Bryce Weldon had been chasing tornadoes with his video equipment for well over ten years. It was in his blood. The thrill he derived from observing the power and the fury of Mother Nature up close was like no other he had ever experienced. He lived every waking moment of his life for it.

The storm he had been chasing that warm afternoon in May had roared across the plains of Oklahoma, unleashing a violent category F4 tornado that cut a swath of destruction three miles long and one-quarter of a mile wide. Luckily the twister had touched down in a mostly uninhabited area, so most of the damage it caused was limited to uprooted trees, splintered fences, and knocked-over telephone poles.

However, shortly after turning off the main highway onto a dusty county road in an attempt to follow the storm as it moved to the northeast, Bryce noticed there was an old farmhouse up ahead that appeared to have taken a direct hit from the angry whirling winds of the tornado. As he drove closer to it, he could see that most of the roof had been ripped away and the south side of the structure had collapsed inward. Strewn around what was left of the building were piles of rubble containing boards, the remnants of smashed furniture, chunks of plaster, and twisted pieces of metal. Clinging to downed tree branches were bits of yellow fiberglass insulation that waved in the humid breeze.

Bryce turned his truck into the gravel driveway and turned off the ignition. “Holy shit!” he said out loud to himself as he surveyed the damage. Being the Good Samaritan that he was, he felt it was his duty to check for any survivors and render his assistance if help was needed. He climbed out of his vehicle with his military grade LED flashlight in hand and proceeded to the farmhouse.

“Hello?” he called out in a loud voice. “Is anyone in there?” Can you hear me? Hello?” He waited a moment, listening for a reply or for any other sound from within the destroyed building or from underneath the debris that surrounded it, but he heard nothing. He walked around to the rear of the house, carefully navigating through the wreckage, and once again shouted, “Hello? Is there anybody in this house? Hello?”

This time a faint voice answered him. It was the voice of a woman. She sounded most terrified and began to beg for help. “I’m down in the cellar!” she yelled. “I’m trapped and I can’t get out! Please help me! Oh hurry! Please!”

“Hang on! I’m going to get you out of there as soon as I can!” Bryce shouted to her as he climbed over the debris. As he made his way towards the rear entrance of the house as quickly as he could, he saw that the tornado had ripped the door from its hinges. The woman’s cries grew louder the nearer he got.

Once inside the house, the tornado chaser cleared away the debris that blocked his path and followed the sound of the woman’s voice until he was able to locate the door leading to the cellar. To his dismay, he found that it was either locked or jammed and would not budge. Using a front kick, he drove the heel of his foot into the door just below the doorknob. On the third try he was able to break down the door, and he rushed down the stairs.

Shining his flashlight into the cellar, Bryce was startled to see the body of a heavyset man in denim overalls lying on the floor partially covered by timber from the floor above that had caved in. He appeared to be dead. But even more startling was the sight of a beautiful young woman standing in the corner with her arms straight up and her wrists handcuffed to an overhead water pipe.

“Jesus H. Christ!” were the words that rolled off of Bryce’s tongue. Never before in all his years of storm chasing had he ever encountered a scene so strange.

“Oh, thank goodness you’ve come!” said the woman as tears streamed down her pallid face. “I thought I was going to starve to death.”

“What on earth is going on here?” Bryce asked. He motioned with his head in the direction of the man on the floor. “Did that guy over there do this to you?”

“Yes!” cried the woman. “He’s insane! He’s had me chained down here for weeks, maybe months. I don’t know how long it’s been. It feels like an eternity! Oh, I’m so afraid. Help me, please! He has the key to the handcuffs on a key chain in the back pocket of his pants. Hurry, please!”

“Now don’t you worry, Miss. You’re safe now,” said Bryce as he climbed over the rubble and approached the man on the floor. “I’ll have you down from there in just a minute. There’s no need for you to be afraid any longer. He can’t hurt you anymore.”

The enslaved woman began to sob with joy. Strands of her long black hair clung to her cheeks, which were moist with tears, and a feeble smile manifested on her parched and nearly colorless lips. “Oh thank heavens!” she exclaimed with exuberance in her voice. “My prayers have finally been answered!”

Bryce crouched down and as he slipped his hand into the man’s pocket to retrieve the keys to the handcuffs, the man in the overalls began to stir and emitted a groan.

The woman shrieked, “Oh my god, he’s alive! Hurry and get me down from here before he comes to! He’s dangerous! He’ll murder both of us!”

With the key chain in hand, Bryce rushed back to the woman and attempted to unlock the handcuffs, but the first of the two dozen keys that hung on the ring didn’t work. He tried the next one, but that also failed to unlock them.

“What are you doing?” shouted the man on the floor as he regained consciousness. His deep voice was like gravel and filled with rage. “Get the hell away from that woman! You hear me, son? She don’t belong to you!”

“Look out!” the woman screamed. “He’s got a weapon! He’s crazy!”

Bryce turned around to discover that the man in overalls had picked himself up off the floor and was now stumbling towards him, slashing the air with a camouflage-handled buck knife that he had plucked from his mud-encrusted work boot. “I’ll take your life before I let you release her into the world!” he shouted insanely. “Don’t you understand, son? I’m doin’ the Lord’s work!”

With his adrenaline pumping, Bryce swung his heavy flashlight at the man’s head, striking him on his left temple. The blow produced a gash that immediately began to spurt blood, and the heavyset man let go of the knife and collapsed in a heap onto the floor. Bryce wasn’t sure if the attacker was dead or merely unconscious, but that was of no concern to him at this point. All he could think about was freeing the victim and safely getting her out of the destroyed and unstable structure as quickly as possible. He wiped the sweat away from his brow and then returned to where she stood helplessly and continued trying the keys until he finally found the one that fit the lock on the handcuffs.

With her wrists free at last, the woman breathed a sigh of relief and threw her arms around Bryce, expressing her undying gratitude to him for rescuing her from the clutches of the deranged madman. “You saved my life,” she said. “How can I ever repay you?”

Bryce returned the embrace, pleased with his good deed for the day. He was basking in the glowing feeling of being a hero when all of a sudden, he felt something sharp pierce the side of his neck. His mind reeled with confusion and a wave of dizziness surged through his head. And then everything went black.

The woman retracted her fangs from Bryce’s neck and licked away his fresh blood from her lips as his limp body fell to the cellar floor, twitching with violent spasms. Feeling replenished, she grinned as she looked down at the storm chaser. She then let out a laugh and asked him, “Will everlasting life do?”