Posts Tagged With: rain

The Storm

God, make it let up a little, my thoughts cried, my eyes fighting and failing to see past the walls of water whipping the ambulance. Sickly purple flashes tore up the darkness. Dim, faraway glows from street lights trickled through the flying rain, barely reaching me behind the wheel.

A brilliant blue-green fractured the storm; then black night. “There goes the power.” My partner sounded calmer than he looked when the next lightning bolt illuminated his face.

All I could see was water sheeting the windshield. My hands gripped the wheel, as though I could actually keep this truck in place if the river beneath our tires ran too high. The storm was Goliath, and I was the rock in David’s sling. And right now, I wasn’t even sure whose side God was on.

Somehow, we found our way to the patient—a man who’d decided a bruised elbow required an ambulance ride at 2AM in the middle of a Missouri hurricane. But, by the time we left the scene, I realized I could now see the road through the beating windshield wipers. A hint of relief flickered in my heart.

Later, as we left the hospital, blood finally replaced the adrenaline in my veins. Lightning ripped the distant east; leaves, branches, even trees lay strewn across the road. But what was left of the rain sprinkled down like a lullaby.

“Well, that was an adventure,” I told my partner.

“Too much of an adventure for me,” he replied.

I chuckled. God must have decided we weren’t ready to meet him face to face.

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Sun Shower

A billow of darkness rolls from the west. The bruised sky shadows the land, shading all in a sickly twilight. To the east, a sliver of light battles to hold the horizon; but it can not prevail against the undulating squall.

A silver burst batters the darkness; a roll of unearthly drums shivers each blade of grass. All is still now; the air itself holds its breath.

Then, with a gasp, it unleashes all its pent-up energy with the music of wind and water. The deluge rushes to earth, playing each tree and rock and flower like a symphony. On and on it plays, washing the air with its cleansing melody. On and on, until even the darkness begins to break apart.

And then, shards of sunlight stab earthward, drawing warmth from dampened soil. Still, a moment longer, the droplets shower down as from a fountain, the light painting each a brilliant diamond.

And, as the light strengthens and the diamonds taper off, a sharpness lingers. The fragrance of grass is sweeter, the whistle of birds brighter, and the sunlight smells of a laughing brook at daybreak. All is clean; as the sun sets, a new day begins.

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Bitter Rain

For a fortnight, the sun had beaten ruthlessly upon the land; but this morning, turbulent clouds overtook the sky. Though they offered relief and softened the glare of the sand, a sense of unease grew upon the band of travelers. Something felt wrong; it seemed as though the very air held its breath.

Suddenly, a field of bones rolled out before them, lying not as scattered remains of an unearthed grave, but as complete skeletons stripped of skin and muscle.

The leader of the party, a man called Amnor, stood from observing the nearest corpse, which lay sprawled upon the road as though struck in the midst of fleeing. “Only dry bones remain,” he said, gripping an unscathed rib bone, “and not one is broken or cracked.” He pressed the rib against his thigh, snapping it only after an effort. The center was still red with marrow.

No one spoke as they continued along their path, alert to the surrounding wilderness.

Far overhead the boiling clouds took on a color of sickness. Jeb and Halian, two young members of the group, continuously glanced skyward; Amnor and a strange armed woman, Mairi, kept their eyes ahead, faces betraying perplexity and perhaps fear. Avasa, Amnor’s sister and the youngest of the group, glanced nervously between each of her compatriots. Rain had not graced these lands in their lifetimes, Amnor had said. Dread not entirely from the mystery of the bones tightened iron fingers on the girl’s heart.

At length, they came upon what might once have been a village. Partially decayed stone blocks stacked atop each other produced the outline of homes, walls, a well, irrigation canals. Withered crops and shrubs poked from the sand. Nothing stirred within the ruin, not a lizard or a sand spider. A pale dust, like smoke or miniscule sand particles, drifted upon the air.

They followed a once-paved pathway into the village and noted a sudden increase of bones. They cluttered the streets, the fields, the interiors of roofless buildings. A foul stench lay upon the place, whether of rotted flesh or something else, they could not say.

Avasa poked her head inside the first crumbling home. Nothing less durable than stone remained; and even that was pocked with holes. All appeared in one stage or another of decay.

She felt as though she had stepped into the past and now explored some ancient ruin; yet the crops, the stench, and the marrow in the bones confirmed this town had lived not long ago.

A queer mood came upon her then. Each step she took suffocated in utter silence. The dry mist dampened her sight. Her feet began to stumble and her eyelids grew heavy, though dusk was still hours away. She felt a grip upon her arm, and somewhere in the depths of her mind, Mairi’s words languished without meaning: “Avasa, you must stay awake. It’s taking her, Amnor!”

Her consciousness then plunged into turmoil. She struggled against it, though she knew not what she battled or why. She saw Mairi running, felt her pulling Avasa along. Everything looked stood up on its side, as though she ran sideways along the wall. Her vision faded to black, and she heard many fell voices speaking at once in a language she did not understand. Terror pierced every part of her, yet she felt paralyzed. She could not run from it or fight it or cry out. Images of fire burned across the blackness, and a pouring rain which fed the fire. A voice screamed somewhere far away. The voices of her companions, shouting to each other, cut through all else.

Her body slammed to the floor, and her sight returned. She gagged on the stench of burning and decay. Voices cried out in pain, and from some unknown distance Amnor was shouting, “Under the table!”

Above all there was a noise like rushing wind, or an approaching sandstorm. But when she looked, she saw rain. She gazed out in wonder upon the liquid deluge she recognized only from legend; but a sense of death remained. The rain bore the same sickly green as the clouds from which it fell.

As more and more she returned to herself, she saw she sat beneath a slab of stone, perhaps a table. Mairi hissed from beside her, tearing open what appeared a burned hole in one leg of her trousers. The skin underneath had acquired a deep pink-black wound, charred so it could not bleed. “What happened?” Avasa asked, reaching by instinct for one of the medicines in her pack.

“The rain. It burns like fire. Some new devilry,” she added through clenched teeth. “Are you well?”

“I suppose I am now.”

As if in answer to Avasa’s unasked question, the older woman indicated the exposed interior of the house and the village outside. The rain had already ceased. “The dust still hangs in the air,” said Mairi. “Here on the floor we are beneath its reach, but we must find the others. Cover your face. Do not breathe it in. I fear it is of the same source as the rain.”

They found the men inside neighboring houses, emerging from beneath stone tables. They sat on the floor, bowing beneath the dust, and Avasa and Mairi tended their wounds. Then they stood, pulling scarves across their faces, and ran until the village was but a dune of stones far behind them. The clouds rolled away, the bright desert seemingly returned to itself. They rested only for a moment. “Come,” Amnor said. “We must put behind us as many miles as possible before nightfall.”

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The Flask of Rainwater

There once lived a boy named Hidal. He dwelt far in the south during the early days of The Drought. In those days, wells ran dry. The central wadi, which wound its way through the main part of the village, was but a dusty bed. Irrigation systems failed. Crops dried up. A hot wind blew ceaselessly, tumbling balls of dried weed across the plain and hurling dirt at the mud brick houses.

From time to time, great lightning storms ravaged the heavens. But never a drop of rain fell to grace the parched earth. The people began to die for want of food and water. Many left to seek better fortunes in other parts of the world. But The Drought was spreading.

One day, Hidal set out on a quest for rain. He took with him such provisions as he had managed to save up, the least of which was a small clay flask. Then he headed north with only his feet to carry him.

After many weeks, Hidal reached the foot of Evinghel, the tallest and northernmost of the Taupak Mountains. His supply of food and water had run out, but he began to climb, believing perhaps Evinghel would take him high enough to barter with the clouds. For two days, he scaled the mountain, pressing on to its very peak. When at last he reached the top, he collapsed, exhausted.

As he lay upon the stone, an Aldyr came to him. The Aldyr was small for his kind, perhaps twelve feet tall. Still, he towered over Hidal even as he knelt before him.

“What is it you seek, Child of Man?” the Aldyr said, placing a massive hand beneath Hidal’s head. He looked kindly upon the boy; his silvery eyes glimmered, and his pale skin and hair seemed to glow.

“A flask of rainwater,” said Hidal. He took the phial from his pack.

“This is a bold request,” said the Aldyr. “Do you not know the price of a raindrop? Gold cannot buy it, nor any store of earthly riches.”

“I do not wish to buy or sell, but to save the people of my village.”

“Will one flask save an entire village?”

“I know not, but that it may save many.”

Then the Aldyr smiled. “Well spoken, Child of Man, and well intended. May it be unto you as you have asked.” He turned his eyes toward the heavens and cried aloud in his own language: “Aquel le Jaeoril Liren!” And above them a small cloud appeared, and began to pour its glistening drops into the flask.

“Take one mouthful,” the Aldyr said when the flask was filled and the cloud dissipated. “It will satisfy you for the remainder of your journey. Use the rest for the sake of others, and great things will come of it.”

So, his strength renewed, Hidal returned down the mountain. He journeyed back the way he had come, passing through many villages nearly as desperate as his own. The fame of his possession seemed to fly ahead of him. In every town the people flocked to him, promising great gifts—a chest of gold coins, a suit of armor, a field’s worth of crops, a daughter’s hand in marriage—in exchange for a mouthful of water.

But in each town, Hidal pointed them toward the well. “This is a gift to all of you,” he would say, pouring a few drops of the rainwater into the well. “Drink your fill, and it will never run dry.”

At last, he reached the well of his own village. But when he turned the flask to empty it, no water came forth. In anguish and despair he fell to his knees, turning his eyes to the withering sun above. “I have failed!” he cried. “Is there not one drop left for my own people?”

And as he spoke these words, one last drop dripped from the rim of the flask. Fresh, clean water gushed as if from a hidden spring far below, and all the people rushed forward, scooping handfuls of the precious liquid.

And it is said that the wells of Hidal have ever brought forth enough and to spare, even unto this day.

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