Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

a world that she had never imagined - Twisted (Deathwind Trilogy #1) by Holly Hook

And she’s not disappointed. Just a few miles from the town of Evansburg, Nebraska, Allie meets her dream of seeing a tornado. In person. She can’t wait to tell her friends back home. Never mind that her parents are going to kill her.


Sixteen-year-old Allie isn’t like other girls. Instead of spending her summer break sitting around on the beach, she takes the epic vacation of a lifetime.

Tornado chasing.

And she’s not disappointed. Just a few miles from the town of Evansburg, Nebraska, Allie meets her dream of seeing a tornado. In person. She can’t wait to tell her friends back home. Never mind that her parents are going to kill her.

But her dream soon turns into a nightmare, and a strange event leaves her shocked. Confused. When she returns home to Wisconsin, something’s…different. Allie now bears a curse so awful, it could destroy everyone and everything she’s ever known.

With her best friend, Tommy, Allie must return to the plains to find a way to reverse it. She enters a world that she had never imagined, where she becomes a pawn in a fight to save the people of Evansburg from her fate…or to destroy them.


Chapter one

My very first tornado shreds the grass of the plains.

I stand next to the van, mouth dropping open, heart pounding.  It's the moment I've been waiting for.  I’ve saved the money for years and begged my uncle to book us for the Wild Weather Storm Chasing Tours.

Uncle Cassius gasps next to me, equally in awe.  It barely cuts over the wind rushing towards the distant funnel.  Waves of grass bow down to the twister, whipped down by the surrounding air flying in to feed it.  The perfect white cone stands out against the coal sky, slim and graceful.  A skirt of dust spins around its base, signaling its dance through a field a few miles away.  The wind snaps against my jeans, pulling at my new Wild Weather Tours T-shirt.

"Beautiful!"  Kyle, our storm chaser guide, snaps a photo for his website.  He steals a glance at me and smiles.  The wind ruffles his ash-blond hair.  Wrinkles form around his eyes.  He's all enthusiasm, joy that we've found our prey. "Don't worry.  We're safe.  It's heading to the east.  It'll pass no closer than a couple of miles to our north."

I want his job someday.

"I'm not scared," I said, but my shaky voice betrays me.  Who am I kidding?  Kyle's an experienced chaser--twenty years--but this is a real tornado.  In person.  Live.  I never realized it would be this intense, this breathtaking.  A hollow feeling fills my stomach like I'm plunging down the first hill of a roller coaster.  It is scary…but fun.

My parents would murder me and Uncle Cassius both for sneaking away on this trip.  If they find out we’re not really in Disney World being bored to death by Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, well, it’ll be way scarier than this storm. 

The tornado curves, almost like it's leaning to the side for a better look at something.  At us?  It's a weird thought, one that makes me laugh.  The thunderstorm spins slowly above it, low and menacing.  Thunder claps.  It's enough to remind me that the storm in front of me isn't just beautiful.  It's a predator, entrancing like a cobra and ready to strike.

Good thing there's no houses or buildings in its way.  Only farmland stretches from horizon to horizon. 

"Allie.  Forget your camera?"  Uncle Cassius points to my pocket and smiles.  It’s a tense smile.  So I'm not the only one with some nerves going.


Yes.  Duh.

I pull it out of my pocket and fumble with the slim case, fingers hunting for the button.  The camera zings to life.  Behind it, the tornado looms a bit larger, gaining strength and racing across the ground.  More dust kicks up around the perfect white of the twister. 

"Now I can really prove to everyone at school how crazy I am."  I give Uncle Cassius a nervous chuckle.  The camera trembles in my hands as I catch the tornado in my view, click, and seal it in my memory forever.
I'm having the most insane summer vacation of my entire high school.  I can’t wait to share this with Tommy and Bethany.  Bethany’s going to beg for all the details.  Tommy will tell me that I’m the bravest, most awesome girl he knows. 

I’ve got to get me and the tornado in the same picture and send it to them tonight.  I dig in my other pocket and hand my phone to Uncle Cassius.  “Photo.” 

He takes my phone.  “Stand back.”

I do.  Now the wind blows my hair back like it’s trying to pull me away, but I stand there, moving to the side so Uncle Cassius can get the whole picture.  I force myself to look at my phone in his hand.  It’s not easy when there’s a twister just a mile or two behind me, ripping up the earth.

“Got it!”  Uncle Cassius waves me back. 

I join him and glance at the phone for just a second.  I’m on the screen, dark hair wild and flying.  The tornado looms large behind me like it’s looking over my shoulder.  It’s the most awesome picture ever.  Tommy’s going to love it. 

I lift my camera for another shot, backing up to squeeze the tornado into the viewport.  I click another picture and lower the camera again for another look.

My heart jumps.

The tornado looms larger, taller.  Kyle holds his hand up to his face, squinting for a better view.  Even Uncle Cassius goes quiet, stiffening and taking a step back towards the tour van.
All at once I understand.

The tornado has changed course.

Kyle turns.  Real fear widens his features. 

"Get in the van," he shouts.

I turn and grab the door, yanking it open.  Uncle Cassius pushes me from behind, making me vault into the van.  “Get in, Allie!”

The roar behind me builds, like boulders rushing down a mountain towards me.  The wind whips my hair back, trying to pull me back out of the van.  It feels like the twister's right behind me already, coming down for the kill.

I slam the door on it.  Uncle Cassius moves out of my view, running around the van to the other door.  The funnel's much bigger behind the window, so close that I can't see the top of it anymore. 
Uncle Cassius jumps in through the opposite door and snaps on his seat belt next to me.  Kyle starts the van up, punches the gas, and gets us back on the road to nowhere.

I put my camera on the seat.  My hands fumble with the seat belt.  The van speeds up and the inertia makes me sink into my seat.  Uncle Cassius says something else, but it’s lost on me.  The specter of the tornado closes in, whipping across the field towards us.  I've heard of tornadoes making sudden turns like this but I never realized it could happen this fast. 

It rips across the field.  My heart beats on a runaway course.  My mind locks into overdrive.  I feel like that news crew they always have on tornado shows, that one that survived by hiding under that overpass.  Will Kyle make us get out and climb under one?  They're actually bad places to hide.  That news crew got off lucky.  Kyle knows better.  He's been chasing storms longer than I’ve been alive.

Only green and yellow fields spread out ahead.  There’s no shelter for miles.  The storm radar on Kyle's laptop is covered in ugly red and orange blotches like Nebraska has sores. 

A hole of panic opens up inside me and for the first time, I regret coming on this vacation.

"Can't you go faster?"  Uncle Cassius leans forward in his seat, gaze hard, arms trembling.  His glasses are coming down his nose, ready to fall off.  His normally neat Yoda T-shirt is sweaty and sticking to him so much I can see his ribs.

Uncle Cassius never loses his cool.


Not even when I crawled into the dinosaur display at the museum when I was six and climbed up the back of the Stegosaurus.  Not even when I tried to stand on his porch when I was eleven and watch hail the size of tennis balls rain from the sky.

Outside, the tornado grows so close that I can only see the bottom half of the funnel.  The van bounces along every speed bump on the highway, every uneven spot.  My stomach heaves.  I'm going to be sick right here.  It's my stupid fault we're in this mess. 

"I don't understand."  Kyle punches the gas harder, making the van jump.  He turns his head like a guy possessed by a demon, eyes widening.  "The tornado should not be moving this way."

He's right.  It shouldn't.  For the tornado to turn and come right at us, it would have to drag the whole storm with it.  But it’s still coming.  It makes no sense.

The funnel reaches the road behind us, twisting harder, kicking up earth higher and higher.  We've gotten out in front of it.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  Kyle and Uncle Cassius do the same.  It'll cross the road and forget all about us. 

Kyle lets off the gas a little and the whine of the engine calms some.  "We're safe now.  That was highly unusual.  I've never seen a tornado turn like that in my career."  There's a hint of an apology in his voice.
"Well, that was a close one, wasn't it, Allie?"  Uncle Cassius hugs me from the side. 
"Yeah," I say, willing my heart to slow down.  At least I can think straight now.  Can I even do another two days of this? 

Wow, what a dumb idea this was.

But I still can't resist another look at the storm.  I turn as far as my seat belt allows.

My guts fall out of me all over again.

The tornado's still on the road, bigger than ever.  It can't be. 

The twister has turned again.  It's coming right up behind us.  Rolling earth eats the entire highway.  There's tornado taking up the whole view of the back window.  Dust rips to the sides.  The bottom of its funnel spins with fury, big enough to swallow a house whole.  Its roar screams against the outside of the vehicle, shaking the seat, pushing the whole van to the side. 

It's no longer beautiful.

"Ohmigod," I say, sucking in a breath.  "Um…Kyle?  Um…”

"I know!" he snaps.  His knuckles turn white on the steering wheel.  The van lurches again but he maintains control. 

"Allie, get down!"  Uncle Cassius pulls me towards him.  The seat belt cuts into my shoulder. 

What good is it going to do?  If the tornado lifts the car--

I'm going to die.

I begged to go on this trip and now Uncle Cassius is going to die too. 

The windows shatter with a deafening boom and the wind screams in my ears.  AllieAllieAllieAllie…
I can't breathe. 

We're floating.

Uncle Cassius shouts something.  Kyle yells.  If I'm screaming, I can't tell.  The storm's sucking it right out of me.  Windy hands seize my arms, my legs. 

They pull.

My safety belt snaps open, whipping against my leg.  I scream with the sting.  The seat disappears under me and the van door rips open.

I'm flying.

The tornado's ripping me right out of the van.

The world turns to a white and brown roar.  The van's gone.  I have no time to cry out to Uncle Cassius before the world snaps to black and silence swallows me.

Chapter Two

"Kind of unusual to get a teen girl in."
It's a man speaking with a faint Southern drawl.  He's close but distant in the darkness.  I can't tell where, exactly.  There's not much of me left to think right now.
I’m on my back.  Floating.   
"It doesn’t matter."  This speaker's a woman, with a voice so smooth it might be made of silk.  There's something about it that seems familiar and not in a good way.  "It’s another one closer to our goal."
"Well, not too many girls go out and chase.  Just saying."
Go out and chase.  What does that mean?
I groan and climb a couple of steps into consciousness.  I'm still lying face-up, but there’s nothing under me.  No, two people are carrying me.  Hands grasp my ankles.  Someone else has their hands under my armpits.  Grass tickles my back.  I’m facing the sky. 
I manage to open my eyes.  They're sore, stinging as the sunlight stabs into them. 
A man with a gray beard and overalls has my ankles.  He’s walking backwards, carrying me along.  If I was lying in bed, he’d be at the foot of it.  I can’t see the woman, but she keeps her arms locked under my armpits, supporting me, keeping me above the ground.  They’re carrying me the way two people would carry a heavy table. 
My limbs ache.  Invisible needles poke at every muscle in my neck.  I turn my head.  Groan.  The sky's clear, with only a few steamy white clouds moving out.  The sun beats down on me, forcing me to squint.  I breathe in.  The air's muggy like it's just finished raining. 
Or storming.
Oh, god.
The tornado.
I survived and these people must have found me.
I crane my neck back and look up at the woman who has my arms.  It’s no easy task.
She's upside down to me, swaying back and forth and making me motion sick.  She's way too thin to be carrying me without breaking a sweat.  I can only make out her chin.  Long brown hair hangs over the top of her white summer dress.  Something about her makes my insides crawl.  A gremlin way back in the confines of my mind waves its arms and screams at me, but I can't make out what it's saying.
The rest of me wakes up, and with thoughts of Uncle Cassius.
A fist of terror squeezes my heart so tight that I cry out.  I squirm in their grasps.  "My uncle," I manage.  "Have you seen him?"
The woman's chin faces forward.  She's ignoring me.  She shoots the man a look, but he shakes his head.  "No need," he says. 
"Tornado," I say.  "My uncle.  It got the van.  He was in there.  Have you seen him?"
Panic takes over and I thrash, not caring if these people just saved my life.  "Where is my uncle?  Did you see him?  He might have got thrown out of the van.  We just got hit by a tornado.  A tornado, for crap’s sake!"  Nothing.  I kick, trying to loosen my legs from the farmer's grip.  "Let go.  I can walk on my own!”
"I didn't expect her to wake up so soon," the woman says.  “I was hoping she wouldn’t.”
I twist my arm.  It doesn’t budge from her grip.  "Let me down!  Where's my uncle?"
Again, no answer.  They walk faster and tall grass slaps at my back, poking in through the gap between my shirt and my jeans.  The sun beats down on my eyes.  The last of the clouds drift away, leaving no cover from its spotlight.  A building bounces into the bottom of my vision, covered in crumbling red paint.  Its roof sags on one side.  An old barn.  I've seen dozens back home in Wisconsin.  This one looks ready to blow down the next time a grasshopper sneezes.
“Are you taking me to the hospital?  And my uncle too?”
“Faster,” the woman says.
The barn draws closer.  An open door looms dark and empty ahead of me.  The musty smell of hay and dirt assaults my nostrils.  They're taking me in there. 
These people aren't saving me after all.
They're kidnappers. 
There's no other reason for this.  They must be psychos like those mutant hillbillies from that one movie.  The barn's going to be full of jars of eyes and noses and all sorts of sharp, scary farm tools.   
"What are you doing?" I yell, hoping that someone, anyone can hear me way out here.  My throat burns with the force of my screaming.  “Did you see anyone else where you found me?”
The barn blocks out the sun and I'm in darkness.
“Uncle Cassius!”
There’s no light except for pinpricks that shine through the old walls and a circle of blue sky at the peak of the barn's roof.  I blink and my eyes adjust.  The floor's clean, perfect concrete.  All the hay’s been swept up against the walls.  No bloodstains.  It doesn’t reassure me as much as I want, though.
"Lay her down," the woman orders.  It's clear she's in charge here.
They lift me higher.  The roof gets closer for a second.  They move me to the side and set me back down.  My back meets a table with a cloth on it.  Or a slab.  I’m not sure.  I’m still looking up.  The woman keeps her grip on my arms, pushing down tight enough to keep me from breaking away.  The man does the same with my ankles.  They’re holding me down to some kind of altar or slab or something.  The hole in the ceiling lets a beam of light down.  It lands on my chest, forming a ring of light on my Wild Weather T-shirt.  Or is it a target?
I bite my lip, keeping the screams in.  I can't let them know I'm scared.  It's what psychotic people want when they do this stuff.  I have to keep my cool and find a way out of here. 
"Okay," I say, trying to collect myself.  "Why are you holding me here?  In case you haven't noticed, I just survived a tornado and my uncle's missing.  I want some answers."
The woman looks down at me, keeping her elbows locked and holding down my arms.  She's strong, way stronger than she should be, and her face is smooth and sharp in a way that's borderline creepy.  It almost looks like a mask.  "You're about to join the family that you've always wanted."
The words stun me into silence.  They make no sense.  These people are nuts.  Insane.  I have the family I want. 
And if I don’t get out of here, my parents will remember me as a liar.  I’ll leave them with nothing but pain and betrayal.  And Uncle Cassius--
"I need to find my uncle.  Now!"  I glare up at the woman, making my neck cry out in pain.  She stares down at me with eyes that match her hair color.  Her face is unreadable, blank.  Something's very familiar about her.  "I need to call my mom and dad.  Why are you holding me here?”
The woman blinks.  "Because you're drawn to the fury of nature.” 
"So what?" I thrash against their grips.  "Why do you even care?  Let me out of this disgusting barn.”
A million awful possibilities race through my mind, all of them the stuff of nightmares.  I stare at the circle of light above me, praying for the barn to come down on my captors' heads, praying for anything to happen. 
"Be quiet," the woman orders.  She closes her eyes.  Mutters something.  Bows her head down in reverence. 
Wind snaps through the barn.  The hole in the roof darkens from robin's egg to gray-blue, then to black.  It grows in size, taking up more and more of the roof.  The shingles vaporize before my eyes, flying away and breaking into millions of pieces until nothing's left above me but a ceiling of thunderstorm.  Clouds roll and push against each other, aimless, so close that if my arms were free, I might be able to stand on the table and brush them.  The air roars and trembles.
"What--" I start.
A paralysis steals over my body, freezing me, turning me to stone.  The clouds above begin to twist.  They're in the barn with us, blocking out the world above.  My heart races, and for a moment I'm back in that van, floating, flying. 
The dam holding back my terror breaks and I let it all out.
"Uncle Cassius!"  I look side to side in the vain hope that he'll be there, running in to get me out of this, but only darkness closes in.  The old man grits his teeth, holding down my legs.  The woman does likewise, eyes closed so tight her face wrinkles.  
"Somebody!"  My screams echo off the walls.
The clouds above spin faster, tightening, forming a cone that points at my heart.  A roar fills the barn, threatening to tear it apart.  It’s the same roar I heard on the other side of my blackout.
It's a miniature tornado, but it's somehow more terrifying than the one that chased the van.  It descends, hungry, spinning faster and faster.  The strength of the sky drains straight towards me.
The funnel of rage lingers inches above my heart as if making a decision.
I scream.
And scream.
The cone slams into my chest.
My body lurches.  The storm drives its way in, building the pressure inside me and sucking the breath from my lungs.  My captors release my arms, but it's too late.  The clouds grow lower, the tornado shorter, as it all forces its way into me, down my arms to my fingertips, my legs to my toes.  The storm rages inside, pushing against the borders of my body.  I close my eyes, willing it to stop, wanting to scream but unable--
My body trembles.  I lift my arm and it flops to my chest.  They’ve let go of me.  I can move now.  Run for it.  I open my eyes, catching a glimpse of the hole in the roof once again, and try to stand.
Instead, I fall.   Concrete meets me.  All the strength's gone from my body.  I gag.  Heave.  My stomach rolls.  The world fades, turning gray and darkening to black.
"What did you do to me?" I manage, slipping away.

A hand grabs the back of my shirt.  "Very soon," the woman says.  "You'll know."

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About the author:
Holly Hook is the author of the Destroyers Series, which consists of five young adult books about teens who are walking disasters...literally. She is also the author of the Rita Morse series, a young adult fantasy series still in progress, and After These Messages, a short ya comedy. Currently she is writing Twisted, a spin-off of the Destroyers Series due out in December. When not writing, she enjoys reading books for teens, especially ya fantasy and paranormal series with a unique twist.

1 comment:

Jan Lee said...

Living in a tornado prone state I'm very interested in reading this book ;)