It started in the distance and intensified—a vibration like a bass guitar turned up really loud. The vibration amplified to a roar, like a jet flying low overhead, or a fast-moving train. Suddenly, he knew what he was hearing. His mind screamed at him to run and take cover somewhere, anywhere, but fear held him like a straightjacket. His insides seemed to melt. He couldn’t move or scream.
The roar grew deeper and louder until it rumbled through the earth under him and resonated through his bones. Over the deep roar he could hear a high-pitched howling wind that tore at his ears until his teeth ached. In his mind he could see a giant, rotating funnel bearing down on him in the darkness.
The tent snapped from side to side then collapsed. The shrieking wind pummeled Fort through the thin nylon canvas. As the flattened tent flipped over, it hurled him up and then dropped him to the ground, pounding the wind out of him. He heard Billy scream. Before Fort could reach for him, the tent began to roll, and they tumbled helplessly inside it.
Fort’s stomach ached as the tent fabric plastered against his face, suffocating him. Gasping and clawing at the canvas, he could feel himself being propelled upward with incredible speed. He tried to scream, but he made no sound. He tried to reach out to find Billy, but his arms wouldn’t move. He plunged downward, then up, rolling and spinning over and over again.
Then everything slowed. He could still hear the powerful, rushing roar, but it seemed farther away. The tent fabric loosened its clinging hold on his face and body, and he could breathe again. The canvas fluttered and flapped. He stretched his arms and legs, feeling weightless, like an astronaut floating freely in a space capsule. For a split second, time and motion stopped—a carefree sensation, so different from the horror of moments earlier.
In an instant, the sensation of weightlessness evaporated. He was falling. His stomach seemed to hang in his mouth with that horrible roller-coaster sensation. He screamed, arms thrashing, grasping for something to stop the fall. He felt Billy, still wrapped in his bag, and clutched the boy to his chest. In a flash, he imagined both of them on the ground, dead, a bloody pile of broken bones and guts splattered around the inside of the tent. It would be a sad, gory end to their young lives.
Then something solid whacked Fort’s back with the force of a baseball bat. He tumbled head over heels as he was hit repeatedly. The tent bounced up, then sideways, then down again. Something dense and hard pounded his side. Again, he fell and was stabbed by dozens of sticks jabbing at him through the tent. He tumbled sideways onto more poking sticks. He rolled and fell again, with a crushing thud. Solid ground.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish