Martin Braddock didn’t hear the tornado coming, because even that unmistakable freight-train roar is swallowed up in the midst of a hurricane, but he knew what it was the instant the front wall of his ranch-house suddenly lifted apart and began swirling about like so many match sticks tossed into a blender. That was when Martin, who had been standing in the middle of the room, dove under the great oak table.
Instantly, everything went black; the sensation was like a dive down a rabbit hole that seemed to have no bottom and no sides, a plunge that punctured the very fabric of time and space. Martin’s last thought was, “The barn’s not finished….” referring to the new cattle barn.
The day before, his daughter had begged him to evacuate. Martin had stood alone on the gravel drive and watched four-year-old Emmy cry, “Grampa, please come with us!” but Martin knew the storm would take its toll and felt it his duty to stay and be ready to rebuild. So Martin was very surprised when he reached the end of his rabbit hole, and the roar of the storm was replaced by a resounding voice.
“Martin,” said the voice, “How much time did you spend with Emmy?”
Martin said, “I built two new barns last year, bailed 150 acres of hay….”
But the voice cut him off.
“How many times did you say, ‘Later, Emmy, Grampa’s busy,’?”
Martin was startled by this inquiry – not the questions he was expecting.
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