The Rain Isn’t Water

I first noticed it when I was waiting for the bus.

It was raining. Harder than it had all month, all year. Everyone was crammed into the glass hutch, looking miserable, apparently without umbrellas. I stared at the scene, trying to decide which was worse: getting wet, or rubbing butts with strangers?

It was an easy decision.

I stood in the muddy grass. The rain pattered on my skin, soaking my shirt. Rivulets ran down my forehead, dripping into my eyes; I reached to wipe them away.

I froze.

The rainwater felt… different. It was mildly slippery – like a cross between water and oil. I wet my fingers and rolled them against each other, eyebrows knotted.

At first, I thought it was my imagination. But one look at the road told me it wasn’t. Cars were going much slower than usual on this road – maybe twenty miles an hour. And the ones that went faster seemed to careen towards the gutter, as if skidding.

I pulled out my phone, began to type “rain in Bloomfield.” That’s when I heard the scream.

I looked up. Across the sloshing mess of the street, two women were yelling and pointing at a man that had just exited the Starbucks.

“You’re bleeding!”

“Are you all right?”

At first, I thought he was wearing some sort of white shirt with red polka-dots. But as the rain beat down on him, the shirt grew redder. “Call an ambulance!” one of them said; I squinted at the scene, confused.

“I’m fine, really, I don’t know what’s going on,” the man said. “Please, don’t call anyone.”

That’s when I figured it out. The red dots were where raindrops had fallen. Red lines ran down his face and arms, dripping onto the sidewalk, tinting the puddles pink.

“I’m fine, really.”

Three days later, I saw his face on the news.

John Allard, 45, was arrested for murdering his wife in their home on Tuesday night. The trial will be held…

“That’s the guy,” I said, pointing wildly to the TV. “The one I told you about – out in the rain.”

Molly barely looked up. “Oh, that’s nice,” she said, as she rummaged through the kitchen cabinets.

Over the next few weeks, more people were caught in the rain. And upon touching a few, that rain ran blood-red, staining their clothes just like their hearts. Always, within a few days, they turned to some act of violence – whether it be murder, assault, or rape. The town of Bloomfield was in a state of chaos, a state of confusion. No one knew what was going on, or what to do about it.

Last night, we had another storm. Rain pounded across the back door; lightning flashed across the purple sky. I stood out on the deck, under the awning of the house, just watching.

“Molly, come out here. It’s beautiful!”

“The soup’s getting cold, Rick,” her voice called from the kitchen.

Lines of lightning flashed, cracking and webbing across the purple clouds. Nature’s fireworks show, Molly always said. “You love thunderstorms,” I called back. The rain picked up tempo, cutting into the awning. “Come out here and see it!”

She came to the door. “No. Come in and eat dinner with me,” she said through the screen.

“Just for a moment. It’s sort of romantic, come on.”

She sighed. “Okay, fine.”

Molly stepped cautiously out onto the deck. I threw my arm around her, and we stood there for a few moments, watching the lightning flash.

But then a gust of wind blew through, sending a spray of raindrops into my face. “Sorry about that,” I said, turning towards her. “Maybe I shouldn’t have forced you out here, after all –”

I froze.

Beads of blood stuck to her cheek.

“Uh, Molly?”

“What?”

She turned towards me. As she did, her arm poked out slightly from the awning. The rain glanced off it, turning to a deep crimson.

I backed away.

“Rick, wait,” she said, her eyes widening with recognition. With soft smacks, more drops hit her face; they dripped down her cheeks in dark lines.

I ran into the house. Click – I closed the door, turned the lock.

“Rick, please, open the door,” she said, as her shirt turned red and bloody.

I turned away, and picked up the phone.

***

The police found a bottle of ethylene glycol in the kitchen cupboard, half of it missing.

I like to think the rain caused her to do it. That all of us are innocent in Bloomfield, and we’re being manipulated by some unknown chemical dropping from the skies, choosing people to turn into monsters.

But I found the receipt for the poison.

It was dated six months ago.

It continues to rain here in Bloomfield. Every time I see the gray stormclouds overhead, my stomach ties up in knots, wondering what evil will be revealed.

But they’ve gotten smarter. When I drive down Main Street in the rain, only a few stragglers remain. The rest stay inside.

And the ones that do walk out –

Well, they’re smart enough to use their umbrellas.

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