Friday, 9 January 2009 - 4:44 pm

The van

We got trapped in the van today.  We’re still in it now, huddling, while the rain patters down on it.


It used to be such a comforting sound.  That wonderful noise put me to sleep as a child: the delicious rhythm of water on a roof; the rich drip of it off gutters and eaves and the boughs of the tree outside my window. 

I would close my eyes sometimes and listen to the hammering of it, beating at a world that cheerfully wouldn’t submit.  A world that would drink it up and turn it into something green and lush.  And sometimes, just sometimes, when it was hot and heavy out, I would go outside and stand in it.  Let it fall on me, prickling and thick.  And I would dance in it.


Now, it hisses on contact, turning to snakes even on impenetrable metal.  The ribbons of it are faintly green-tinged; I can only tell by watching it slither down the windscreen a few inches from my face.  It makes me tense just listening to it.  It brings to mind the faces I watched melt, how they barely had time to scream before sound was robbed from them.  How they looked at us before the acid took their eyes.

Today, it started without warning.  The first thing we knew, Sax was shouting in pain because he had had an arm propped on the sill of the passenger window and spots on his elbow and forearm were dissolving.  Thorpe was driving and nearly panicked, but we’re in a residential street – no store windows to plough through this time.  He didn’t risk a crash, and I’m glad of that. 

I dread to think what might have happened if he had tried to put us inside a building by sheer force alone.  Broken windows, buckled metal and sprung seams, thrown bodies sprawled everywhere, and the rain seeping in over all of it.  I have a mental image of a crash test dummy bent, bleeding, melting, and bearing all of our faces.


Thorpe took a breath and stopped the van instead.  We rolled all the windows up and double-checked the doors, shut ourselves tightly inside.  It was all we could do, even though it made the van suffocatingly hot.  We would all rather put up with the heat than the acid.

Of course, the van leaks.  The doors at the back are not well sealed (despite this being a plumber’s van), and there’s a crack along one side of the roof that has rusted through.  We have moved everyone away from that side of the van – the rain doesn’t seem to be pooling much, thank goodness.

Ben started to shake when the rain came inside – he was trying so hard not to freak out, but he was almost hyperventilating.  The cab seems waterproof, so we helped him scramble into the front.  He’s calmer now, though he’s still watching the rain with taut horror.  He had a deathgrip on my hand for a while.  His burns are still bright and painful; I wonder if seeing the rain that caused it is making them itch with familiarity.

Sax’s arm isn’t too bad, though it still looks like something slathering chewed on it and tore small, dripping chunks off.  It’s bound up now as best we could make it.  Everyone’s waiting for it the roof to come down on us and wash us away into nothing.  I know that all eyes behind me will be fixed on that place where the rain is coming in and making sickly tracks down the van’s side.

It’s so quiet in here.  I just realised that my typing is the loudest thing in here.  Now I’m all self-conscious about it.  Time to do something else.

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