The Storm Started Ten Days Ago. It’s Still Raining.
A storm came through Mayberry County a little over a week ago. The rivers washed out the road, trees fell on the power lines, and most everyone hunkered down in their homes to wait for it all to blow over.
The only problem is that it never did. It’s been ten days, and it’s still raining.
I don’t know how my phone got this signal, but there’s something horrible going on up here you all need to know about. Your town could be next.
I crouched down in our dingy living room, placing yet another bottle under yet another leak. Our roof leaked during normal rain already, and this storm was making it look as if someone had thrown a hedgehog at a water balloon. At least a dozen wet spots were scattered around, each pinging down water droplets rhythmically.
I’ve been trying to document everything happening in the town, including recording some of the audio of the storm. You can follow the link below to listen to that as you read if you want.
AUDIO OF THE STORM:
Dad was sitting in the glow of our furnace, a half-empty whiskey bottle still in his hand. I shot a look at the still-glowing embers inside. The furnace was the one upside to being white trash, I figured. When the power goes out, we can still stay warm. A look at the few remaining logs I’d stacked up in the corner by our TV told me how much time we’d have heat for. Enough for a few more days, if we had the self-control to ration them.
I looked back at my dad, drool dripping from the corner of his mouth. Self-control had never been one of his strong suits.
The forest outside was lit up by a flash of lightning, and I braced myself. Less than a second later the house was rocked by thunder that shook the glass in the windows and pounded the front door.
It took me a second to realize that the pounding on the front door hadn’t stopped even after the rumbling thunder had died away. I went to the door and pulled it open.
Luna Snyder stood on my front porch wearing a backpack and a raincoat, her blonde hair pulled into a ponytail that dripped water. I let her in and shut the door behind us.
She shot a look at Dad’s comatose figure, then looked at me with a raised eyebrow. “Still?” she asked.
“Yeah, I know,” I said. “How’s your mom doing?”
Luna walked up to the sink and wrung her ponytail out into it. “Still got her hands full. A tree fell on the Dawson’s place while they were sleeping. The only one who died was their dog, but the rest of them got hurt pretty bad. She’s doing what she can.”
I shot a look at the trees surrounding my house. If one of those fell in on us, there’d be nothing left but a hole that smelt of booze and mold. It was early evening, but the clouds were so thick that I’d have believed you if you’d told me it was midnight. The trees whipped back and forth, almost advertising their destructive weight. I fought down a shudder and looked away.
“Listen,” Luna said, pulling a note out of her backpack and handing it to me. “My mom needs some more medicine and wants an update on the town. Everything she needs we can get if we make a quick run to the pharmacy on Main Street and pass by the fire station to check on Stanley and the messages there.” She shot me a sheepish grin. “So Milton, you feel like helping me out and getting soaked again?”
There was something about her face that made me almost smile, despite everything going on. I looked over the supplies written in her mom’s scrawled handwriting and passed it back to her. “Yeah, just let me grab my coat and we’ll get going.”
I threw on an old pair of rainboots and a coat, neither of which would be of much use at keeping the water out. I opened one of my high school notebooks and scrawled out a quick note to Dad about where we were going and set it on the counter. Luna stood by the door, anxious to leave.
I got up to go, shot another glance at Dad, then threw a log on the fire to keep him warm. Mom would’ve approved.
Stepping outside was like entering a rock concert, freezer, and airsoft shooting range all mixed into one. The rain pelted us from every side, whipped into a frenzy by the wind.
We continued down the street, conversation made difficult by the storm. I kept an eye on the houses on either side as we passed by. Power had gone out on the first day of the storm, and I doubted that many houses had extra food.
Luna and I had talked the situation over with her Mom every time I headed over to her house. None of us had any idea what kind of storm could last for this long, especially a storm as powerful as this one. Mayberry County is situated high in the mountains of West Virginia, so we’re no strangers to storms. But like this? No one had seen anything like it.
After around twenty minutes of walking, we made it to Main Street. We’d learned on a previous excursion that someone had left the front door to the pharmacy unlocked, so we flipped on our flashlights and headed inside.
The beams flashed across the darkened interior, revealing a man crouched down by the checkout machines. He jumped and spun to stare at us, shielding his eyes from the light.
“Hi, Mr. Harrington,” Luna said, angling her light to the floor.
Mr. Harrington grabbed a pill bottle sitting on the counter, slipping it into into his pocket. He wiped his still-wet face with the same hand he’d used to grade my physics papers last semester. There was a look of pure panic in his eyes.
“L-L-Luna? Milton?” He stuttered. “Were- Are you- How-,” He seemed to notice our flashlights for the first time. “T-t-t-turn those damn th-th-things off!” he hissed, waving his hands at our lights. A red line of blood trickled from a cut on the side of his neck.
Luna flipped her light off and, after a short pause, I did the same, reducing Mr. Harrington to a black silhouette. I’d been fearing this for a few days now. My childhood had been spent watching enough apocalypse films to know that apparently people turned into panicked animals in situations like these. I stepped forward, pulling Luna behind me and cursing myself for not bringing the pistol my Dad kept in his closet.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. If he attacked us it would be my fault.
“How’d you get hurt Mr. Harrington?” I asked, trying to keep my voice level.
“I-I-I-I-I was at the f-f-f-f-fire station. There wa-wa-wa-was-” Mr. Harrington cut himself off. A flash of lightning lit up the inside of the shop. Mr. Harrington was looking away from us, instead staring into the darkness at the back of the shop. He let out a moan that was cut off by a roll of crashing thunder. Then he turned back and ran at us.
I braced myself for his charge, but Mr. Harrington didn’t run at me or Luna. He ran for the door, sprinting out into the rain.
I let out a low sigh and sat down hard on the linoleum, the adrenaline coursing through my veins making my knees weak. Water dripped off the end of my nose onto the speckled white and black floor.
Luna flipped her light back on, staring into the back of the store. “Did you hear what he said about the fire station?”
I reached out and flipped my own light back on. “Yeah, maybe he tried attacking it and Stanley fought him off. I don’t really care though. C’mon, let’s grab your mom’s stuff and get out of here.”
Luna nodded, unzipped her backpack, and began making her way down the aisles. I jumped over the prescription desk and pushed open the window to get to the drugs they kept back there. After a few minutes throwing pills into bottles, we were done.
We headed back into the rain, walking down Main Street towards the fire station. The fire station was one of the only places left in Mayberry County that still had power. Stanley, the fire chief, ran the place. He had a network of walkie-talkies linked to several houses throughout the county. If there was an emergency, they could call out to him and he’d be able to get help. With the roads out and the town isolated, it was probably the only help anyone could expect.
I reached back and grabbed Luna’s hand as we made our way down Main Street.
“Wouldn’t want to get separated, ya know?” I shouted over the wind.
She squeezed my hand and picked up her pace.
Stanley had tried making contact with the outside world, but our town was already hard pressed to get radio signals. It was situated high in the mountains, and that meant that radio waves were blocked and bounced around too much. Add in the storm and the loss of power, that meant that we’d been cut off with the outside world since the first night that the storm had rolled through.
We rounded the corner to the station. I shielded my eyes from the rain with my hand, confused. The normally bright lights of the station were out. I crept forward, crunching a piece of broken glass under my boot. Shards of glass littered the sidewalk in front of the station from the shattered front doors.
I looked around to see if anyone was watching us, but with the rain it was impossible to tell. I flipped on my flashlight and stepped inside.
“Stanley?” I shouted. The room was lit up by a flash of lightning followed by a roar of thunder an instant later. I jumped, cursed, and dropped my flashlight.
It hit the ground and rolled forward, coming to a stop by a disembodied hand laying on the floor.
“No,” Luna whispered under her breath. “No.”
I stepped forward, scooping up the light, pointing it further down the hallway. The rest of Stanley was just inside a room off the main hallway. He’d been cleanly cut into a dozen or so separate pieces. Most of my mind was screaming in horror, screaming the same way Luna had begun screaming behind me, but another smaller part took in the scene with a logic so remote and detached that it disturbed me more than the body.
Interesting, this part of my mind said. Why isn’t there any blood? The meat’s all there, but I see only a few stray drops spattering the ground. How did that happen? What kind of knife could make cuts as clean as those?
I flashed my light on Stanley’s map of Mayberry County hanging on the wall. In the bottom right corner of the map he’d written a legend. It said
X = Family Confirmed Dead
? = No Contact, Probably Dead.
# = Small Number of Family Members in Home, At Risk of Attack
Stanley had crossed out a dozen houses on the western border of the town and placed question marks over several more. The pound symbol was scattered around different homes including the Fire Station where we were standing. It was also over my own home in the eastern portion of the town.
From the darkness further in the facility a guttural clack sounded out, followed by what sounded like someone dragging metal over concrete. It grew louder.
I spun, grabbed Luna, and ran out into the storm. Almost as if sensing our presence, it increased in volume and intensity, and I found it hard to stay on my feet with the wind and rain.
The next half-hour passed in a blur of rain, wind, and running. We reached Luna’s place and dropped off the medicine. I’m heading back to my house now. I’m terrified, but I have no choice. He’s my dad. I’ll let you all know what I find when I get there. Click Here to Read Part 2