Tornado Watch

Nicholas Rys


In the morning we split up the MDMA we stole from Todd’s older brother between the four of us.  We thought it was MDMA.  It looked a lot like the picture we saw on Erowid so we figured we’d be okay but sure enough we were all staring at the mounds of white powder in front of us, unsure how to consume it, when Todd said we were going to be late for our last day of high school.  


Sarah watched a YouTube tutorial and told us you could put it in water and stir it around so we did that and drank it and then got in Todd’s car and went to school.  Sarah said she was nervous and Todd said shut up and Brandon didn’t say anything but I laughed. 


I think it was Brandon who checked the weather and said there was a tornado watch.  Sarah asked if it was a tornado watch or a tornado warning and we all laughed really hard for some reason.  We all knew one was dangerous and one wasn’t but couldn’t remember which was which.  The next thing I knew I was at school.  The next thing I knew I was touching my face.  The next thing I knew I was at school and touching my face a lot.  Everyone else was there so we figured we didn’t have to worry about the tornado.  We all started smiling and talking at each other instead of to each other even though all any of us wanted to do was listen. 


It was strange but beautiful and I remember feeling warm and happy like I was finally getting it even though I wasn’t sure what it was and then the first period teacher started going over tornado procedure.  He read from a chart and wrote some rules down but I couldn’t understand any of it so I took out my phone and started to record, that way if he was giving any valuable information I’d be able to watch later.  


When the tornado came everyone went crazy.  I kept trying to find Brandon or Todd or Sarah but it was hysteria.  I was mostly on Twitter letting people know what was going on even though I wasn’t really sure what was going on.  I usually have to edit down my posts a bunch but I was very pleased with myself because I was tweeting out 140 character gems with an unprecedented consistency.  

I don’t think anyone had actually seen a tornado but the teachers and principals kept taking kids in groups out to the storm basement by the baseball field while I stayed in and tried to find Todd and the others.  After looking online, I stared through the window and thought I saw a tornado forming but wasn’t sure so I made a Vine and posted it asking IS THIS A TORNADO Y OR N ? but it just got lots of views and no comments.  So I kept watching the loop on my phone and thought how dark the sky looked.


I stared into the funnel of the tornado through the screen on my phone. It moved so fluidly, so calmly, so quickly, and I tried to see if it was whole but all I saw were pieces of our town lodged inside its belly. Was that Miller’s fence flying with Tom’s Grocery sign and my mother’s SUV? I watched and re-watched the loop to find out, but then people started retweeting my picture and it was getting lots of likes and then someone was yelling at me that I had to go, that I had to follow them to the storm basement outside.  


When the tornado touched down I was still touching my face and hadn’t found Brandon or Todd or Sarah.  They must have been in another storm basement.  They must’ve been the students that Principal Kosgrove was talking about who went down to the janitor’s closet.  I’m sure they made it even though none of them liked or commented on any of my posts.  Anyway, I’m not too worried.  Down here everyone’s being really nice to each other for a change.  We can’t tell if the storm has passed or is still on top of us because there’s no signal or wifi down here so we are all just waiting for them to restore service or for the drugs to wear off or for the principal to say it’s okay or for some officer or fireman to come rescue us like in that one viral video where the firemen rescue that cat that was stuck in the tree only we’re the cats and we’re underground.  Anyway. We’ll be waiting.  

 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Nicholas Rys lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio where he writes and makes music.  His cultural essays and author interviews have been featured in places like Hobart, Fanzine and Thought Catalog, and he is a contributing editor at Entropy where he started a series about music, literature and film.  His fiction and poetry has appeared online in such places as Flash Flash Click, Unbroken Journal, The Molotov Cocktail and many others.  He is an active member of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania-based arts organization/archive, My Idea of Fun, through which he releases music under the moniker Norma Desmond.