The wailing banshees howled round the house. Their tendrils tried to prise under the roof tiles, behind the plywood covering the windows, to smash in a door. If only they could gain an entrance, they would soon have a full speed cavalry charge into the house. Build up the air pressure inside the house, and the fact that this was a new tiled roof would make no difference. It would explode into the air, leaving everything and everyone inside open to the malevolent designs of the banshees.
Their tendrils could find no opening, but it did not matter. They would be encircling the house for 12 hours or more, forcing the humans inside to cower, frightened, dreading the possibility that they might be exposed to the temper of the banshees directly. With the plywood on the windows, the house had been as dark as the grave for the whole of Sunday. The banshees wailed in delight at the thought that the silly humans, trying to outsmart the irresistible forces of nature, had already suffered days in terror and fear. Since Wednesday they had been going round hardware stores, trying to get supplies, all the while slowly dying at the thought of what would happen if they could not get any. Arriving at a hardware store even before it opened at 6 a.m., while others were fighting over the meagre supplies of ½” plywood, these creatures had snapped up the 1/4" plywood that was being ignored. Then came the measuring, cutting, and finally, on Saturday, trying to attach the insubstantial covering to the vulnerable windows. Of course, they did not have everything they needed. As the hours went by, and the expected arrival of the banshees got closer, they found that all the stores were closed. As darkness fell on Sunday, the wailing and the attacks started. The banshees laughed openly at the vain strivings of these puny creatures who thought they could circumvent the will of the wind.
Suddenly a break intervened. One of the plywood coverings came loose. Lacking everything they needed, the stupid two-leggeds had been unable to secure it properly. Now it was free. Eagerly the banshees lunged to grab an edge, wrench it free, and use the supposed protection as a weapon against the force field these humans had thought they had secured. Get it free, turn it against the windows it was supposed to protect, smash it, and all the wind and rain would go flooding in and the house would be no more. The two-leggeds could wait in their car and be wafted down the flooded street and into the gulf of Mexico. They had said they wanted their ashes scattered there. Now they could have their wish, except they would still be alive.
A human dashed out, ignoring the rain that soaked him. Desperately he tried to force the plywood back. Thinking he had done so, drenched, water dripping everywhere, he headed back inside. The banshees let him close and lock all the doors behind him, then ripped the plywood off again. This was a great game, and the banshees could play it for ever, never getting tired.
The human tried everything. He made a bar to jam against the sides of the window, to hold the plywood in place. The banshees waited until he thought it was working, then casually tossed his little toy around among themselves, gurgling with delight at the terror this would bring to the human.
Again and again he tried to secure that one window covering. At length, he realised that the plywood had been off more than it had been in place. It was balancing on the window sill, resting against a bush that partly protected that window. In that position it was nearly as good as if it were secure. The recalcitrant human decided not to play the game any more. The banshees turned their attention elsewhere.
There was a hurricane shutter on one of the windows. This hung down, secured only at the top. Banging it against the wall caused the human to be constantly going from room to room, shining a light on the windows, making sure that the plywood was in place. The banshees gave him no rest.
In front of the house was a large live oak tree. Pines and palm trees were in front of other houses. The banshees ripped branches off these trees as if they were no more than soft putty. They hurled them around, playing catch with each other. “To you, back to me. Now let’s toss it up in the air and see which can be the first to send it smashing against a window. Even if we don’t break one, the sound of the crashing will make these cowardly humans aware of our abilities.”
Inside, the humans were glued to the television. They saw the total destruction Irma had caused in other areas: the Islands, the Keys, Miami, Naples, Fort Myers. Their imaginations playing hideous tricks, picturing the water coursing down the street, invading their homes, destroying everything. Fearfully they watched as the centre of the hurricane moved towards them, the path of greatest destruction only a few miles inland. As the winds increased, the fragile humans learnt that the emergency services were being pulled off the streets. It was too late for them to change their minds. They had decided to ride it out, and now this was the only choice left. Had they been right? The banshees roared all the harder, their laughter rocking these once-proud humans, making them believe they might have made the biggest, and last, mistake of their short lives.
The television showed the centre of the hurricane level with their house, only a few scant miles away, with the hurricane force winds stretching all around them. Around midnight, as the meteorologist said that the worst was over for their area, they switched off the television and decided to risk going to bed. One last check of the windows. All secure, they were safe. The banshees winked at each other, and cut the power.
Their lifeline with the outside world gone, the humans were now in a bubble, surrounded by the covered windows which let in no hint of what was outside. No television, no internet, they were isolated. The banshees were delighted at the thought of the easily-broken humans pulling the covers over themselves, trying to survive in the security of nothing more than a blanket fort. Although the next day the humans could go outside, and even remove their self-imposed censorship of the world, they would be without power for five days. No hot water, no cooking, no charging of cell phones, and all their food spoilt. The banshees were delighted with the success of their supreme terror weapon.
The banshees wailed around the house for the next 8 hours. They were supposed to be the harbingers of death. Yet better still was the living death of the terror of the isolated humans. They huddled together, worrying if they would have to run out in the pouring rain as the roof collapsed onto them. They could die a thousand deaths before dawn, and each more delicious to the banshees than any real death, such as a heart attack. The banshees continued playing with the branches of the trees, breaking them off and twirling them around to end up crashing into a house. Sometimes these sentenced the humans to days of clearing up the debris, causing expense and effort. This was music to the ears of the banshees.
The next morning the humans gathered in the rain to count the cost. Trees had come down, narrowly missing cars. One fell on a house, but it landed softly and caused no damage. Mercifully no one was dead or injured. Being without power was a major inconvenience, the temperature inside the house could reach 85°F with humidity of 80%, but thankfulness that it had not been worse made it bearable. The banshees were satisfied. The waves of fear they had felt were as good to them as a death. They would leave things this time, for they knew, there would always be a next time.
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