Zeke stood in the drive watching the orange lightning dancing through the bank of gray, Texas clouds. It had been perfect, more than perfect for late January. But now, prior to dusk, Mother Nature was sending a reminder that winter was not yet finished.
He continued on with his evening, fixing supper for he and McBark, his dog. Normally, he would switch on his amateur radio transceiver and rag chew with a few aging ham friends in Montana and Idaho. He knew they would be on frequency waiting, but they would have to conduct their gab session without him. Instead he stepped outside and disconnected his antenna.
The storm had become audible, but it seemed to be north of him, so he was preparing for bed when the Georgia Pacific horn sounded. He hated the wail of that thing. It reminded him of air raids. Not a cherished memory.
A year earlier he had read about a newer amateur radio digital mode called APRS. The younger hams were crazy about, so using his Windows 7 desktop he become a member of that Yahoo Group to see what he could learn. For awhile he monitored the messages – problems and repairs, but they were all beyond his comprehension. However, on day someone uploaded the procedure for getting on the Internet with APRSCS32. He’d followed the steps and got it working. It didn’t do much – keyboarding with other hams through the Internet. So he soon stopped watching and went back to the tried and tested – Morse code and Sideband. And Louis L’Amour.
The GP horn alerted him that there was some sort of weather in the offing. Maybe a tornado. But with the closest TV station seventy miles to the south any chance of an accurate weather reports or predictions were slight. What did he have to lose? He switched on the desktop and brought up his APRSIS32 and there they were, seven tornadoes all headed in his direction.
The numerous amateur weather stations were tracking, comparing, and plotting the twisters displaying their “objects” in real-time. So this system he knew so little about actually works. Zeke watched the storms pass by his location, and when it was over he switched everything off and prepared for bed. McBark waited.
At last, with the comforter in place, Zeke patted his hand on the bed. McBark leaped up beside him. After turning several circles he stopped, then facing the foot, he body slammed into Zeke’s thigh.
“Well, dog, it looks like you’ll live to bark another day,” and he switched off the light.