Vortex

This story focusses on a group of storm chasers who go out to get a thrill in Texas, but, as the storm closes in on a nearby city and gets more and more intense, they find they've gotten themselves into more than they bargained for, one of the biggest and deadliest series of tornadoes of the year.

*Rated yellow because this story has some very graphic scenes and profanities, please read this with due care and acknowledgement*

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1. The Calm Before the Storm

"Of course, I remember what happened" snapping a soft voice. The voice belongs to a middle aged woman with brown, curly locks, wide, blue eyes and plump lips. She was wearing heavy make-up with thick lipstick, blusher and eye-liner and is also wearing a beige T-shirt. She is sat in a room full of men with television cameras all pointed towards her.

One of the guys, who was standing next to a camera in the centre of the room, spoke in a deep, tantalizing voice. He has a note pad and a pen and is gently writing information down. "Listen, Jane. We're just trying to shoot a documentary, we don't want any tempers to be flared."

The woman looks down at the floor with slight embarrassment before looking back at the guy, softly sighing. "You're right" she admits. "It was 22nd of May.. 2017.. It was horrible, how could I forget?" She pauses for a brief moment as she softly strokes her wrist and moves the ring on her marital finger, she then takes a deep breath and continues. Her voice stutters slightly as if she was thinking about a memory that she had tried to hide away for years. "There were a few of us, 3 b-big.. SUVs. Big... GMCs full of good guys." The woman is very hesitant in her speech. "We were all parked up side by side at a gas station in Borger and... It was raining pretty bad."

10:53 Borger, Texas. 22nd May 2017

It was a very cold, wet day in northern Texas. It was raining so hard that the raindrops were bouncing off of the concrete forecourt of the gas station. It was loud, almost like a soft roar as you could here it rattling down over the streets and buildings around. The dense clouds in the sky made it very murky, as if it was evening despite the fact it was mid-morning. The partings in the clouds only letting fractions of light through.

The roads around were reasonably quiet, the morning rush hour was over and people were already well settled in for work. The lights on the gas station roof slowly flickered and the wind softly whistled between the beams that held the roof in place. The loud honk of a train horn bellowed out as it slowly and cumbersomely pulled it's mighty load across a bridge a little further down the road.

Before long, a group of trucks came rumbling down that very road from under the bridge, line astern. The group splashed through puddles, sending water in all directions and the window wipers softly flicked water off of their windscreens. The group gently eased onto the gas station forecourt, water running off of their mud flaps like a waterfall.

One of the trucks was a custom pick-up, not an SUV. The truck bed was extended and a new rear axle was attached. This made it a tandem, to cope with the extra weight of the doppler radar which was mounted on the back. The rear axles were also widened to give the truck more stability in high wind. All the trucks had long antennas on them for long distance radio communication.

Two of the trucks pulled into the parking bays that were lined up outside of the shop. The last one, an SUV, pulled up by a pump at the gas station. The door smoothly opened and a man slowly stepped out, he was quite tall and was a little chubby. He had a prominent, scraggly beard with deep brown eyes. He was wearing a grey, unzipped hoodie and a black shirt with the words 'The Stormers' written across the front. He walked over to the gas tank on the truck and unscrewed the cap off, placing the cap onto the pump. He then proceeded to place the nozzle into the truck and fill it with gas.

Two doors from another truck, parked close to the shop opened up and quickly slammed shut. It was a man and a woman. They quickly ran into the shop as the rain kept coming down. "Come on, Jane.. I swear the dining room needs to be knocked through to the kitchen." Said the man, pulling the hood of his sweater up, stuttering with every quick pace he took.

They quickly pushed the door of the shop open and stepped inside, water dripping off of their clothes. Jane was wearing boots with beige combat pants, they had specks of rain dotted all over them after their frantic run. Her shirt was a black tank that also had 'The Stormers' printed across the front. Jane had straighter hair, then, although now it got so wet, it started to slowly curl at the ends but her make-up stayed pretty intact. She turned around to face the man she entered the shop with. "Yeah, I dunno about that, Matt. I mean... More space and all but I've gotten pretty attached to that wall."

Matthew laughed with Jane and gently lowered his hood as they went around the shop together. He was wearing skinny jeans and small, black skating trainers on his feet. He had quite a masculine face with a prominent, sharp jawline and piercing green eyes. He had very short black hair and a slight mohawk as he kept it thicker in the middle. Together they grabbed Coke, crisps, chocolate bars and candy and cradled them to the till, dropping them onto the counter in a huge mess.

"Ugh, how can people call this 'bad' weather?" Matthew wondered as he gazed at the window, watching the specks of raindrops slide down the outside. Matthew spoke in a deep, growly voice in stark contrast to Jane's "I find it really, really calming."

Jane chuckled and looked at Matthew as she paid for the mess of food. "You should probably move to the UK, then. It rains all the time there." The cashier generously helped Jane put all of the products in a bag as she continued "and... I get to get rid of you, which in my eyes is a bonus."

"Ohhh ha... ha... ha!" Matthew said sarcastically as he is handed the bag from Jane, gently carrying it by his side. "I couldn't do that, I'd miss my babies too much."

"Babies?" Jane said inquisitively. Before she turns to exit with Matthew, she thanks the cashier.

"Yes... my beautiful tornadoes!" Matthew proudly stated with a big grin on his face.

Just as they were leaving, the guy that was filling his truck up had now pulled up next to the rest of the pack. He was dashing towards the door and quickly barged it open, trying to get out of the rain. This was Tiny, well... That's what they called him. Jane quickly grabs the door and holds it for him as he stumbled inside, his shoes squeaked on the shop floor.

"Jesus!" Matthew suddenly pitched "for a second there I thought you were a Wookiee."

They all chuckled softly and Tiny gently nudged Matthew back in jest as he walked by them "Always the jokester.. huh, Matt?"

"You know me too well" He replied with a cheeky smirk "but you really do need to get a shave."

Tiny laughed with them. "Yeah, fuck you too." He snapped back playfully as he turned and walked towards the cashier.

Matthew stepped outside with Jane and pulled his hood up, they both quickly sprinted back to the SUV as the rain continued to lash down relentlessly. Matthew quickly fumbled the keys as he unlocked the truck and they both quickly sat inside, out of the rain.

"So what have you love-birds gotten us then?" questioned a voice from the back. The voice came from Liam, a young boy who had barely entered adulthood. He had long brown hair with his fringe swept across to the right and soft hazel eyes, the type that could win any hard heart over. He was wearing a green sweater and some khaki chinos that were a little big crumpled as if he had forgot to iron them that morning.

Sat to the side of him was Elliot, he was around the same age and had shorter, lighter brown hair. He was wearing a Yankee's baseball cap that slightly covered his blue eyes and a bright red Gore-Tex jacket zipped up to his chin. He also wore cargo pants, like Jane, only his were a forest camo colour. He had black hiking boots on his feet and seemed to be the only one that was dressed appropriately for storm chasing.

Matthew gently opened up the wet carrier bag, displaying loads of goodies "I got some candy, chocolate and some drinks for us all."

Liam peers over the bag as his hand quickly dives in. "Yoink!" he called out as he pulled two chocolate bars out of the bag and resided back into his seat. He threw one onto Elliot's lap with a cheeky smile.

"You're a greedy bastard" Matthew chuckled as he watched Liam take two chocolate bars and handed one over to Elliot.

"Thanks." Elliot mumbled into his coat which was pulled over his mouth.

As the four proceeded to eat and drink the variety of snacks out of the bag that was placed in the middle of the truck, the walkie-talkie that was hung up on the A-pillar crackled into life. It was a soft voice, very clear, calming and breathy. "Hey," the voice broke the silence, "what in the world is Tiny doing in there?"

Matthew took the walkie-talkie off of its mount and held it up to his mouth. He pulled in the button on the side and spoke clearly into the mouthpiece "He's supposed to be paying for gas but I think he's buying the whole shop."

The voice coming through the walkie-talkie chuckled, "he's probably trying to flirt with the cashier again." The voice was Luke's, he was in the doppler truck.

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