I was staying at a brick mansion in the country, where there was a living room with several televisions. When I returned I found some young women disconnecting mine, including the cables. By yelling and flailing, I tried to stop them because I didn’t know how to arrange the setup again.
After they disappeared (rather than leaving), I realized my equipment was in a cellar on the second floor, and water on the floor was seeping toward the television. As I considered my next step, I heard someone mention a thunderstorm—no, hurricane—no, tornado—approaching rapidly. We debated its direction and whether it would veer toward us. Then we lay on our stomachs in the cellar that wasn’t a cellar.
The tornado struck. As I lay there, I thought it sounded and felt like a freight train passing over me. I expected it would last only minutes, but it seemed to go on a long, long time. Suddenly it was calm, as though nothing had happened. Everything around me seemed intact.
I pulled aside a heavy curtain and saw the sun, but random clouds formed a new, vaguely human-shaped tornado, which seemed to be considering the direction it should take. Suddenly it veered toward us. We dove to the floor, and repeated the experience.
Afterward I heard the hostess say that there was structural damage to a supporting wall, but she’d called someone, who was on the way to fix it. I mulled the unlikelihood of so little damage and the availability of someone in the storm area to come out so quickly. I looked out again. The tornado funnel was breaking up into tiny clouds, but reforming into a shape like a human figure from southwestern Native American art. It was going to strike again—intentionally.
I tried to go out, but as I was about to walk down the steps I noticed there weren’t any and would have fallen a couple of stories if I hadn’t stopped myself quickly. The outer wall for a hallway was half gone, but guests were picking up the torn-up timber and trying to build some kind of makeshift steps to the broken wall. No one seemed bothered that so much of the house was exposed to the weather.
Below, snow covered the ground, and above the sky was making the transition from sunny brightness to tornado cloud darkness.