New Fiction: Rainmaker (Part II)
October 26, 2001
Continuing the story of the Rainmaker...
We’ve heard the words before, dozens, even hundreds of times—on radio and on television. Familiar words to which we’ve paid little mind. Then again, why should we? We probably even have them committed to memory, but they’ve remained a vague concept nonetheless. The words of which I speak, part of them anyway, are as follows: This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. The broadcasters in your area have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and official information. This is only a test.
Only tonight it wasn’t a test. It wasn't "what if...?" It was real. The rains had been falling for two consecutive days across the nation and across the planet. Torrential rains, not soft, Irish Spring rains. Not-April-Showers-Bring-May-Flowers rains. Horrendous rainstorms that had submerged both coasts. The Jersey shore and inlands were under water. The Carolina coast, gone. The Keys in Florida were now a memory. The West Coast was equally flooded. The Hoover Dam overflowed its walls. The Mighty Mississippi proved how mighty it could be. Areas generally unaccustomed to rain such as the desert locales of Nevada and Arizona were saturated with rainfall, killing much of its plant and animal life. The Ohio Valley had become the Ohio Valley swimming pool. The extreme weather conditions occurring in the United States were also taking their toll on foreign lands. Rain rain go away, blah blah blah blah blah. But it wasn’t going to go away. Special newscasts instructed the public to “seek high elevations” and to, paradoxically, "remain indoors." With hundreds of roadways completely submerged, travel was becoming impossible. The weather personnel—the meteorologists and forecasters of the National Weather Service--had no idea what was happening on the planet. They could offer no scientific reason that could begin to explain the environmental upheaval that was occurring; could offer no explanation for the rains that were flooding the Sahara Desert and other regions of the world unaccustomed to rain. There was no scientific reason; that much I knew. After all, I’d started it all.
I mentioned earlier that on the occasion of my seventh birthday a psychic implanted a verbal message in my mind. One word: Rainmaker. I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t much care. And the event did not in the least bit alter my life. Not immediately, anyway. But jump ahead—a big jump of 24 years. I am 31 years old and a developmental book editor for a major fiction house. Essentially, I cultivate manuscripts from authors and develop these rough works (and often, rough authors) into (hopefully) money-making works of fiction. I’ve held this post for six years, so I assume I’m doing something right. I am single. I enjoy football and cycling. I am a part-time costumed crime fighter. I like two teaspoons of sugar and one teaspoon of half-and-half in my morning coffee of which I generally consume two cups. Oh, yes, the crime fighter remark. It’s true, I’m afraid. How I developed and honed my crime-fighting gift/curse is unimportant. Suffice to say that the psychic seemed to know her salt when she “said” what she did. I can, by shear force of will, control the weather--the elements per se. I’ve caused showers on sunny days. I’ve brought snow on Christmas eve to Los Angeles, California. I’ve ushered in winds to otherwise windless summer days. I’m not specifically a “full-time” crime fighter. My job keeps me busy and, quite honestly, there isn’t a lot of crime in the tri-state area that warrants the kind of involvement I can provide.
Typically, I can stop an adversary with a simple, albeit strong, calculated wind gust. Storms are uncontrollable, but are somewhat of a specialty; however, because of the risks involved, I typically avoid initiating them. Lighting is virtually impossible to control, and should an innocent be lightning struck by a storm of my construct—well, I’d rather not think about that. And yes, I’m known to my crime-fighting contemporaries as The Rainmaker. And yes, numerous journalists have inaccurately dubbed me The Rain Man, to which, had I a better sense of humor, I would have responded, “Time for vengeance; definitely time for vengeance,” in my best Dustin Hoffman which, honestly, is not very good at all. I’ve only really field-tested my abilities twice, though now I wish I’d stopped at once.
The first time I ever “cut loose” was in ’97. I faced an adversary who called himself the Positive Charge. His shtick was typical for the costumed villain sect. Money. Power. Notoriety. Extreme ego maniac that he was, I was able to goad him into an open area where I unleashed a hurricane-force wind. I stopped him, but stopping the storm I’d started proved difficult to say the least. The wind grew and expanded, manifesting itself into a tropical storm with gusts raging to 250 MPH. The storm lasted less than an hour, and no fatalities resulted; however, property damage in the South Jersey area was extensive and several homes were completely destroyed.
The second time I used the full extent of my powers was Monday—two days ago. When I think of it now, what I did versus how I could have done it, I realize that I’m purely amateur, and irresponsible. I realize that my powers are far greater than I could have ever envisioned, and that I’ve been fooling myself with regard to their use.
Veronica and I had been shopping at the Metford Mall for a present for her boyfriend’s birthday. It was late and the mall was near closing. It was Monday night and the mall parking lot was all but empty. As Veronica searched her handbag for car keys, the engine of an old model pick-up truck that was parked next to us continued a futile attempt to turn over. The driver and his passenger sat in the cab of the truck. I could see a growing frustration on the driver’s shadowed face; his passenger only smiled. A moment later, both stepped out of the vehicle and approached us.
“You, uh, think maybe you could give us a jump?” the driver asked.
“Oh,” Veronica replied, “I guess we could do that.”
I walked around to the driver’s side to help; they looked at me cautiously.
“Tell you what,” the other stranger said, and his voice began to grow in volume with each subsequent word that crept out from his yellow teeth, “why don’t you just give us your car. And while you’re at it, you can give us your money and your credit cards and whatever goddam else we decide we want!”
The driver flashed a pistol and we both froze.
“Give them the keys,” I said to Veronica.
“Smart man,” better do as he says.
She handed over the keys and her handbag. I surrendered my wallet.
“Would have thought you’d have some fight in you.”
“You’ve got what you want. Take the car and go,” I replied.
“We’ll go when we’re goddam ready to go,” the yellow-toothed man said, standing inches from my face.
I closed my eyes for an instant, preparing to engage the elements.
“Maybe we’ll just shoot you both right now,” the driver said. “Or maybe we’ll shoot you and take this girly with us.”
“No!” I shouted.
“Ah, the mouse does have a voice. Squeak, little mouse. Squeak, squeak.” They started to laugh.
The wind began to build and blow through the surrounding trees.
“C’mon, let’s get outta here.”
“Yeah. Thanks for the car, losers.”
Yellow teeth jumped into Veronica’s car and fired the engine. His cohort walked toward the passenger door, aiming the gun at me.
“Oh, and here’s something to keep you occupied, little mouse,” he said to me, and squeezed the trigger. The gunshot exploded across the lot and Veronica fell to the asphalt as the car sped away. I cried out as lightning erupted in the night sky.
The winds continued to build as I floated across the sky. Moments after the criminals had fled, a mall security officer arrived and I left Veronica in his care. I ran then, and called upon the currents that would elevate me into the air, indifferent to whether anyone had seen my actions. From an elevation of approximately 225 feet, I followed the stolen car as it weaved its way through various streets. The fury of the ever-increasing storm seemed to radiate into me, as my anger grew exponentially. The image of Veronica lying on the asphalt, the blood dripping from her head, played over in my mind as I summoned the winds once more. I channeled a controlled wind gust that elevated my sister’s car off the road and lifted it high into the air until it eventually came to rest several feet from where I stood floating. The terrified passengers were holding onto the car’s dashboard with one hand while frantically trying to buckle safety belts with the other when they noticed me. I walked the current and approached the vehicle, and they stared at me, bewildered. I’m not entirely sure how I intended to act at that point. As I pondered their fate, they sought to alter mine. The passenger began firing upon me. Two shots missed entirely. However, the hot metal of three bullets ripped into my right arm, shoulder, and leg. I screamed in agony, and in those moments of pain, lost all control of the storm I’d been cultivating. Veronica’s car was hurtled higher and higher into the air by a rouge gust. Dozens of lightning bolts swarmed upon the vehicle like bees in a flower garden. The car continued its ascent into the darkening skies and soon vanished from sight altogether. I teeter-tottered on the tightrope of unconsciousness and slowly fell from the sky, landing hard in a remote patch of shrubbery. As my eyes rolled into the back of my head, I felt the rain on my face as it began its long descent from the clouds. As thunder boomed across the plain, into the darkness I sank.
NEXT: RAINMAKER concludes
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