Last month, while enjoying a quiet evening at home, my house was hit by Tornado. For most of the day the news stations were covering storm activity throughout the Atlanta area and posting county by county watches and warnings. By ten o'clock that night the coverage was over and programming returned to its usual monotonous lineups. I casually glanced out the window to the west and noticed a strange looking sky filled with flashes of lightning. I called my wife over to look at dark purple clouds painted across the horizon. We shrugged off the odd spectacle and returned to the kitchen to fret over a bowl of overcooked chocolate that failed to melt, leaving a plate of organic strawberries unadorned.
The sounds we heard next turned the burnt chocolate into a very small concern. In fact, the sounds were so bad, so disturbing, and so unique that only one thought occurred to us...RUN! And that's exactly what we did. Within seconds, we reached the door that leads to the stairwell to our basement with our four dogs (who all listened at the same time for the first time) while an F2 tornado shredded our house. We opened the door to the basement and were pounded by howling wind and debris as the basement doors blew inward.
We struggled down the darkened staircase and crouched against the concrete walls. As fast as it all started, the storm spun past. The house was quiet now, but being accustomed to hurricanes, we chose to wait before we emerged from our cement cocoon. Within minutes the phone began ringing with calls from concerned neighbors and soon there was a battalion of firemen and police swarming our front yard.
I chanced a look upstairs and found the damage to be far worse than we ever imagined. The inside of the darkened house was covered in a blanket of snowy white insulation. Most of the roof was torn off and it began to rain inside the house. In a now humorous moment of numb thinking, I placed a bucket under a leak in the remnants of a bedroom ceiling. My moment of futility was interrupted by a fireman ordering us all out of the dangerous structure once known as home.
During the days following the storm nearly everyone we encountered asked the same questions. What did it sound like? Did you hear the train? The answer is it sounded worse than anything I ever heard before and more importantly, it sounded like nothing I had heard before. Picture a giant can being crushed while wind chimes are beaten with a sledge hammer. The sound was so bad and so wrong that all you could do was run.
Days after the storm, my second book, Beneath the Veil, was published. Strangely, one scene in the book includes a devastating storm. The month before the tornado hit, a herd of cows stamped through my backyard with my dog Petey in hot pursuit. Earlier that week, I wrote a similar scene in a manuscript I'm working on called The Knights of Moonshine. Was I prophetic in my writings or simply cursed by my own words? Probably neither, but as a writer I now realize that I would be wise to be a little kinder to my characters, or just maybe, I'll end up as one of them.