Walking into school that day, I let out a huge sigh. Today was Fight Day, the day where all the social groups get to put up their fisticuffs and have an all-out brawl against each other at the football field. The day started with our Last Day of School assembly, where the principal showcased our school's achievements for the year and gave various awards to students. At the end of the assembly, the principal removed his jacket.
"Alright, everyone. You know what's next: it's Fight Day! I'm sure you know what to do. Head out to the football field and find your groups. Let's get ready to end the year with a bang!"
The school cheered as they headed out to the field. At the football field, all the different groups formed up: the band kids, the art students, each of the different sports teams, the nerds, the emos, and the faculty. They all put on colored shirts appropriate for their respective groups. The rest of us who didn't want to fight all sat in the bleachers, which were only about five or six of us.
"Okay everyone," the principal announced, "remember the rules: no excessive violence, no attacking downed fighters, and no weapons. Any deaths will result in immediate confinement. Now, have at 'em!"
With that, battle cries were heard as they all rushed at other groups, immediately followed by punching. It almost looked like an old battle, but with high-schoolers and no swords. Kids were going down left and right, while some managed to knock out many in a row without falling. I suddenly had the urge to head down and fight alongside the track team or the band. I got up and headed over to the stairs when I hesitated. I knew that I'd likely end up bruised and bloody, and remembered that I didn't really approve of the violence, so I took my seat back. After a good half hour, there were only a few that remained standing, whereas those who'd given up had already made their way to the bleachers. The few remaining students shuffled towards each other and threw weak punches. A few of them collapsed from exhaustion before even attacking. Eventually, only one remained, who happened to be one of the football players. The principal, who was bruised pretty badly, announced the football team as the winner of the fight and awarded them with a plaque on the school's "Battle Board". Now that the fighting is done, those too injured are headed to the hospital, while the rest of us are either going out to celebrate, party, or simply going home.
* * *
Waking up on a Wednesday was always dull, because Wednesday was a PT day. My roommate was already up and ready, so I assumed he was wearing today's scheduled uniform and copied it. Soon after, we got the announcement to head out for PT and left the building. Before starting our warm-up exercises, our MTL came out with some interesting news.
"Okay, so y'all are gonna be going to war with Day Shift today." There were puzzled looks throughout the crowd of airmen. "Days gets to fight in their ABUs, so we're stuck fighting in our Blues. Report to Junior Hangar at 1700 tonight with your class and you'll ride out to the battlegrounds shortly after. Huah?"
"Huah!" we called back.
"Awesome. Alright ropes, let's get this started."
We went through with our usual PT routine before heading back to our rooms. My class and I all headed into one of our rooms and discussed what just happened.
"Well, it looks like we're going to be shooting up Day Shift tonight," Rogers, our class leader, informed us. "How do you guys wanna do this?"
"Well," McGee started, "I heard we're riding as classes in Humvees, so I say we stick together in there."
"How about this?" I jumped in. "Rogers will drive with McGee riding passenger, Tory, Preston, McAfee, Collins, and Rollis can ride in the back shooting from the windows, and I'll mount the gun up top."
"Hey, that sounds good to me," Preston added. "Anyone object to that?"
We were all silent.
"Then it's settled. Everyone just get to class on time and we'll follow through with this tonight."
We all agreed and went back to our own rooms. Knowing I could die that night, I called home to let them know. After the long call home, it was time to head out. We formed up and marched to class as usual, but loaded up in Humvees with assault rifles rather than heading to class armed with pencils and energy drinks. After a long roll call and combat briefing, we got into position and headed for the nearby forest.
Despite being heavily armed for battle, the cool breeze and pink sunset gave me a sense of ease and relaxation. The rest of the guys must've felt it to since they all rolled down their windows and leaned out of them. I guess there's a moment of peace you feel when you know you might not come back from where you're going. Of course, the moment was cut short when we heard distant explosions.
"Hope you guys are ready!" Rogers shouted as our enemies were in sight. I aimed the mounted gun and held the trigger down. The kickback was incredible, but I still managed to take some stragglers down. The rest of the guys were more accurate than me with their rifles, able to hit the Day Shifters with ease. We were holding up pretty well until someone shot our tires and windows out, and I was low on ammunition at the same time.
"Everyone bail!" Rogers yelled. We all evacuated the vehicle and started running back into the forest, when Collins fell to the ground screaming.
"I've got her, keep going!" a voice called out as someone dove out of the tree line and protected her. We ran back until we were safe from enemy fire and detection. We caught our breath, reloaded our weapons, and headed back to battle in a stealthier manner. Nearing the edge of the forest, the chaos took a more tactical turn as the number of fighters on both sides dwindled down.
"Well, got anymore plans?" Rogers asked me.
"I say we make a run for the house over there and hold it down," I replied. Everyone agreed, and we made a full-on sprint across the battlefield, bullets flying everywhere around us.
* * *
A Train to Catch
I sat on the train, waiting for it to depart. Looking out the window revealed a beautiful sunset over the tree line. The train was pretty full, with parents trying to calm their unhappy children and businessmen typing furiously on their laptops. I relaxed and dug for my train ticket to give it a look, when I noticed my ticket wasn't in my pocket. I scanned my seat as well as the aisle, but found nothing. In a slight panic, I got off the train and started looking for my ticket. Starting at the loading dock, I checked anywhere it could've ended up. The ground was cluttered with trash, but not to the point of hiding a ticket. The planters were also empty, as were the trash can lids. I walked past the ticket counter and found myself lost in the crowds.
Keeping my eyes peeled, I headed for the ramp that lead me to a good observation spot. The view helped, but the crowd kept me from spotting my lost ticket. Looking around for a less crowded area, I noticed a snack bar on the other end of the crowd and decided to get a drink. Being observant the whole way, I eventually made it to the snack bar, when I noticed a piece of paper underneath one of the dining tables. I crawled under it and found the paper to be a lost train ticket. Sure enough, it was mine! Happily, I grabbed the ticket and headed back to my train, keeping my grip on the ticket tight.
Finally back in my seat, I smiled with content that I'd found my ticket. I heard the conductor alert us of our departure in five minutes. Looking out the window, I saw a beautiful sunset, darker than earlier. The sounds of unhappy children and clicking keyboards were soon cut off by the train's horn. Only problem was, it wasn't our train honking. Looking ahead of us, I saw a train speeding toward us, on our side of the tracks. There wasn't any time to escape the inevitable.
* * *
By the look in the sky, it was no surprise the tornado sirens went off. It hadn't started raining, but the nearby strikes of lightning and booms of thunder were enough to scare everyone into their basements. Running down those creaky stairs made me nervous, but I was glad to be safe. The storm got louder and louder, then suddenly stopped. After a minute of confusing silence, the basement suddenly lit up, and applauses were heard.
"Welcome to tonight's viewing of the Tornado Games!" we heard a voice say. "Live from the storm cell in eastern Iowa, we're proud to welcome our contestants; Ronald, Andrew, Tommy, and Dave!"
Suddenly, podiums rose from the floor in front of us, each with a nametag and scoreboard displayed on the front.
"Alright, who's ready for some Tornaaadooooo Triviaaaaa?" The crowd went wild, then suddenly fell silent. "Alright, first question goes to Ronald! What motion signifies a tornado may appear?"
"Spiraling in the clouds!" Ronald shouted.
"Spiraling in the clouds, huh? What do you think, audience?" A board came up, showing commonly said answers by members in the crowd, and spiraling in the clouds was ranked first. "Ding ding ding! That's correct! You are up into F1 status. Andrew, the next question is for you! What would F1 be referencing, storm related?"
I knew this one. "An F1 tornado!" I yelled.
"F1 tornado? Let's check with the board. Aaaaaaand yes, that is correct, bringing you up into F1 status as well!"
The crowd's cheers blocked all sound for a bit, slowing the pace of the game.
"Alright Tommy, what color is the sky when a tornado is about to appear?"
"Obviously, it's black!" he shouted with great enthusiasm.
"Black clouds? Let's see. Survey says... green?"
The crowd made a sound of disappointment.
"Sorry bub, but the world agrees that the clouds are a greenish color, leaving you without any storm status. Can Dave bring himself up with the first two, or will he remain down with Tommy? All comes down to this question: What area of the United States experiences these big storms all the time?"
Dave was confused at first but answered with "Tornado Alley!"
"Tornado Alley, huh? Is this common knowledge? Yes, it appears to be! Congratulations, you are now in F1 status with the first two! And speaking of which, it's time for our minigame, Tornaaadooooo Alleeeeyy!"
The crowd went wild.
"The rules are simple: you are all stranded out in a field when a tornado shows up! You must stay within the playing area, excluding the stage, without being hit by the tornado, which will be our very own Alex Johnson! Last one alive is promoted to the next storm status. Let me hear you, 3... 2... 1... Tornado Alley!"
Suddenly, a bald, shirtless man with a thick beard came rolling in on a four-wheeler. We all scattered, trying to avoid him, but the vehicle was clearly faster than any of us.
"I'm gon' getch you, boy!" Alex shouted, gaining on Dave. He caught up to him, knocking him in the air.
"Woah, looks like Dave's already out! Who will win this intense match?" the host announced.
Driving towards me, Alex spat out his chewing tobacco across the play area, just barely missing me.
"You gon' be cream gravy next, boy!" he shouted as he went full throttle. I made a quick jump to the left at the last second, just in time to avoid being hit. Driving past, he looked back at me and raised his fist in anger, completely unaware that Tommy and Ronald were within his path as he plowed over both of them.
"I can't believe it, Andrew's tricky dodge confused everyone and was the end of both Tommy and Ronald!"
The crowd went absolutely nuts.
"What an incredible finish, putting Andrew above the rest in F2 status! Truly amazing!" After the crowd had settled down, the host continued. "Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for round two: Stormy Storiiieeeees! Wait a minute, it seems that the storm has let up already. I'm sorry to cut it short, but it's already time to go. Let's hear it for our champion, F2 Andrewwwww!"
My podium rose into the air while the audience screamed and cheered for me.
"Andrew here will be walking away with our Tornado Games edition of Twister, which comes with the Twister game board, Twister T-shirt, and the Twister spinner hat. We hope you enjoyed today's show, and have a safe day back up above!"
The lights shut off, and the basement was back to normal. We headed back upstairs and were glad the house was still intact. After setting my prize down on the kitchen table, I took a step outside and enjoyed the post-storm coolness.
* * *
The Eiffel Tower's beautiful lights brightened up the city at night. People still populated the streets despite it being eleven at night. It was my first night in Paris, day four of my vacation. I was traveling on my own, hopping from country to country, city to city. Each place I visited had something different about it, with Paris' being its night life. Lifting my camera from my neck, I snapped a few photos of the tower, as well as of the people in the streets. Reviewing the shots in my camera, I erased the blurry shots and only kept the best. Looking back at the crowd, I noticed most people heading into a specific restaurant and decided that an expensive French meal sounded pretty appealing.
Walking toward the restaurant, I heard the faint sound of a helicopter's propellers. Turning around, I saw what seemed to be a military helicopter flying my way. 'Awesome,' I thought, 'maybe I can get an awesome shot of the chopper here.' However, I noticed some beautiful blue flowers laying around the pathways. I positioned my camera for the perfect shot, but just before taking the picture, I was thrown off by the sound of everyone screaming and running.
"He's going to kill us all!" I heard a man scream while pointing at the helicopter. I turned and looked at it, a massive gunship loaded with missiles. The pilot showed no mercy as he started firing missiles everywhere. I watched, frozen in fear, as the explosion engulfed a large group of people. When the smoke dissipated, there were no fires or mutilated bodies. Rather, there was a small group of odd creatures, all of which resembled different kinds of Pokémon. Hearing more missiles exploding, I decided it was a good time to start running. Behind me, I heard the faint sound of the gunship's side door opening, followed by the sound of a gun being fired. Turning around, I saw an odd projectile rushing at me as it hit my arm. As the sniper started laughing, I looked at the wound and saw my arms turning a yellowish green color, and shrinking into my shoulders. I felt odd changes across my body occurring at a rapid rate until I seemed to shrink right out of my clothes. By the look of it, I seemed to have turned into a Caterpie by the sniper's shot. I really didn't know what to do, but I noticed that those pretty blue flowers sure looked tasty.
* * *
The estate was within view. Hiding in the trees, our small airmen Task Force waited to see if the building was clear. Our sniper found the building to be empty, so we headed in. We were searching for the daughter of General Morris, our Wing Commander. She was kidnapped a few days before, and intel lead us to believe she was here. Unfortunately, she was nowhere to be found inside the building.
"Target's position still unknown, requesting pickup back to base," the Staff Sergeant said over the radio.
"Negative, it's too dangerous to send in support. You'll have to wait it out or walk back," the Command Post replied.
Just then, a large, burly soldier, surrounded by smaller troops, entered the building and spotted the guy on the radio.
"Hey! Show yourself or we'll open fire!" he shouted.
Luckily, our guy was pretty clever. He pulled out a red beret and wore it, resembling the enemy's men.
"It's your scouting team, sir," he said rather calmly. He motioned for us to follow him as we all left the building. The enemy told his men to do the same, leaving through the other exit. Trailing farther behind our leader, I was still in the building when everyone else had left. Just before stepping through the doorway, I was grabbed from behind by the enemy leader.
"You're not getting away that easy!" he said while trying to choke me out. I elbowed him in the chest hard enough to break free, and then went running around the building in an attempt to hide. Reaching the other side, I ran in and hid underneath one of the tables. I watched as he passed by the window, and crawled out in hopes of reaching the forest undetected. Nearing the entrance, he spotted me and came rushing toward me. I jumped to the side and started throwing some punches, but he managed to block most of them. I was also able to protect myself from his attacks. Managing to push him back, a couple well timed kicks knocked him to the ground. I quickly ripped my belt off and used it to tie his hands down. Holding him down, the rest of my Task Force showed up and helped me restrain him. Finally authorized a way back, we carried our enemy to the helicopter for further interrogation.
* * *
"I'm telling you, it's real," my friend reassured me. "Every Wednesday it comes out."
I was still skeptical. "You do realize how impossible that is, right? A tornado without any storm, or even clouds for that matter?"
"Oh, there'll be clouds, not necessarily a storm though. It's like a really powerful dust devil. You got your camera ready?"
"Awesome. We're coming up on it's spot here soon."
As much as I wanted it to be real, there was just no way this could happen. I didn't have the heart to tell my friend the facts though, so I played along. He wasn't the smartest of people, but his big heart and imagination helped brighten everyone's day, and I didn't want to upset him. I made sure the camera was ready to record video, and had my phone set up for taking pictures.
"Here we are!" He announced as he pulled the car over on the side of the road. I stepped out of the car to see vast blue skies with only a few clouds visible. The highway seemed to continue on forever, with nothing but empty grassy fields as far as we could see. Just that sight alone was worthy of a few pictures. Despite the beauty, one thing was missing: the tornado.
"It's been about ten minutes, man," I informed him. "I don't think it's gonna come."
"Just give it a second. It'll be here."
"Listen, I know you really want to see th-"
"Look! There it is!"
Looking back into the distance, the cloud started spiraling, and a thin tornado touched the ground from it. It gracefully moved around the field while our cameras documented it. Despite its destructive nature, the tornado was quite beautiful. We sat there for hours, watching it until it returned to the sky. My friend turned to me and said "Now do you believe me?"
"Yeah, I do."
* * *
Riding the bus home one day, I noticed a house out in the middle of nowhere that had an eerie look to it. I kept a close eye on it because I was intrigued with haunted houses. When the bus dropped us off, my brothers and I headed home and went about our daily business. I, however, waited until night came and hopped on my bike. I rode through the dark roads over to that creepy house to check it out. I hid my bike behind a bush and crept up to the front door. I knocked on the door just in case it was someone's home, but it was definitely vacant. Taking a deep breath, I stepped inside.
The house seemed pretty normal on the inside. There were a couple lamps and some furniture, almost as if someone still lived there, but the dust and spiderwebs said otherwise. Venturing deeper into the house, I found that the building looked less dusty the closer I got to the stairwell. I shined my flashlight up the stairs and noticed it looked a lot cleaner. This scared me a little, thinking that some junkie probably lives up there. I was exploring though, so I went up the stairs anyway. On the second floor, there was a long hallway with a couple rooms on the side, with a door at the end. I saw a faint light coming from underneath it. As I crept toward the door, I heard what sounded like a little girl crying. It freaked me out, but realizing I caught evidence of a ghost, I pulled out my phone to record it. I placed it on the ground facing the door to ensure good video quality, and I waited it out.
"Please leave me alone, someone help!" the voice suddenly called out.
"Shut up!" I heard a grown man yell, followed by the sound of a slap. At this point, I realized this was no ghost; a little girl was being attacked, and possibly raped!
"Stop!" I shouted as I started walking toward the door. I started to feel strange as I approached the room. When I heard the attackers quiet down and headed near the door, I picked up speed. I started to feel itchy and hot all over as I neared the door. My jaw, feet, and hands all felt as they were changing, but I ignored these feelings, focusing on saving a life. Just before tackling down the door, a sudden feeling forced me to the ground, so I dove through instead. By knocking the door down, I was able to get the advantage on the attackers. Luckily for me, they fled in fear. I walked up to the girl and saw she hadn't been hurt too badly, and was luckily not raped.
"Are you okay?" I asked her.
"Y-yes," she sobbed, looking at me. "Daddy was right, I do have a guardian to look after me. Thank you, Mr. wolf."
Wolf? I took a quick look at myself, and she was right: somehow, I was now a wolf.
"Mr. wolf, will you help me find my way back home?" she asked.
Realizing that I must be her guardian, I felt compelled to do so. "Every step of the way," I assured her, as she gave me a big hug.
* * *
I put my phone down on the table as our food arrived. My mom, my two little brothers, and I were all visiting Chicago and eating in a nice bistro-style restaurant. We enjoyed a nice conversation with our meal as the day went by. I looked out the large glass wall entrance and enjoyed the view of the city. That is, until the ground started to shake.
"What's going on?" various people around started to wonder. The ground out started to crack, and gravity seemed to slowly shift sideways. My phone slid off the table toward the entrance, and soon cars started to slide down the roads. People started screaming and running everywhere. We all ran out of the building and started heading for the airport, where my father and older brother were getting a ride in a military A-10 aircraft. As we ran through the lopsided, crumbling city, we dodged falling buildings and cracks in the earth. Fire started to consume some portions of the city, and other parts fell into cracks. Just barely surviving, we managed to make it to the aircraft where they were all waiting on us. We all boarded the aircraft and prepared for a close take-off.
The aircraft managed to take off in time, leveling itself out as it broke ground. Looking out the window, I watched as the ground under the city pushed up on one end, causing the city to tilt and fall into Lake Michigan. The skyscrapers were no match for gravity as they snapped and toppled over. Flying over the lake, we were glad that we were all together and alive. The plane had just enough fuel to take us to solid land, where we landed safely. The pilot taxied us into an abandoned warehouse. Stepping off the plane, miles away from any town, we all had the same thought: Now what?