|2020-11-24T13:30||[writing/story contest age/university]|
That Rainy Day
**East Central College **
**English Department **
Writing Contest Submission
Entrant: Samuel Hatfield
Entree: “That Rainy Day”, Short Story (3 pages)
Contact: cell phone- REDACTED
It was a lone, rainy day in the middle of summer, and it was pummeling the Kendrik-Shulster High School building. It was the middle of the school year; the district used the “two weeks on, one week off” scheduling method, and this day was retrospectively declared to be the only day of rain that whole dry period of the town of Clover was going to get, all year.
Mr. Reed, the enforcer of school law, was watching the students enter. They were sopping wet, like kitchen sponges from the sea. None of them expected the rain; not even the forecasters did. The teenagers’ sneakers squeaked at they made the long journey to the first-out-of-six period class. Mr. Reed observed them with constant vigil, for he alone knew the deadly future that would befall Kendrik-Shulster, and the entire of Clover, for that matter. He had been there once before.
“The Contingency of Reality at your service, sir.”
He set his eyes on his quarry: Bartholomew Gates. He watched as Bartholomew waltzed into the building, the only student so far that managed to bring an umbrella. It wasn’t that Bartholomew knew of the coming onslaught; he brought an umbrella with him no matter what the weather was like. It was said of him in the preposterous Library of Student Rumor that he was given the umbrella when he was a baby, instead of a rattle. His file further reads that he did drugs, heavily and frequently.
Naturally, this information isn’t true.
“The What of Reality? Where am I?”
And naturally, that is not the only thing that constitutes Bartholomew’s character. He liked all sorts of music, as long as it was generally instrumental. He liked the school he went to, and the pseudo-friends he had. He loved life, in the way that living things do. And for whatever reason, he loved his umbrella.
“The Contingency of Reality, sir. You are currently in the Nowhere, sir. We have brought you here to assist us in preserving existence.”
Bartholomew came across this umbrella of his, whistling down Clover Main Street a year ago. As he was passing Bailey’s Barber Shop, he tripped over it. Normally, one would curse and blame the umbrella for existing; however, Bartholomew wondered why it was there, and what its Purpose was in the Grand Plan of Things. Bartholomew could conclude upon the ultimate existence of the rain-shield with as much accuracy of a blindfolded automobile driver navigating Rodeo Drive; but he kept it anyway, figuring that its ultimate existence had something to do with him. From then on, Bartholomew Gates carried it wherever he went.
“I don’t understand. Who are you? Where are we? How did I get here?”
Bartholomew strolled to his Biochemistry Studies classroom without a care in the world. Mr. Reed watched him, and was grimly aware of what he must do come lunchtime; he was told about it earlier.
“We are the Contingency of Reality, sir. Through a myriad of things you cannot understand at this point, we govern future history. We are in the Nowhere, which you also cannot comprehend. We have a job for you.”
Bartholomew Gates passed through Time, through the first three periods of the day, through Biochemistry, Philosophy, and Music Composition, to arrive at lunch. The pig slop they were serving today was exceptionally good, and Bartholomew was enjoying every tasteless shovelful. The students surrounding the table were practicing the same motions they did everyday; feeding, talking about “stuff”, and generally having a meaningless existence.
“Job? What sort of job? Future history?! This isn’t a science fiction story, and I never really liked those kinds of movies, and I certainly don’t believe any of it! You aren’t making any sense, whatever you are, and you still haven’t told me anything! I want to know where I am, why I can’t see anything, who you are, and how did I get here? ”
Mr. Reed didn’t breeze through the day like Bartholomew had. During the entire first three hours of the school day, he had ten students escorted to his office to “explain themselves”. During a particularly interesting story involving firecrackers, Mr. Reed realized that this student’s discipline wouldn’t matter in a few hours. Not only that, but the strange voice in the void repeated in his head.
“You got here in a very simple way, sir. You died, and we brought you here. Do you remember?”
“…I remember being killed; everyone was running, screaming…we were praising, worshiping, bowing before, but suddenly…could have that possibly been who we thought it was? Is it possible He did all that?”
“It seems, sir, that your memory is correct in all aspects. You and the rest of Clover identified who it was, but not his intent. The reason you are here is because out of all the people in Clover, you are the only one who can report the facts without breaking into hysterics; anyone else we would send could not do so. You are indeed dead, sir, and everyone in Clover as well, in just the way you remember.”
“So it’s true? We were wrong about Him?”
“Yes, and soon afterwards, these events will trigger the end of existence. In order to prevent that, we’re sending you back in time to counteract these events. You accept? Good.”
After the tenth student trounced out with his soon-to-be-meaningless-beyond-all-doubt discipline referral, Mr. Reed looked at the Immortal Time Keeper on his wall. It was 12:00 and that is was time for lunch. Mr. Reed, picking up his coffee, told his staff that he was going to patrol the lunchroom. He knew what he had to do— it was spelled out for him.
“After we send you back, you will wake up in your bed as before; follow your normal habits. When your clock strikes noon, seek out the schoolboy named Bartholomew Gates. Ask him about the umbrella; why he is attached to it.”
Mr. Reed approached the table of Bartholomew, and did exactly what he was supposed to:
“Why are you so attached to that umbrella, Gates?”
“Well, Mr. Reed, I am attached to this umbrella because when I tripped over it I realized that it would do me some good in the future. I was right, because I was the only one to have protection against this rain.”
“Let curiosity be your guide. You will learn something important.”
“How did you know that the umbrella would do you good; because you tripped on it?”
“Yes, Mr. Reed. The way I see it, the most basic mechanic of all the cosmos is equilibrium. Balance. That is how you can explain good and evil, pain and joy, action and reaction. For instance, Gandhi could have been a direct reaction to Hitler.”
“But, Gandhi was born way before Hitler died.”
“I’m not talking about reincarnation, I am talking about events.”
“So, Bartholomew, you are telling me that, according to you, action/reaction events can take place hundreds, even thousands of years apart?”
“That’s what I am saying, Mr. Reed.”
“Then get to the nearest newspaper, the one with the highest circulation. Tell them of the catastrophe you experienced before you died, and what you will learn after we send you back. Do not mention us in the least.”
“How am I supposed to do all of this? I don’t know anything about what you’re telling me or what you are asking me to do. What is going on? What is the deal here?”
“Sir, do you understand the butterfly effect? We have the ability to alter events, cause/effect patterns, et cetera. We make small calculated changes in events, and over time these changes have immense calculated impact. Sending you back in time is one of many changes that will prevent the chain of events that cause the end of existence. We are asking you to help us, sir.”
“Is this the afterlife? If you know everything, why don’t you just explain the whole meaning of existence?”
“Well, thank you for departing your philosophy with me, Bartholomew. Hopefully, your umbrella can protect you against more than just rain.”
With that, Mr. Reed left Kendrik-Shulster High School and entered the rain. His car roared into life, and he left the parking lot to take the future history to the big city newspaper, just a couple of miles away. Whether or not his story was initially credible wouldn’t matter in a few hours.
“Sir, if I may pose a philosophic point: if the purpose of death was to learn the secret of existence, what would be the point of living?”
Bartholomew wondered what exactly Mr. Reed had meant by his off-beat statement, but he soon forgot about his anxiety when one of his pseudo-friends started telling him a particularly interesting story involving firecrackers.
Nobody expected the rain; not even the forecasters did. This day was retrospectively declared to be the only day of rain that whole dry period of the town of Clover was going to get, all year. Even more surprising was what was about to happen; the reason why Mr. Reed would’ve died a horrible death if he didn’t leave. Something that not even Bartholomew’s umbrella could prevent; something not even the host of angels in Heaven would know this day.
For this day, the rain clouds parted, very much like a scroll. In order to counteract all that he had done those thousands of years ago, Jesus Christ, on that rainy day, came for a second time.