Need to catch up? Click to read Scene 2 from Shroud of Darkness, "Chopper Blades".
3. Officer Sully
The tornado claimed his hat, tore at his clothes, and pulled at his balance. But Officer Sully still spotted her. He didn't know how, what with the dust caking his eyes, his lips, and parching his throat. But the little girl was there, rooted to the spot. He ran crookedly to her, dodging more fleeing visitors. Only when he reached her could he finally see the body next to her.
He knelt down and clasped her shoulder. "Sweetie? Is this your mom?"
Crying, she shook her head. "It's Sissy. Sissy is gone," she wailed.
People stumbled and jostled behind him, causing Sully to look up just in time. He threw himself up and over the girl as the tornado's funnel whipped what resembled shredded helicopter rotors mere yards over their heads.
He covered the girl, who was sobbing hysterically, and slowly peeked up. Though his visibility only included a few yards in any direction, he saw no more flying debris heading for them. He rose to a crouch.
“What's your name?” he gasped, trying to maintain a calming tone.
Her thumb had been in her mouth, a nervous habit he was sure had begun again due to the cyclonic storm. She wrenched it loose long enough to mutter “Sally” before crying again.
Sully glanced at the ground, and saw the older girl whom Sally had identified as her sister. There was blood. Blunt force trauma to the head. She had been dead for a while now. He suspected there would be more like her after the tornado weakened and emergency crews came in.
He grabbed Sally’s hand. He said, “We have to go. I know you don’t want to leave her, but we have to go now.” Interlocking his fingers with hers to maintain his grip, he sprinted, half crouched, towards the zoo exit. She sobbed, the sounds cutting his heart in two. Still, they ran.
Thankfully he had been patrolling this zoo as a security officer for almost 5 years. Though he couldn’t see the exit, he knew all of the nooks and crannies the zoo had to offer. He and Sally zig-zagged their way down the side of the mountain zoo, pausing behind buildings with larger foundations and thus less damage so that he could gauge their next steps as visibility worsened to a few mere feet.
Finally, he pulled her alongside a torn wooden post. Only a few hours ago, a large sign proclaiming that the gift shop was "This Way" had been suspended from it. He glanced around, seeing nothing but white, brown, and darkness.
Moving closer to the gift shop building that he knew was just a few yards away, his hand reached out and felt the side of the building. His fingers brushed the hinges of a door on that same side, and then maneuvered over a few feet and down to the doorknob.
Praying under his breath, he jiggled the knob, turned, and pulled. As he swung the door open, the wind ripped it out of his hand, off the hinges, and sucked it into the sky. Sally screamed as the door flew past her, while Sully managed to push both of them inside the building. He dragged Sally with him behind an interior wall, then dropped to the floor, trying to catch his breath. He could hear more shrieks, desperate animal calls, and above all, the roar of the funnel tearing everything apart.
Sally, devoid now of tears, stared at him with red eyes and a splotchy face. "I don't like this place," she said as she shivered. "I'm scared."
Sully reached over and hugged her close, all the while trying to drop his own heart-rate. "I know, sweetie," he said. "I know."