Confession: I wanted to post this story earlier in the fall because... What?! Utah had its very own small tornado whip through the northern town of Ogden. Completely crazy weather for Utah. I was able to write this story, not from my experience with a Utah tornado (which I have none since I'm 45 minutes away from where it happened) but due to my childhood growing up in Iowa, a state fortunate enough to be considered part of tornado alley... and maybe the movie Twister.
Jessie was out feeding the ducks at the pond when the weather turned. One moment the wind was idly blowing her hair, tickling her cheek as the strands fluttered to and fro, and the next she felt like she had been horsewhipped in the face. She captured her hair in her hands and brought it over her shoulder where she could maintain a grip on it while she took in the scene around her.
The weather-vane on top of the barn was dancing wildly in circles. Her father appeared at the shed doors waving his hands in the air. It looked like he was shouting something but Jessie couldn’t hear him as the wind carried his voice away from where she was standing. She looked back over her shoulder and just as she’d feared, the sky was slightly green and the clouds were funneling. Tornado!
She took off running toward the shed but didn’t get very far before she heard a strangled bark coming from the corn fields just up a head. She hesitated for a moment as she looked at her dad, frantically waving her to safety, and then rushed over to the corn field. It took her a few precious seconds to locate where the sound was coming from, with the wind snatching sounds and throwing them every which way, but there was Duke, tangled up in cornstalks and the rope Jessie had used to tie him up earlier. He was so entangled that the rope had him pinned to the cornstalks and he was having a hard time breathing.
“Duke, you crazy dog, what were you thinking? Don’t you know there’s a tornado comin?” Jessie said as she looked hopelessly at the mess of rope and chaff. She chewed her bottom lip, on the verge of tears, as she struggled against the wind that was threatening to carry her away. She couldn’t just leave him here but untangling him would take time she just didn’t have. Suddenly she heard her name being called.
“Josh!” Jessie yelled as she ran out of the corn. “I’m over here.” She waved one of her arms to get his attention, while holding desperately to the stalks of corn.
“Jessie, come on, we don’t have much time. The tornado’s touched down.”
“Duke’s tangled up in the corn and he can’t breath, we can’t leave him out here,” Jessie cried in response.
Josh looked back to where he could see the funnel of the tornado. It was still a half mile off but approaching quickly. He looked at Jessie with a grim expression and then pulled out his pocket knife.
“Over here.” She sagged in relief.
Josh quickly cut the rope that was binding Duke in place. “Come on boy, we have to hurry,” Josh said as he grabbed his sister’s hand and hightailed it out of the corn with Duke on their heels.
The wind had only gotten worse in the few minutes it took to get Duke out of the corn field, and running to the shed reminded Jessie of trying to run in mud. It took so much energy and she just couldn’t go very fast, but Josh helped as he pulled her along. She could see the tornado looming over the barn to her right. They had to get inside the cellar and fast. Her dad was struggling with the door to the shed, trying to have it ready to shut the moment Josh and Jessie made it inside, but the wind suddenly ripped it off its hinges and sent it flying towards Jessie and her brother. Josh dove to the ground, yanking Jessie down with him just as the door skimmed over Jessie’s head. They looked at each other in a panic and then jumped back up, running with all their might to the shed, and Duke keeping right up with them. They reached it just as the tornado picked up the roof of their barn and swallowed it in its giant funnel.
“Into the cellar, NOW!” Her father shouted as they raced down the steps into the damp underground room. They heard the boards that made up the shed start to rattle and shake, just as Jessie’s dad slammed the cellar doors closed and latched them in place.
Jessie sank back against the dirt wall in the darkness, exhausted from the adrenaline rush of getting to the shed. Duke found her in the darkness and laid his head in her lap. They had made it, they were safe. They were all safe.