Storm Season Day 51
We’re going out to the sinkhole today. As much as I want to have an answer to all of this, a small part of me hopes we find nothing. I don’t want to put anyone at risk. We already have too many missing. I’d blame myself if we lost another.
I’m volunteering to go down into the hole. I can’t let anyone else do it. It must be me.
“Here’s the plan,” Drew said, unloading his duffel bag. “Ten of us will be tied together, and I’ll be lowered down into the hole. I have night vision goggles, so I won’t need a flashlight- “
“Wait, why you?” Ryan asked, helping to start the knots.
“What if it’s down there?” Amanda asked.
“We can’t lose you,” Tim said.
“Guys…I’ve thought about this all week – “
“Let me do it,” Annie said. All eyes turned to her. “I’m the smallest. It’ll be easier to carry my weight.”
“But Annie,” Stephan said.
“No, really. Let me do it.”
Drew frowned but everyone else seemed to agree with her point.
“If anything goes wrong, a smaller person would be easier to pull up,” Ryan said with a shrug.
“You’re sure about this?” Drew asked Annie and she nodded. “Okay…. okay. So, she’ll be wearing night vision goggles, so she won’t use a flashlight that might disturb whatever is down there,” he continued, adapting the plan as he went. “Everyone else needs to be weather scouting. I’d like a few people up on the hills, or even in the trees. We don’t need a storm to sneak up on us. It’s supposed to be clear all day, but if my theory is correct…the weather reports won’t matter in the end.”
“Don’t get too far away from the vehicles either,” Stephan said. “If something does go wrong, we need to be able to get out of here fast.”
Everyone nodded and went to work. They were still on the main path as they tied the rope to each other. The weather watchers ventured out further and to higher ground as the others started towards the hole.
“What’s that smell?” Tim asked in a whisper as they got nearer.
“It’s like…a rotten smell,” Ryan said.
“It’s something dead,” Drew said. He looked back at Stephen and saw pale faces all around. “Annie- “
“I’m still going down there,” she said before he could try to talk her out of it again.
“No. It’s happening. Let’s do this.”
They were at the edge now. Tim tied the other end of the rope to a tree and braced himself against it. Along the rope, the others planted their feet as Annie put the goggles on.
“Don’t click them on until you’re a few feet down,” Drew said, showing her the button. “Try to keep your feet on the wall and walk down. If the wall runs out, give a tug and we’ll start to lower you. One more tug and we’ll hold you in place. Two tugs and we’ll bring you up as fast as we can.”
Not trusting herself to answer, she put one foot back and started down into the hole. Once she was far enough, she turned on the goggles and looked around. Nothing stood out as odd to her. Clumps of grass and dirt hung from exposed tree roots along the wall. The bottom seemed to be an eternity away for all its darkness. The smell was awful down here, but she still couldn’t see where it was coming from.
Annie stuck her food out and didn’t connect with anything. Her heart jumped into her throat, but she gave the rope a tug. Inch by inch, she was lowered further. She kept her eyes darting around to try and see anything that would help them and tried to calm her racing pulse.
Then she saw an opening to a tunnel. She gave the rope another tug and was jerked to a stop. Her rope swung back and forth at the sudden movement and she was brought nearer to the small hole. She reached to grab a tree root and strained her ears to see if anything to could be heard.
Annie’s arms broke out in goosebumps as she made out a sound similar to squabbling rats. But there was something else behind that. Something lower, like a soft rumble. It was almost like the Earth was…snoring?
She leaned further, turning her ear closer, but then it all went quiet.
“Oh no,” she said out loud without meaning to. Whatever it was had realized she was there. She gave two hard tugs to the rope.
The sound of scampering feet began to reverberate through the tunnel as the team pulled her back up. They wasted no time, but Annie was still in a panic when she landed on the grass.
“We need to run,” she tore the goggles from her face. “Now.”
“Clouds!” one of the storm watchers called from the other side of the trees before anyone could respond. “Dark clouds!”
They took off, cutting the rope and dropping it as they went. The watchers met them at the cars and everyone piled into the three SUVs.
“Everyone’s here,” Stephen said as Drew looked around at all the faces. “Go!”
Tornado Alley Post
Few houses are left around the downtown area today after yesterday’s freak tornado.
“There was no warning,” one resident told us. “It was sunny all day and then…wham!”
Rescue teams have been digging through the debris since late last night, but they haven’t found much to be happy about. Many lives have been lost.
Mother nature, what ever we did to make you so angry, we’re sorry. Really, really sorry.