Before I could register the news, Dan passed out. Part of an IV stand stuck out of his stomach and blood trickled out of a large gash on his head. I could find nothing to stop the flow of blood and the pipe sticking out his gut would need a miracle.
I tore my t-shirt to make a bandage and tied it over the gash. He lay crumpled in the chair and so I found my knife and cut the restraints. But there was no way he could stretch out and the guy might as well be dead. Yellow sparks from the overhead light failed to color his face so it remained gray like the storm clouds circling outside.
Pieces of the building covered the floor. All around us torn insulation, ceiling tiles, bricks, and broken glass.
He started whispering gibberish. Most of it I couldn’t make out except for a few pieces. He plainly said “the cube” and he kept mentioning “weapon protocol.” The second phrase scared me, but “the cube” piqued my curiosity. What if it could stop all of this craziness?
“The cube is the key.”
“Key to what?” I wanted to know, yet I doubted he would be able to tell me.
“The weapon protocol!” There was that again. Clearly the guy was having a bad dream. It was like watching a movie without sound: you can see the action and still not know what is going on.
Scuffing sounds came from the front of the clinic and Earnest tossed part of a wall away to find us. The short order cook wiped a dirty hand on his apron.
“We heard a roar and saw a huge funnel,” said Ernest. “It came out of the sky, set down, and wiped you out.” The way he described it, the funnel targeted us before ripping up the clinic.
“Nothing else in town is damaged. The funnel only set down on the clinic and tore it up.” Earnest looked around the room. “Where’s Doc Martin and the sheriff?”
I had forgotten about them.
“Probably half-way to Iowa by now.” Earnest gave me a confused look.
“They were sucked out of the building.”
The lights of a black 4X4 lit us up as the driver raced to a stop. “You hurt?” he shouted. “What can we do?” I recognized him and his friend as a couple linebackers from the high school football team.
“The sheriff’s gone,” yelled Earnest.
“Where did he go?”
“He went that way.” I pointed north in the direction the sheriff, the deputy, and the doctor flew.
“Will go get him.” And before I could tell them all three men were taken by the funnel cloud, the driver punched it into reverse and tore away.
“I suppose somebody should go look for them.”
We had bigger problems to deal with. “The weatherman is bleeding pretty good. We need to do something.”
“We’ve got ice and a first-aid kit at the diner,” said Ernest. “There’s also a bunch of civil defense stuff in our storm shelter.”
Charlie crawled over the debris as my brother, who I was now calling the weatherman, started to moan again. He tried to jump up but the IV stand kept him on the ground. He groaned and placed a hand on the bleeding cut, pulled back a bloody hand, and fainted.
“We need to get him inside and away from here.” I motioned for Charlie to help me carry him. A large crowd began to shuffle past toward the diner and the men offered to help carry the man. Four carried him like he was in a coffin while two others struggled to keep the IV stand from hitting the ground. They failed and the stand hit the ground. The guy nearly wiggled out of the hands of the four carrying him until he passed out again.
Ernest and I looked at the rubble. “We’re going to need a new clinic,” he said.
“And a doctor.”
Inside the diner, the men dropped my brother on a table. He still had the IV stand sticking out of him. They propped it up beside him and a group of ladies stood around him whispering. Sally found a pair of scissors, a pile of cloth linens, a tablecloth, and some tape from the first-aid kit. She dropped them on the table.
“Go on. I found the first-aid supplies. You do something.” The women stared at Sally. Finally, one of them picked up the gauze.
Dan really didn’t look very good and I needed to figure this out. I grabbed two mugs, filled them with coffee, and found a corner booth to talk things over with Charlie.
“I was trying to talk to him when the storm hit.”
“I saw it all from the alley,” said Charlie. “A fierce, dark funnel cloud pounced on the medical clinic. Then it vanished and left a pile of rocks.”
“After the storm, he told me the army wants him dead.”
“Because he knows how to make weather into a weapon.” Charlie looked at me with skepticism and I barely believed what I was saying.
A weather radio began warning the diner. “The national weather service in Springfield has issued a Tornado Warning for Reno County in central Kansas until 10 pm central time.”
“A tornado warning means we need to take cover,” said Charlie.
“Where is your shelter?” Sally pointed to the floor in the center of the diner.
Men and women rushed out of the diner and I guess they decided to race to their own shelters. This left me, Charlie, Ernest, Sally, the weatherman, and two grandmas who looked like they needed us to carry them down.
“Can you two manage?”
“Don’t worry about us,” one of the grandma’s said. “We can move when we need to.”
(to be continued)
— wordsmithholler (@wordsmithholler) July 11, 2018
© 2018 – 2019, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.
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