I watched the clouds roll in through the window. It was ten at night. Couldn't get much darker. But it did. They started to roll in slowly, until they covered my entire view. A flash of lightning lit up the pitch darkness. A loud bang of thunder followed. Then the rain started to pour down. It came down in buckets, soaking the already flooded fields. I was the only one left in the house, and needed a companion to pass the night with. Sleep, obviously, could not have been that companion. Thunderstorms and I didn't get along well.
I found the power button on the remote with my finger. A light from the TV came forth out of the darkness, casting an eerie glow throughout the entire house. Speaking of the house, it was desolate. My parents went to bed at eight, my sister went to bed at nine. Nobody was up to console me. Except for Ed Wilson. He talked quickly on the television screen, in his background the state of Iowa. I lived in the middle of the state. West Des Moines. West of Des Moines. A system had been zoomed in close. Blue lined the outsides, yellow the middle, and red dotted the center. The system was sixty miles below us, one million miles too few. I watched Wilson talk for awhile. "As you can see, the system is moving to the north on Highway 34 at 40 miles per hour. Anybody in the areas of Canton and Prescott need to be taking shelter. A tornado has been spotted by our storm spotters on the ground, one fourth of a mile wide. Now, the tornado is rain-wrapped, very difficult to see in the night. If you have any loved ones in the area, please call them on their cell phones immediately and tell them to take shelter."
During his broadcast, the Stanley Cup was taking place. I was disappointed, but I figured saving a couple lives was more important than witnessing the end of a hockey game. I decided to go to bed, but couldn't. I just couldn't sleep while storms brewed outside. I picked up my book, The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury, and began to read. I had read sixty pages when a loud siren some two or three miles away sounded. I immediately dropped the book, looking desperately for Wilson. There he was on the screen, right where I left him, waving his fingers in circles and squares. Instead of waving his circles sixty miles below me, however, he drew them about two miles below me. Another system had popped up, even larger than the one he described earlier.
I ran hurriedly back to my parents bedroom to wake them up, but they were already awake and squinting at the bright light I turned on. Luckily, our house had a basement, so we had a place to take shelter. We rushed downstairs without turning the TV off, but I grabbed our radio in case we needed to hear any more updates. The designated shelter area was nice and cozy, and I felt safe from the horrible conditions and strong winds outside. The sirens continued to blaze through the night.
That was when I realized I forgot something. It plagued my conscience until I finally knew what it was. My sister Beth. Asleep in her bed, a bed located next to several large, sharp windows. I bolted out of the shelter, ignoring objections from my parents, who were oblivious to my sister's absence. Upstairs, I could feel the winds rattling the foundations our house was built on. I was frightened out of my mind; frightened that at any moment a torrent of wind would engulf my house, pulling me and my entire family up into the heavens, only to fall back down to our deaths later, or to be hit by some flying piano or some flying car. Not the way most people want to die, from a flying piano. I hurried to her room on the second floor. I slammed the door open. It collided with the wall, a sound loud enough to wake any normal person. She snored on, forcing me to shake and shake and shake until her eyelids slowly lifted.
"Beth, we need to get down into the shelter. There's a tornado a mile south of us and coming this way," I informed.
Dreary from sleep, she responded, "I'm going back to bed."
"No, we have to get down into shelter!"
To this day I don't think she understood me, but sensing the urgency in my voice, she reluctantly dragged herself up from the comfortable death bed.
I made it back into the shelter just in time. A loud, gut-wrenching noise overpowered everything else: The radio, the sirens, my mom's voice. I pictured freight trains colliding together, airplanes crashing into the ground, tidal waves ten thousand feet high breaking over our house. Beth screamed in the background and covered her ears. I was always a little frightened of tornadoes, but when the moment arrived, I went into a zone. Though I was caught between two trains colliding, trapped under a colossal tidal wave, in a crashing airplane, the fear receded, replaced by a newfound courage and tolerance for the present. The wind tore over my house and hundreds more in its immense quarter mile wake. As humans, we often think we're in situations that no one else will ever experience or ever has experienced, when really, thousands are going through the same dire straits we are going through. I wasn't lifted miles into the air, wasn't hit by a flying piano, wasn't flung to my premature death. The agony of those few seconds passed, and I thanked my lucky stars for our good fortune. Sighing, I climbed our stairs. "Thank god that's over," I said.
I looked to the east. "Where is Bob's house?"