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  • Writer's pictureScott Bryant

Chasing The Monstrosity

Updated: Oct 21

Chasing the Monstrosity by Scott Bryant
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Valerie and Zoe arrived in Austin, Texas, seeking refuge and recharging their electric truck after another uneventful morning. Close friends since their University of Maryland days and now respected researchers at The Weather Channel, they wondered if their tornado chases had taken an unexpectedly mild turn. During their lunch stop, Zoe expressed her frustration. "Why is it always the less intense tornadoes?" Zoe mused between bites, her voice laced with disappointment. "Our storm-chasing skills seem to have taken a hit." She sighed, savoring her meal. "One moment, we strike the tornado jackpot, and then it's chasing a dust devil or an EF-1 twister. Maybe it's time we followed Dorothy's example from The Wizard of Oz and headed to Kansas," she added, her tone tinged with sarcasm. "Who knows, we might get lucky."

Ever the optimist, Valerie smiled as she reminisced about their university days. "Zoe, remember what our meteorology professors at UMD used to say? 'If weather predicting were easy, everyone would be a storm chaser.' Besides, even EF-1 tornadoes can be unpredictable." Valerie's gaze shifted skyward to where ominous clouds were forming. "But something about this weather feels different. Notice how those dark clouds seem to exude hidden anger or foretell impending destruction, Zoe?" Zoe, ever skeptical, looked up at the sky and countered, "You think so, Valerie? The last time we saw dark clouds, an EF-1 showed up with winds weaker than a portable fan." Valerie remained focused on the sky and the dark clouds. "Zoe, we must practice patience in our line of work. Yet, I can't shake the feeling that this windy, semi-dark atmosphere feels eerily familiar." Zoe's eyebrows arched. "Familiar? Are you talking about 'Little Terror' outside of Dallas five months ago? I'll never forget the sight of house debris swirling like confetti. That was a close call," she reminisced with a laugh. Valerie joined in the nostalgia, her gaze distant as she revisited their past adventures. "Oh yes, 'Little Terror.' It certainly made for some wild stories back at headquarters."

Valerie and Zoe's phones suddenly dinged with a text message from Deb, their research manager at Weather Channel headquarters. "Valerie, Zoe, you won't believe this! An EF-5 tornado is rapidly forming just outside of Austin, Texas. It's The Monstrosity! It's heading your way. This tornado is huge, and it looks angry! - Deb." "Well, there you go, Zoe, The Monstrosity. It appears we finally have our biggest mission to date. Let's go, Zoe." Valerie hopped in the driver's seat while Zoe jumped into the passenger seat. As Zoe always pointed out, Valerie was an exceptional driver who should have been a stunt person in Hollywood. "Zoe, what does the radar show?" "From what I see, it looks like a formation north of Austin. Oh my god, Deb was right. This tornado is massive! Bigger than anything we've seen or dealt with before," said Zoe. The radar data was Valerie and Zoe's confirmation.

The Monstrosity was making its presence very well known these days. Noted in weather research and storm-chasing circles as one of the most legendary yet rarely seen EF5 tornadoes since the Tri-State tornado of 1925, The Monstrosity had rightfully earned its notorious reputation over the years. In 2003, The Monstrosity showed up for the first time in a small town in Oklahoma, where no house, building, barn, or truck stop was left standing. Many residents in the area survived as the state of Oklahoma had given residents advanced warning days before to evacuate. The sheer size of The Monstrosity - a typical-sized EF-5 tornado - was not what startled weather researchers and scientists, but how super powerful its winds and path of destruction ripped through buildings - even brick and concrete! The most famous tragedy from The Monstrosity was in 2007 when two amateur storm chasers in Nebraska 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 Monstrosity picked up the storm chasers and violently threw them around like rocks, smacking them face-first into a tree and fatally killing them in seconds. 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.

"Alright, here's the plan: We confront The Monstrosity, get the data we need, and get the hell out of here fast," Valerie said confidently. "I still have a bad feeling about all of this, Valerie. I mean, The Monstrosity? I've heard horror stories. This tornado is out for murder," Zoe asked with slight hesitation. "Come on, Zoe, we've survived moments like these before. We just have to be on our wits and not show any fear," Zoe said with assurance. "Good thing I got my will and estate planning done last year," Zoe replied with a touch of humor. "Zoe, the onboard computer system, remember? Once we're in range, the computer instantly collects the data, images, and video and transmits it back to Deb and Weather Channel headquarters. We'll be fine. You trust me, I trust you," said Valerie with calm reassurance. "And to think of all the times our mothers got grey hairs from stress watching us livestream our storm chases," said Zoe. "You know they loved it. The way my mother brags about our adventures makes it seem like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and us are best friends," Valerie remarked as she touched Zoe’s hand in solidarity. "Hey, that's not a bad thought: Taylor Swift and Beyonce joining us on a storm chase? We'd go viral in no time. And I thought the scariest tornados were the tornados I saw on YouTube," remarked Zoe.

As Valerie and Zoe arrived on the outskirts of Waco, they noticed a menacing dark sky ahead. There, in plain view, was The Monstrosity, swirling in one place slowly as if it was waiting for something - or somebody. "Valerie! There it is, The Monstrosity!" Zoe exclaimed. Valerie slowly put on the brakes, and the truck came to a stop. "Wow. For a violent tornado, it sure is a beautiful work of nature," said Valerie. "A work of terror, you mean," said Zoe. "I'm not sure what we just got ourselves into. I only hope we can survive this one." Valerie turned to face Zoe, "We can't back out now, Zoe. This data is super vital." Valerie was right, there was no turning around or going back this time.

At that moment, 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, without missing a beat, The Monstrosity took off barreling toward Valerie and Zoe. "Valerie, look! It's charging right toward us!" "I see it, hold on!" Valerie yelled. In a split second, The Monstrosity suddenly pivoted off to the left side and disappeared. "That was too close. I hope the computer picked up the data, imagery, and video and transmitted it. If that isn't a YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok viral moment for the ages, I don't know what is," said a relieved Zoe. "I'm sure it did, Zoe. But the viral video will have to wait. We have to find the nearest shelter and sit this out until it passes," Valerie said.

Zoe looked into the rear passenger mirror, and her eyes widened. Just like a magician, The Monstrosity reappeared and was heading directly towards them from behind like a driver speeding up to tailgate another driver. "Oh shit, It's following us!" Zoe yelled with a sense of dread. "Hang on, we're going off-road!" Valerie said as she drove the truck into the grassy field and kept going. "Can you believe this?! The Monstrosity was waiting for us," Zoe replied. "And it looks incredibly pissed," said Valerie. As they kept driving and barely outrunning the storm, The Monstrosity followed right behind, kicking up more dirt, wind, hay, and debris than ever before while emitting its horrifying roar. Debris was flying past and over the truck as if being used as weapons by The Monstrosity to slow Valerie and Zoe.

"I hope we find shelter we can drive into," said Zoe. 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 Zoe. "I don't like this, Valerie, that barn looks unstable," said Zoe.

old rustic barn

But out of nowhere, "Oh my god, bail out!!" yelled Zoe. The Monstrosity came up from their right and horrifically plowed right through the barn. Valerie quickly swerved to avoid the impact. Wood planks, hay, and dark, swirling clouds were all Valerie and Zoe saw at that moment. In an instant, the debris hurled straight towards the truck.

"Oh shit, Watch out!!" Zoe yelled as Valerie swerved again to miss the wood planks and hay flying around and towards them. Some of those wood planks still had nails in them! It was official: this was no ordinary EF-5 tornado; it was a monster tornado from hell with a mind of its own, without any care of who or what stood in its path of destruction. "Dammit, there goes our only shelter!" yelled Zoe. "This bastard Monstrosity certainly isn't backing down," Valerie said. "We're in trouble now!" yelled Zoe. And indeed, at that moment, this went from weather researching to fighting for their lives. And if they couldn't find shelter or an off-ramp to the destruction, Valerie and Zoe would not make it out alive.

"Over there! That concrete building! That might be our only chance!" Valerie said. "That concrete building looks like an abandoned brick factory," Zoe hesitantly said. "Do you have any other ideas, Zoe?! We have to find somewhere to go!" Valerie pushed the accelerator, speeding toward the concrete building.

All while debris flew around them, barely missing the truck. Zoe then saw a horrifying sight. The Monstrosity, taking out a row of trees like a car plowing over construction zone cones, reappeared with the sounds of trees violently breaking, snapping like twigs.

"Oh my god! Here it comes again!" yelled Zoe. The Monstrosity came up from their left this time and plowed through the concrete building, turning it into dust and rubble. Valerie swerved the truck around just in time before they would have hit the destroyed concrete on impact.

"What the hell?! It's taking everything out in its path!" Zoe yelled. "No shit! It's got us trapped," Valerie said. At this point, it was certain The Monstrosity had taken every standing structure out, trapping Valerie and Zoe in the destruction. This tornado was not playing around; it wanted Valerie and Zoe dead.

Valerie managed to get some distance from the Monstrosity when she immediately did a U-Turn. Valerie stopped the truck for a brief moment. "What the hell is our emergency plan?!" Zoe asked with stress. "The only plan left: we drive towards it," Valerie said. "What?! You're not serious, are you?! That Monstrosity is out for death and destruction! It's suicide!" Zoe yelled. "For fuck's sake, Zoe! Either we do this or stay where we are and end up dead! We've come too fucking far now to back down. Look at me! Straight ahead: two ditches on opposite sides of the road. When I say 'jump,' we both jump out and into the ditches," Valerie explained while keeping her eyes on the road. "Are you sure, Valerie?" "Zoe, it's our only chance for survival! I've trusted you. Now you must trust me once more," said Valerie with hesitation in her voice. "Well, goodbye, electric truck. You were a good truck for a short time," Zoe said, patting the dashboard. "Let's take this tornado down for good!"

blue artistic clouds

The Monstrosity kicked up more strength and debris, and its roar got more substantial. It was going in for the final move: to take out Valerie and Zoe 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, angrily roaring with more intensity, picking up more debris than before. Memories and thoughts began to flash before Valerie and Zoe: their first day together as co-workers, their ups and downs in life, and their adventures, all flashing before them in that moment. Valerie and Zoe, knowing that whatever happened to them in the next few moments would cement their legacies as weather researchers, began to unbuckle their seatbelts. Then came the unlocking of the truck doors with their hands on the door handles, "You ready, Zoe? On my mark, one. Two.""Three!! JUMP!!" Without hesitation, Valerie and Zoe hurled themselves out of the truck and into the awaiting ditches, crashing into the soft, mud below.

The Monstrosity bore down on the pickup truck with an earth-shattering collision, its roar drowning out the sound of crushing metal. The Monstrosity seized the vehicle, subjecting it to a terrifying ballet of contortions, the crunch of metal reverberating through the air. With one final, furious blow, The Monstrosity flung the now-unrecognizable wreckage into the ether, reducing it to a chaotic mess of electrical debris. It charged forward, dwindling into a smaller, swirling vortex before fading into obscurity. The Monstrosity vanished from the scene in a display of its overwhelming power.

destroyed house debris

There was eerie quietness. Silence. No birds chirping, not even the sound of the wind. Just eerie, still quiet. Nothing but silence at that moment. A half an hour passed, and miraculously, a hand reached up from one of the ditches. Valerie, battered, bruised, disoriented, and caked with mud, began crawling out of the ditch. "Fuck, that's going to hurt for a while." Valerie scanned the destruction around her and began to call for Zoe, "Zoe? Zoe?" Valerie yelled. No answer. "Zoe, stop fucking playing with me." Again, no words. Thinking the worst had happened, Valerie's heart sank. A wave of panic and emotion washed over Valerie, "Please, no. Please, no! Please! Oh my god, Zoe!!"

But then Valerie heard a painful moan and a hand emerging from the opposite ditch. "Zoe!" Valerie exclaimed, rushing over to help her friend. "Operator, I want to get off this ride," Zoe replied with a touch of humor. Zoe, too, was battered, bruised, and coated in mud. "I don't know what I landed on, but I think I'll be in pain for about a week." As Zoe crawled out of the ditch, she and Valerie embraced in an emotional hug. Zoe's eyes then surveyed the surreal aftermath in disbelief. "Valerie? Are we dead, or did we survive?" she wondered aloud. "We did it, Zoe! We survived!" Valerie said in a semi-celebratory mood. "You hear that, Monstrosity? You messed with the wrong people!" Zoe proclaimed defiantly while doing a TikTok-style dance, "Oh ouch, that hurt. I should not have done that."

Valerie and Zoe then stumbled upon the wreckage of their truck. "For a swirling, terrifying mass of windy destruction, it took its anger out on our truck," Zoe observed wistfully. "We had some remarkable weather adventures with that vehicle. Rest in EV peace, truck." As they resumed their journey on foot, Valerie and Zoe assessed the extent of The Monstrosity's devastation. "Unbelievable," Valerie breathed, taking in the chaos around them. "I'd hate to be part of the cleanup crew that has to clean this all up."

Their phones buzzed, miraculously intact despite the turmoil. A message from Deb illuminated the screens. "Valerie and Zoe, I don't know how you two pulled it off, but the data and imagery you captured were incredible. If you're still with us, please stay put! We're en route to retrieve you." Valerie and Zoe exchanged relieved glances. "Well, at least the data made it through," Valerie remarked, her voice tinged with exhaustion. "Now, I suppose we start walking until we find..." Before Valerie could finish her sentence, Zoe's eyes widened, and she pointed toward the horizon. "Look!" she exclaimed. As if summoned by their need, rescue helicopters appeared on the horizon, touching down on the road just ahead of them.

"Wow, that was fast," Valerie remarked with an appreciative nod. "Our DoorDash deliveries never came this fast," Zoe said with a touch of humor.

Medical personnel swiftly arrived and transported Valerie and Zoe by helicopter to the nearest hospital. They had sustained some bruises, bumps, and throbbing headaches, prompting an overnight stay at the hospital as a precautionary measure. Remarkably, both Valerie and Zoe were in relatively good health. This outcome was all thanks to the onboard computer in the truck, which had a location-tracking device. This device instantaneously pinpointed Valerie and Zoe's whereabouts. While Valerie and Zoe were locked in a life-or-death confrontation with The Monstrosity, a behind-the-scenes operation was in full swing to ensure that medical personnel reached them promptly when safe to do so.

Valerie and Zoe knew their life changed forever overnight, and not just from the substantial salary increases and promotions they received. Valerie and Zoe had become heroes and legends throughout the world. They risked their lives and faced a new kind of tornado never seen before - and lived to tell their story. Valerie and Zoe made the talk show and podcast circuit, recalling their harrowing tale and inspiring a new generation of weather researchers. Despite the instant fame, Valerie and Zoe continue to do tornado chasing while hosting their tornado-chasing podcast.

As for The Monstrosity, the monster tornado still lives on. However, thanks to Valerie and Zoe, weather researchers, scientists, and city officials all over the United States now had solid data to understand and prepare cities and small towns for the wrath of The Monstrosity. With this data, which officials ceremoniously named The Valerie-Zoe Data, cities, and small towns all across the United States started to invest resources into upgrading existing infrastructure and warning systems - as well as developing new ways to keep both present and future buildings and homes safe from powerful, new-age natural disasters like The Monstrosity.

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