Wednesday, 25 February 2009 - 11:36 am


Yesterday was horrible. We pushed on hard after lunch, moving as fast we could. It wasn’t fast enough.

We’ve been outside when the rain was coming before. Usually, the boys would kick in a door and we would all dive inside. It tends to move across the sky in waves – rarely has it just come down without warning.

This time, we could hear the hiss approaching a block away; the sound drew a wire taut through all of us. Voices lifted with urgency – find shelter, quickly, anywhere. But there were no doors left to kick down, and no ceilings behind their empty frames to shelter us.

It was Nugget who found it. She tugged insistently on my arm until I looked towards where she was pointing. It wasn’t much. The side of a room that still had a ceiling still in place over it. It looked like the remains of a restaurant – there were the skeletons of tables and chairs in there, the bones of cutlery in the ash.

I hollered for the guys and we all dived over. The rain was just down the street by then, a creeping wall of melting pain washing towards us. We had to throw a few charred chunks of wood out of our way, so that all of us could fit under the overhang.

It’s been a while since there’s been no barrier between me and the rain. Since I heard the hiss and splash of it hitting the ground and burning it into submission, up close. In the darkness of the gathered clouds, the water glitters strangely. It isn’t like the clean rain I knew, the rain I loved to go out and dance in.

When it swept over us, we grabbed each other and huddled in tight under the shard of ceiling. I had Dillon hugged against my chest and Ben’s arm pulling me into his side. Matt had hold of Nugget and Thorpe was bracketing him on the outside.

It was a hell of a downpour; harder than I’ve seen for a while. I thought the other day that it might be letting up, but that seems far from the truth now. The sheer amount of liquid – of acid – falling so close to us was terrible. No-one said anything, but we all watched the rapidly-forming puddles with trepidation. If they started to spread in our direction, there wasn’t a lot we could do about it. I wished that we hadn’t thrown the furniture out of the way – we had nothing to climb on now.

My heart was hammering to keep up with the rain beating just a couple of feet from me. Ben’s grip on me was hard enough to leave bruises. I glanced at his face, but he didn’t look away from the rain. I think he was remembering being burned, getting those awful marks across his chest. He’s terrified of feeling that pain again, I think, more than he would ever say. All I could do was find one of his hands and hold on.

I looked at the others, and they were wary but all right. Matt looked angry, and that was strange – I’ve never seen him look like that before. He was always so calm and chilled; I don’t think I’ve ever seen him boiling with fury like that in all the time I’ve known him. I wonder what the rain took from him. Or who.

The furniture we had thrown out suffered under the rain’s touch. It sizzled loudly as it was worn down; the water washed ash and substance off it together. The good news was that the furniture clearly hadn’t been touched by the rain before, which meant that our shelter had protected it and should do the same for us.

I still felt horribly exposed. I could hear it slithering over the top of us, running along the floor above and cascading onto the ground around. We were ensconced on the only island for miles.


Gradually, we relaxed. The puddles weren’t extending in our direction and our toes were safe. I heard Nugget whimpering and Matt patted her shoulder awkwardly. He murdered something soothing that I didn’t quite catch.

Then Thorpe grumbled more distinctly, “Bet he’s better off than we are.”

Jones, of course. I laughed, because the big fella is probably right.

“You should put that cat on a leash,” I told Nugget. She nodded solemnly, taking it more seriously than I had intended. Still, it would stop her panicking about him every five minutes.


By the time the rain stopped, we had slid down to sit on the floor. I didn’t like the way my thoughts were circling, so I looked at the others. All we had to look at was the rain. I didn’t need to be psychic to know why Thorpe looked glum – he had to be thinking about Trevor and the first time it rained. I wish that I could take that memory away for him.

Ben was still tense and unhappy. Maybe he was thinking about Trevor too – though not in the same way, obviously – and Carter and all of his other friends he has lost along the way. I couldn’t talk to him about it – crammed together like that, there was no privacy at all. Dillon was all-but sitting in my lap, which was more comfortable than it sounds.

I’m not sure that talking would have helped anyway. I guess we all have bad memories linked to the rain. For me, it’s that laughing fall out of the hospital window, the one we heard but didn’t see. We never found out who it was, and my nightmares paint different faces on the falling body. Amber, Dad, Matt before we found him, even Cody, and sometimes Chastity, even though she didn’t live to see any of this. My minds fills in all the details I never saw, only too readily.

Now, we are huddled in a more intact but equally gutted building. I didn’t sleep much last night, afraid that the dream would come for me again. I don’t think any of us slept well for fear of that hiss creeping ever closer to us.