01 Feb Tales from a Rookie Storm Chaser Part 10
When I came to, the first thing I heard was the howl of the storm.
Wind pressed against my face as I carefully opened my eyes, then I saw the damage that had been done.
We were upside down. Natalie was dangling with her seatbelt on. Glass was scattered all across the roof along with everything else we had carried with us. Jim was injured but breathing, blood gushing from his side as he pulled out a piece of shrapnel and checked on his boss.
“Paul, are you okay? Paul?” Laschar said as he checked the old man’s pulse and head. “He’s unconscious,” he muttered. I crawled slowly across the broken glass to where Natalie was at. The whole front window was busted open and more dust and debris was being pushed in toward us by the second.
Out across the train yard I saw the tornado continuing to wreck havoc, smashing up stray train cars and sending them flying in every direction. Besides that, there was the threat of the creatures themselves; and while I lay there trying to get my breath back I counted at least half a dozen.
They were skittering about the tops of the long metallic trailers, shrieking in the air and searching. Searching for us.
“Are you okay?” I asked Natalie as she opened her eyes slowly.
“I think I’ll make it,” she muttered as I helped her unbuckle and slowly crawl down to the roof of the camper. “We need to get somewhere safe,” I told Jim as I scanned the train yard again.
“How about that?” I was pointing toward a large metallic building that looked like it was used as a switch station for some of the tracks.
“It’s better than nothing,” he agreed as he pushed the heavy equipment out of the way and gently pulled Paul up to a sitting position.
“Jesus, he’s heavy… I don’t think I can lift him alone,” Jim said. “You’re also injured,” I pointed out as I turned my head toward Natalie and muttered, “Do you think you could help?”
She nodded and got her breath back, helping pull Kearny toward one of the side doors on the camper and kicking it open. Wind pushed her hair in her face and Natalie looked toward the twister.
“Do you think it will come back for us?” she asked nervously as Jim held the door open.
“If we make a run for it, we might make it,” Laschar remarked, crawling out of the door and against the side of the vehicle.
Natalie and I were next. We each took hold of one of Paul’s arms and dragged him out toward the pavement. The gash on his head looked deep, and I worried that the stress we were putting on his body might do even more damage; but we had little choice left.
Natalie laid him down on the ground to catch her breath as Jim clutched his side. Then from above us we heard a low growl. One of the creature’s was moving about near the tires that still spun wildly in the air.
“Don’t move…” I whispered as we hunkered against the side of the trailer. If these things were blind then there might be a chance that it wouldn’t know we were here, I reasoned as we listened to it claw at the metal underbelly of the camper.
Another creature scurried just out of our view in-between two train cars and made a low howling noise, it sounded like it was a call of some kind. Then the one above us flew off toward the tornado as we watched. Even from this distance it was hard to look directly at the storm, the blinding light it would cast causing me to keep my eyes down.
“Let’s go,” Natalie said as she hunched down and placed Paul’s arm over her shoulder. I did the same on the opposite side of him and we lifted up together, his dead weight making it nearly impossible for us to even move at all.
Together we moved as one across the train yard, Jim kept his back toward us and held the minuscule flare gun tight to his body but so far the creatures didn’t seem to be paying us any mind.
That changed a moment later. Something like a blaring horn sounded out across the sky.
The funnel started to push back up and the creatures made their way into it as it disappeared from sight. Then the rain began to fall. The second it hit my neck with it’s burning power I let out a cry and nearly let go of Paul.
“Shit!” Jim shouted as he tried to cover his head and started picking up speed.
Then from the downpour came something large. I was having a hard time making sure I didn’t trip over my own feet as Natalie and I followed Laschar toward the master switchboard, but from what I could tell it was at least three times as large as the monsters we had dealt with before.
The burning rain was almost enough to make me want to give up, but we finally made it inside the metallic structure and I laid Paul down, checking him for wounds as well.
“Shit. How the hell we gonna get out of this?“
“The storm can’t last forever right…? I mean, it’ll move on,” Natalie reasoned. Laschar didn’t seem too sure but he was so exhausted that he didn’t argue with her.
From the entrance we saw the rain get harder and more intense. The train cars we had just ran past were now barely visible in the downpour.
But something else was. It stood above the train cars like a beast out of ancient mythology, slowly prowling the train yard with low guttural sounds. I could barely make out the outline of the beast but it was enough to send a shiver down my spine. Then it turned its enormous head toward us, six rows of eyes glowing in the rainstorm; and let out a deafening screech.
“Keep moving,” Jim told us gesturing toward one of the old rail cars.
I didn’t have to be told twice. Natalie was out of breath and hurting but she pulled it together to get Mister Kearny inside the rail car. The creature was moving toward the wide mouth of the structure. I saw long tendrils gaping from its mouth just as Jim slammed the door shut.
“Is this going to keep it out..?” Natalie whimpered as we listened to it move about the station. I listened as it pushed aside train cars with its long legs like nothing. In the tiny slots that were cut into the train car I could see its scaly back zooming by. Was it hunting for us?
The rail car jostled for a moment and shook, and the three of us fell to the floor and hunkered down. It could be on us at any second.
Then, after what seemed like an eternity, the creature let out another noise and pushed its way out the back. We waited another three minutes and then finally relaxed.
I moved to check Jim’s wounds, frowning as I realized that it was more severe than I realized.
“You’ve lost a lot of blood,” I muttered as I gave him my coat to press against his side.
“I’ll be fine,” he said as he slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out the flash drive. “What matters is we kept this safe.”
The rain kept pelting against the roof as we stayed there, listening to the creature search the yard. Finally Natalie muttered, “How are we going to get out of here?”
Jim was in and out of consciousness from the blood loss but still trying his best to give us answers.
“If… ya get my laptop, we can patch this back to home base and send a message… for help,” he muttered passing me the flash drive.
“I can’t go out in the storm,” I objected and then added, “*Lets wait and see if it passes through.”
I looked down at his wound again and wondered if the way he was bleeding he would even have that long. He needed medical attention.
As he slipped into unconsciousness again, I pushed the rail car door open and climbed out to the station floor.
“Where are you going?” Natalie asked nervously.
“To find a first aid kit, keep this door closed until I get back.“
It was eerily quiet as I moved toward the side of the switch station, nothing besides the sound of the rain and the occasional burst of thunder. What were the creatures doing, I wondered as I pushed open the door to an old control room.
A few moments later, I found what I was looking for and smashed the glass to reach the kit. There was some gauze and some needle and thread and a few other tools to help me sew up Jim.
Then I froze. Somewhere behind me, I heard the sound of footsteps on the stairwell. I kept the kit close to my body and barely craned my head out to take a look. One of the blind creatures was crawling up the railing, and just as it opened its mouth to smell again, I realized it had detected my presence.
I ran. I ran faster than I think I ever have. I pushed right past the creature in those split seconds before it had a chance to react and then leapt down to the station floor.
It turned about, made a loud scream and jumped toward me.
I was at least 19 yards from the rail car. The monster was moving faster than any Olympic athlete. I knew it would be on me in a matter of seconds.
The door slid open and Jim was standing there, holding the final flare. “Get down boy!” he shouted. I dodged out of the way as the creature came barreling.
Jim took a step out to fire, but suddenly pain in his side made him cripple over. In a second the creature was on top of him and the gun fell to the floor with a soft skitter.
Rearing it’s head back, the monster dug it’s pincers into Jim’s chest, slashing opening his skin like paper. Laschar screamed and tried to reach for the gun.
I was closer. I got up, grabbed the weapon and pointed it toward the beast. It fired and hit it in the lower torso and for a brief moment it kept ripping into Jim before the flare finally went off and it fell backward with the explosion.
“Shit,” I ran to Laschar’s side and looked at his new wounds. They were deep. Far too great for me to treat with a mere needle and thread.
Natalie panned her head out to look and covered her mouth in shock. Then she crumpled down and began to cry.
“We’re never going to make it out of here,” she said nervously. Jim was gasping for breath, some of the cuts had hit his lungs and he knew that it wouldn’t be long. He grasped my arm and made me look him in the eye.
“Dillion. When it happens… make it quick..”
I stayed by his side as he kept bleeding out, struggling for air.
Then he was gone and the station was silent once more. Nothing else filled the air except another rumble of thunder.