Let me start off this post by saying that I hate reading serials. I lose interest when I’m caught up and have to wait for the next piece. Also, sometimes they never actually end… and I read for the story, so until I know it’s finished, I have a hard time emotionally investing in the story because I’ve been hurt before. It’s not you… it’s me…
I’ve been getting the impression, however, that I’m in the minority in this opinion. People seem to love serials right now. I write for myself, but I post for you peoples, so I’ve decided to take this short and break it into three parts. It is finished and already waiting to post; if I’m abducted by aliens and never seen again, you will still get the rest of the story.
If you ‘re like me and don’t want to start until you can read Downpour all at once, I get it. Just come back in 2 weeks (April 3rd) for the whole thing, and feel free to look through the archive. I’m sure I have stories up that you haven’t read; nobody has read them all.
If you plan to read it as it comes out, I feel that I should warn you that it contain more sexually explicit language in the 2nd and 3rd parts than the 1st.
Please feel free to contact me with comments on this little experiment.
The sky opened up and the rain came down. In buckets, in sheets, in cats and dogs, no matter how you chose to say it, it all happened at once. One moment there had been not a hint of rain and appeared to be only sparse cloud cover between the tall trees, but in the time it took to walk back into the bedroom and fish a sweater out of his bag the air outside had, more or less, turned to water. Flynn liked the sound and smell of rain, but this was a thunderous roar that made him uncomfortable about being stuck under an unfamiliar roof.
The windows took a pounding while he peered through them at the smudges of color that, before the water had started coming down, had been his Subaru Outback and the trees on the far side of the rented cabin’s driveway. Now, obscured by water pouring off the eves and the downpour, they were just dancing blotches, the more distant objects fading to white in the mist rising from the dark, fragrant soil. Flynn had been through storms, but had never, in his life, seen so much rain at one time, especially during June.
Renting the cabin to celebrate their three year anniversary had been Emily’s idea. He had to imagine, though, that even when they made the reservation, and paid the non-refundable deposit three months before, she had known she wouldn’t be joining him. His heart and mind were full of adventure, but he choose to experience them through the pen and book, not his body. She said she loved that about him at first, but their relationship had become stale. She left him for adventure and excitement and Flynn didn’t blame her.
The tea kettle express let out a whistle to announce its arrival, and Flynn forced his gaze away from the window. The cabin was a small, three room place. The single bedroom wasn’t really big enough to house anything but its namesake, the restroom was clean, and the living-room was cozy. All three rooms housed sparse furnishings and decorations of mellow browns and greens. It was all very clean and well organized — a little too clean to appear lived in. Flynn got the impression that this cabin hadn’t been anything other than a vacation rental for a long time.
Making it to the stove, Flynn clicked off the gas range, then poured the steaming water into his mug. The first bag of black tea floated in the water and he reached for the box to grab a second. The man knew what he was doing and that it wasn’t healthy, but he did it anyway. Emily had always made the tea too strong. Sometimes, if he brewed the tea strong enough and closed his eyes, for the briefest of moments — feeling the warm, fragrant steam curling into his nostrils, the cup warming his hands — he could pretend that she had never left him. He could pretend for that instant that she might, at any moment, lay her hand on his shoulder and say something like, “Come on, Goober, those dishes aren’t gonna do themselves.” That was her special nickname for him: Goober.
Then the moment would pass, and Flynn would be left sadder and more alone than before: feeling the loss anew every time. Plunking the second tea bag into the mug, he knew it would hurt, but couldn’t help himself. He wanted so badly to not feel alone anymore, even if only for a moment.
The warming mug nestled firmly in his palms, he made his way back to the window, pausing by the desk that sat along the wall. When he had first arrived two days before, Flynn had thought that he might, perhaps, take some time to write. He had been blocked up since she left, and thought that the change of scenery and lack of distractions might do for his writing what fiber did for his bowels. The lack of distractions just made him lonelier. At home he could throw himself into one project or another, but here all there was to do was think. The surroundings were beautiful, and the hike he had gone on the day before was exactly the sort of thing that Emily had accused him of never doing. That was all he could think about while out there: “Emily would have liked this,” “Emily would have tried to climb that,” or “That would be a cute spot for a picnic… Emily thought picnics were very romantic.”
At the cabin, his mind wandered so easily to the memories of the good times and it hurt so much more. At home, his eyes could wander to the blemishes in the walls where a plate, cup, or picture frame had shattered when the fight got heated and his words turned nasty. She wasn’t as good with crafting biting words, but that single semester she spent on the softball team her sophomore year in college was still apparent in her pitch and it left marks on the walls. These were solid, unwavering reminders of the bad times that were always there when Flynn needed them. Though, the passion that drove her to throw things and scream profanities, even, wasn’t all bad. It was that same fiery passion that had made the fucking so good. The sex was wonderful, but it had been the fucking that had benefited the most from her naturally passionate disposition as a redhead.
In the cabin, there was no remnant of her except Flynn’s memory and the spectral remains of their plans: no scarred walls to remind him of the bad times. Standing in front of the window, he brought the mug up to rest against his lips, his eyes slipped closed and he took a long, deep breath through his nose. The steam brought with it the thick, dark smell of the over-steeped tea. He had brewed it strong enough. She was there. It was just an instant before she would brush against him, kiss his neck and tell him that she forgot something in the car and that it was his job to fetch it for her. It was a perfectly normal moment with her: a moment almost long enough for his lips to start curling up into a smile.
Then it was over. As the moment waned, he almost heard her starting to call him Goober, but it was gone, and he was suddenly cold and alone in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do but read books he couldn’t focus on, write the novel that wouldn’t budge, or think about Emily.
His eyes slipped open to reveal the greens, browns, and grays that danced before him on the window. His breath caught.
Something moved. The background image was composed of rain pelted branches, all of which was seen through wavering sheets of water, so it all moved and was blurry, but something moved differently. It was only for an instant, but he had the very real sense that someone was walking down the driveway just past his car.
Seeing someone walking past his car back home, in San Diego, wasn’t that surprising; it was usually parked out on the street and he shared an apartment complex with at least one hundred other people. Here, though, it was strange. To get to the cabin he had driven down an unpaved, private road with a gate on it for half an hour, snaking through what appeared to be National Forest. The entire time he had been up there, including on the hike, he had yet to see another human being, and not even other living creatures, aside from birds and insects.
The door was only a single step away, and he was there, fumbling with the lock before he even started to breath again. Then the door was open, and Flynn stepped out into the rain, past the sheet of water. Cold rain plunged through his sweater and pants, drenched his socks, and filled his shoes instantly, but his attention was focused on finding the intruder. His eyes flicked around the driveway. The rain still poured, the branches of the trees still wavered, the mist still curled up off the ground, but there was nothing else to see. Nothing moved that shouldn’t, and nothing was out of place.
He vaguely became aware of what he was doing — of the pain in the ass that drying his clothing in front of the fire was going to be — as his feet carried him out to the muddy driveway. Flynn looked behind the car at the ground. The driveway was uneven gunk, the surface ninety percent covered by muddy puddles. Had he been a trained tacker, maybe he could do something with that, but his tracking experience was limited to having read two books with main characters that could track (one of them was tracking robots in space, though, so it probably didn’t count). He wasn’t sure what he had expected to find there, but whatever it was, all he found was mud, more rain, and the vague sense that someone was watching.
He stood there — not getting more wet, due to there being a finite quantity of water that his clothes, hair, and skin could hold, but getting more and more cold and uncomfortable — and he continued to look around. Even the sense that he was being watched began to dissolved in the rain. It left him feeling silly. There was nobody up there but him, and the pattern recognition in his brain must have misfired among all that movement in the rain.
Shuffling back toward the cabin, he laughed at himself, because that seemed like the right thing to do, but the laugh was a weak, slow, and lonely sound. It wasn’t until he made it back under the eves that he noticed his right hand was still clutching the mug. The contents were cold and mostly water now. At least it was no longer too strong.