Tornado Relief – Flash Fiction Challenge

Dan O’Shea issued a challenge to write a story with 1000 words or less, the challenging part was that it must somehow include the theme of rain. This is not just an ordinary challenge though, he is offering to pay $5 to the Red Cross for every story written in response to the tornado relief flash fiction challenge. The money will go towards tornado relief efforts.

I agreed to take part in this challenge after finding it a very noble one. Here is my entry:

A Force of Nature

I had heard the warnings that a serious storm was on the way and could hear the rain and hail pelting the roof overhead. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to close the office a little early. I had only opened the firm a week before after deciding to move to the south to escape the harsh New England winters. My newly hired legal secretary had just left when the power went out. I had my keys in hand and was about to lock up. I heard a rumbling outside. I opened the blinds and surveyed the area. The trees were swaying quite extremely and the sky had grown very ominous. I decided it might be best to ride out the storm in the office. After all, I didn’t have anyone to go home to.

I heard what sounded like a freight train rolling by the window and I felt my ears pop unlike they had ever done before.

I slid under my desk and curled up into a foetal position. The whole building began shaking. I heard the walls begin ripping away. The force of the wind yanked me and the desk out through the gaping ceiling. The winds flung me across the street and into a pile of rubble. It then rolled me along the ground like a tumble weed in an old western movie. I must have travelled over fifty feet from where my office used to stand.

I slowly opened my eyes when I regained consciousness. I was relieved it was over as the winds had died down. It had grown remarkably quiet. I looked around and could see other people who worked in my building scattered along the ground. It felt so surreal.

Soon enough I learned that I had been wrong about it being over though. The winds began to pick up again. I got up in agony and looked around for shelter but there was none to be had. I threw myself against a wall of debris and hoped for the best. As the force of the storm pressed down on me my back was impaled with glass and other building fragments. I was on such an adrenaline high at the time that I did not notice.

After a couple of minutes things seemed to ease up again but the heavy rains returned. My suit had been shredded and somehow ripped right off me and except for a pair of boxers I was vulnerable, I didn’t even think about it. I immediately got up and headed in the direction of the cries for help. I tried my best to remove the rubble from on top the man who was no more than a couple feet away from me. Others slowly began to join in the effort.

We finally reached him to reveal his leg had been severed and the entire area around him was covered in blood. A woman wrapped her shirt around what was left of his leg to try to stop the bleeding. I hoisted him up with one arm and another man got on his other side. We followed the group of people ahead of us unsure of where they were actually going. Someone shouted that another storm was on the way and we again scrambled to find shelter. There was a mini mart not far ahead which appeared intact.

I began to feel very unwell and thankful when the shop owners let us inside. We placed the man down on the checkout lane. Some women began to attend to him as I collapsed unto the floor. I began to lose track of time. I shuddered as the freight train passed us by again. I realised several people’s ears were bleeding and reached up to find that mine were too. Someone pulled me further into the back of the store. The demon outside rattled us as if we were caged animals. Fortunately, this cage seemed better built than my office had.

As things quieted down, I drifted off to sleep. I was relieved when an ambulance arrived and a few of us were loaded inside. At the hospital the fragments were removed from my back. Then I was rushed to the operating room as I had some internal bleeding.

When I awoke from the operation rain poured down the window next to my bed. There was a television on and it was reporting on the devastation that had been left by the tornado and severe weather both in the small town I had recently made my home and in other neighboring towns. I could not get over how lucky I was to be alive. It made those New England winters seem like child’s play.


About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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13 Responses to Tornado Relief – Flash Fiction Challenge

  1. steveweddle says:

    Ouch. Friggin ouch.

  2. Nice flash fiction, Billie Jo. You must have been in a storm like that, to be able to describe it so well. Grass is greener…and all that.

    • Thank you! Sandra, I am grateful to say I have never lived through anything like that and hope I never have to. Those New England winters I do know all too well having grown up in New York and will take them any time over the really brutal weather. Although, I am even more spoiled living here in England.

  3. Pingback: The Tornado Relief Flash Fiction Challenge touches down « Going Ballistic

  4. Billie Jo, good showing. A brutal slice of reality there. Closest I’ve been to a tornado is about a mile, while I was driving from Chicago to Cincinnati. The skies darkened and the hail pounded, while the rain was relentless. We along with a couple dozen other motorist took shelter under the nearest overpass. We saw the funnel and were grateful it was so far away and terrified it was so close.

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting Ron. That must have been an absolutely terrifying experience. I can only imagine what it must be like to experience something so powerful and am glad that I never have.

  5. M. Howalt says:

    Very intense story! Good work.

  6. Joyce Juzwik says:

    That was much too real for comfort. What a horrific experience. Makes one grateful for snow drifts blocking the highway–that’s for sure. Well done.

  7. CMStewart says:

    Yikes! Actually makes me thankful for new England winters.

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