One Last Droplet of Rain

A Horror Short Story by Melissa R, Mendelson

One Last Droplet of Rain

by Melissa Mendelson

  –  Other Stories by Melissaa

 

It was pouring buckets down over the Sunflower Valley. The roads were flooded. The lights went out. Cars hydroplaned, racing along the black, slick surface, and some nearly lost control. The drivers grabbed hold of the steering wheel, begging to live one more day as they tried to peer out through the windshield wipers that taunted them with clarity, and their prayers were answered. Death was left behind in the rearview mirror, but he would not go quietly. Instead, the poor bastard speeding in his direction was blinded by another driver’s brights, and his car slammed into a nearby power pole.

A short distance away was a rundown gas station. There were two pumps, and they were both out of commission. The little shop next to them was dark, and one of its windows was broken. And the rain had no mercy, pounding against the glass and plastic, bending one sign for cigarettes down to the ground, and a car crawled to a halt beside the dead pumps, where it would stay for a very long time. Its engine gasped one last breath, and sparks from the nearby power pole lit up the darkness like fireworks. The driver exited the car, enjoying the dazzling display as well as the rain that fell down around him.

The driver slumped against the hood of his car. He raised his face up into the dark skies and opened his mouth. His black tongue welcomed the rain, and then his hand slowly moved into his jacket pocket. His fingers wrapped around a small, white cigarette, and he searched his pockets for a match. There were none, so maybe he would have to break into that little shop nearby because he really needed a smoke.

Suddenly, a match sparked and lit up his face. The driver hesitated, but then he leaned forward, lighting his cigarette. He did not thank the stranger standing an inch away from him. Instead, he sat on the hood of his car and smoked his cigarette. He stuck his other hand out and tried to catch the rain, but even the rain was now retreating as if it feared the one next to him. And that stranger was not going anywhere but taking a seat right beside him.

The hood’s not big enough for us two,” the driver said.

It’s big enough,” she said in a sweet, velvety voice, but there was a sting chasing after her words. “The rain’s giving up.”

Shame,” the driver said. “I was just enjoying it.”

Well, it rained enough, giving death its fill.” Her head turned in the direction of the accident. Her eyes shined with blue and white lights. She stuck a cigarette between her red lips, and she lit another match. And she blew her smoke at him, and it tasted like brimstone.

I didn’t hear your car,” the driver said, still avoiding her gaze. “You walk over here?”

I did. My car’s parked a short distance away.”

Not too short, I hope.”

Don’t worry. Nobody will be peering into my trunk.”

Yeah, I thought the same.” Now, the driver looked at her, and he welcomed the abyss in her gaze. But then he shook himself out of it. “I was wrong, so be careful.”

You were stupid,” she said. “You should never have gone back home. You know the rules.”

No. The rule is never to go back to where you were born. That’s not always home. Aren’t you a little young to be doing this?”

I make do,” she said. “And I’m doing better than you.”

For now,” the driver said. “Can I ask what you did?”

No,” she replied. “I know what you did. How could you be so foolish to ruin your chance to get out?”

I told you. I made a mistake,” and the driver resumed smoking his cigarette. “You heard about Mexico?”

Yep. That your doing?”

Inadvertently.” He shot the young woman a look. She was so young, so what the hell did she do? “You kill someone or someone’s?”

I’m not telling you,” and she watched some ash from her cigarette fall onto her black t-shirt, burning the worn face of a man still going strong on that television channel, the CW.

The driver then noticed a large, red stain on her faded, ripped blue jeans. “Something happen?”

The last assignment was…. Rough.”

They think that they own us.”

They do own us,” she replied, and then she smoked her cigarette for a long moment. “There’s no escape from them. They’ll find you wherever you go.”

Yeah. They cleaned up my mess pretty fast.”

And the count of dead bodies is still climbing.”

I didn’t need to know that. It wasn’t my fault. Stupid kids.”

One kid is still missing,” she said.

They won’t find him. He was the one that opened the trunk. He was the one that touched the body, and…”

And that was that,” she said. “Why did you leave the trunk unlocked?”

I didn’t,” the driver snapped at her. “The little shit broke into the car and opened it. I was gone for like two minutes. Two minutes, and because of him, so many people are now dead. Stupid kid. Stupid,” the driver said, and he slammed the rest of his cigarette against his black shoe. “I was just right around the corner.”

You got distracted. What distracted you?” She waited for an answer, but the driver avoided her penetrating stare. “Old wife? Elderly mother?”

My brother. It was my brother,” the driver said.

He didn’t see you. Did he?” She watched the driver shake his head. “Good because that would be a hard one to explain.”

Don’t you have family?” Now, she turned away with the cigarette held tightly between her lips. “Did you kill them? Is that why you were down there?”

I never had a family.” She crushed her cigarette against the palm of her hand. “Foster homes. They were fun until they weren’t.” She stared at her hand and watched it heal. Then, she looked at the driver, and her gaze folded over him. And he leaned forward, wanting to disappear inside that void. “I didn’t kill them.” She held his stare, smiling at how he drew closer to her. “I did bad things, terrible things, and I’ve paid for them in spades. I won’t let anyone take away my get out of hell card like you did. I have no ghosts to chase.” She moved away from him and flicked some burnt ash away from her skin. “I only have myself, and myself to blame. It’s time. We’ve waited long enough,” and she stared back at him. But he did not meet her gaze.

I don’t want to go back. I’ll never leave there, and you know that it will be worse down there. Those denied this exit will tear into me, rip me apart. It’ll be more than torture, and it’ll never end. I don’t want to go back.”

We are condemned souls,” she said. “You should have played by the rules.”

What if you go back?”

I’m not going back,” she snapped.

No. I mean what if you go back to where you were born. Why are they so adamant about not going there? What happens if we step foot on where our life began?”

Fictitious dreams, my friend. Fictitious dreams,” and she reached for him. But he slid off the hood of his car. “Are we going to fight? I’m still picking bone out of my clothes.”

Maybe, I go back, but what about you?”

What about me?”

How much longer can you do this? Drive across country with a body in the trunk? At some point, someone is going to find it, and then what? What if they let them out? What if you cause another Mexico?”

The border is just a hop and a skip away from here, and I usually travel away from it. And maybe a little tragedy would wake this country up, but who I have in my trunk would go beyond a little. And I had a few brushes already with the police and nosy teenagers, and I handled it. So, let the next poor bastard try, and I’ll give him the boot. Literally.”

How many souls have you taken, Keeper?” Now, she looked away from him. “How many of them were good people?”

I warned them,” she said. “I gave them a chance.”

And now they’ll wind up just like you,” and he watched her flinch at that. “What did you do?”

I can leave,” she said, sliding off the hood of the car. “I could leave you to the next one, and they won’t be so nice as me.”

You like me. Don’t you?” He watched her shrug at that. “We barely know each other.”

You’ve done this job almost longer than anyone. I volunteered to find you, so let me do this.”

Can’t we just enjoy the sound of sirens for a little bit longer?”

Even the sirens are fading away, I’m afraid.”

At least, I got to taste the rain. One last time,” the driver said. “Before you do it, promise me something.”

What?”

Think about going back to where you were born.”

Even if I knew where that was, you know that I can’t,” she said.

Just think about it. Promise me?”

Her hand hovered over his shoulder. “I promise,” and her flesh met his. “Good-bye, Keeper.”

The driver burst into flames. He didn’t scream. He just burned, and he raised his head up into the sky, looking for one last droplet of rain. But the heavens had their fill, and sirens disappeared into the night. The wind whipped around, lifting his ashes up into the air, and then the wind plunged his ashes down into the ground. She watched the ground open up, welcoming the ashes, and then the hole disappeared. And she brushed away one red tear that slid down her face, and she turned away, leaving the rundown gas station behind her.

 

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