Storming the Kingdom - Chapter One
Stinging needles of rain burst across Grayson Hawkes’s skin. His shoes squeaked as they slid across the metal surface, desperately searching for a foothold so he could maintain his balance. Wind blasted against him. The savage wrath of the storm turned each drop of rain into a dangerous projectile threatening to knock him off of his moving perch. Bracing himself by leaning into the fury, he inched forward.
Hurricane Ginger had arrived just as the forecasters had predicted. The category 3 storm was packing winds of 125 miles per hour, but those were nested along the eye wall of the meteorological monster, and Ginger’s eye wasn’t on him yet. Hawk hoped that the eye of the storm was still miles away. The gusts he was battling were an 80-mile-per-hour preview of the main attraction coming soon. The storm had not surprised him or anyone else for that matter. There had been plenty of advance warning as hurricane trackers had watched the force of nature develop and then followed her path toward Central Florida. The unexpected twist for Hawk was that he was facing the onslaught of the storm while struggling to stay balanced on top of a Disney Mark VI monorail streaking though the Walt Disney World Resort, traveling at a speed of 35 miles an hour, headed for the Epcot theme park.
Slowly his foot glided forward, grabbing another step across the top of the monorail. Hawk was on the last car of the six-car train. His goal was to travel the length of the train to get to the lead control cabin. He steeled himself to step across the juncture between the cars. The gap would be an easy one for him to cross on a normal day. Today was anything but normal. Normal would have meant he was riding inside the monorail instead of standing on top of it. Normal would have meant that that the monorail was transporting guests to and from theme parks instead of running empty because the parks were closed due to the storm. Normal would have meant that this monorail, Monorail Red, would have been stored away safely until the storm had passed. This was definitely not a normal day.
As the sleek monorail snaked along the concrete track, Hawk shoved himself airborne to cross to the roof of the next passenger car. His front foot landed exactly where he had hoped. Perfect!
A gust of wind hit him. The cyclone force of it struck him in the chest and drove him back. Feet lifting off the roof, Hawk felt himself flying backward and glanced over his shoulder to see the monorail passing beneath him. Momentarily suspended in midair, he longed for gravity to return—and his wish was granted instantly. He smashed onto the roof of the monorail, flat on his back, staring up into the angry gunmetal sky.
The driving wind, the rain-drenched white roof of the cabin, and the speed of the Mark VI combined to propel him skating on his shoulder blades across the slick surface. Flipping over, he spread out both arms against the wet metal to slow his slide and stabilize himself. Excruciatingly slow seconds passed and finally he screeched to a stop. Inhaling deeply, he gradually worked himself back around to face the other direction. The gap between the cars was a good thirty feet ahead of him; his failed attempt to get across to the other car less than a minute ago had caused him to lose ground. Willing himself to try again, he pushed himself up into a crawling position. The new strategy would be to creep across, keep his center of gravity closer to the roof of the car, and then figure out a different way to cover the gap between the cars when he reached the connect point. Inches became feet, then feet became yards as once again Hawk made his way across the expanse of the monorail section. Glancing forward and squinting his eyes against the blinding deluge, he realized that the track was about to veer to the left.
In less than a heartbeat, Hawk felt the sickening shift of the vehicle below him. Flattening himself against the roof of the car, he braced himself as another raging blast of wind surged against him. He felt his body twist in an out-of-control tumble toward the side of the narrow roof of the monorail. Hands grasping for anything that they could close around, they found nothing but air. Hopelessly sliding, Hawk knew there was nothing he could do to prevent the inevitable. He thought to himself, “How in the world did I end up in this mess?” as he slid over the edge and off the roof of the monorail as it raced through the raging storm.