Catherine Walsh paced impatiently outside of the courtroom in the little town of Hudson, New York wondering which was going to come first; Sam answering his phone, the court actually being called into session again or her next birthday. Finally, a minute later, she heard a click on the other end of the phone and started to speak only to realize that she had reached Sam's voice mail.
"Sam, it's Catherine," she said. She just hoped he checked his messages sometime before he left for the airport to pick her up. "I just wanted to let you know that this court case is taking longer than I thought. I'm still waiting to give my testimony so I'm not sure when I'll be back. I'll just catch a cab home from the airport so you won't have to bother coming to get me." She was about to say more when the baliff appeared at the door. "Got to go, they're calling us back into court. Bye, Sam."
June 2nd 2:05 pm
The vice-principal poked his head out of his office, thrilled that he had only one more day of school to survive before the junior high let out for the summer. Just then he spotted the person he was looking for pushing a bucket of water down the hall.
"Hey, John!" he called to the young man, motioning for him to leave his mopping for a moment and come into the office. "Need you to do me a favor. The superintendent," this name was spoken as if it was poison, "wants a report on the status of the school this year. Could you run it down to the courthouse? You can knock off for the day after you drop it off."
"No problem," the young man said as he reached out and took the papers before heading for the staff parking lot. He would have happily gone any place he had to to get out of having to clean up what would be left in the wake of all of those kids once they were released from school for the day. He sometimes wondered how he had ended up doing this sort of work. He had always had a vague feeling he was meant for other things. He always pushed that aside though. He knew he was lucky to have the job he did.
The vice principal shook his head as he watched the janitor pull out of the parking lot. That boy was a wonder and he sometimes had to wonder why someone who seemed so clever was working cleaning up after a horde of future delinquents. Of course, he was riding herd on the same delinquents after a rather expensive college education so he couldn't really say much. He just hoped John didn't have a run-in with the superintendent down at the courthouse. If that man didn't stop with the smart remarks about the boy's pony-tail, it would be just their luck he would quit and then where would they be for a janitor?
June 2nd 2:15 pm
John was able to find a parking place in front of the courthouse quickly for once and hurried towards the building. He looked up as he went, puzzled by what he was seeing. The clouds were moving one way while the wind was blowing the trees another. That was wierd. He really hoped they weren't in for a storm. He would have a ton of tree limbs to pick up in the morning if they were.
June 2nd 2:16pm
Catherine sat in the courtroom trying not to look as bored as she felt. Both sides were just sitting there staring into space and the judge looked like he was about to fall asleep. Didn't it occur to these people that some of them might have a life that they really needed to get back to? Could things get any worse? If she ever got out of this state, she swore she wasn't coming back again. Bad enough that being here just brought back memories of her last visit, and poor Noah and how they lost him.
Just then a bailiff came into the courtroom and approached the judge, whispering something that made the man look more alert than Catherine had seen him during the entire case before turning to face the others in the courtroom.
"Everyone please remain calm," the bailiff told the people in what he hoped was a voice that hid his concern, "There's been a tornado warning issued for this county and we're going to need to move everyone down to the basement until the warning's lifted. Please don't panic but move quietly out of the courtroom and to the stairs on the left."
Catherine and most of the people were already moving before the bailiff finished speaking. Once outside the courtroom, the crowd seemed to divide, many people rushing to peer out the doors and windows, while others hurried to alert friends in other parts of the building. Catherine was a bit disoriented by the people rushing everywhere as she looked around for the stairs she had been told about. Suddenly she felt herself showed into someone.
"Are you okay?" John asked as he looked down at the woman. He started to say something else but his words were suddenly cut off by what sounded like a cross between the largest freight train in the world and a jet engine, right outside the building.
June 2nd 2:17 pm
The swirling funnel cloud touched down barely a block from the courthouse, cutting a swath as it aimed directly at the building. A loud rattling sound filled the air as it swooped down. Inside the courthouse, panic reigned as the people at the door saw the funnel cloud approaching.
Catherine was momentarily paralyzed by shock and then suddenly the twister was there. Things were instantly thrown into chaos as people began to scream and try to find some sort of cover. She struggled to move, to run, but the wind inside the building was so strong, every loose object seemed to be some sort of weapon now, the tornado seizing them and sending them flying in random directions. The air pressure was so low Catherine gasped, fighting for air. She forced her head up and was horrified to see bits of the building being ripped away by the powerful winds. And beyond that... odd, she thought to herself, as she gazed up into a maelstrom. I never thought about a tornado being hollow. Sam, I guess I'm gonna be even later than I thought. She forced herself to close her eyes, to duck her head low, covering her head with her arms, the only thing she could do now to try to protect herself as the horrible roaring noise increased, filling her head until she thought it would explode. She could feel things slamming into her and suddenly there was something lifting her off of her feet, dragging her up slightly before sending her flying. She felt herself crashing into something, a searing pain ripping through her head and stomach as she found herself falling before she finally felt no more.
June 2nd 2:18 pm
The silence that filled the town was only broken by the light pattering of rain that was heard once more. Only one thing was different in the town of Hudson, New York. The courthouse had been demolished.