Before I could register what he was saying, Dan passed out.
He had a huge bloody gash on his forehead. And that would have been bad enough, but an IV stand stuck out of his stomach.
The wound gushed blood no matter what I did and the pipe sticking out his gut would need a miracle.
I tore my t-shirt into a bandage and tied it over the gash. Dan lay crumpled with his hands behind him. I found my knife and cut the restraints. That took care of his arms but there was no way he could stretch out with the IV stand sticking out of him. At that point, I thought he might as well be dead.
Yellow sparks from the overhead light sparked no color in his face, and it remained gray like the storm clouds circling the torn roof. Pieces of ceiling tile and sheet rock covered the floor. I huddled by Dan next to torn insulation, ceiling tiles, bricks, and broken glass.
“What’s that?” I jumped to him.
He whispered gibberish, which I couldn’t understand except for a few pieces. He plainly said “cube” and “weapon protocol.”
The second phrase scared me, but “cube” piqued my curiosity. Where was this cube and could it be a key to the weather machine?
“The cube is the key,” he moaned.
“Key to what?” I wanted to know, yet he was moaning, talking gibberish, and passing out. I doubted he could tell me.
“The weapon protocol!” Dan raised straight up and shouted. I decided he hoped they could hear him through the hole in the ceiling. It was important to him. But for all I knew, Dan was having a bad dream. It reminded me of watching a movie with no 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 the wall away to find us. The short-order cook wiped a dirty hand on his apron.
“We heard a roar and followed a huge funnel,” said Ernest, reaching out his hand. “It came out of the sky, set down, and wiped you out.” The way Earnest described it, the funnel targeted us before ripping up the clinic.
“Nothing else in town is destroyed. The funnel only set down on the clinic and tore it up.”
Earnest reviewed the room.
“Where’s Doc Martin and the sheriff?”
I had forgotten about them. They were here and then they weren’t.
“Likely half-way to Iowa by now,” I mumbled. Earnest gave me a confused frown.
“It sucked them out of the building.” I pointed at the hole and the gray sky.
We were interrupted by the lights of a black 4X4, which lit us up in a yellow wash as the driver raced to a stop. “You hurt?” the driver asked. “What can we do?” He sounded like a pent-up Boy Scout. I shrugged my shoulders.
I recognized the driver and his passenger as a couple linebackers from the high school football team. They always wore their Letterman jackets and pranced around the diner after school.
“The sheriff’s gone,” Earnest called out.
“Where did he go?” the driver peered through the broken window.
“He went that way.” I pointed north in the direction the tornado carrying the sheriff, the deputy, and the doctor went.
“We’ll go get him.” And before I could tell them about how the funnel cloud had sucked all three men from the clinic, the driver punched it into reverse and tore away.
“I suppose somebody should fetch them,” I stuttered.
Thinking about all that happened, I realized we had bigger problems to deal with. My brother Dan was dying, again, and I didn’t really know what to do about it.
“The flag burner is bleeding good,” announced Sally, who sneaked by when I looked away. She had lost the gum, so I had no way of knowing she was near. She had a worried frown and touched Dan’s face. “We need to do something.”
“We’ve got ice and a first-aid kit at the diner,” Ernest disclosed. “You will find a bunch of civil defense stuff in our storm shelter.”
Charlie crawled over the debris and shook my hand.
“Did you have a good nap?”
“Well, I was doing good until all this ruckus.”
My brother, who I was now thought of as the weatherman, moaned again. He tried to rise but the IV stand kept him pinned to the floor. He groaned and placed a hand on the bleeding cut, pulled back a red hand, and fainted.
“We need to move him inside and find a doctor.” I gestured forCharlie to help me carry him out of the clinic and over to the diner. A crowd shuffled around us and some men offered to help carry Dan.
Four men carried Dan like he was in a coffin while two others struggled to keep the IV stand from hitting the ground. They failed, and each time the stand struck the ground, my brother wiggled out of the hands of the four carrying him. And did he scream. This went on a few times until the weatherman passed out again.
Ernest and I looked at the rubble of the clinic.
“We will need a new clinic,” he contemplated. I stared at the rubble and the storm clouds floating away. “And a new doctor,” I added.
Inside the diner, the men dropped my brother on a table. He still had the IV stand sticking out of him and it was bleeding even more. They propped the stand beside him and a group of ladies stood around whispering. Sally found a pair of scissors, a pile of cloth linens, a tablecloth, and some tape from the first-aid kit.
“Go on. I found the first-aid supplies.” Sally turned to the other women in the room. “You do something.” The women stared at Sally like she was asking them to strip off their clothes. Finally, one of them picked up the gauze.
I thought Dan was nearly dead, and before he passed out again or died, I needed to figure this out. With the women doctoring him, I grabbed two mugs, filled them with coffee, and found a corner booth to talk with Charlie.
“I was trying to talk to him when the storm hit.” I poured enough sugar in the mug to make syrup.
“I caught it all from the alley,” added Charlie. “A fierce, dark funnel cloud pounced on the medical clinic. Tore it up in pieces. Then it vanished and left a pile of rocks.”
“After the storm, he told me the Air Force wants him dead.”
“Because he knows how they turn weather into a weapon.” I could tell Charlie was trying not to laugh. He smiled at me with skepticism and I barely believed what I was saying.
A weather radio warned us of another impending tornado. “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,” urged Charlie.
“There 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 had better shelters to hide in. This left me, Charlie, Ernest, Sally, Dan, and two grandmas who I thought needed me to carry them down.
“Can you two manage?” I reached out to help.
“Don’t worry about us,” one of the grandma’s said. “We can move when we need to.”
Part One – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Two – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Three – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Four – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Five – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Six – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Seven – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Eight – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Nine – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
— wordsmithholler (@wordsmithholler) July 11, 2018
© 2018 – 2019, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.
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