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  • Writer's pictureScott Bryant

Chasing The Monstrosity

Updated: Mar 13

Chasing the Monstrosity by Scott Bryant
Background photo by Péter Kövesi via

Valerie and Keisha stopped in Austin, Texas to eat and charge up their Rivian R1T truck after a less-than-eventful morning tracking storm patterns. Best friends and two of the best weather researchers at The Weather Channel, Valerie and Keisha felt as though their research had reached a slump lately. "Man, what is going on with Mother Nature these days? The East Coast is getting snowstorms, the West Coast is getting rainstorms, and all we're getting here in the middle Southwest is nothing but sun and no action. I'd rather be on the West Coast." said Keisha. "Right? But we're weather researchers. Besides, the weather today seems ripe for some tornado activity. There's no sun out now." Valerie explained. "You think so? The last time we had tornado activity, it turned out to be an EF1 tornado that ripped the roof off a barn. Not exactly thrilling, Valerie," Keisha said. "Don't give up hope, Keisha. Sometimes we have to deal with the less-exciting parts before we get to the thrilling action. Something does seem off with this windy, semi-dark weather, though," Valerie observed while driving. "Yeah, I guess so. We did have several close calls in the past. Like that EF3 tornado in outside of Dallas? I had never seen so much house debris flying in all directions. I thought we were goners at that time," Keisha recalled. "Ah yes, 'Little Terror,' that did make for great stories back at headquarters," Valerie said with fond recollection.

At that moment, Valerie and Keisha's phones dinged with a message. "Val and Keisha, you won't believe this. An EF5 tornado called 'The Monstrosity' is rapidly forming and on a warpath north of Austin. It's heading your way. This tornado is huge, and it looks angry." That message came from Debbie (their head research manager) at The National Weather Service headquarters. "Valerie, holy..oh my god. The Monstrosity! Just what we need!" "Let's go, Keisha!" Luckily Valerie and Keisha had finished lunch, and the Rivian ended charging. So Valerie hopped in the driver's seat while Keisha jumped into the passenger seat. As Keisha always pointed out, Valerie was an exceptional driver who should have been a stunt person in Hollywood.

"Keisha, what does the radar show?" "There looks like a formation north of Austin heading into Waco. And it's massive!" This radar data was their confirmation. "The Monstrosity" was making its presence known. Noted in weather research circles as one of the most legendary yet rarely seen EF5 tornadoes, "The Monstrosity" had earned its notorious reputation in the past 20 years. The first time The Monstrosity showed up was in 2003 in a small town in Oklahoma, where no house, building, barn, or truck stop was left standing. Many people in the area survived as the state of Oklahoma had given residents days advanced warning to get out. The sheer size of The Monstrosity - a typical sized EF5 tornado - wasn't what startled weather researchers and scientists, but how powerful its winds and path of destruction ripped through buildings - and even concrete! The most famous tragedy from The Monstrosity was in 2007 when two amateur storm chasers in Nebraska decided to pull off an incredibly mad stunt where they stood in the middle of the road as The Monstrosity was barreling towards them like a runaway freight train. In less than a second, the storm chasers were picked up and violently thrown around like a rock, where ultimately both smacked face-first into a tree, fatally killing them in a nanosecond. The Monstrosity was an incredibly menacing tornado with an angry motive. Its chilling roar and fast pace are the stuff of weather nightmares. But no one has ever lived to survive its wrath to tell their story of The Monstrosity.

"Game plan, Keisha. We confront The Monstrosity, get the data and imagery we need, and get out. We need to do it fast. Don't worry; we've got this," Valerie said confidently. "This is exciting, but still, The Monstrosity. I've heard horror stories. Are we sure we're ready for this moment?" Keisha asked with slight hesitation. "Keisha, we've survived the worst moments. We just need to be on our wits and try not to show fear. The Monstrosity apparently can sense fear, as weird as that sounds," Valerie said with assurance. "I think so too. Good thing I got my will and estate planning done last year, " Keisha replied with a touch of humor. "We've got the onboard computer system, remember? Once in range, the computer instantly collects the data, images, and video and transmits it back to Traci and Weather Channel headquarters. We'll be fine," said Valerie with calm reassurance. "Thanks, Valerie. I'm glad we're in this together, even if we've probably given our mothers grey hairs of stress," said Keisha. "I am too, Keisha. We're sisters to the end," said Valerie as she touched Keisha’s hand in solidarity.

As Valerie and Keisha got closer to Waco, they noticed a menacing dark sky ahead. And as soon as they crossed over the hill, there it was, The Monstrosity, swirling in one place slowly as if it was waiting for something. "Holy mother of San Diego, Valerie. The Monstrosity!" Keisha exclaimed. Valerie slowly put on the brakes, and the Rivian truck came to a stop. "Let's take a moment. Keisha, this is it. This confrontation is our moment. Whatever happens to us or one of us, I love you like a sister," said Valerie. "Same, my sister Valerie. Let's go kick this Monstrosity to the curb," Keisha said. Valerie revved the Rivian up, and down the hill they went as if they were going in for the charge.

At that second, The Monstrosity, sensing the truck coming, kicked up more wind, dirt, and debris in a rage, adding more to its already massive, menacing size. Its chilling, terrifying roar echoed - like freight trains, lions and bears roaring - for miles amid the remote landscape. Then, in a nanosecond, The Monstrosity took off barreling towards Valerie and Keisha. "Valerie!! Look! This thing has a mind of its own! It's charging right toward us!!" Keisha yelled. "Hold on, Keisha!!" Valerie replied. Thinking they would collide, The Monstrosity suddenly pivoted off to the left side, down a hill, and disappeared. "Whew, it looks like the computer picked up the data, imagery, and video and transmitted it. If that doesn't make good YouTube, Instagram or TikTok video, I don't know what will," said a relieved Keisha. “Well, anyway, let's get to the nearest shelter and sit this out until it passes," Valerie said.

Keisha was gazing into the rear passenger mirror when her eyes widened. The Monstrosity appeared right over the hill and was heading directly towards them from behind like a driver speeding up to tailgate another driver. Things just got deadly for Keisha and Valerie. "Jesus Christ, Valerie!! It's right behind us!!" Keisha yelled with terror in her voice. "Hang on, Zoe!! We're going off-road!" Valerie said as she drove the Rivian into the grassy field and kept going. "Can you believe this?! It's like The Monstrosity was waiting for us," Valerie replied. "And this Monstrosity looks incredibly pissed." As they kept driving and barely outrunning the storm, The Monstrosity followed right behind, kicking up more dirt, wind, and debris than ever before while emitting its horrifying roar.

"Let's find some shelter we can drive into," said Keisha. Then, as if by magic, Valerie noticed a dilapidated old barn open enough for them to go into and seek safety. "That barn over there!" said Keisha. "I don't know, Valerie, that barn looks unstable, but let's try," said Valerie. But out of nowhere, The Monstrosity came up from their right and horrifically plowed right through the barn. This storm was no ordinary tornado. It was a monster tornado with a deadly mind of its own. "Dammit, there goes our only shelter!" yelled Keisha. "This Monstrosity certainly isn't backing down. We're in trouble now." Valerie said. And indeed, at that moment, this went from normal weather researching to fighting for their lives. And if they couldn't find shelter or an off-ramp to the destruction, Valerie and Keisha would not make it out alive.

"That concrete building! That might be our only chance!" Keisha said. "Keisha, I don't know. I don't trust that concrete will hold up for us," Valerie hesitantly said. "But we must find somewhere!" Valerie pushed the accelerator, and the Rivian sped toward the concrete building as debris flew all around and hit the Rivian. Keisha then saw a horrifying sight. The Monstrosity, taking out a row of trees like a car plowing over construction zone cones, reappeared, the sounds of the trees violently breaking, snapping like twigs. "OH MY GOD, VALERIE!! HERE IT COMES AGAIN!!" yelled Zoe. The Monstrosity came up this time from their left and plowed through the concrete building turning it into dust and rubble. Valerie swerved the Rivan truck around just in time before they would have hit the rubble on impact. "My god, it's taking everything out in its path!" Valerie replied. "No kidding! It's on a warpath trying to kill us!" Keisha said. At this point, it was certain The Monstrosity had taken every standing structure out. This tornado certainly had Valerie and Keisha trapped at that moment.

"What's our emergency plan?!" Keisha asked with stress. "The only plan left: we drive towards it," Valerie said. "What?! Are you insane?! That Monstrosity is trying to kill us, Valerie!" Keisha remarked. "Keisha, it's either this or we stop the truck and let The Monstrosity take us. We're not backing down. Look, two ditches are on opposite sides of the road just ahead. On my mark, we both jump out and into the ditches," Valerie explained while keeping her eyes on the road. "Are you sure, Valerie?" "It's the only chance we have for survival, Keisha. You've always trusted me, and I've trusted you. Let's trust each other again," said Valerie with hesitation in her voice. "Goodbye, Rivian. We will never see you again. You were a good truck for a short time," Keisha said, patting the dashboard. "Let's go, Valerie. You're going down, Monstrosity!"

The Monstrosity summoned more strength and debris, and now, its roar got more substantial, and it was going in for the final move: to take down Valerie and Keisha and the truck in one fell swoop. Valerie put her foot on the accelerator and drove straight towards The Monstrosity in a final act of bravery. The Monstrosity charged at full speed and never stopped, roaring with more intensity. Memories and thoughts began to flash before Valerie and Keisha: their first day together as co-workers, their ups and downs in life, all flashing before them. But Valerie and Keisha were brave, knowing that whatever happened to them in the new few moments would cement their legacies as weather researchers. Valerie and Keisha began to unbuckle their seatbelts and unlock the doors with their hands on the door handles, ready to jump out and into the ditches. "Keisha, on my mark, one..two.." Only five feet separated them and The Monstrosity. Then two feet.

"THREE!! JUMP, KEISHA!!" In a second, Valerie and Keisha jumped out of the Rivian truck and into the ditches, landing in the soft mud at the bottom, knocking them unconscious. The Monstrosity collided with the Rivian and picked up the Rivan, with the sounds of the crunching and bending of the truck echoing in the air. In a second, The Monstrosity tossed the destroyed Rivian around until it became a mess of electrical parts and debris and plowed through and over the hill, ultimately dissolving into a smaller-sized tornado.

There was eerie quietness around the land. Silence. No birds chirping, not even the sound of the wind. Just eerie, still quiet. Nothing but silence at that moment.

Then, half an hour later, miraculously, a hand reached up from one of the ditches. Valerie, battered, bruised, and caked with mud, pulled herself out of the ditch. "Keisha? Keisha?" Valerie yelled. No answer. "KEISHA?!" Again, no words. "Oh my god, no, KEISHA!!" In another miraculous development, Valerie could hear a moan and a hand come up from the opposite ditch. "Keisha!!” Valerie said, running over to grab Keisha. "Keisha, are you okay?" Valerie said with relief. "Operator, I want to get off this ride," Keisha replied with a touch of humor, she too battered, bruised and caked with mud. "Keisha!! Oh my god, I thought I lost you," Valerie said as she hugged Keisha with tears in her eyes. "Me too. You know what? WE DID IT!!" Keisha said excitedly. "Yeehaw!! We showed that Monstrosity what for," yelled Valerie. "Poor Rivian. I only hope it's resting in peace in EV heaven now." As Valerie and Keisha started walking, they assessed The Monstrosity's path of destruction. "Jesus, that Monstrosity was on the warpath," observed Valerie.

A message from Traci popped up on their phones - which also miraculously survived. "Val and Keisha, I don't know how you did it, but that was incredible data and imagery. If you are still alive, please come back to headquarters. You two are in for a huge raise." "We did it, Keisha!" Valerie said as the two hugged. "Now, I guess we start walking until we can find.." In that instant, Keisha uttered those words, and a rescue helicopter touched down on the road ahead of them. Two medical personnel rushed to their side and loaded them on the aircraft to transport them to the nearest hospital. That onboard computer in the Rivian also had a location-tracking device that instantly pinpointed where Valerie and Keisha were. As Valerie and Keisha were battling The Monstrosity, behind-the-scenes urgency was in place to get medical personnel over to Valerie and Keisha when it was safe to.

Not only did Valerie and Keisha earn massive raises, but their names also became etched in weather lore - and American history: two weather researchers from Los Angeles who lived and survived the wrath of The Monstrosity. Their story spread like a raging wildfire from coast to coast and worldwide. Schools and universities reported an incredible spike in interest from students in careers in science, with most enrollees being women. Valerie and Keisha became a massive sensation and a tremendous inspiration to people of all ages. Their names earned immortality alongside greats, including Billie Jean King, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Susan B. Anthony, and many other incredible women of history. Valerie and Keisha had achieved the impossible and lived to tell their story.

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