“There has been a tornado warning issued for the areas surrounding Creston, Ottumwa, Marshalltown, and Iowa City. The warning will stay in effect until 9PM. We encourage everyone to please take sh-” The reporter’s voice was cut off as Carl switched over to an alternative music station.
“That’s really close, Carl.” Jessica bit her lip as she scanned the horizon. The sky was an ominous black green, and the setting sun didn’t provide any comfort.
“Don’t worry about it Jess. It’s only a twenty minute drive home.” Carl put the ‘98 Buick in reverse, and the car shuddered as it reared out of the supercenter.
“Maybe we should stop somewhere closer. We can wait in a fast food place.” Jessica browsed her smartphone, sweat forming on her forehead, searching for whatever was closest. “There’s a burger joint just five minutes from here.”
Annoyed, Carl revved the Buick towards a highway exit, “We’ll be fine Jess! I’ll drive a little faster, okay?”
“Don’t do this.” Jessica stared out the window, searching for any sign of cloudy hooks reaching for the ground.
“Don’t do what?” Carl huffed as he merged onto the highway.
“This – the macho act you put on to impress me.”
“I’m not trying to impress anyone.”
“Like when you picked a fight with the guy ahead of us in the checkout?” Jessica was looking at Carl now, picking at her nails angrily.
“That guy was hitting on you!”
“So? What, did you think I was enjoying it?”
“That’s not it! It’s just – you’re my girl, you know? I wanted to show you I cared enough to fight for you.” Carl glanced over, hoping to see any kind of smile.
Jessica was not happy, “You think you needed to do that? Carl, we’ve been together for two years! Do you really feel that insecure?” Jessica glanced at the horizon again. The wind was picking up, but the rain hadn’t hit yet. The sky was curling black, with sickly green tints wrapping the sky like a bowl.
“It’s not that…” Carl drifted off as he signaled to pass an SUV. “Jessica, we’ve been together for a long time.”
“…and?” Jessica bit her nails, focusing on the way Carl’s mouth tightened.
“It’s just, I feel like we’ve gotten too calm. Like we’ve lost our spark. I wanted to show I cared, so I got really defensive.”
Carl looked over at Jessica, who’s eyes had begun to tear up. Suddenly, however, a shaded form appeared behind her head. It looked like claws and teeth, tearing and eating through fields of corn and earth.
“Oh my god. Jessica.” Carl’s face had gone white, and Jessica turned and began to scream.
“Drive, Carl! For the love of god, drive!” Carl snapped out of his daze, and floored the gas. Carl focused entirely on the road as sheets of hail pounded against the Buick’s metal body. Jessica stared out her window, petrified, as the monster chased them. Its furious hunger peeling a barn into long strips, sucking up every bit of dirt and plant matter it could get its spinning fingers on.
“It’s a tornado, Carl. A real tornado,” said Jessica, her voice shaking and soft with fear.
“I know, baby. It’s okay.” Carl swallowed, his throat dry.
“It’s going to catch us. We’re going to die,” sobbed Jessica.
“We are NOT going to die, Jessica! Snap out of it and tell me how close it is.” It was hard for Carl not to scream, not to cry. Jessica needed him to stay sane, as hard as that was.
Jessica didn’t speak. Instead she shook, and pointed to the back of the car. Stealing a glance in the rear mirror, Carl’s hope swayed the behemoth swallowed everything in its path. It was twice the size of the highway, and very, very close. Maybe five hundred yards.
“Oh shit,” muttered Carl as he pressed the pedal further. The Buick roared, but it was reaching the limits of what the aging engine could do. Eighty was the fastest he’d ever gone in the old bird, and now he was doing ninety-five.
“Carl go faster!” Jessica suddenly screamed as she grabbed Carl’s right arm, pulling the car almost too sharply. Carl barely managed to correct their path.
“Damnit Jessica!” He looked over, briefly, to Jessica’s shattered face. “Shit, I’m sorry for yelling.” Jessica didn’t even react, lost in her memories.
Of course she’d be so terrified, thought Carl, she lost her father and home to a tornado only a year ago.
Suddenly, the car coughed, spat, and died as it continued to roll.
“Damn it!” Screamed Carl. Jessica pulled herself into a ball and shrieked.
In a matter of seconds, the winds tore across the car. Hail, mud, and rocks splintered across the whole body of metal, and the sound of a train’s screeching roar deafened Carl and Jessica’s ears.
The car suddenly felt light, and began to sail through the sky. Screaming, Carl grabbed the steering wheel out of sheer instinct. This can’t be happening, he thought, not like this! Not like this! I’m so sorry, Jessica! With all the strength he could muster, Carl cranked the ignition again and again, until finally the Buick came to life.
I can do this, and with whatever faith he held in his heart, he turned the steering wheel and pumped the gas pedal, while the old metal bird of a Buick spun across the sky – and the car came back under Carl’s control. He was flying the Buick.
Screaming with all his might, in a fit of vengeful anger Carl turned the mighty Buick back towards the shredding monstrosity of a storm. He aimed for the beast’s engorged heart.
“This is for Jessica!” Carl roared as he flicked on the car’s brights and blasted the twisted demon’s belly, carving a massive tunnel of pure light out of the torrent through which he flew the metal battering ram. With a baleful scream, the storm suddenly dissipated, leaving behind a cloud of debris that crashed to the ground.
Gently pressing the brake, Carl brought the Buick to a slow halt on ground. He was tired, weak, and dizzy. He sat for a moment in a daze, processing what had just happened. He looked over to Jessica. Her face was incredulous, as she stared at Carl.
“It’s okay Jessica, it’s gone.” Carl cried as he held Jessica, thankful for whatever miracle he’d just been given.