The Forever Rain

It started like any other rain at first: a smattering of wetness falling from the sky. Pedestrians strolling on the sidewalk looked up when they felt small drops hit their faces and outstretched palms.

“Looks like rain,” people said then. And it was.

The spitting turned to a downpour, and people ran for cover, unfurled umbrellas, and shielded themselves with newspapers and briefcases. The rain had began in earnest. I remember where I was when that happened: I’d been sitting out on the patio of Cafe Fontaine having an espresso. That was four months ago.

Like a disease, a black plague, a rolling tide of judgement, the dark clouds slowly made their way everywhere, and with them, the rain came. The reports of rapidly rising floodwaters were first only from the interior, then all across the country.

The rain falls. My wife sits beneath a soaked blanket with my young daughter as I slowly paddle our tiny boat, my arms stiff and sore and cold, between the rows of streetlights. The highway they lined is beneath us, submerged along with so many abandoned cars filling it; futile attempts to escape the rising floods, already then too late.

Up ahead is an overpass. We are nearly level with its bottom, the water has risen so high. As it draws nearer I see on it graffiti sprayed in violent red:

REPENT SINNERS BEFORE AN ANGRY GOD
THE TIME OF OUR JUDGEMENT HAS COME

My daughter shivers beneath the blanket.

“Daddy,” she says in little her voice. “When will the rain stop?”

I hold her and my wife close and we huddle together in each other’s warmth.

“I don’t know, baby,” I say. “I don’t know.”

The Last Words of Franz Stilgaart

I found Franz Stilgaart in his run-down apartment across the river, just like the Monsieur’s man I’d met in the alley said I would, drinking wine from a cheap goblet, seated staring out a tiny window at the Monk’s Bridge, his back toward the door and me. Careless.

It was a thing of ease to sneak up behind him and catch him unawares; when I slipped the blade into his back and felt the familiar warmth stain my hands he made no sound. He turned his head to face me, his last expression one of simply not understanding.

I wiped my knife on his filthy rags and left his dead body bleeding on the floor.

So imagine my surprise when three weeks later I came home to flat above the markets, only to find him standing in my living room, very much alive. Just like the first time, there were no words: my surprise turned to action and I felt my feet gain life beneath me and I tackled him.

We wrestled on the floor. I felt my hands around his neck and him gasping for air. I found my knife in my belt and slipped it into him for the second time, this time in the pale white skin of his throat.

All I can think of now are the last words of Franz Stilgaart, the words he gasped out when I murdered him for the second time, and have robbed me of my sleep this last fortnight, and I can only imagine will for many more to come. How long? How long will his words continue to haunt me? Until I meet my end just like him, the man I killed twice?

“There’s nothing,” he’d said. “There’s nothing on the other side.”