weather

The World Inside the Rain

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This post was originally published through Patreon on August 15, 2018.

Samantha steps into the rain with her head down. But even with her eyes set upon her feet, it’s impossible to look away. The world is gray and lifeless, the sky overhead smothered by ominous charcoal clouds. Yet there is also light, and it is that first and foremost which catches her eye, though she’d rather look away.

She glimpses her reflection in a nearby puddle, haloed by colors that can’t be be found in her own darkened sky, and jerks away.

But now, the sight is no better, for the rain has started to fall in massive pelting sheets, and the light that emanates from it is the same light from the puddle: blindingly bright and multi-hued, an impossible composition that always leaves her bewildered and disoriented.

Twirling the umbrella in her hands, Samantha hunkers against the storm and breaks into a sprint.

Most people, when they see the rain, see drab smudges of gray. But not Samantha. Samantha sees light, as if the rain is composed not of water but of thick shining shards of glass. And what she sees in the puddles that accumulate beneath her feet are often stranger, not only the reflections of her own world but the reflections of another—the world inside the rain—as if they’re not puddles at all but windows, made up of that same glittering glass.

It used to fascinate her as a child. In those days, the world exuded some mystical property that transformed everything, not only the rain, into something extraordinary, otherworldly. In those days, the rain was just one more mystery, one more miracle stacked atop a mountain of other miracles.

Then she grew up, and she learned that what she saw in the otherwise gloomy weather was not what other people saw. She reached the only possible conclusion she could think of: that there was something wrong with her mind, that if she wasn’t careful, madness would take over.

So now, whenever the weather turns dark, she looks away. She refuses to see what can’t be real, regarding the lies her senses feed her as an affront to her dignity. She stays inside whenever possible, and when she has no choice but to walk the sparkling streets in the midst of a storm, she keeps her head down, squinting whenever her vision strays too near a glowing puddle and focusing instead on the grass or the gravel, the asphalt or the cement, until she’s tucked safely inside a nearby building, away from that which she cannot—dares not—understand.

But today, the weather is rough, more so than ever before. The wind has transformed into the howling whistle of a nightmare made manifest, and the rain that cascades from the sky is like an omnipresent waterfall, with that other glittering world at its center.

Perhaps most disturbing is that it’s no longer just her eyes that register this alien environment but her skin. She feels the heat of a sun that can’t possibly be her own, and no matter how loudly she proclaims that “this can’t be real,” that “this can’t be happening,” both her body and her heart are beginning to suspect otherwise.

Samantha runs faster. To where, she doesn’t know. She only knows she has to get away. She is propelled by a raw and primal fear that pushes her further along unfamiliar streets and avenues, until she finds herself facing a flooded alley, the light so strong, so impossibly brilliant, it fills her vision like an ocean.

“This isn’t right,” she whispers. But, in fact, there’s a blossoming feeling in her chest that tells her it is right, that whatever fate or destiny she’s spent her entire life running away from has come to claim her at last.

Though the air is cold, the heat of the world inside the rain suffuses her skin. And when she strains her ears, she thinks she hears a voice, soft and gentle, calling to her from a distance.

“Come,” it says, tugging at her heart like a soul-magnet.

She steps forward, toward the flood in the alley and the light inside.

Don’t go, she thinks. None of this is real.

Then again, that otherworldly voice: “Come.”

And Samantha, though she’s feared the rain and what it might mean her entire adult life, is now caught in the gravitational pull of something larger than herself, something larger than the entire world. She no longer sees the drab and the gray, but the promise of another life, the fulfillment of a mysterious destiny she can no longer deny.

“Come,” says the voice one last time.

This time, Samantha listens. She backs away on legs like coiled springs, then leaps into the light.

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From Life to Death

Image licensed by Shutterstock.

CRACK.

Thunder crashed, tearing the sky asunder. A storm of apocalyptic proportions. But Martha didn’t jump as so many of her neighbors did. She’d been expecting it since she was five.

The year she died.

She set her things aside and walked into the pouring rain. The street was nearly empty; most had gone inside when the rain started. There were only a couple folks standing in their front yards, staring up at the sky as if Hell had descended from the clouds, and Martha guessed she could understand. That last crack of thunder had packed quite a whallop.

The sky was a writhing mass of charcoal clouds, pluming like broad stone columns, blotting out the sun. Martha gazed up and tried to spot the form hidden within.

“Come out where I can see you,” she shouted. “Let me look at you.”

She glanced across the street, self conscious in the wake of her outburst, and of course there was Harold Vernor staring back at her. Well, let him think her a senile fool. She had other things to worry about.

A second peal of thunder, like a mortar bursting in the sky, followed by a bright, strobe-like flash. The sound set off at least a dozen car alarms.

Martha stood there waiting.

MARTHA.

“I was wondering when you’d show yourself.”

Martha had been five the year she contracted pneumonia. Everybody expected her to get better, even her doctor, so it came as quite a shock when she took a turn for the worst and teetered on the precipice of death. The storm had come then just as it came now, frightening people with its great pounding cries like artillery fire.

It had approached her on the doorway of death, and in a voice only she could hear, it offered to restore her life. In return, she would let it take her again at a future time of its choosing. The idea terrified her, but if she turned down its offer she was sure to die anyway. So she agreed, and she woke the following morning as if she’d never been sick.

Now, just as before, rain pelted the street in a series of rapid fire plinks, so that Martha was soaked to the skin.

IT’S TIME.

“I figured as much. Can’t say I’ve had a bad life. Had my fair share of scrapes and bruises, but I guess I came out okay in the end.”

Two more explosions. Light electrified the sky.

“Anyway,” she continued, “I’m ready now.”

YOU ARE BRAVE.

“Not brave, just old enough to know I’ve had enough.”

THEN COME, AND LET ME TAKE YOU HOME.

A column of light like liquid fire, bolting from the sky. It struck her in the head. Martha rode that wild surge into the arms of her savior and destroyer, leaving her smoldering body behind.

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