WE STARED AT the map in silence for a minute. Neither one of us knew what to say next.
"So it's a vortex?" I finally asked. "What... how? Like what's causing it?"
"It's got to be some sort of pressure system," Jeremey replied. He tapped the eraser of the pencil against his lower lip. "Do you remember back when we were in middle school in Mr. Green's class?"
"Oh yeah, the guy that was obsessed with meteorology, right?"
"Exactly." He pointed the pencil at me. "Remember when he was teaching us how hurricanes form?"
"Pressure systems?" I offered. I knew it was what Jeremey had already said, but I didn't remember much of anything from school. I'd tried in middle school, but my attention span was shit, so I never did better than C's. I'd stopped bothering to try in high school.
"Yeah, basically." Jeremey narrowed his eyes, glaring back down at the map. "The hurricane spins because of the extremely low pressure located at its center. Basically, it sucks air in, and that creates the vortex." He mimed the formation of a hurricane with his hands, bringing them together in a slow twisting motion.
"So there must be a low pressure system at the center of town?" I asked. "At the farm house, and that's what's causing the wind?"
"Maybe," Jeremey said slowly. "But the thing is, it doesn't make complete sense. I mean, the low pressure would explain the swirling winds, but that still doesn't explain why there would be a pocket of low pressure to begin with. With hurricanes, it's because of warm water evaporating off the ocean. But what's going on here doesn't make any sense. There is no water to evaporate. A hurricane can't form over dry land, Harper, it just doesn't happen."
"So it's got to be caused by something else," I pondered. "What else could cause low pressure?"
"Hot air is lower density than cold air," Jeremey offered.
"So maybe a lot of heat? Maybe the farm house is generating a lot of heat!"
Jeremey shook his head. "We're not talking like, running a generator or a fireplace, Harper. I mean, to create an actual pressure system, this would have to be something huge. Like... some geothermic kind of thing."
"Geothermic... like from the earth? Like a volcano?"
"I guess, maybe." Jeremey paused, biting his lower lip. "But even that doesn't make complete sense. You don't see shit like this forming around volcanoes. You don't see shit like this... at all. It's not... it's not... natural."
He made eye contact with me, and chills ran down my spine. "What are you saying?" I asked quietly.
"There's no real explanation for this," Jeremey said. He paused for a moment and exhaled. The hot air from his lungs condensed into a mist in the cold air surrounding us. "Harper, do you believe in the supernatural?"
I didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say. Thoughts from when we had been kids danced around the back of my mind. Thoughts about the farmhouse. About the stories we'd told. But had I ever really believed them? It had never been a question I'd had to consider seriously, but what was going on now... It was real, and there was no way to explain it logically. "I don't know," I finally replied.
"My grandma did. She always liked to tell stories about the supernatural. Ghosts and demons and stuff like that. I liked to listen to her when I was little, but of course I didn't actually believe any of it. I was pretty convinced most of it she was making up to entertain me." A faint smile flicked across his face.
"Anyway, she grew up here in Millstone, and her parents grew up in Millstone, and yada yada, generations of my family after that," he continued. "So, she had a bunch of ghost stories about the area around here. Most of them were silly spooky stuff. Ghosts that carried lights out on railroad tracks looking for their lost dog, ghosts that slammed windows because they froze to death during the cold of a winter night. Those kind of things. But there was one story she always told that wasn't just some random haunting."
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•• Wattys 2018 Winner •• Wattpad Featured Story •• One day, a wind blew into the town of Millstone and didn't stop. Slowly people moved away. It was like the town was trying to clear itself out, as though it was preparing for something sinister. Whe...