The Hurricane

The Hurricane by Hugh Howey

Book: The Hurricane by Hugh Howey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hugh Howey
camera off to
conserve the battery. It was already low, and he realized how poorly he’d
planned for the storm. His cell phone, his Zune, his camera, and who knew what
else was inadequately charged. As much as Daniel mocked others for being
reliant on their gizmos and for having far too many of them, he felt his own
connection to that digital pipeline now that it had been ruptured.
    The driveway was almost completely free of downed trees, but
was lined on either side with crashed and crushed limbs. The long arms of the
oaks sagged broken on the ground. The magnolia leaves, waxy and bright green,
were tangled everywhere. Daniel strolled past them to the middle of the
cul-de-sac and turned to marvel at the destruction. The white and yellowing
flash of tree-wound was everywhere visible through the mangled canopy of woods.
Each spot of raw and splintered yellow highlighted another limb broken, another
trunk snapped in two, another tree destroyed or crippled. And the undergrowth
was now a tall field of oddly green branches and bushy leaves. It looked like a
blind barber had descended on the neighborhood with a gigantic set of clippers,
buzzing the trees at random, making a mess of everything.
    Through the tangles, Daniel could see more rootballs
standing up on end like walls of caked mud. Each one had a large tree attached,
the trunk resting along the ground and terminating on a jumbled cauliflower of
leaves. Somehow, the trees were larger at rest than they had seemed pointing up
at the wide sky. Daniel took a picture of one downed tree that had clipped a
neighboring tree, slicing it pretty much in half. He saw lots of smaller trees
that had fallen, only to be caught in the crook of another tree’s arms. These
angled trunks stood out everywhere once he looked for them. He powered his
camera off and heard a screen door slap shut somewhere. Through the new jungle,
he could see the neighbors from across the cul-de-sac walking across their
front yard to survey the damage to their own house. Daniel waved when they
spotted him. He didn’t recognize either one of them and didn’t know their
names.
    He turned away from the heavily wooded cul-de-sac and
wandered up the street, fighting the urge to take pictures of everything. Two
houses down, the lone tree in an otherwise cleared yard had fallen against a
neighbor’s house. The thick trunk hadn’t made a direct hit, but the massive
kraken of limbs had ensnared the house. The gutters hung like a twisted,
glittering tassel from the edge of the roof. The front door was completely
hemmed in from the crash. Daniel hoped the back door was obstruction free, or
the occupants were going to be climbing out windows.
    Several of the houses he passed stirred with the same sort
of early-morning activity: People standing outside in pajamas, some of them
clutching steaming mugs, all sporting bewildered eyes. They waved at Daniel and
each other, and he marveled at how few of his neighbors he recognized.
Somewhere in the distance he heard a chainsaw buzz to life, the throttle worked
over and over as it revved up and down with the cough of a machine long asleep.
Daniel welcomed this intrusion into the quiet. It was the sound of a thing working and of progress being made. Somewhere, a piece of the littered ground was being
cleared. When he looked out at all the incredible damage, he wondered if it
would be months or even years before they had a handle on it all.
    “Hey you.”
    Daniel whirled around and looked for the person calling out.
    “Over here.”
    Someone by the bushes of the next house was waving at him.
Daniel turned and walked toward the house. He noticed a huge swath of shingles
had been ripped from the roof, leaving the black tar paper underneath torn, a
layer of raw plywood exposed beneath that. The person by the bushes waved him
over hurriedly. Daniel broke into a jog, wondering if someone was hurt. When he
got closer, he saw the person was kneeling down by a solar panel, an open
toolbox

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