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Vermin Tornadoes

Scalzi Story

Wherein I take a band name from Scalzi’s Next Band Name list, and spend no more than 20 minutes writing the story with the band name as a title. Current one is Vermin Tornadoes.


"Do you see what I'm seeing?"

"I am, but I don't belieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeve it."

Three girls sitting in the dark room mimicked the voices coming from the screen. Watching flats was always mesmerizing to Jakob, even if his friends didn't understand his fascination. Once he had realized as a kid that you could pinpoint the decade of capture based on the color spectrum of the flat, he scoured the archives for any footage he could find, guessing the era before looking up the details of the flat source. He had become so adept at it that the archivists asked him to confirm visual data before finalizing it.

Not bad for someone who was only five years older than the girls mocking the flat in front of him.

"What sort of atmospheric system could produce them?" the first voice asked.

"Let's find OOOOOOT!" chimed the girls, in unison.

Jakob turned and left the screening room. That fewer and fewer people appreciated the science and effort and sacrifice that went into the founding of Vayu, frustrated Jakob beyond his years. He knew it was a hazard of the job: caring more than the public did; that the caring could lead to the bitterness he saw in the older people who worked the archives.

He hoped it wouldn't. He hoped his continual jaunts Outside would keep him grounded. He chuckled at the irony, as he made his way towards the exit station.

"You heading Out?" Dora asked.

"Yeah." Jakob reached his suit, stepping into the weighted, reinforced legs, before looking back at Dora. "You want to join me?"

She laughed. "Haven't been out in years, Jake." He hated that nickname.

"I know. One of these times you'll change your mind and join me."

"You'll sweep me off my feet, will you?"

Jakob smiled. "No, but the vermin will."

Dora chuckled and handed him backpack. "I still don't know why you insist on heading Out. The tunnels are faster."

"Less entertaining," he answered, going through the eight point checklist they had been taught since toddlerhood. The checklist had saved his life a number of times, and the tunnels really were faster.

Dora smiled again, unlatched the hose from the backpack, and slapped him on his ass. He didn't feel it through the suit. He wondered idly where that gesture came from and how it became the universal sign for "good luck!"

Jakob waved back to Dora, before turning and clomping down the four stairs, the last check the suit was ready for the outside. Maybe this time he'd be lucky and find a few vermin on his walk to the other hub through Outside. He hadn't seen many recently and wondered if the patterns had changed again, sending them north. He shuddered, and opened the airdoor.


Three steps out and the first vermin formed, a swirling little cloud at knee level. Jakob watched it for a moment to see which way its funnel would go, then side stepped it as it moved left. He watched its dark grey spout slip down to the ground, but turned away quickly, lest it find a rock to fling.

Jakob headed for doors on the far side of the yard, walking as quickly as the suit would allow. He found the vermin tornadoes as fascinating as the flats, he just didn't want one of them to catch him and sweep him off his feet.


Continued at Pinwheel Nostrils.

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