He held the camera in his hand and looked out at the storm. The weather reports warned for the last two weeks that a massive thunderstorm with the potential for tornadoes would be coming through. He gazed out at the rushing winds and sideways rain. This was exactly what his followers wanted to see. He mounted the camera on a tripod and talked to his viewers while he filmed.
"Hey my stormies. It's me, stormwatcher77. This lovely evening we'll be watching a beautiful thunderstorm together. Can you guys see everything good?" He glanced over at the chat on his screen.
There were no complaints. His usual loyal group of thirty were all present after a few minutes into the stream. They chatted between themselves about the storm, weather, and upcoming astronomical events. Jay wondered if there would be a tornado tonight. Last time the weather reports ramped up a storm like they did with this one, he ended up being disappointed.
As if to appease his wishes, the wind picked up. He grinned as the strong wind whipped around his body. Soon, the wind was getting too bad for him to stay out. "Okay guys, I'm going to have to move this inside. I'll be back in a few minutes. Hang tight."
He moved his equipment inside, putting the camera and tripod in front of one of the living room windows facing the street. He set everything back and up confirmed that everyone could see the storm. When everything was ready, he sat down and continued the conversation he was having with the group.
One person in the chat asked, "Jay, any plans to get a dashcam video of it?"
He thought about it. The group did love those kinds of videos. "Depends on how long this storm holds up. It's supposed to last through the night. Which would you guys want more--day or night video?"
The group overwhelming leaned towards a night video.
"Nighttime video it is." Jay said.
One of his earliest fans requested he light some candles in the window. Several others in the group agreed, one suggesting he use the multicolor candles Jay had used in another video.
"You guys want candles? You got it." Jay pulled some out from a drawer in the living room. He kept them around after a stormy Halloween video. His followers loved the soft lighting against the stormy sky and so did he. Jay didn't have a lot of followers. Right now, he had about two hundred, and the core group of thirty made up the bulk of the comments on his videos and were largely the people who showed up for his livestreams. He figured he'd get more followers if he went out stormchasing tornadoes and looking for hurricanes, but he liked the quiet, coziness he'd built for that small community.
To his followers, the appeal was never about the severity of the storm being scary or thrilling. The rain was peaceful, the dark was safe, and having someone to chat with, sitting and watching a storm, was what pulled them in the most. He liked it this way. At some point, he'd probably quit doing this, but he'd always have the videos to look back on.
He lit the candles in the window the camera was facing. As requested, he used the multicolored candles. Jay sat back in a chair and shifted between watching the storm and his laptop. Outside, lightning occasionally lit up the sky and thunder lulled Jay into a peaceful state. He chatted with the group about random topics and discussed with his fans where he should drive around at for the nighttime video. There were a few favorite spots the group had. They chatted for a good half hour as the storm gradually got more severe. Around then, Jay saw something strange.
Outside the window, Jay saw a man walking down the road. He wondered what the man was doing out in the storm in the middle of the road without an umbrella. The wind blew the man forward. He stumbled into Jay's yard, then ran up his steps onto his porch. Jay watched him from the living room.
"Help! Please, let me in!" The man banged on the door. He looked through the window right at Jay. "Help, it's getting bad out and I can't get back in my house!"
Jay went over to the front door. He opened it slightly. "What's the problem?"
"I was taking a walk and I was headed back to my house when the storm got real bad. The wind's too strong to walk through." The man clung to the door as the wind nearly knocked him over.
Jay helped him into the house and closed the door. The wind was so powerful Jay had to force it to close.
The man said, "Thanks, man. I owe you one."
"You okay? Your arm..." Jay noticed the man's sleeve was soaked in red.
"Must've been from the debris. Part of someone's shed knocked me in the arm." The man said.
A siren went off outside. Jay's phone went off too. He checked it and saw that a tornado touched down two counties over and might pass through his area.
"What's that?" The man asked.
"We're under a tornado warning. Judging from the map, it doesn't look like it'll hit us, but it's gonna come through this county." Jay said.
Hail came down outside. Jay went over to the window and looked up at the sky. The colors were off. His stomach turned with worry and excitement. Something big might be coming through their way after all.
"Do you have a basement or a tornado shelter?" The man asked.
"Yeah, I've got an area set up in the basement. If anything does come this way, we'll head down there. It's a good thing you got out of the storm when you did. It's really coming down out there now." Jay said. He wanted to get back to his stream, but it was too awkward to tell the guy that he was livestreaming. "So, you live around here, huh? I don't think I've seen you before."
"I just moved in last week." The man said.
"Oh, really? Where at?"
"Down at the end of the street, that way." The man pointed at the direction he came from.
Jay tried to remember if there had been any houses for sale or rent that way. He was certain there weren't. Jay personally knew most of the people on the street, since he'd grown up one road over and most people around there didn't move too far from their childhood homes. He assumed he must have just missed a sign. "Huh. I didn't know there were any houses up for sale that way. It's on this road, right?"
"Yeah, it's at the very, very far end. Small house. You probably wouldn't notice it if you didn't know it was there." The man said.
Jay raised an eyebrow. The houses on that end of the street were the bigger houses. His side of the street was the side with the smaller houses. He wondered if the man had gotten turned around on the road and confused himself. That still didn't seem right though. He definitely knew none of the houses at the far end of the street the other way were for sale. His cousin lived in one of those houses and his best friend was across the street from that cousin. Jay was down there all the time.
He turned to the stranger. "You know, I haven't asked your name. Who are you?"
"Uh..." The man hesitated. "John..."
"Simmons. John Simmons." The man finally noticed his camera. "What's that for?"
"Oh, I like making videos of storms. I was setting up my camera to film this one when you came in." Jay lied.
"How long has that been on? You know, it's illegal to film someone without their consent." The man said.
"It's not on yet. I hadn't finished setting up yet. With a tornado warning going on, I probably won't get to it either. I'll have to wait until it calms down again." Jay said, now more than ever not wanting the man to know what he was really doing.
"Oh. What's the computer for?" The man asked.
"I had it out to edit the video with once I finished filming and chat with some friends about a film project we're working on." Jay made up a story.
"Oh, are you a filmmaker?" The man asked.
"You could say that." Jay said.
Another siren went off. These were police sirens. Jay saw a police car speed down the road. He went over to the window to watch. "Huh. Wonder where they're going."
"Hey, do you have a bathroom?" The man asked.
Jay saw the cop car pull into the driveway of one of the houses on the street. Another cop car sped up to that house shortly after. Jay looked back at the man behind him. He made sure his phone was on him. "Yeah. I'll show you where it is."
Jay and the neighbor walked out of view of the camera, their footsteps becoming distant. Then, the room was quiet.
Ten minutes later, the camera picked up the sound of footsteps. On the chat, the group eagerly awaited for Jay to come back. A door opened. Through the window, the neighbor came into view. He casually walked down the steps of the front porch. A car started out of view and pulled out of Jay's driveway. The wind howled, the rain poured, and the room stayed silent.