Short Story Prompt Sharing Read Count : 17

Category : Stories

Sub Category : Drama
Devastation 

Evansville is a community with a population of 1,050 located in Pennsylvania. A picture-perfect small town, USA that's surrounded by lakes, forests and nature. U.S. Hwy 6 is the main drag that cuts through from both, east and west directions, then turns into Adams Street through the town limits. Evansville is occupied by a few gift shops, Gabby's coffeehouse is where the high school students hang out with their friends and study on their laptops, and they have the best lattes than any other coffee shop in Erie County. Directly across the street is Al's farm market, a small wooden building where the Bowler family sell locally grown fruits & vegetables fresh off their farm a few miles out of town. Next to them is the post office, then down another is the Lakeview cafe and pie shop. Then on the edge of town is the Red Apple convenience store & gas station. Adams Street is lined up with angled parking spaces, and the street is well-known for its community parades to march through. 

 May 31st, 2005

 John Wilkes was a 30 year old father of twin daughters, Kayley & Hayley, age 6. He was picking up the girls from kindergarten that day while his wife, Cori was working as a secretary at the state representative office in the next town over. Cori was working later than normal so John picked up the kids that day. John pulled into the parking lot of Evansville elementary school, put his Silverado in park and shut off the engine. He then got out and walked to the front entrance where he'd met Kayley & Hayley both.

"Daddy, daddy" the sweet little voices shouted out as the two blonde ponytails girls in purple matching dresses ran out the door, both of them jumping into dad's arms to hug them.

"Well, hello there my two little princesses." John said to his baby girls. "How was school?" He asked, walking them to the parking lot with holding one in each arm.

"School was okay." Hayley said.

Then Kayley followed, "Yeah just okay, Dad. Where's mommy?" 

"She had to stay at work a little longer but don't worry, she'll be home soon." John told the girls as he was putting them in the back cab and strapping them in. Then he jumped into the driver's seat and started the engine. He continued to have small talk with the girls as he was driving through town. The sky began to darken to shade of gray, but the townspeople were still out and about. Old man Joe was sitting on a bench in front of the bait & tackle shop smoking a fat cigar like he'd always done after spending hours shopping for fishing supplies. Ms. O'Leary was out walking her little Yorkshire terrier, who she called 'Tootsie.' John waved his hand to both, the 80 year old man smoking the fat cigar and the young lady walking her dog. Being a small community, everyone knows who everyone is, what they're doing for dinner and what time of day they do their business in the comfort of their own bathrooms. 

Once John passed through town and got out on the open two-lane country road, he noticed the horizon was becoming more dark. The sun was shining brilliantly when he'd left his home less than a half hour before to pick up the twins. The channel 12 news out of Erie was the closest coverage for these small surrounding areas, located 50 miles away. The last weather report John watched was predicting sunshine and temperatures in the middle 70's that morning before heading out to work at his construction business located on his property. Now it appeared to have changed completely. The five mile drive out of Evansville on Hwy. 6 was relatively flat land with a few rolling hills and slight curves. There were farms and freshly-plowed fields on both sides of the road, it was also the beginning of planting season in Pennsylvania. There were wooded areas between the fields and residential homes every quarter to half mile. A few dirt roads turned off and cut through the countryside every so often and once he drove across the cement bridge over Phelps crick, he slowed down and made a right hand turn in his long driveway that went back off the road approximately 1,500 feet and pulled up to his detached three-car garage and pulled his truck in. To the left of the garage was a log cabin built two story home with a wraparound porch that went around the entire house. Less than two years old, John and Cori built the dream home themselves. Off to the right of the 35 acre property was his construction business which was a large metal building that was over 100 feet long.  Phelps crick cut through their land and into the woods. A small wooden barn sat on the other side of the crick with a small pasture surrounded by a wooden fence where John had three horses, one for the girls and the other belonged to Cori. It was the perfect place to raise a family surrounded by nature of all kinds. 

"Let's go girls before it rains." John said to the kids, as they stepped out from the garage and onto the porch then through the front door of log home an into the livingroom where a stone fireplace went clear up the center of the room. The stairs went up and a hallway balcony went to the left that overlooked the entire living room.  The kitchen was behind the living through a hallway that went under the upper balcony and a dining room of to the right of the kitchen. The entire home was well over 3,000 feet. The girls dropped their backpacks on the bench in the doorway and sprinted upstairs to their rooms. John went into the livingroom and sat down on his recliner and clicked the remote to turn on the television. Shortly thereafter, a rumble of thunder rolled off in the distance and the wind started to pick up. John sprung up from his chair and peeked out the large window in the living room and noticed the funnel clouds above the treeline across the open field. His heart began to hammer against his ribs, reaching for the phone from his pocket to call Cori, trying to refrain from hitting the panic button, he shouts up to the girls "KAYLEY, HAYLEY GET DOWN HERE, NOW!" Darts outside to the front porch, phone to his ear pleading for Cori to answer, she does

"Hey babe what's up?" His wife answers on the other end. 

"Baby, what's the weather doing in Hayfield?" He asked in a fearful voice, wiping the sweat from his forehead as he studies the atmosphere, the funneling clouds were dropping closer to the ground. The girls were now standing at the bottom of the stairs and he turns around for a brief moment, becoming paralyzed by terror, not knowing what was going to happen next. "HAYLEY, KAYLEY, GET IN THE BASEMENT NOW! John yells to the kids.

"What is going on, John?" Cori asked, confounded and feeling terrified to his 

"I'm coming home now. " she said as her stomach churned, Corie scurried out of the office and fumbled for her keys. She looks up to the sky and it's partially sunny, but clouding up in the distance. She unlocked the door, gets into her sedan and starts the engine. "Baby are you there? Please don't hang up, baby please." She puts the phone on speaker and throws it onto the passenger seat. Ripping out of the parking lot and drives 16 miles to her husband and daughters. After a few minutes the phone call was lost and she couldn't get through. Frightened, her hands wouldn't stop shaking as she tried to keep a tight grip on the steering wheel. Five miles into the drive home, the sky darkened and the rain began to fall down hard, turning the wipers on high, the wind drastically picked up, pushing her Impala all over the road. The rain fell so hard that the high-speed wipers weren't serving her an ounce of justice to the visibility of the road. She glances at her speed and slowed down to 35 m.p.h. and the next thing she seen was a tree down about forty feet ahead. "DAMNIT!" She cried, pulling her hands back then slamming them against the wheel, throwing the car in reverse and turning around then cutting across a dirt road to go around. In the moments to come, the short-lived storm began to subside. She took the backroads to Evansville and seen more trees down, mostly uprooted from the ground, utility poles had fallen over, powerlines were sparking as they lay on the ground and she had to dodge around them. She made it into Evansville where sirens were blaring endlessly through the air. Emergency crews were out directing traffic, unable to attend to all the devastation that  transpired in only a few seconds time. There were roofs torn off buildings, homes were leveled and most of Evansville was too. EMT's were treating injured victims on the sidewalks or any place room was available. Vehicles were tipped over on roofs from the twister sucking them up off the highway and throwing them back down 20 yards away. There were mobile homes sucked up off their foundations and also slammed to the ground several yards away, debris had filled the places that were once  yards and farmland. After making it through the picture-perfect town that was leveled to nothing more than debris, Cori eyes splurged with tears, she began praying to God outloud, begging and pleading for her family to be safe. Sick with apprehension, she couldn't bare to see them dead, barely able to clearly view the road with her crying eyes. She made it across the cement bridge and into the driveway, approaching her home to see that the roof had blown away, but the house was still standing. The barn was never touched and the horses were running in the pasture, unharmed, but terrified. John's company had some slight damage as the door was blown off but it was still standing. She parked the car and ran towards the porch and that's when John and her daughter's sprung out the front door, all three of them safe, but shaken up like a leaf blowing in the wind. She hugged them all as tears continued to emerge from her eyes and she couldn't let go. There was no indication or warning of this devasting twister from the national weather service that day. There were 17 lives taken and it took several years for Evansville to recover from the community being leveled. 

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  • May 06, 2020

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