The Storm Started Ten Days Ago. It’s Still Raining. [Part 2]
Luna and I sat in the living room as Mrs. Snyder tended to the youngest Dawson girl. The girl had a compound fracture in her ankle and was sweaty with pain. Mrs. Snyder changed her bandage and gave her one of the pills we’d gathered before laying her back down to sleep.
She pulled over a chair and focused all her attention on us to hear what happened.
Luna explained to her mom most of what we’d seen, but she paused when it was time to describe the fire station.
“Mrs. Synder,” I cut in, “Stanley was cut up all into little pieces, but there was no blood anywhere.”
The Dawson girl sat up, staring at us with eyes shot full of pain. “That’s how Bernie was. I filled his bowl with dog food, but he was in the kitchen all cut up. Then the storm blew the tree down.”
Mrs. Snyder gently pushed her back down on the couch. “Sleep,” she said. Her voice was kind but held a firm note of command. The Dawson girl fell back and closed her eyes, asleep almost immediately.
We told her about the map Stanley had set up in the fire station. How it had marked my house as being at-risk.
“Mrs. Salinger too,” Luna said from beside me.
“What?” I asked.
“I looked at the map,” she said, almost absentmindedly. “In this part of town, there was a symbol on your house and on Mrs. Salinger’s.”
Luna’s mom looked between us, her eyes sharp. “Listen, here’s what we’ll do. You’ll both go get Milton’s dad, then you’ll swing by Mrs. Salinger and bring them both here. We’ll make room.”
My mind flashed back to the half-full bottle of booze I’d left in my Dad’s hand. “My Dad might not be… in a state to walk. Especially in this storm.”
Some of the sharpness in her eyes gave away, revealing pity. “Fine, you’ll both head to your Dad’s place. You’ll stay the night with him until he’s in a state to move. Then tomorrow morning you’ll bring him and Mrs. Salinger here.”
We agreed, slung our coats back on, and set out through the storm. It had weakened considerably. I allowed myself a faint hope that it might finally be ending.
When we reached my house I saw that the half-empty bottle was now entirely empty. Dad was still passed out in his same stupid stupid armchair. I walked into his closet, grabbed the two bottles of booze I knew he kept there and smashed them against the pavement on our back patio.
I cursed under my breath before returning to his closet and grabbing his pistol. I knew we might need it.
Luna watched me, her expression a mix of concern and approval. I slid the pistol into my backpack and sighed. “We should probably get ready for bed.”
We changed into thick sweaters and sweatpants, though they did almost nothing to dull the cold. I pointed to the narrow twin bed in my bedroom. “You can sleep there. I’ll pull over some comforters and sleep on the ground beside you.”
We lay down, the rain now faded to a patter that somehow comforted me despite everything. I stared up from the ground at my motionless ceiling fan, unable to sleep.
“You think my mom’s gonna be ok?” Luna asked from above me on the bed.
“Don’t worry, she’ll be fine. Mister and Misses Dawson are with her, and they’re mostly uninjured. On top of that, your mom is the smartest person I’ve ever met.” I let some bitterness creep into my voice. “Unlike a certain drunk I know.”
“I’m scared, Milton.”
“I am too.”
Luna cleared her throat. “You know, I wouldn’t mind if you joined me. I mean- if you want.”
I felt my heart skip for a moment. Did she mean up on the bed? I mean what else could she mean? I sat up, watching her for a moment to see if I’d misunderstood. She lifted her thick comforter and I crawled underneath it, pulling another blanket to double-layer on top of us.
Luna wrapped her arms around me, burying her face against my chest.
“You’re warm,” she said.
“Yeah well, you’re freezing.”
Luna let out a muffled laugh. A moment of silence passed between us.
“I’m sorry about your Dad.”
The words cut deep, and I let out a long low sigh. “You want to know what the funny thing is?” I said. “My dad really is a good man. Kind, funny, thoughtful…. It’s that damn booze that gets him like this. With my mom’s accident…. He turned into this. I haven’t seen the old him in years.”
Another long moment of silence passed.
“Well, I hope I get to meet him someday,” she said.
“I hope you do too.”
I pulled her tight, and soon we were both fast asleep.
I woke up spitting out Luna’s long blond hair. The sky held the unmistakable red hue of a sunrise.
Luna stirred, opened her eyes, and pulled her hair off me with a sheepish grin.
“Hey Milton,” my Dad said from my doorway. His face held the same pinched expression it always had when he was hungover. “Do you know what happened to the booze in my–?” He noticed Luna. “Oh. Hi Luna.”
Luna froze, her face coloring bright red. She shot upright and bent over in a half-nod half-bow. “Um, Hi Mr. Maves. This isn’t what it looks…” She trailed off, as if realizing nothing she could say would improve our situation.
After the initial awkwardness passed, we explained to him what we’d seen and what our plan was. He was hesitant at first, but when he heard Luna’s mom would have headache medicine he agreed.
We ate what little food remained at my house for breakfast and set off towards Mrs. Salinger’s place. The rain dripped down from the leaves above us, now no stronger than an average afternoon rainstorm. Hope that it might actually be over surged in my gut as we reached the house.
“Mrs. Salinger!” I said as I ran up the steps, only realizing at the last moment that the door was swinging open on its hinges. I paused on the front porch, looking into the house. A black silhouette was standing in the living room.
It looked to be around six feet tall, and my eyes were drawn to where it had two hooked blades on the ends of its arms instead of hands. One hook of the creature held what looked like a piece of Mrs. Salinger’s foot. It made a horrific *slurp* as it sucked on the stump.
Luna ran up the stairs beside me. “Milton?” She saw it.
It rose up to its full height, turning to face us and letting out the same guttural clack we’d heard in the fire station.
We turned and ran down the steps, grabbing my Dad as we passed him.
The storm kicked up immediately, from a simple patter to a full blown tempest. Wind whipped from every side, but we kept running. After just a few seconds trees began to topple around us. We fell to the ground and cowered as the wind, rain, and hail all battered us.
After what seemed like an eternity, it died down a little. I shot a glance around, half expecting to see the black silhouette leaning over us, but it was nowhere to be seen.
We made it back to Luna’s place and had a minor breakdown. Mrs. Snyder listened to our hysterics with rapt attention and silence.
When we were done she handed each of us a banana and told us to eat.
“Listen,” she said. “Here’s what I figure. That thing must be vulnerable, otherwise, why would it need the storm?” She looked at me. You brought that gun right?”
I pulled it from my bag and set it on the table.
“Good.” She sat back, rubbing her eyes. A part of my mind wondered how much sleep she’d been getting for the past week.
Finally, she sat forward again. “We’ll figure something out. For now, you should probably eat those peels. They’re edible, and we’re just about out of food.”
We’re going to try to figure something out. I’ll be sure to update you all here with what happens to us next.