[This was written for the Curtis Brown Creative Writing Bootcamp from the prompt “It was hard to believe it would ever rain again”. I had 45 mins in which to write it, and it has only been mildly cleaned up.]
It was hard to believe it would ever rain again. How could the earth ever find more of it, for starters? It had been non-stop for the last 467 days and now… nothing. It was eerie, almost. Disturbing. Destabilising. People were coming out of their homes, tentatively raising their arms before them. Cars had stopped in the street, drivers’ heads craned out of windows. People looked up at the sky and then at each other, baffled, bewildered, and yes, perhaps a tiny tinge of fear. What might come next? No one believed the deluge was truly over, and they turned their gaze to the sky, fearful of what might come down next.
The first deposits came 2,308 days ago, according to the app which had been installed on most people’s phones. In the chaotic early days, the Met Office had tried to predict and forecast what might come next, but the deposits were too erratic, too random, and without any observable pattern for them to ever forecast correctly. Still, people kept the app as it served as a record of the deposits, and browsing the history become fall-back small talk, as discussions of the weather once had.
No one believed it was happening at first. Those who talked about it were dismissed as crazy: it was some new form of Morgellons, people said. But the nouveau-Morgellons folk were right, there really were small, invisible needles falling from the sky. Those with sensitive skins and dispositions were simply more readily irritated into noticing those first deposits. Those first needle days were few in number: perhaps five or six. No one is sure because of the initial dismissal.
The next deposits though, well, they were impossible to ignore: flint, 2×3” pieces of flint. No matter where you were—from the Sahel to the Maldives to Idaho—flint fell down for a grand total of 34.5 minutes, after which came bicycles, feathers, linguine, and Limosilactobacillus reuteri on rotation for approximately 75 minutes each over the course of the next 23 days. In those days, we all stayed indoors for fear of getting smashed on the head by a piece of flint or a bicycle. After a few days, people rushed out to grab the linguine during the L. reuteri deposits, mainly because it was the only thing available to eat back then, since people were too afraid to get to the shops. Some, the clever ones, they waited until the pasta was well coated with the L. reuteri , so they could bring themselves a little bacterial love and comfort with their calories.
Sometimes the deposits would last weeks, sometimes days, other times minutes. In the whole 2,308 days, the Met Office had gotten three predictions right: the fortnight of PlayStation 4s, the five days of camel hair, and the seven minutes of begonias. But that was it, for the rest of the time, the people were left to make their own guesses and predictions. Some friends and families had their own version of the football pools going on, but no one bet much, because no one ever won. Plus, most people were too busy playing on their new PlayStation 4s. The games had fallen thirteen hours before that, and the industrious had already began harvesting the deposits. Not too many mind, houses were getting full.
After 1,941 days of a bewildering array of items being deposited in front gardens and trees, on roofs and mountains, and the sea floor, the rain came. At first lightly, then heavier and more persistent. The people became afraid that their homes would be flooded, so they went out into the streets, grabbed items from the unclaimed deposits, and used some of them as shields around their windows and doors. Thankfully, day 1,569 had been brown packing tape, and day 1,752 some strange type of biofilm. The idea quickly spread to use them to seal doors and windows. Others used the oven doors from day 681 and secured them with the fishnet stockings from day 932. They were to come to regret that.
The deluge came on day 1,998. At first it was believed to be biblical. There were a great many chests being crossed and Hail Marys being said, until someone noticed that the rain was tinged with lemongrass essential oil, some kind of liquifying agent, and, if the aroused behaviour of house cats was to be believed, a small amount of bleach. The lemon-scented deluge carried on for 203 days until all of the previous deposits which had not been claimed and brought inside, were swept up, off, and away, and eventually melted into the detoxifying sea.
On day 2,201, the cats started chilling out, so the brave ones stuck deposits they had grown tired of out of the window to see if they would melt. By day 2,257, when there had been no melting for twelve days, things were judged to be safe. The rain had eased up to a strong drizzle and so people ventured outside: shops were opened, parks were visited, and a whole new generation of young people learnt to ride the unicycles, skateboards, and elephants they had secreted in their bedrooms over the last few years.
After what felt like an eon of capriciousness, nobody minded the rain, not even those who hadn’t bothered to save the wellies from day 121 and the raincoats from day 488. A simple day—or month or year, no one really minded—of rain was just what the doctor ordered. So when the rain finally stopped, and was replaced by nothing, the people could hardly believe it. For some, this spelled the end of days, for others, they were convinced it was like the first days, that there were invisible things raining down. Cults were established around their beliefs, and what an astonishing array of invisible things were believed into existence in those fine minds: sticks of rock, candy butter, and medallions of rose gold. It really was quite something. But the truth is, the rain had just stopped, the deposits really were over, and soon enough everyone would begin to forget.