We’ve all had that ‘one’ we loved because they made us better, but what happens when a storm isn’t really a storm and something is taken away?
By: Matthew McLachlan
Matthew McLachlan is an experienced actor from Pennsylvania. He has starred in many theatrical productions including the lead role of the demon Hurmizah in “Teibele and Her Demon.” He currently writes short horror fiction while working on his upcoming novel. Check out his website at: matthewseanmclachlan.
Click here for a PDF of Risk of Rain.
Risk of Rain
By: Matthew McLachlan
Personally, I find Kansas with its dry weather, burnout countryside and rustic people as flat and dismal as a bottle of soda left to boil in the fevered sun. Not that it matters what roadside hotel I stop at, my nightmares have already checked into my room before I even turn the key.
They replay in my dreams like some late-night-ad selling rooms at a coastal resort, where all the smiling-gaudy-dressed-tourists have been replaced by the wet shadowy mouths and blistering eyes of those, those God awful monstrosities that fell out of the sky that night!
Oh God, Caitlin. I can’t take it anymore! Tonight, the raging winds rip the sky asunder. Above my roof and outside my window the rains pour down from the clouds profusely. Oh Caitlin, I fear tonight. I will see them again, coming down in the maddening flashes of the clouds. I will see them! Coming for me!
I know. I just, I just need to relax, maybe take a pill (or even two). Gain a little perspective. If I’m going to keep the record straight and remember everything that happened that terrible night, just as you and I remember it Caitlin.
We were driving on Interstate 95, somewhere between New London and Providence Maine, where the rest of Caitlin’s family was vacationing with their granddad. Caitlin and I had headed back to her house to grab a few of her things and waste some time together, when a storm had started to gain strength over the Atlantic early on in the evening.
The radio had said at first that it might not go inland, but they weren’t sure. One meteorologist put it that the storm was just “wading over the sea.” But wading there for what? Through our passenger window, we could see the deformed ashen heads of its clouds massing like a brood of trolls glaring down on the coastline. We thought we could outrace it, the ride back to Maine taking an hour total, when some driver in a rush must’ve zigged when they should have zagged, and brought the whole stretch of road to a halt. It wasn’t long after that we saw the clouds begin to creep towards us, a winding stretch of interstate, bumper to bumper with tinned chum.
We watched the rain stream down the windshield as it created red globules from the cars’ brake lights ahead of us that lengthened out into blackness, a string of white globs in the rearview doing the same. There was nothing else either of us was able to make out through the incessant rain. I could see Caitlin was getting worried so I tried my best, which when I look back, wasn’t nearly enough.
“If this Chrysler your granddad jacked from The Godfather had even a tape player, we could listen to this,” I said flashing the CD case I kept in my breast pocket. The disc’s spectrum of color caught the headlights of the car behind us.
“Be nice Robbie,” Caitlin said smiling. “This car is the only reason we got to take our little road trip, since somebody has yet to get some wheels of their own.”
“Hey,” I laughed “I’m working on it. We got a couple gigs lined up now. And once I graduate, we’ll prob be able to grab a few more.”
“I know you will,” she said looking back out her window, and that was all Caitlin said. She could have said more, like my parents would have, about “fifty dollars from playing with your band isn’t going to pay rent” or something whack like that, but Caitlin wasn’t like that. She was cool. The coolest girl I had ever dated. I only wished I hadn’t been a senior graduating and her, a freshman, when we hooked up.
“Cay, you know you’re the only girl I’ve ever been able to talk to,” I said staring at the dashboard. The rain beat down against the roof matching how fast my heart raced. I glanced over at Caitlin. She was staring down at her lap. She was wearing black fishnets under a short black skirt. Her little rose petal lips pouted softly. They always did that when she was thinking deep about something. We hadn’t done it yet, but we both knew we wanted to. I stared at her. I waited till my heart couldn’t take it anymore and said it, “I love you.”
Her eyes shot up at me, wide and worried, but she didn’t reply.
So I spoke for both of us, “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Can you really mean that,” she said back “I mean, after five weeks?”
“Cay, I do.” I took her hand in both of mine. I could smell her skin, moist from the rain, scented with some sweet fruit perfume. Most of all, I could see how supple her pink petal lips were and how badly I wished to kiss them. “You changed my life,” I said inching towards them, “I want you. I need you. I’d die for you.”
“Don’t say that Robbie,” she said gently touching my face. “You know it worries me when you say stuff like that. I just don’t want you going back to how you were before.”
“I can’t,” I said and kissed her softly. “The meds, the nut jobs. I don’t need them Caitlin. You cured me.” Then I slipped my tongue inside her mouth.
I bet you didn’t know this Caitlin, but sometimes I’d look into your face and see the future. It twinkled in your dark, beautiful blue eyes. And that future was us, together, just like we were that night in your granddad’s old Chrysler. I wanted to make love to you then, so badly. But she said she wasn’t ready, and when I thought about it, I knew I wasn’t ready. So, after we got done making out I used the car lighter and lit us two smokes. It was while we were in each other’s embrace, listening to the rain, smoking our cigs that the rain suddenly seized up and they came.
I sat up in my seat and stared out the windshield. The traffic hadn’t moved. But I could tell we weren’t the only cars that had killed the engine. There was this silence that hung over the road, like a thick mist. I could make out the blurry shapes of the passengers in front of us, looking around at each other and the sky with dumbfounded awe, like we were. But any thoughts that the change of weather would cause traffic to pick up again were short lived. In a short breath, the rain began to pour once more with the same intense persistence, or at least, at first it did.
DHUNT! …DHA-DHA, DHA!-DHUNT!-DHUNT! …DHA!-DHA!-DHA-
The storm’s thunderous taunts were shattered over our heads by the roof exploding into a riot of crashing debris! Hammering and beating down mercilessly, to the point the rearview mirror began to vibrate. We covered our ears to escape the maddening sound! But like many forms of hysteria or madness, eventually we were able to push through the noise and look out the windshield.
I tried to use the wipers, but amidst the ceaseless downpour, I caught maybe one or two fleeting glimpses of what terrorized us from above. What I expected to see was hail the size of golf balls pummeling the hood, but instead I saw crudely shaped black rocks. For some crazy reason, though I don’t think so crazy anymore, the first word that popped into my head was meteor. It was in one of my last glimpses between the wipers, when I saw what I thought was one of the black pocked stone’s back arch up, as if it was a caterpillar inching away. But there was no time to even question if what I thought I saw was real, as my eyes darted to the bottom of Caitlin’s door, where we both heard from the other side some kind of muted chirping.
I wanted to tell Caitlin not to open the door, but it had creaked out into the brutal elements before I could even assemble the words in my head. I don’t know if that would have even stopped you Caitlin, you probably thought you were going to shelter some helpless bird from the threshing hail.
As the Chrysler’s door creaked open the creature peered into the car from the wet rain and made its chirping sound again, “Mmmip, mip…ik!-ik!-ick,” as if it were some dark abyssal bottom feeder waiting to be fed prawns by its benefactors. Its four orange-membrane eyes, located above and below its mouth, wasted no time sizing up me and Caitlin before deciding which it wanted for its first meal. I tried to reach over Caitlin to slam the door shut, but it sprung at my face with its long segmented legs in a bouquet of stabbing needles!
I quickly jerked back from the thing, which was exactly what it wanted. In the electric sky, I could see its sage green crustaceous plating lined up its back, linking to the neck where its enormous head bared down on Caitlin’s gasping face.
The thing’s head blossomed out into four equal halves exposing a nest of pink, fleshly tubes for a tongue. I tried to beat the thing off of her, but one of its eyes must have seen me and impaled my hand with one of its spiny legs! My cries of agony fell upon deaf ears on the bombarded roof top.
I heard a call for help in a muffled choke and looked up to see Caitlin already dead. Her face and body shredded asunder by serrated lengths of tentacles the creature kept along its belly, leaving the pink tubes in its throat to suck up the liquefied remains.
I stared over at Caitlin. Most of her jaw was missing, her delicate lips cleaved in two. I looked into her beautiful lifeless face, then up at thing’s eyes bloated in gluttonous rapture. Their orange-membrane sacs bulging from its head like swollen blisters.
Very carefully, I pulled the car lighter from its casing in the astray and placed the hot glowing cylinder between my fingers like a brass knuckle. I knew I couldn’t wait long to make my move before its bright glow of the lighter would cool, but as it turned out I didn’t have to. Right then, the creature’s head bored down into Caitlin’s stomach selfishly.
Without a moment’s hesitation, I curled my fist tight around the lighter and sent it right into the center of thing’s eye! There was a small sizzle sound at first, but after the heat broke the eye’s thin tissue and its fluid drained out. I was shocked to see the burn spread like wildfire from the point of impact all across its body. The creature jolted and flung itself on its back, squirming and writhing with pain in the borrowed nest it had made in Caitlin’s belly, until all that was left of the creature was a handful of red charring cinder.
When the sun came up only seven of us had survived, with any trace of those things ever attacking us, burned to dust in the first rays of dawn. The official report that went out to the press was that: “The storm that hit Interstate 95, is believed at this time, to have picked up some of the stones and surrounding debris from inside the ocean’s coast and then unloaded it on the strip of highway, causing serious injuries and multiple fatalities.”
Before morning had come, the creatures had smashed out most of the Chrysler’s glass, and with no proof of there being such an organism. It was either corroborate with the official report or risk charges of 1st degree murder.
I didn’t want your family to think that happened to you, Caitlin. I know how much you loved them. But, I loved you too and now I don’t know what to do without you. I just stay in this hotel, trapped between coasts, religiously watching the weatherman like they were televangelists prophesying the end of times. It’s been two months and there’s a storm coming again Caitlin, off the east coast, a category 4 hurricane gaining strength. They think it might reach all the way inland to the Midwest! But I know you’d want me to tell somebody what happened that night, even if it only helps one soul. So, I left this letter.
Oh God, Caitlin! Please tell me wherever you are, somehow, you don’t remember that night?! Tell me when the lightning flashes and the sky cracks you aren’t haunted by inescapable nightmares of those flesh eating things? Tell me your every waking thought isn’t trapped in that car with them still like me!
In the aftermath of it all I went back to my parents. I told them as a result of being part of such a traumatic accident I wanted to start up my sessions with the psychiatrist again, get back on the meds. But, it was all just a ruse Caitlin, to get me back to you.
I don’t know if guns can even stop the bottom feeders, but I hope this bottle of tricyclic can at least bring me to your arms. I watch the rain from my window and suddenly its drops on the roof and it sounds more like little pebbles gently being poured into a pond. Or, maybe that’s not really rain, but surges of hail, or maybe even those black meteors! But, then again, maybe it’s merely the drugs beginning to kick in. It doesn’t matter now. All that matters is seeing you again.
I love you Cay,