Chapter 41: Twist of Fate
SAM had a look of shock for a split second.
“Run, Sam!” I yelled.
He looked around for cover. Trees and grass whipped against the violent onslaught of wind battering them. Then something barreled through the sky in Sam’s direction.
With as much traction as I could muster, I dug the soles of my shoes into the dirt and shot forward. I hooked Sam with my arm, impacting him hard, taking him right off his feet. Just before we hit the pavement, I pushed energy out from my body toward the road to act as a sled. We slid to a stop, and I pulled the protective barrier back inside. We dropped a few inches to the pavement with a muffled thud.
Sam scrambled to his feet, looking back in disbelief. An old white Corvette lay in a crumpled heap where he’d been standing. His dark shirt and black hair thrashed vigorously against the currents of air. He frowned at me.
Great. If Sam wasn’t in danger of the Hunters coming for him before, he would be now.
“Where’s the nearest basement?” I said.
“The café.” He headed that direction, around the mangled vehicle.
I glanced at the café, then down the street toward the mass of turbulent clouds devouring everything in its path. It was horribly mesmerizing.
Another vehicle crashed down next to us, snapping me out of my trance.
Sam ran for the diner as trees and parts of houses slammed down around us.
I threw up a telekinetic shield and followed Sam back to the café.
As soon as I’d slipped in the door, Sam called out, “Mom, get to the basement.”
Margie stood near the short order window with wide eyes and held breath. She nodded and disappeared through the kitchen door.
Sam turned to me with a look of astonishment. “How did you get to me so quickly? How did you—”
With a worried look, I shook my head slowly, warning him not to ask that question.
He hesitated, then nodded, an understanding in his eyes. He wouldn’t tell anyone about this. “We need to get to the basement.”
“I can’t,” I said. “I have to find my mom.”
The roar of the twister blanketed the building.
“You won’t make it through the storm.”
I turned to the door. “I’ll take my chances.”
“Damn, I never pegged you for being crazier than me.” Sam shook his head. “Be careful.”
I nodded, then pushed my body weight against the door, the oppressive winds making it hard to move.
Outside, a gust of air nearly knocked me over, but I managed to get my footing. Mom wouldn’t be far away. The beauty shop was up on Colfax, just across the tracks.
“Ow!” A piece of hail shattered against my head. Not tiny, pea-sized hail. Softball-sized hail.
I gritted my teeth and ran.
Balls of ice bounced off or exploded as they slammed into me. It was like playing extreme dodgeball with giant ice balls. Luckily, my powers dampened the pain, but it still hurt like hell.
I crossed the tracks and turned down Colfax Avenue, directly into the tornado’s path. The seemingly endless wall of death rushed toward me, ripping the town apart.
A block away, Mom’s gray Chevy Malibu turned a corner at high speed. The tail end caught a gust of air and swung around too far, driving her right into a building. Another car bounced hard off her door and stalled out.
The hail cut off as the tornado closed in.
The sickening root-like sensation shot through my body. The asphalt beneath me splintered into a thousand pieces as my feet crunched into it, launching me like a rocket. Instantly, a ripple shot out from me, shattering every window down the street.
Holy crap. I’d just broken the sound barrier.
As soon as that thought crossed my mind, a wall of air hit me like a sledgehammer, smashing me into a building. The sonic boom caught up with me, cracking like a whip in my ears.
I dropped to the ground, still half a block from my mom’s car. The wind drove me back even farther. Slamming my hand into the pavement jerked my body to a stop. I pulled myself toward the newly formed hole, then slammed my other hand into the ground and pulled against it, like climbing a horizontal ladder. Gradually, I closed the distance to my mom.
Mom screamed as a hunk of metal smashed into her car. She kicked at the window a few times before it shattered and came out.
“Stay there,” I yelled, pointlessly. No one could hear anything over the sound of the carnage barreling its way down the street toward us. It disintegrated buildings and tossed cars like ragdolls.
Another car sped around a corner up ahead. The vicious winds lifted it and threw it at me. It landed on its roof and slid, sparks leaping from its mangled metal. It stopped between me and my mom, blocking my view of her.
The driver was a middle-aged lady, upside down in her car, trying to escape. Her seatbelt had her trapped. I couldn’t save the woman and my mom, too. The tornado was about to devour all of us.
A cow tumbled through the air at me. I threw up a telekinetic barrier. As it glanced off the barrier, I lost my grip and slid backward. I pounded another hand into the pavement, regaining an anchor point.
I couldn’t see my mom. Crawling against the pavement, I got closer and spotted her again. The winds violently sucked her out of her car. She caught the edge of her door with one hand, her body in the air, parallel to the ground.
“Hold on!” Despite my powers, I didn’t think I could reach her fast enough. For the first time in my life, I begged a god I didn’t believe in to spare my mother.
Mom looked at the lady trapped in her car nearby, then back to me.
She locked onto my eyes and mouthed the words I love you, Ian.
Oh, no. She wanted me to save the other woman.
She let go of the car and disappeared into the tornado.
My heart turned to molten lava and sank into my smoldering gut. I cried out in pain, then cursed myself for foolishly expecting some god to help me. Cursed myself for not being strong enough to save my own mother. What good were my powers when they couldn’t save the people dying all around me?
The powerlessness from the first time my abilities sprang up washed over me. I wanted to ball up on the ground and die. Dozens of images of my mother flashed through my mind. One stood out from the others…the time she’d wrapped her arms around me after my powers came out the first time. She’d been an anchor, keeping me from going mad.
I held the image in my mind, trying to use it as an anchor again. Her last request was that I save the woman. I focused on that. Maybe there was a chance I actually could save her. Maybe a chance I could make it out of this and back to Abby.
Or maybe not. The storm was about to overtake me.
I struggled hard against the winds, digging my hands into the pavement again.
The dark voice came back that I’d heard the day before. “Pathetic fool. You can’t save anyone.”
I shook my head, trying to get rid of the voice.
The lady trapped in her car wasn’t far from me.
I pulled myself toward her, against the wind. She yanked at her seatbelt uselessly.
The dark voice came again. “If she sees your powers, she’ll turn you in. Let her die.”
I shook off the voice again, but the sick feeling from using my powers grew stronger.
My feet lifted into the air. Then my torso. It was the most bizarre sensation…floating in the air while crawling against the pavement.
Then I dropped to the ground, hard. Torrents of wind no longer levitated me. I was outside of the storm and inside the storm at the same time.
Then I spotted it. Something like an invisible dome had slid over the top of me. The storm flowed around it. Everything inside the dome was peaceful. Protected. Everything outside, chaotic. Deadly.
A bald man with a large walking staff wearing brown monk’s robes strolled through the street toward the woman in the car. The dome centered on him. He looked like he was walking in the park without a care in the world, a pleasant smile on his face. He must be from the monastery in town. Was it Elian?
As he reached out to the woman, she fell unconscious. He unbelted her and she crumbled to the ground next to the car. The monk crouched over her, then looked up at me, giving a nod of respect, as if he knew I was trying to save her.
I got to my feet, unable to speak, still dumbfounded.
The monk hoisted the woman in his arms. Looking back to me once more, he smiled, then vanished into black curls of smoke.
His dome of protection collapsed instantly.
My shoulders had a split second to droop before a wall of air hit me like a Mac truck, plastering me to a brick wall like Spiderman.
I pulled myself down the wall to the sidewalk, but it was too late. The cyclone was nearly on top of me.
I angled my telekinetic shield into a wedge toward the oncoming wind to force me against the ground. The buildings all around began disintegrating. Bricks and cinder blocks, rocks and metal glanced off my shield.
Not far from me, the pavement and sidewalk peeled up then disappeared into the dark-clouded torrents. That’d be me flying through the air to my death in a few more seconds.
Up ahead, a fire hydrant stood by itself, resisting the storm, anchored by the city’s underground piping.
I slammed my hand into the concrete and pulled against it, heaving myself toward the hydrant. The next piece of concrete broke apart as I pulled against it. I nearly lost my grip but managed to grab at the edge of the concrete hole and keep moving.
The twister pushed toward me and I pulled myself toward it, climbing against the ground to the fire hydrant.
I reached out and grasped at the fire hydrant. Pavement tore up just on the other side of it. I pulled harder with one hand and stretch with the other arm.
I wrapped myself around the hydrant, holding on for dear life, and reshaped my telekinetic barrier into a dome.
Everything went dark as the violent, twisting cloud of debris engulfed me. I caught brief glimpses of flickering light streaming in, illuminating wood and stones hurling at me then skipping off the barrier.
My muscles started to burn with fatigue. How much longer could I hold on?
At that thought, the raging winds slipped away, and everything became peaceful. On all sides, a massive wall of gray clouds rotated around me. Bolts of blue lightning danced through it. It was one of the most peaceful and frightening places I’d ever been.
It was the eye of the storm.