Thursday, June 11, 2009

fiction: A Hole In the Sky: part 4

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Finally Matt's warning registered on the furious J.C. and he looked out the windshield. "Are you sure?"

On the radio, deputy Preason was shouting over the wind, "... again, Frank. Did you say that the tornado has reversed direction?"

"Yeah, it's coming right for you and that other SUV," the voice from the helicopter said, "I'd get my tail out of there if I were you."

J.C. put the Scout into reverse and hit the accelerator, bouncing everyone violently in their seats.

"Slow down, Julius." his wife said crossly, "It only goes ten miles an hour, remember?" She tried to resume typing but the vehicle was bouncing too much.

"Yeah, but it pulverizes stuff!" J.C. had to shout as the howling grew louder. His high-speed reverse had the Scout bouncing so hard that he was barely in control of the vehicle.

"Get off the track!" Matt yelled a few moments later, "It's gaining on us!"

"Snap out of it, Matt!" Katrina yelled back at him, barely holding onto her notebook in the bouncing seat. "You have been on the edge of panic all day! Storms do not follow any track!"

She slammed her notebook shut for emphasis, but it was lost on Matt who was busy watching through the windshield as the dust cloud overtook them and enveloped the vehicle. The two who were not madly driving raised their windows as the dust began pouring in and Matt used his passenger-side control to raise J.C.'s window.

The windows dampened the wailing winds enough for them to hear the helicopter pilot again. He was shouting also, "I think it's going a lot faster than twelve miles per hour. That civilian SUV looks like a goner."

"This isn't a normal storm," Matt told J.C. earnestly, trying to hold on to his bouncing seat with his hands. "It was traveling a straight path before and our only hope is if we guess right that it is traveling a straight path now. Get out of this rut."

J.C. was looking over his should, backing up a fast as he could. With a quick glance at Matt he steered hard and they were suddenly careening to the left nearly up on two wheels. The Scout was built for stability, but the rear wheel that was nearly off the ground hit a boulder at just the wrong height and just the wrong time. The Scout tumbled, crashed onto its right side and rolled upside down for half a turn, finally coming to rest on its left side.

The three of them sat in shock for a moment with J.C. and Matt staring up through the moon roof at the onrushing storm.

Katrina screamed, "I told you to stay in the path..."

The radio was screaming as well, "... SUV has rolled and the storm is quickly overtaking it..."

J.C. was retracting the hydraulic suspension with one hand and opening the moon roof with the other. "We have to get out and rock it back up!" He shouted. They all felt a sudden pain in their ears from pressure change. Matt stared at him for a moment, thinking that they had nowhere near enough time for such an operation, but when J.C started unlatching his seat belt, Matt did also. "Come on!" J.C. shouted, retracting the steering wheel to give him room as Matt tried to squeeze out the small opening without falling down onto J.C. Then they felt the Scout begin to spin slowly on the ground and J.C. paused, beginning to realize how short their time was. When the vehicle started to scrape across the torn clay, both men gave up on the idea and started trying to buckle themselves back in.

"This is a heavy vehicle," J.C. gasped, tugging at his seatbelt. They skidded ever faster along the ground. "Now that we are on the ground we may be ..."

He stopped as the Scout hit something and flipped. Both men clicked their belts just before they would have been thrown from their seats. The Scout tumbled a couple of more times and they all felt a sinking feeling as it became airborne. There was a confusing set of sense impressions: the howling of the wind, the banging and pinging from objects hitting metal, the cracking sound of rocks hitting glass, the cloud of choking dust filling the interior, the gravel and rocks pelting them through the open moon roof. Then they were spinning violently, but only for a short time. And then they were falling, and that seemed to go on forever.

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