Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Winter 2008


In the Bottom of the Tornado is a Woman With a
Metalic Face

Mike Estabrook

The two of us leave
town, wander through fields
as an orange sun sets. We feel
like Reapers
looking out over the golden
grain sheaves and haystacks
majestic in the stillness
of Harvest.

Suddenly! Thunder! Thunder!
from somewhere but how can this
be? We raise our heads,
a Storm in
the West; dark gray funnel dropping
from an Angry Sky
a Tornado moving toward us,
swirling, whirling,
shuddering, clattering
with debris; closer & closer.

We stand alone, unprotected,
in this open field,
nowhere to go, no place to
hide. It threads
it's path heedfully
around the simple houses,
around my house too.
I'm stiff with fear,
mouth open. It stops
before us, whirling, clattering,

blowing cool over my face
& neck, blowing back
my hair.

There in the bottom of
the Tornado is a Woman,
a metallic-faced Woman,
dark blue eyes unblinking,
sticks & leaves
& little fishes swirling
around Her, stuck in
Her long black hair.
(All this motion, spinning,
blurry, hard to see. Is that me
in there? No. Impossible.
Of course not! I'm out here,
looking in.) Her shining
eyes stare out as She
says I
must choose the houses to
be cleansed, to be purified.

Purified? Purified?
I'm confused. What can this
mean? I shake my head.
I won't make
this decision, won't
hurt anyone. "No no I can't,
no no I won't!" I try to back
away. But the Face remains
solid metal, eyes unblinking,
insisting. "No, I can't!
I'm not responsible. I shouldn't
have to decide
this. I won't." But my words

  are unheard. She
tells me if I don't choose,
She'll destroy every house,
including mine.
I want to cry, but don't.
I want to run, but can't.
Taking a deep breath
I decide to choose troubled houses
for purification. Yes!
That's reasonable, choose houses
already with problems --
drugs or poverty or crime or HIV.
I name names, point out
these homes.

Off She goes in
Her clattering Tornado leaving
the path clean in
Her passage through the town.
She guts some houses.
They vanish or remain only
rubble; others She merely
strips off clapboard or
removes the roof.

And we remain standing, watching,
helpless, in the open
field at Harvest knowing
we have the Power, but not
knowing how
to use it.


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