Storm Warning - By Kadi Dillon

Chapter One

She was eight years old again. Her biggest worry was what to dress Barbie in for their picnic. She’d had a hard time deciding between the red dress and the green, but ultimately the green had won. Barbie’s blond hair was clumsily braided and swept up in the same style Tory saw her mother wear. Mommy was inside making cheese sandwiches to have with their tea.

Sunday lunch had already been devoured and Tory Fairchild had done her duty without complaining, drying each dish until it shined. Now, she and Barbie sat in the backyard on a pink and white checkered quilt, watching the storm clouds roll in, and waiting for tea time to begin.

She knew it was coming, but she didn’t get up from the blanket. No matter what she did—no matter what she said—it happened anyway. She watched and waited.

“It’s okay,” she assured Barbie as the wind whipped her hair from her face. “That twister is going to suck Mommy and Daddy right up, but it won’t touch us. Don’t worry.”

There was a dull roar somewhere in the trees. It sounded like one of those freight trains they waited forever and ever for at the railroad crossing outside of town.

Her mother came out of the house like a bullet shot out of a gun, pointing to the field. Tory didn’t look this time. She stared hard at her mother, memorizing her pinched features. The twister was here now, she thought, clutching Barbie to her while she trembled. It always came.

The sirens screamed and she covered her ears as she sobbed. It wouldn’t be long now until her parents were taken away. And she would have to watch.

Tory jumped up from where she slept in the front seat of the SUV. Propped on the dashboard, her sneaker clad feet hit the windshield with a thump. Swearing expertly, she righted her chaotic position and sat up. She fought for breath as the tornado sirens continued to ring in her ears.

No, not a dream, she thought disoriented. The sirens were really sounding. Tory swore under her breath and reached into the backseat for her binoculars. She jumped out of the SUV and ran around it to find her team mates struggling to set up equipment.

What time was it? It was dark out, but the lightening was so intense and electric that she could see the ground with every step. She estimated the wind to be at thirty-five miles-per-hour, maybe more.

“Damn it, did everyone fall asleep?” Tory muttered and quickly turned on the radar units. “Where is it located?” she hollered to Frankie Lowe, who manned the radars.

“We’re right behind it. Two miles north-east of us moving at thirty miles per hour. Funnel was spotted and called in to the National Weather Station two minutes ago by another chase team.”

“We got some wicked footage already.”

Tory glanced back at Joel, who was shooting from the back of one of the trucks. “Great. Keep that camera rolling, Joel!”

“Yes ma’am,” he grinned

“Jesus, what time is it?” Tory picked up weather bulletins and scanned them.

“One twenty-three.”

“This cell came out of nowhere, Tory,” Jack—Joel’s twin—said, coming up beside her. “If I hadn’t been up taking a—ah—using the facilities, we would have just now been alerted.”

She nodded. The sirens sounded again, drowning out any conversations they might have needed to have. Fortunately, Tory mused, watching her team handle the equipment and procedures—communication wasn’t needed. Her team was solid.

After eight seasons of chasing storms, she knew without a doubt that she could rely on her team for anything. They’d been through the ringer together—including their latest crisis. It cost a substantial amount of money to chase, and funds were lower than ever. Even with Tory working off-season and saving every penny, the Pirate’s bank account was running on fumes.

The shrill of the sirens died down again. Tory picked her binoculars up and set them on her nose. Any minute now. She bit her lip and waited.

“Where’s my brother?” she asked. “He’s going to want to get this on film.”

“I’m here.” Adam Fairchild dashed around a truck and set his tripod on the ground, anticipation shining like a light in his sleepy eyes. “Let’s do this.”

Moments later, the funnel dipped down and spun furiously. As it descended, it collected more dirt and debris and it grew. Black on black, she thought with a shudder.

The sirens sounded for the third time and Tory watched in amazement. Her heart thudded painfully against her rib cage for the next five minutes as the twister