A journal–of sorts–of survivors of an apocalyptic natural disaster, of never-ending rain and ever-raising waters.
39 was the first short story I sold online. Originally published July 1, 2010 on the site Weirdyear. >500 words.
I’m writing this by the window. Every so often, through the rain trails thick on the corporate glass, I fancy that I see a light. A light parallel to me, or from above—of course not from below.
They say—or perhaps I merely read it somewhere—that a person must do something twenty-nine times for it to become a habit. If that’s the case then the sound of rain to me–on glass, on the roof, once on trees and on my skin–is a habit: something I will never be fully free of, a response always lingering, even if never fufilled.
A bank of lights! The building opposite, slightly higher, 8th floor perhaps? Oh, now it’s gone again; all I see is my own lamp, reflecting in those tiny glittering trails.
Twenty-nine. Why twenty-nine? Why not just thirty? Perhaps thirty is too round, too unscientific. Still, I wonder how they reach that number. Scientifically.
Scientifically, thanks to a calendar next to my purloined desk, I know that it should be a waning quarter moon tonight. I have no way to verify this; no one, after all, has seen the moon for weeks.
I watch one droplet trace its way, wending down the window, colliding and dragging others down with it. It’s hypnotic and hateful.
The smell of this Sharpie is giving me a headache behind my eyes. Will anyone care to read that? I care to write it, and so it is my choice. I filled the other pieces of cracked plastic—no longer useful in repairs—that Christy found with our official story, our collected memoirs, our hopes and goodbyes. I wrote for hours. 3 Sharpies later, one small piece was left and I am being selfish. I want some truthful part of me to remain behind, unedited, not to be dredged up only to reveal half-omissions and statistics.
The lamp hesitates, crackling; it flickers. Perhaps the battery is going, or the wiring. Then I will be left in this blue-gray dark, with only myself fragmented in the droplets.
There was a time before the rain. There was sun, and sky, and stars, and ground. There was an earth.
When the light goes I’ll join the others upstairs, closer to the roof, better to hear the helicopters that John says are coming. We must only believe in them. I only believe in being close to the generators, a grinding, smoky noise that means I will no longer hear the plinks and the drips, although my ears will remember. My eardrums will have ghostly reverberations.
Twenty-nine times to form a habit. More than enough days and nights of constant, never-relenting rain. We are on thirty-nine nights now, as I see the lights in the distance flicker into life once more. I should tell the others.
Thirty-nine. It is almost a round number.