Thunder boomed overhead as Jedidiah readied the dog’s food bowl. He tried not to cringe. Loud noises still bothered him, even though he’d been home for almost a month.
“We have to go to the basement Hairy.”
The dog whined, licked his hand, and then nudged him; his liquid brown eyes staring up at him with such trust Jedidiah’s heart ached.
“I hope you don’t trust me in vain.” He grabbed the dog’s leash and attached it just as the tornado sirens went off. “Hurry, let’s get downstairs.”
The basement was dark and smelled of mold and mildew, but Jed forced himself to move down the last few steps. He knew the lights wouldn’t stay on long because they were already flickering.
One of the first things he’d done after arriving was prepare the basement for emergencies. The weather radio began to beep like crazy, and then a voice spoke urgently; “...take cover underground. This is a tornado emergency…”
Jedidiah only heard bits and pieces as he pulled the basement door closed.
One side of the basement had been dug up and there was one of those special shelters made of reinforced steel installed into its dirt floor. He grabbed the radio, his duffel bag full of food, water and other emergency items and whistled for the dog, who ran toward him, his leash dragging through the dirt as he raced down the steps of the small shelter behind his master. Jedidiah gasped in horror as he pulled the door closed above him. The house was already gone and the basement was exposed to the fierce winds of the tornado. The shelter door was being pulled from his hands, but he gave it a jerk, closed it and pressed the automatic lock, and it latched with a metallic click. “Whoa, that was close old buddy. I’m already re-thinking my recent thoughts to settle down here. I can’t believe I’m experiencing a tornado already.”
Hairy whimpered as he sat full on top of Jedidiah’s lap.
“I know you’re scared. So am I.” He buried his hands into the silky softness of his best friend’s fur and prayed, “Dear Lord, I know I haven’t paid much attention to you lately, but if you’re up there, please keep us safe.”
The wind bellowed with a loud roar, almost seeming to answer his question. “I hear you Lord. I will keep you in mind from how on.” The words were spoken with quiet conviction.
Now that they were relatively safe, Jedidiah’s thoughts went to Janna. Had she made it to safety? He wished he could call her, but couldn’t afford for her to find out he already had her number. If she was okay, she would know something was up.
There was a loud noise that sounded like a bomb going off, and then a long scraping that ended right above his head. He was pretty sure they’d just been buried in debris.
He pulled out his cell phone, hoping for a miracle, but it wasn’t meant to be. There was no signal.
“Of course there isn’t, you idiot, you’re in a steel cage.” He nudged Hairy over with his free hand, exposing the duffel bag that rested at his right side. He rummaged around inside, looking for a flashlight. Was it over yet? He tilted his head, concentrating on any noises he might hear as he pulled the small plastic flashlight out, but there was nothing. He unwound his other hand from the dog’s fur and stood up, turning the flashlight on. It didn’t work. He smacked it; still nothing. “Turn on you cheap piece of…” Light snapped on and he blinked, his eyes watering from the sudden flash. “That’s more like it.” He grinned, despite the situation he and the dog were in. They were alive, and they had light. “Hold on, Hairy. I’m gonna go assess the situation up top.”
Jedidiah climbed the steps, muttering, “Please let the door open, dear Lord. He unlatched the lock and pushed the door open. “Thank you Lord.”
His relief was short-lived, however, as his eyes traveled even higher. About two feet above the opened door, there was a pile of solid debris. “What is that?” He trained the beam of light on something metal. “Tell me that isn’t a muffler.” He stood on the top step and gave it a push. The metal was surprisingly cool to his touch, and didn’t budge.
“I think it’s an SUV Hairy. I don’t how we’re going to get out. How will they even know we’re here?”
Jedidiah came back down the four steps and settled into his previous spot. “We’ll just wait a while and see if anyone comes to move it. That’s all we can do.”
After a few minutes, he began to get antsy. He hated to sit still. He turned the knob on the weather radio, but all he got was static. “Well that thing is useless.”
Hairy pulled his head up from his paws and gave him a look that seemed to say, “At least you’re alive.”
“I know, Hairy. What would I do without you to keep me grounded?” He grinned and patted his head. I’m pretty sure you’re dog bowl is gone, but I brought food and water.” He delved back into the duffel and pulled out a baggie full of dog food and a bottle of water.
Hairy’s head came up again, and he got up on all fours.
Jedidiah grinned. “I’m glad to see the storm caused no lasting effects.” He rummaged around inside the bag again until his fingers clutched on two shallow bowls. He poured the water, sat the bowl down and then filled the food bowl and sat it beside the other one.
“I wonder how long this is gonna take. Should I start trying to dig out somehow? I know I can’t move the vehicle but surely I can displace the debris around it.” He got up and retraced his steps to the top. He could hear what sounded like chainsaws and men yelling in the distance.
“I hear people, Hairy!”
The dog continued eating his supper. Wow, even the dog ignores me. He was sad for a moment, until Janna’s pretty face came to mind and he grinned, his loneliness dispelled by her cutesy dimples and beautiful amber eyes. He would be patient, but he needed to get out of here. Tornado or no tornado, Janna’s attacker was getting out tomorrow and he needed to be able to protect her.
“I hope she fared better than us, Hairy.” He went to the back edge of the door and tried to shove some of the debris away from the SUV, but it was packed tight. “Feeling like a sardine here, Lord. Is this how Jonah felt?” I sound like an idiot. Maybe I’m in shock.
He gave another shove, but the debris wasn’t moving. He returned to his seat downstairs and closed his eyes. A nap would help pass the time.
He dozed-off and woke-up some time later, and pulled himself to attention. He’d been dreaming about her. How long was he asleep? He wiped his gritty-feeling eyes and ran his fingers through his dark curls. A loud noise above him caught his attention and he realized why he’d woken up. He heard chains and scraping.
“I think they’re here to get us, Hairy.” He raced up the steps. “Can you hear me?”
When there was no answer, he asked, “Can anyone hear me?”
“Mr. Johnston, is that you?”
His heart raced at the sound of another human voice. “No, I’m Jedidiah Jones.”
“Our records show a George Johnston owns this shelter,” the man yelled from above the debris.
“Oh, that must be the previous home-owners. I bought this house and moved in at the end of last week.”
“Oh. Well we’ll be getting you out in a few minutes, then,” the rescuer said.
“Thank you, I can’t wait. How bad is the damage up there?”
There was silence for a few seconds, and then, “The worst I’ve ever seen.”
“Then get me out of here, I have to go check on somebody.”
Just then a motor started up, revved, and the SUV was removed from above him. He raced up the steps, and then stopped short in horrified amazement.
“There’s nothing left but piles of rubble.”