I grin a “told-you-so” grin. The music gathers pace.
3. The copper-scent that excites the air grows stronger and tainted with blood. Flat on my back in our two-person tent, I feel like my skull is becoming a vacuum, the pressure centered between my eyes. Two thin plastic sheets are all that separate me from the raging storm above, though the lashing rain is doing its best to combat even that, squeezing between the teeth of zips and seeping up through the ground beneath us. We stopped counting the seconds between light and sound when the flashes started strobing through the tent walls, crashes running parallel. Instead I recite scattered childhood prayers to the rhythmless pounding of rain.
4. Rain falls lighter now, like slow-motion strands of tinsel in the silver of upturned spotlights. “This is the last song of the festival”, says the immaculate goddess onstage. My shoes still soaked from the night before, my hair a three-day tangled mess and my body aching from days of dancing, I feel like a different species to her. Still, if we are reduced to animals, primal instinct will carry us through. Clasping hands, we move to the edge of the widening pit. The music begins and we run, screaming, losing ourselves in the fray. In time the initial berserker fury gives way to a purer excitement, the music moves me, I dart and skip through the sea of limbs, occasionally catching sight of his wild-eyed grin as he flies past. We find one another as the final chords play out, cling together like survivors, the fire of inspiration burning bright through the flood.