Twist of Faith
Chapter One ~
Faith ran as the huge monster roared and twisted toward her, gaining ground on her short frame. The house she'd abandoned was bursting forth at the seams, pieces of wood splintering and flying past her as she ran. Some siding blew over her as she tried to escape, just narrowly missing her head. Her long, dark hair whipped around her face, making the already low visibility almost nil. Tears rained down her face as she prayed, “Dear Lord, save me.” She took in a deep breath as renewed strength washed through her. She sped up and turned right, just making out the handle of the storm cellar. She laughed in relief as she reached it and saw her dad opening the door. Her Chihuahua, Scooby, raced ahead of her and jumped into Arnold Mays' waiting arms.
The door closed above her and she collapsed on the cool, damp floor, trying to catch her breath. "That was a close call. Dad, it got the house.” She braced herself for what would come next, knowing he would be devastated.
Her dad walked over and sat down, not responding to her news. His attention was on the video recorder in her hands. "That’s a huge twister. How big do you think it is?" He took off his baseball cap and scratched at the shock of matted, white hair.
“Did you hear me?” Her heart sped-up. This isn’t like him.
There was a pregnant pause, and then, “Yes I heard, I just don’t want to acknowledge it right now. Can you replay the video?”
"I'm sorry Daddy." Tears of sadness gathered in the corners of her eyes, but she quelled them. I have to be strong for him. She pushed play on the video camera and the huge twister came into view once more. It raged and roared, sounding like a huge locomotive as it bore down on her father’s farmhouse.
“Dear God in heaven.” Arnold Mays bowed his head and loud, racking sobs shook his body. “Your will be done.”
Faith pulled him into her embrace and rocked back and forth, giving him the only thing she could at that moment; comfort. “I’ll help you daddy. We’ll rebuild.”
“Thanks Faith, but you don’t understand. It isn’t the house I cared about.”
“What do you mean? What was it then?”
“All your mother’s things are gone.” He sobbed again, his body shaking once more.
She almost lost her resolve to be strong. “Oh, daddy, I’m so sorry.” She hugged him tight and then jumped up, realizing all was quiet. “I think it’s over. We need to go up and see.” She rushed up the steps of the underground shelter, unlatched the door, and pushed it opened, hesitating, waiting to see if he was behind her. His arm came around hers and took the door, and she climbed out, gasping in horror. It’s all gone.
All that was left of her father's life's work was piles of rock, concrete, and wood. The house was gone. The barn a pile of faded red wood and rusty metal poles twisted in on each other, making it look like a bazaar sculpture of abstract art. Miraculously, the corral was still standing. The horses grazed there as if nothing happened. She did a quick head count. Five in all, they were all there. "Master's Choice is still here Daddy," She cried as she raced across the yard with Scooby at her heels.
A convoy of bright red vehicles was coming down the dusty red-dirt road. They had huge, realistic-looking twisters painted on their sides, and underneath, the words, 'Twister Tales Storm Chasers.'
"Look daddy, the storm chasers from TV are here.” The lead vehicle pulled to a stop right beside her, causing her to forget the horror for a moment.
Her father’s shoulders were slumped in defeat, but Faith knew he would come out of it when the shock wore off. He was strong like that. “I’m sorry daddy.” She rushed to his side and hugged him again, repeating the only thing she knew to say.
When she turned toward their company, her breath caught in her throat as the leader of the group rolled his window down and asked, "Are you guys okay? We saw that monster coming. We knew you were gonna take a direct hit. We are so sorry," Jim Anderson said.
He doesn’t look like a normal tornado chaser. His dark curly hair is almost perfect and his clothes are, too. There isn’t even a speck of dust on him anywhere.
The sound of him clearing his throat brought Faith’s eyes to meet his, and she gasped anew. He’s beautiful.
Faith didn’t know what to say, so she said, "Thank you. We're okay, but my Dad's farm didn't fare so well." She gestured toward the ruins of her father's property. Her Dad stood at her side, shaking his head from side-to-side. Dear Lord, please give my daddy strength.
"I hope you had insurance?" Jim Anderson asked.
"Yes, he was fully insured, but that isn't going to bring back his family home. He was born here, and so was his Daddy, and his Daddy before him." At that moment, the enormity of what just happened hit Faith like a ton of bricks. Tears sprang to her eyes and she blinked furiously to make them go away.
"Is there anywhere we can take you guys?" Jim asked. He gestured toward what was left of her little red economy car, and then her father's old blue pickup. "It doesn't look like you have transportation."
Faith looked at her father. "Daddy, do you want to go with me to the studio? You can stay at my place tonight." She grabbed his arm and gave it a reassuring hug.
"I guess so. There's nothing left here but your horses. Let me go see if there's any feed left and give them some water, if I can find their troughs." He turned away and began to walk off.
Jim Anderson got out of his truck and followed Arnold down the dirt path. "Hold on sir, I'll come and help you." The rest of Jim's crew disembarked from their vehicles and tagged along behind their boss.
Faith walked in step beside Jim. "Did you get footage of the tornado? It was huge and I'm gonna guess by the destruction it was a high four or a low five. What do you think?" Scooby got tangled up with her feet just then, and she fell into the storm chaser. Embarrassment gripped her and she looked up at him as he set her back on her feet.
"What do you know about tornadoes?"
I could drown in those eyes. "I'm a meteorologist. I work at Channel Twelve News. My name's Faith Mays and I'm pleased to meet you." She stuck her hand out.
He chuckled. "Pleased to meet you too, although I wish it would’ve been under less destructive circumstances." He shook her hand. The same electric sensation she'd felt when she’d fallen into him earlier returned as his skin made contact with hers.
She pulled her fingers back as if they'd been burned, and in a way they had. Instant attraction spread through her like wildfire and it took every ounce of her professionalism to dispel it. "I agree. Are you sure you've got time to run us back into the city?" I can’t believe my voice sounds so normal.
"Yes, we're going that way. There's a super cell developing over the city. They're already on alert and all the TV stations are waiting for the word on a tornado warning."
"That's not good. We better hurry." She pulled her phone out and tried to get a signal, but it wasn’t working so she shoved it back into the front pocket of her faded jeans. "I definitely need to get back to the station. We’re already short-handed. I was just getting out of the shower when I heard the wind. I ran out to warn my Dad in case he was in the field, but of course he was already in the cellar." She sounded breathless and knew he knew.
"That makes sense."
He gave her a cute little grin and her heart flipped. "Yes it does..." Her face flamed.
"Is he going to be okay?"
"Do you mean my dad? Yeah, he's a scrapper. He's just in shock right now." She reached up and touched her father on the back. "Look Dad." She pointed to the bright rainbow enveloping the farm.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
“It is,” Jim answered.
They finally made it to the tangled mess of metal that was the remains of the feed shed. Arnold bent over and began pulling on the twisted sheets to find the feed underneath. He'd grabbed a gray metal pail laying in the yard on the way and he filled it now with grain for the horses. "Faith, why don't you run and see if the trough is still there while I check the well house to see if the water's still on."
He sounded a little more like himself and Faith smiled. "You bet, Daddy." She broke away from the group and sprinted to the back of the corral where it was attached to a long chute that had been hooked to the side of the barn. This had enabled the horses to seek shelter when they needed to, but it was gone now. There was a gaping hole there but the horses hadn't even attempted to get loose. Apparently they understood where their food came from.
There were gonna be so many things to take care of today. She saw the trough was still there at the edge of the corral and turned to go back and join the group of tornado chasers. She had so many questions to ask them...