A Tale of the Black Rain
I grew up the only child of a single mother. A fact I was always proud of. When I was a child, I’d loved my mother more than anything in the entire world, that my father wasn’t in the picture, never bothered me.
Understand she was everything to me; she was my mother. When she was around, it was like the entire house felt lighter. It was like nothing dark or bad could ever touch you. I never needed a night light or a teddy bear, because I knew she was right down the hall.
“Then why’d you kill her, John?” The pug-faced public defender on the other side of the table asked. His fatty jowls jiggling every time he spoke, spraying spittle onto the metal table that separated them. Just another day in Hainsdale Correctional.
I groaned. “I’m telling you what happened. Just let me work my way to it.”
“This is your last hearing. You're 18 now.” The public defender said solemnly. I could tell from the look in his eye that he had never won a thing in his life and this case in his mind wouldn’t be any different, but dammit, I wanted my story to be told. Exactly how it happened.
“Like I was saying....” I began as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair, which was too small for his bulbous body.
We lived at the edge of town in this old two-story house. Nothing special, just a rickety old farmhouse with no land left to its name. It stood like a proud old man with a hunched back, too stubborn to give in to gravity. But it was ours.
When she wasn’t working, my mom was cleaning or painting, or decorating. Anything she could do to make that house a little nicer. That was her.
She always had a plan. This year a white picket fence and some new bathroom tile. Next year, we will redo the entire kitchen. She was a real go-getter, making 7.50 an hour at the Stop and Shop and raising me by herself, all the while daring the whole damn world to open its judgmental mouth.
Other poor kids went to school with ripped clothes, but not me. No sir, never. She always made sure I looked like a prince, even if she was draped in rags. My mother was a queen among peasants.
You need to know this so you can understand exactly what happened that night on my twelfth birthday, December 22nd, 2004. The day everything changed.
It had been raining for three straight days that I remember because I was miserable and wet from the walk from the bus stop when I got in the house. I remember the news talking about it. The rain.
It was black. The black rain was new then, and there were a lot of stories about it. What could cause it? There was a lot of panic about it back then.
“I remember...that was the first time it happened. The black rain.” The defender said, cutting him off. “Scared the hell out of most people the first time it happened. Made the religious nuts yell about the end of the world, but in the end it was harmless, rare but harmless. Kind of like when it rains frogs or fish. Still happens occasionally.”
John looked at him for a moment before continuing his story. “Like I was saying...”
The black rain had been coming down hard for three days. And this day was no different. They’d closed schools early in fear of roads being washed out. It was cold out, so cold that standing in the rain for more than a minute would leave you shivering. There was some talk about it turning into snow. At least, that’s what people were hoping.
The other thing that stood out to me when I got home that day was that my mother was already home. She hadn’t gone in because she’d gotten sick after doing some yard work out in the rain.
I know what you’re thinking. Everyone gets sick, but let me tell you, in the eleven years leading up to my twelfth birthday, I never saw that women sneeze once. Eleven years, and she never took a sick day. She was always damned proud of that fact.
But, this rain cast a dark cloud over the whole town and her too.
The black rain, as they later called it because the water was blacker than oil, was terrible. It caused floods, washed out roads and other disasters. The rain lasted three straight days and after that, nothing was the same again.
It was a deluge and a sign for things to come. You see, the rain was evil. It changed everything it touched. If it could worm its way into you, it got inside and twisted you all up.
If this statement shocked the other man, he didn’t show it. He simply folded his arms and nodded for John to continue his story.
Mother was up in her room with the door closed. Shut tight and locked. She never did that, ever. It’s how I knew something was wrong. The house that she loved like a cantankerous old man had suddenly seemed so cold and uninviting. I mean, it was like every dark spot in the house grew more prominent. And it was growing more so with each passing minute. I watched as the shadows moving across the wall. It was as though the darkness in the house had become a living, breathing thing.
That second day was when she started coughing. Loud, hacking coughs that echoed through the whole house. From where I sat downstairs, my mother sounded like a twelve pack a day smoker on her last leg. I remember going into the kitchen to get her a glass of water.
The water came out black and then rust brown first, then it tapered off. The water in that old house came from the well and it wasn’t pristine, but it had never done that before. That’s how the rain got her. Mother always drank water. “Gotta stay hydrated!” She’d say all chipper, but me I was a milk and soda kid through and through.
It got into the well, and then it got into her.
Anyway, I got her a glass of water and went to go up the stairs. Every step I took up those stairs creaked, and the sound seemed to reverberate off the walls. Almost as though the house was telling me to be careful now. The light in the hallway wouldn’t turn on. To this day, I’m not sure why. Maybe whatever was upstairs preferred the darkness. Maybe things like it can’t exist in the light.
As I got closer, her coughs had become a jarring rattle.
I knocked on her door. Tentatively at first; feeling the way a child does when they know they’re doing something wrong.
“Go away.” She hollered from inside the room.
Twelve years and that was the first time she ever hollered at me. I knew she needed me, though, no matter how angry she was. My mother was lying on her side, away from me. Wheezing and hacking. “Didn’t I tell you to scram brat?” She huffed out, which only brought on another bought of coughing.
“I brought you a glass of water,” I said as my courage evaporated.
She hacked and rolled over. I almost screamed. She had black gunk coming out of her eyes, mouth, and nose. “Do I look like I need water, boy?” She asked, her voice wheezing out of her, sounding like a dog choking on a chicken bone. Primal and dying.
Glass shattered on the floor as I dropped the cup of water, back peddling out as quickly as I could, feeling the burn as my awkward motions put glass shards into my feet. Warm blood and cold water puddled together on the bedroom floor.
I wanted to cry, wanted her to help me pick the glass out of my feet. I wanted her to take the pain away and tell me it would all be okay.
Instead, she launched herself off the bed and fell to the floor on all fours and with animalistic glee, began lapping at my bloody footprints like a cat to cream.
I couldn’t even remember to scream when I saw it, but somehow my body remembered to piss itself. That was the moment that I think that was the moment realized in some small way that nothing would ever be right again. That my mother was gone.
I ran, taking the stairs with leaping bounds. She was fast and before I knew it; she was on my tail, running on all fours with her teeth clacking as she continually ground and snapped her jaws.
Her body was bent at an unnatural angle. She moved like an insect from side to side. Running with the crackling sound of popping joints and snapping bones. And like sweet Orpheus at the mouth of hell, I turned back towards my mother, my Eurydice. And like him, I was a fool.
That one look caused me to slow down, allowed me to see the genuine horror behind me and let that fear really sink in.
On all fours, she couldn’t take the stairs, so she slithered down the wall. Her mouth elongated at an unnatural angle and blew forth what I have only been able to describe as a trumpet blast.
Every window shattered in the house, every glass blew. The old wood floors of my home sweet home were now covered with broken glass and shattered dreams.
The house where I had felt most safe, whose walls were once my shield, now became my prison. At that moment, I had more in common with a rat trapped with a snake in a cage than another human being.
Crack went my mother’s back as she stood erect. A spider leering at its fly. Her mouth grew wider, trumpeting again as she wobbled unsteadily on two legs.
Her movements were awkward and slow, making me think of the scene from Bambi where his mother teaches him to walk.
All out of piss, I finally remembered how to scream. The sound that came out was loud and childish. The worst part was it didn’t change a thing. No one came to help me.
I was still there, in the kitchen, standing before a monster.
There came a sound like that of cold cuts being pulled apart as my mother shed the skin off of her torso, her rib bones clacking and wriggling their way out of her flesh, until they were opened wide like a nightmarish mouth. They then began gnashing together like the jaws of some primordial beast.
She shambled towards me, sure and slow. She was awkward on two legs, yet seemed sure of the kill to come. The lion to the gazelle. Trying to get out of there too fast, I ended up tripping and falling to the floor. My ass dragging across the cruel yellow linoleum that sat quietly as the horror progressed.
Her tongue crept out slowly and pulled itself across her top row of teeth. Black gook still leaked out of her, dripping itself down her bones and puddling around her feet as she walked. Hissing as it hit the linoleum. Not so high and mighty now, I thought, venting my anger at the floor.
My body came to a sudden halt as my back hit the unmoving mass of kitchen cabinets.
She licked her teeth and gnashed her ribs, apparently excited about what was to come. Her tongue seemed to dance wildly as it darted back and forth, now looked more like a tentacle than a tongue.
It lashed out, trying to grip my leg and pull me close. In terror, I pulled my body up on shaking legs, knowing with that animal part of my mind that if I stayed on my back, I was going to die.
The thing that now wore my mother’s bones trumpeted again. This time it was so loud all the porcelain dishes shattered, exploding out of cabinets with the energy of a bottle rocket. Completely wrecking the kitchen and covering it in broken shards of porcelain and glass.
I think one of my eardrums shattered because I could feel something hot and wet trickling down my neck, and could barely hear from that side. But the adrenaline was soaring through my veins and I had no time to check, anyway. She’d started moving towards me slowly, as though savoring the kill.
I turned and grab a knife from the sink, trying not to slip in the blood from my feet and ignoring the pain as I stepped on even more sharp shards.
I slashed wildly as she shambled towards me. The knife got stuck in the neck of the damn thing. My Mother. The thought brought tears to my eyes.
Its rib mandibles reached towards me, so I let go and ran. Behind me, I heard it fall to all fours again as it scuttled behind me. I tore open the front door.
My bloody feet flew from under me on the soaking wet stairs and I went down hard. Sprawled face down in the mud, the hairs on the back of my neck rose to full height. In a moment, I knew I would be dead.
However, I rolled over just in time as my mother’s broken form tumbled in the mud, having pounced from the stairs and finding no fleshy purchase where it landed. As it skittered and slid, I ran towards the shed.
My feet hurt with every stride, pounding glass shards into my foot like a carpenter pounding nails. Fight or flight. I didn’t want to die tonight, the fact that it was me or her had finally sunk in.
The shed made the house look new. We had only ever used it to store the push mower and other yards’ tools. The rain picked up and sprayed downwards, splattering the roof of the shed and drenching the earth with its inky black water.
My breaths came shallow and slow as I entered the doorway and reached for my prize. An old axe. It was big, notched and rusty, as the day was long. I’d found it in the shed when we’d first moved in, spent days honing the edge.
My mother had forbidden me to play with it for fear I would hurt myself. How ironic I would have to use it to save myself from her.
The thing that wore her bones no longer trumpeted as it kept slipping and sliding in the mud, unable to stay upright as it ambled towards the shed.
I cried hard, sobbing as I walked towards her. It laughed, then the beast hissed at the rain. Its dull black eyes still oozing goo looked at me knowingly. Whether or not the monster realized it, the gazelle had become the lion.
Its ribs clacked uselessly in the mud. The first swing I did from over my head was hard and strong. The rest were short and sweet, but just as tiring. Its dull black eyes bore into my own, letting me know for sure that my mother was indeed gone. I didn’t stop until it was in pieces, just to make sure it was dead. So you see, I didn’t kill my mother. I laid her body to rest, whatever I killed that night was something else completely. A by-product of the rain.
The public defender across the table was white as a sheet. “You hacked her up with an axe.” He blurted.
“I set her free,” I replied. “I’m not the only one to have experiences with the rain surely you’ve heard the stories? The black rain it opens a hole and evil pours in through it.”
“You really believe that John?” He asked, his color returning.
“Didn’t you hear my story?” I asked.
The other man nodded. “And your legs?”
I pointed at them. “What about them?”
“Why’d you hack them off below the knee?”
Just thinking about it made the nubs itch, sometime I could still feel them there. The prison had given me prosthetics, but they took them for the interview in case I used them as a weapon.
“The truth?” I asked him, even though I knew I was going to give it to him.
“If you would please.”
I leaned over the table that separated us. “Because I could feel it in me. All those open wounds in my feet had let it in. The black water that lay in puddles in the yard. I could feel it entering my veins cold and slow. Working its way up so it could do to me like it did to my mother. It’s okay though. I hacked them off where it was dry inside the shed before it could do to me what it did to her.”
“I see.” He said, and then he smiled at me then like a shark smelling blood in the water. “Thank you for telling me your story, John. You tell it just like that and we can plead insanity for sure.” With that, my public defender took his leave. Assuring me, I would be moved to serve out my sentence in a cushy state-run Sanatorium. Maybe, at least, the pills they would give me there would let me sleep through the storm that was brewing.
I’d seen the weather reports.
The rain was coming back.
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.