Jeremy and his horse broke out of the woods. He traveled to the Thompson property as the terrible winds howled over the fields. In the not so far distance, a twister tore up bushes and trees. He could barely feel his limbs as he rode on and kept an eye on the tornado’s proximity to the Thompson farm.
The house that Sally grew up in looked wicked with the black horizon behind it. He already sensed that she had been there. He was an idiot not to go there first and wait for here there, thinking that he could catch up to her in the forest. She would have arrived there with nothing more than a hunting knife. Even if she were skilled enough to fight someone with a sharp object, she wouldn’t have a chance against a skilled marksman like Mr. Thompson.
“I’m a damn fool.”
Dread weakened him further as he slowed his horse to a walk. At a time when he needed to be strong, his own body failed him. He had never felt so hopeless in all his life as he jumped down from his mount. He nearly lost his balance from the force of the gale. He fought against it and stepped toward the devil man’s property.
His gun was already loaded. He’d kill the man at first glance even if it meant that he’d be in the path of the twister. He and Sally crossed paths and met their fate because of a twister less than two years ago. It was eerie to think that one appeared on the day he might have lost her forever.
He closed his eyes, not wanting to mourn Sally until he knew for sure, but knowing that it was unlikely she’d survive a run in without a gun of her own. He looked away from the growling funnel cloud and stepped past the deacon’s shed. A chill raced down his back at the sight of blood everywhere on the floor.
He held his breath as he walked into the small building with his gaze fixed on the crimson stained wood. Mr. Thomspon lay dead in front of his work bench. Jeremy nearly fainted in relief at the sight. It had to mean that Sally had killed him and was still alive. She was probably on her way to another deacon’s home, mindlessly braving the grave storm in her insanity.
“Why did you run from me, Sally?” he cried.
He rushed back to his mount and rode in pursuit of her. The twister hadn’t moved any closer to him as it veered toward a bush and uprooted a bunch of spindly trees. Perhaps it had a different person it wanted to tear apart this time.
He rode for Deacon Allan’s house. It was the closest dwelling to the Thompsons’. He could only hope that he’d catch up with her before she got in over her head. She was good shot, but not that good.
He reached the Allans’ residence and caught sight of Mrs. Allan and her two sons fleeing to their root cellar. He searched the area for her husband, feeling like a madman as he watched the little family take refuge while a tornado ripped through the countryside just behind him.
He rode through their yard in search of a dead body.
“Sally!” he called.
He ran into the house and searched frantically for a sign of a dead Mr. Allan. No one was inside – living or dead.
“Where the hell are you?” he shouted.
He stormed out of the house and caught sight of Sally running away in the distance. He jumped down the steps and went to retrieve his horse when the sight before him made him freeze. The tornado was nearly upon the property. It was so close that he was frozen in shock. He stared up and down the length of it. It had grown in girth and in darkness since the last time he glanced at it. It roared in anger and the surroundings winds screamed as they rattled the house and pushed even the bigger trees to bend.
He glared at the monstrous funnel of wind and debris.
“You want me, bastard?” he screamed. “Then you’ll have to move faster than that!”
He found his horse cowering against the barn. He grabbed its reins and patted it gently, whispering soothing words.
“You’re going to outrun this thing,” he commanded as he remounted.
The gelding reared with a panicked whinny before making a retreat for the open field. Jeremy scanned the lands ahead for a sign of Sally, but before he could focus on anything, something hard hit him at the back of the head. Black stars flecked his vision before he blacked out.
He fought against the black, but it wouldn’t let him escape. He tried opening his eyes every time he would venture back to consciousness and hear voices only to fall back into deep sleep.
He awoke again with a throat so dry he could hardly swallow.
“Jeremy,” said a familiar voice.
“Help me,” begged Jeremy. “Help me escape.”
He groaned as he forced his eyes open. His blurry vision startled him, but he forced himself to sit up. Someone held cool ceramic to his lips. Water slipped into his mouth. He grabbed the vessel and guzzled the water down.
He blinked several times until his eyesight sharpened. Concerned, dark eyes stared into his. Jeremy set the cup down on the night stand next to his bed.
“Gabriel… you’re here.”
Gabriel leaned forward and took Jeremy’s hand into both of his. The worry in his eyes told of how long he must have been out cold.
“I found Mary. She is safe and well. You wouldn’t leave this place when I fell ill, so I came back to help you and Sally leave.”
Gabriel squeezed Jeremy’s hand and leaned forward.
“Gabriel, Sally has gone mad.”
Gabriel looked down.
“Where is she?”
“I haven’t been able to find her, but I found out what happened to her mother and sister.”
“That’s only the half of it.”
Nausea swirled about in Jeremy’s stomach; he took a deep breath to prevent himself from spewing out all of the water he just drank.
“We need to get up and go,” said Gabriel.
“Tell me what happened.”
“I’ll show you. This people in this place are unreal, Jeremy.”
“You’re telling me.”
“Come on. Let’s go.”
Jeremy got out of bed and put on his coat.
“Please help me find her.”
“I won’t rest until I know you have her back. Is she angry with you?”
“She tried to stab me.”
Gabriel let out a whoosh of breath.
“All right. Well, let’s go.”