Steven mused to himself, staring out the window of the classroom at the darkening skies. Thunderstorm warning. Tornado watch. The National Weather Service blared their sirens over TV and radio for days. Steven loved to emulate the robotic voice.
“THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING COUNTIES… IN INDIANA… BOONE… CLINTON… HAMILTON… HANCOCK… HENDRICKS…” and on and on. A spellbinding voice, for sure.
The skies were darker than Steven had seen for a while, and only God knew why classes were still in session. There was supposed to be a very good chance of a tornado that day.
As Steven continued to stare out the glass pane at the churning clouds, he noticed something for a fleeting second that frightened him. There. In the distance.
The clouds kept spiraling, purple and black, thunder booming, an absence of lightning. They came closer to earth. They came closer to the school.
The teacher yelled at him. “Get away from the window! Get in your safety positions! Come on!”
Steven was mesmerized by the tornado forming in front of him. It grew louder and started spinning faster. Nearby clouds with nothing better to do decided to join the fracas. Purple. Black. Boom. BOOM. BOOM!
The tornado showed no signs of stopping. Frantic children ran every which way but the way they were supposed to as directed by tornado drills. The swirling mass of angry cloud kept moving closer and spinning faster, tearing up debris without bothering to replace its divots. Dust billowed. The noise became unbearable. The brick wall began shaking, steady at first, growing to a rising crescendo of noise and jitters.
Every pane of glass shattered at once.
Steven remained fixed in his seat, unable to move. The classroom was almost completely empty; the teacher long gone, leaving the remaining children to fend for themselves.
The tornado was headed straight for him.
Steven sat there and braced himself as the tornado plowed through the brick wall like rice paper, twisting the steel of window frames and air conditioning units in a screaming, awful outcry. He shut his eyes as boiling purple rage slammed into him.
Steven awoke, laying facedown in a forest. The grass tickled his nose and he sniffed and scratched at it as he sat up. Allergies.
“Where am I?”
He couldn’t tell if he was flung by the tornado, or it was all a dream or wild imagining… Where was he? What had happened? Wasn’t he a kid? He wasn’t a kid. He reached up and felt his face. Beard. Definitely not a child. But it felt so real…
He was on his feet now, trying to balance. His legs gave him the impression he hadn’t walked in a while. He turned and walked deeper into the forest, searching for answers…