“Jeremy, we found a video camera in the back of the Garland,” the sheriff said.
“Good, maybe we’ll get a clue to what happened out here,” Detective Jeremy Riggs said.
Jeremy looked at the modified truck called the Garland with intrigue. The four door truck had been modified to look like a tank and was supposed to withstand the force of at least an EF4 tornado. The crew from the Garland was missing just like the inhabitants of the small town of Gleeson, five miles down the road. An EF5 tornado had recently havocked the city of Wichita, Kansas, a few hours prior, leaving massive devastation in its path. Whole towns were obliterated by the storm. Gleeson was the exception. The town was still standing but the inhabitants were gone. Something else was responsible besides the tornado. He was hoping whatever the crew recorded from the Garland, would give them some sort of clue. Maybe they caught something on tape.
“Jeremy, we found a body. You have to see this to believe it,” Sheriff Charles Santino said, almost out of breath.
He followed Charles out into the corn field where a couple of deputies were hunched over a body. He looked at the body with disgust. Something had ripped the body to shreds. It looked like the work of a large hungry animal.
“Get the coroner here right away,” Jeremy ordered.
“Might take a while. Phone lines are down. The tornado did major damage to the cell tower,” Sheriff Santino said.
“Be on guard. Whatever did this to him may still be nearby,” Jeremy said.
“A coyote?” Charles Santino asked
“Perhaps,” Jeremy said, looking at the body closely. “I don’t see animal bites. These bite marks look human.”
“A human did this?” Charles asked in shock.
“Won’t know for sure until an autopsy is performed.” Jeremy said. “Keep the deputies here until we can get the coroner here. I want to go back to the station to watch the footage from the video camera. Maybe they caught whatever killed this man on tape.”
Jeremy walked into the police station carrying the video camera.
“Detective,” Janice, the lady at the front desk, said as he passed her.
He made his way to his office and walked over to his desk. He hooked the video camera’s USB cord into his computer and uploaded the camera’s files. He had a thirty inch computer monitor, bigger than the TV he had at home. Once the files were uploaded, he clicked on the first one.
“Is it rolling?” Trevor Cline asked.
Trevor adjusted his red ball cap and walked over to his newly modified truck. “This is my latest invention, the Garland. Named after my favorite actress, the Garland is reinforced with thick steel plating designed to withstand the force of at least an EF4 tornado. The latest technology within the Garland will make tornado chasing a lot safer and we can, in theory, get real close to a tornado.”
“Cost a lot of grant money as well,” Jake Tyler said, pointing the video camera at Trevor.
“Well worth the money. The amount of information we will be able to learn from a tornado now that we can get real close is invaluable.”
“Not to mention the money we will make selling the footage to the weather channels,” Jake joked.
“You’re videotaping; I’m talking.”
“As I was saying, the Garland can hold up to four people and this,” Trevor said, pointing to a square metal device mounted on the roof of Garland, “which can measure the wind speeds of a tornado without being destroyed in the process.”
“Trevor, I brought food for our journey,” Josh Kellian, the driver of Garland, said as he entered the garage. He was very tall and really thin. His face was covered in acne scars. “Checked the radar, we are a go for today. Weather looks in our favor.”
“Yes!” Trevor said excitedly.
“An excellent day for tornadoes?” Jake asked.
“Looks like a line of severe storms back to back,” Josh said.
“Or as one would say, an orgy for storm chasers,” Trevor said, excitedly.
“We’ve been on the road for over an hour now. As you can see out the window, the skies are getting pitch black. We are heading to Wichita since weather conditions are ideal for tornadoes,” Trevor said, pointing toward the darkened skies outside the truck. “You see the dark green in the sky. When the sky looks green, it’s light reflecting off moisture and hail stones that are up in the clouds. Doesn’t mean that there will be a tornado. It does signify a strong updraft that could lead to the formation of a tornado. Really cool.”
“Trevor, Jasmink is out,” Josh said, pointing toward a blue van parked on the side of the road. He was pointing a video camera toward the sky.
“During the tornado season, every storm chaser is out here hoping to encounter a tornado up close. I’ve had a few colleagues over the years that have been killed for being reckless. One of the reasons why I designed the Garland,” Trevor said.
“That and you want to get a television deal. All about the fame, not the science,” Jake said.
“All about the science,” Trevor replied sarcastically.
“Speaking of science. We are getting close to Gleeson. That town gives me the creeps. It’s rumored that a guy that used to work for the government creating chemical weapons lives there. Imagine having him as a neighbor. You can’t even imagine what he’s doing in his garage. Not working on cars, I tell you,” Josh said.
“You believe everything you hear. There’s no mad scientist living in Gleeson,” Jake said.
“It could be true,” Josh said.
“Yep, he’s in his garage making a monster. A monster, I tell you,” Trevor said jokedly.
The song on the radio was interrupted by the Emergency Broadcast System alerting them to a tornado warning in their area.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” Trevor said, while confirming the tornado on the radar on his laptop. “We have touchdown. Keep heading this way and make a left on the next major intersection.”
Rain poured down hard, making it hard to see outside the truck’s windows. The rain quickly turned to hail. Garland was pelted by quarter sized hail.
“This is awesome!” Trevor said.
They were so focused on the hail that they didn’t notice the explosion in the distance in the direction of the town of Gleeson. Jeremy saw it and paused the video file and replayed the last frame slowly. In the background behind the hail, he could see the explosion. The video captured it for only a few seconds. They hadn’t found any evidence of an explosion when they investigated the vacant town. It must have been in the mountains behind the town farther back. After he finished watching the video, he planned to drive up to Gleeson and check the area by the mountains. He would also find out if there was in fact a former government employee living there that once was involved in creating chemical weapons.
He resumed playback of the video file.
The Garland was being pelted by golf ball-sized hail. Trevor wasn’t worried since he had installed a bullet resistant windshield made from thick plexiglass. In the distance they could see the tornado. It was over the field to the right of them. It was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, it was dissipating. It disappeared from sight, dropping what appeared to be a large semi-truck, which exploded on impact.
“Please tell me you recorded that.”
“Yes, I did, Trevor,” Jake said.
“Radar is still showing ideal conditions. This is going to be an awesome day,” Trevor said.
“I think it would be a good idea to fill the gas tank up when we get to the next town. Plus some cold energy drinks would be nice,” Josh said.
“You’re the driver,” Trevor said, still looking out toward the field.
The Garland was parked in front of the local diner outside the gas station. Trevor was stuffing his face with a hamburger.
“So the plan is to stay in this area today. We only have a few hours of daylight left, so whatever footage we get will have to be here. Since we have multiple storms heading this way, we may get lucky,” Trevor said.
“Guys, look over there. Is that woman puking?” Jake asked.
A lady was hunched over the side of her car puking. Once she was done, she collapsed. Trevor and Josh got out of the truck and ran over to her. Jake followed behind taping the ordeal.
“She’s barely breathing,” Trevor said. “Josh, go inside the diner and get some help.”
“Trevor, her skin looks grayish. That ain’t normal,” Jake said.
“This is weird. She feels cold to the touch,” Trevor said, as he put his hand on her forehead.
The lady vomited again. This time she vomited blood. Her breathing was becoming sporadic.
“Definitely can rule out food poisoning,” Trevor said.
Josh ran over to them with the manager of the diner. “An ambulance is on the way.”
“Better get here fast. I think she may be dying,” Trevor said. “Lady, can you hear me?”
The lady looked up at him with dead eyes. She tried to get up and fell back on the ground. Trevor checked her pulse. She was dead.
“As you can see, the paramedics have pronounced her dead. Tragic,” Trevor said, as one of the paramedics closed the door to the ambulance. “We came out here to capture footage of a tornado, not of someone dying.”
“Look at the sky. It looks ominous,” Josh pointed out.
“Ominous, that would sum up today so far,” Trevor said.
Hail fell from the sky. The three of them ran for the Garland. Trevor immediately grabbed the laptop to get the latest Doppler readings. A severe storm was heading for them. A bolt of lightning shot down from the sky landing not far from the Garland. The thunder was so loud that it sounded like the speakers on Jeremy’s computer had blown out.
“Damn that was close. I was just standing in that spot a few seconds ago,” Trevor said. “Got to love thunderstorms!”
“Shall we move?” Josh asked.
Trevor looked at his laptop once more and said, “No, we have a tornado heading straight for us!”
Jake moved over to the driver side of the Garland. A large funnel was forming, dropping down to the ground. It was heading straight for the diner. Trevor quickly jumped out of the Garland and ran into the diner to warn everybody. He ran back out of the diner and jumped back into the Garland.
“Now, we will see how the Garland will do against it,” Trevor said, excitedly.
The tornado passed by far enough out of the way of the diner and the gas station.
“After it!” Trevor yelled.
The Garland bolted out of the diner’s parking lot and headed up the road that was parallel to the path the tornado was taking.
“Try to get in front of it!” Trevor ordered.
Josh floored the Garland and was gaining on the tornado while trying to dodge the debris that it was throwing at them. It was starting to shift to the left, moving away from the Garland.
“Damn it. Can we catch up with it?” Josh asked.
“Checking the online road map. Just fields that way. We lost it,” Trevor said, as he watched the tornado move farther and farther away from them.
“Got some real cool footage,” Jake said.
“Did we collect any data?” Josh asked.
Trevor checked his laptop. “Recorded winds speeds around 178 mph. Definitely an EF3 tornado.”
“Look over there, that tree got completely uprooted,” Jake said. “I want to get a closer look.”
They got out of the Garland and headed into the field where the tree had been uprooted. The rain had slowed down to a light drizzle. Josh and Trevor stood in front of the tree facing Jake.
“Now this is a testament to nature’s fury,” Trevor said, fork lightning flashing behind him.
Sunlight was starting to shine down through the clouds. To the right of them they could see a rainbow.
“Now that’s beautiful,” Trevor said, pointing toward the rainbow.
“No more floods,” Josh joked.
“Maybe not. With the amount of rain we’ve had lately, roads will be flooded,” Trevor corrected him, ignoring Josh’s biblical reference.
“Day number two. After an uneventful night, we are ready for another day of chasing. Weather conditions are in our favor again. Hopefully, we can get even closer to a tornado today,” Trevor said.
“I’m ready when you are,” Josh said.
Trevor checked the radar on his laptop. “Head back toward Gleeson.”
The Garland pulled out of the parking lot of the hotel they had spent the night at. In the distance, the sky was pitch black ready for another severe thunderstorm. Forked lightning brightened the darkened sky. A funnel cloud started to lower from the sky.
“We should be able to catch up to it!” Trevor said, excitedly.
“This is the most tornadoes I’ve seen in a twenty-four hour time period,” Jake said.
The Garland passed a vehicle that was halfway in the ditch. The group was so focused on the tornado ahead, they didn’t see the driver lying on the street being ripped apart by his dead wife. Jeremy, who was also excited about seeing more tornado footage, didn’t notice it either.
Trevor looked in awe at the huge tornado before them. They were gaining on it, and it was on a parallel path along the highway. It collided with a small red barn, obliterating it. Debris from the barn flew past the Garland, causing Josh to swerve back and forth to avoid it.
“That was close!” Josh said.
“Watch out!” Trevor screamed, as a large tractor landed in front of them.
Josh swerved to the left to avoid hitting it head on.
Trevor quickly checked the data the Garland was receiving from the tornado. “Two hundred and eighty-eight miles per hour. We have an EF5 tornado.”
“And we are too close. If it shifts, we’re dead,” Jake said.
Josh swerved as a small smart car slid across the road and landed in a ditch. Debris was falling everywhere, making it nearly impossible to maneuver the Garland.
“What is that? A human?” Trevor asked.
A body flew by the passenger side of the Garland and crashed into the window, shattering the glass. The head was sticking through the window and its mouth was trying desperately to reach Trevor’s throat. The disfigured head looked like it had been dead for a while, but still had life in it. Trevor grabbed the head and pushed it out the window. The body fell to the ground and rolled backward.
“That thing tried to bite me!” Trevor said, trying to catch his breath.
“Was that a zombie?” Jake asked.
Bodies were dropping to the ground all around the Garland. Josh kept swerving to avoid hitting them.
“What the hell is going on?” Josh asked.
“I don’t know, but we have to get out of here,” Trevor said.
“A tornado dropping zombies. I don’t think the Doppler predicted that one,” Jake said.
Josh quickly slammed on the brakes. The tornado was starting to shift and he didn’t want to drive right into it. They heard a loud thud on the top of Garland’s roof. Suddenly, a body slid right down the windshield. It pounded on the windshield repeatedly. Josh shifted into reverse and spun the Garland around. The body flew off. Josh drove forward away from the tornado, running over the body.
“We need to get as far away from this place as possible,” Josh said.
Zombies cluttered the highway. Josh drove right through them. The Garland sliced through the zombies showering the windshield with decaying flesh.
“Head for Wichita. Hopefully, its zombie free up there,” Trevor said.
Jeremy heard screams and gunshots coming from the main lobby. He grabbed his gun and turned the safety off. He entered the lobby to see Janice on the ground being ripped to shreds by a zombie. He quickly shot the zombie in the head. Two of the sergeants were on the ground also being ripped apart by zombies. He shot each of them in the head. He could see several zombies in the hallway. He walked backward for the ammunitions room. He needed a shotgun and some ammo.
“Detective!” He heard Sheriff Charles Santino shout from behind him.
“Charles, head for the ammunitions room!”
Jeremy continued to shoot zombies as he moved backward. He reached the ammunitions room. Charles handed him a rifle. He grabbed a duffle bag and filled it with as much ammo as it could hold.
“What the hell is going on? Is this a zombie apocalypse?” Charles asked, making sure his rifle was loaded.
“Don’t know. Be ready. I saw a lot of zombies out there.”
In Jeremy’s office, the video continued to play.
A large semi-truck was swerving back and forth. The windshield was covered with two zombies and a zombie was hanging out the driver side window. The Garland crashed into a ditch to avoid colliding with the semi-truck.
“Everybody ok?” Trevor asked.
“What the…” Josh tried to say as he push his head away from the deployed airbag.
Trevor looked in the back seat to check on Jake, but the door was opened and Jake was nowhere to be found. His video camera was lying on the backseat.
“Jake!” Trevor screamed.
They looked out at the field and saw Jake on the ground being eaten by a couple of zombies.
“It’s too late.” Josh said.
“Josh, we have to make a run for it. Don’t look back,” Trevor said.
“Understood,” Josh said.
They both bolted from the Garland and ran for their lives down the highway. In the distance, they could see zombies everywhere. They kept running toward Wichita. They could see Jasmink’s blue van ahead in the distance.
“Jasmink. We better warn him,” Trevor said.
They reached the blue van, but didn’t see Jasmink anywhere.
“His keys are in the ignition. We can drive to safety,” Josh said.
Josh quickly started up the van. They didn’t notice that Jasmink was lying in the back of the van and that he was a zombie. He jumped forward and bit into Josh’s jugular. The van swerved into a ditch. Trevor hit his head hard on the dashboard. Jasmink turned his attention to Trevor and ripped the flesh from his neck. Trevor went into unconsciousness. When he awoke, he was a zombie.
Jeremy and Charles continued to fight their way out of the police station. Zombies were everywhere. They passed several of their colleagues completely devoured lying in the hallway. The guards by the metal detectors lay on the ground, skin and muscles long gone. Charles had to fight hard not to vomit there on the spot.
“We just need to get to a squad car,” Jeremy said
“Easier said than done,” Charles said. “There are zombies everywhere.”
Outside, golf ball-sized hail fell down from the sky. Jeremy cautiously opened the door leading outside. He quickly fired at a zombie that was standing adjacent to the door. It fell forward, almost landing on him. They both ran toward Charles’ squad car ignoring the pain they were feeling from being pelted by the hail. Behind them, they could see a group of zombies heading for them. They quickly got into the squad car. Luckily, Charles had left the keys in the ignition. He started the squad car and quickly went into reverse, knocking a few zombies down. He put it into drive and floored it. He headed down the highway away from the police station.
“Where to?” Charles asked.
“Just keep going until we run out of gas.”
They both were focusing on the zombie carnage behind them and they didn’t notice they were driving straight into an EF5 tornado and their doom.