I had both hands on the wheel as I drove through the frigid rain. It was the middle of winter, and one would think that in British Columbia it would be snowing, the streets would be full of children throwing snowballs at each other, their faces pink with cold and delight. That’s what we all wish it could be like, but the typical BC winter weather was cloudy, dreary, and wet above anything else. The streets were completely void of children, or anyone for that matter, for they were all inside waiting out the storm. So what am I doing outside, you may ask? Driving home from my lousy job as a janitor at the local office building. I spend the entire day cleaning up people’s messes, mopping up spilled coffee, picking up paper towels and used tissues, and generally have to stay later than everyone else. And yet somehow I have the lowest salary out of all my coworkers.
“It's the most wonderful time of the year,” the radio droned. Yeah right. I reached over and forcefully pressed a button, changing the station to something that wouldn’t piss me off by reminding me how happy everyone else was.
“It is currently negative one degrees Celcius out, heavy rain, chance of thunder…” the weatherman on the other end informed in a perfectly monotone voice, sounding completely bored despite the storm outside. ‘Heavy rain’ may have been a bit of an understatement, it was as if someone was sitting on the clouds, dumping buckets of water on all the unfortunate people below, like the Deluge all over again. I wouldn’t have been surprised if severe flooding occurred later. Thank God I live on the ninth floor of my apartment building. As the drive continued on, the rain got increasingly worse, going from buckets to what seemed like tanks of water. I started to get nervous. If I wasn’t careful, I could easily hydroplane, skid off the road and land in a ditch or crash into a tree, and who knows how long it would take me to get back on the road, if I could at all. Tightening my hands on the wheel until my knuckles started to develop a white-ish tint, I continued the long drive home. Drops of moisture were forming on my forehead, and I couldn’t tell if I was breaking into a nervous sweat or the roof was leaking.
Through the pouring rain, things started to look familiar, and soon enough I recognized the slate grey cuboid that was my apartment building. I steered into the parking garage and pulled into my usual parking spot with a sigh of relief. As I stopped the engine and hopped out, I was greeted with a sudden shock of cold, and a splash. The garage was full ankle-deep water that frankly felt like a glacier lake. The day could only improve from there. Shivering from the cold of the water, I slowly trudged towards the stairs, planning on spending the evening sitting in front of the heater with my computer and a bowl of popcorn. Maybe the boys would even be online and we could game together and hang out over voice chat. The thought of that perfect night pulled me out of reality and took my mind off the fact that my feet were now quite numb.I reached the stairwell and was about to start my ascent when I noticed that the water level was a bit higher now, maybe by an inch. The entrance to the garage was on a slant, so the water had probably run down and pooled there. Oh well, it’s not my job to take care of it, it’ll get fixed soon enough, I thought.
. . . .
I grabbed the bag of popcorn kernels off the shelf and turned on the stove, almost tripping over Reg, who was at my feet hoping that I would drop something. How long has it been since I last had popcorn, I wondered as I measured the butter and dropped in the skillet to melt it. It had certainly been long enough, I hadn’t realized how much I was craving it until now. I dumped the kernels into the pan, and stared out the window, waiting for them to pop. The storm wasn’t getting much worse, but it wasn’t getting better either. If it stayed that way all night, there would definitely be flooding. A pop interrupted my thought, and I realized that the popcorn was almost ready. I dumped it into a bowl, and took it over to the computer. I felt relaxed for the first time in ages.
I had been at the computer for around three hours now, and was enjoying myself quite a lot. The boys had indeed been online, and we were still chatting and telling jokes. It was safe to say my day had greatly improved, and I had almost completely forgotten about the storm, my horrible job, and the flooding in the garage. Just as I was about to get up and stretch my legs a bit, everything went black. Shit, I thought, the water must have gotten into the electrical system and screwed it up. I knew I should have warned someone about the rising water, but I couldn’t help but wonder why no one else did. Was it for the same reason as me, they just weren’t paying attention, or were they just dumb. Nonetheless, I knew someone was probably dealing with it now, and it was only a matter of time before the power was back on. I hope. Deciding that staying inside wouldn’t do me any good, I figured that maybe I could go downstairs and maybe talk to the neighbors. I placed my hand on the doorknob, and suddenly a horribly loud noise made me jump and knock over the coat rack and made Reg bark.
“There has been an incident in the building. Please evacuate immediately,” the voice over the alarm system said cheerfully in between loud beeping noises, their voice amplified about a hundred times by the speakers. Knowing this was serious, I scooped up Reg, who was cowering in the corner, and rushed out the door. Once I got into the hallway, I took in my surroundings. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, except for the flashing lights and loud beeping of course. Feeling a sudden twinge of curiosity, I took a peek at the stairwell. Though I knew it was probably related to the flooding, I needed to know exactly what the hell was happening. Without a second thought, I raced down the stairwell, two stairs at a time. When I reached the bottom, I recoiled as if I had been slapped. The entire lobby was full of waist-deep water, reminding me of a swamp. Suddenly, Reg, who I had been carrying, decided that this would be a good time to start to wriggle around and try to lick my face, making it increasingly hard to hold on to him. This isn’t a game dammit. Suddenly, he jumped out of my arms and naturally landed in the water. Knowing I had no choice, I lept in after him, pulled him out, and ran back up the stairs, completely soaked. As I reached the emergency exit, I remembered that it was negative on degrees Celcius out, and I had no winter clothes on and might as well have been standing under the shower with my clothes on for five minutes. I almost laughed at how wrong I had been when I said the day could only improve from there. With that thought, I pushed open the door and stepped out into the cold.
Almost immediately, I could feel the water on my clothes gradually start to cool. In a few minutes, they would probably start to freeze. Had the temperature gone down? It was late at night, so it probably had. More concerning than that, none of the other inhabitants of the complex were there. I thought for a few minutes, considering where they could have gone. Could they have possibly been taken to the shelter in the time that I had spent downstairs? How long had I even spent down there? Cursing myself for my stupidity, I knew the answer didn’t matter, because they weren’t there. I was on my own.
. . . .
It was the next morning, and it was still raining, in fact, it was raining harder than before. I had found shelter under the awning of a store, and it helped with the wetness but not with the cold. I had gotten some warmth from Reg, but his fur was short and he was small, so I didn’t get much. I never wanted to see another drop of water as long as I lived. I heard a plip plip plip of water dripping through a hole of the shelter, and grunted in annoyance. I knew I should have been at work, but the water had no doubt ruined my car, and it would take me all day to walk there. If this kept up, I would be fired. I had no change on me, because I had rushed out the door as fast as I could. All I had was Reg, and he wasn’t much of a help. Meanwhile, the water kept dripping through the awning, making the incredibly annoying plip plip plip noise. Shut up, I thought.
I had slept most of the day, and in my time awake I still hadn’t seen anyone on the streets. The water continued dripping through the awning, and Reg was snoring loudly. I lay back down, figuring that all I could do to pass the time was sleep. Water destroyed my home, lost me my job, and ruined my life. I want nothing to do with it, were my last thoughts before drifting off to sleep.
The next few days had been the same. I slept most of the time, and when I wasn’t I kept my face to the wall so that I wouldn’t have to even look at the rain. I hadn’t had anything to drink since the night at the apartment, and honestly had no intention to. I was growing more and more annoyed at the dripping noise, and most of the time wanted to punch something. I had drastic mood swings and sometimes even felt like I wanted to murder something, whether it was Reg, some person that I’ve never met, or even myself. Is this what insanity feels like, I wondered. I splashing noise was coming in my direction. Someone was coming. I felt a surge of anger, and my hand drifted to my pocket. I felt my swiss army knife in there, I had forgotten that I had it with me. The passerby was a handsome young man, perhaps around twenty, and his eyes widened just the slightest bit as I approached him.
“Uh hi, may I help-” his words were cut off as I pulled out my knife and jabbed it into his chest, directly into his heart. Blood splattered everywhere, and the man fell, his looks of shock still frozen on his face. Reg yelped and bolted off into an alley. My mouth felt dry with thirst, but I had no intention of drinking. Realizing that the authorities would find the body and come after me, I ran off into the city
. . . .
I felt no remorse for what I had done; I knew that I should have, but I also knew that I was going insane. Whether it was from my life being ruined, or from thirst, or from the loud rain, I didn’t know. I felt as if my soul was being ripped away, little by little, until I was simply a shell of a person. My only feelings left were anger and hate. That night, in my dreams, the man’s face kept appearing, except his eyes were only black sockets that stared into me as if they could tell what I did, and would happily do the same to me. His mouth stretched into a long grin, it grew longer and longer until it was about the same size as a banana and reached his ears. I woke up with a start, fear mingling with my hate. Why should I have to suffer this way when everyone else was so… happy. If I were to suffer, I swore that I would bring others down with me. I set out into the dreary rain. I spotted an half-empty bottle on the ground and threw it at the wall with a cry of outrage. Two passerbys eyed me wearily, which was met with a glare. They had no right to decide what I did, I could do what I wanted. I heard a noise from above me, and as I looked up, I saw the young man from the dream staring down at me. Was I hallucinating, or was this real? I screamed up at him, cursing and threatening, but the smile remained on his face, and he disappeared. The few people who were nearby were staring at me, whispering to each other. Were they talking about me, insulting me? I felt the surge of anger again. I tried to control myself, but it was a lost cause. I charged at the nearest one, taking out the knife as I ran. I slashed at them blindly, and I heard a scream of pain and terror. I looked down at them, I had gotten them in the stomach. They were alive for now. I heard the others talking urgently on the phone, presumably calling the authorities. Well, let them call the authorities, I certainly didn’t care. I ran off into an alleyway, and as I rounded the corner, I was met with the banana-ish smile of the man. He was supposed to be dead, what was he doing here? Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain, and turned around to see the newly stabbed citizen, and a knife in my arm. I turned and ran. My throat was dry from dehydration, and I was lightheaded. I refused to drink, water had gotten me into this mess and I wasn’t going to forgive it. My lips were chapped, and my muscles were aching. Exhaustion overcame me, and I fell. I felt hands push me down into the earth. I tried to grab the knife, but I couldn’t move.
“They appear to be severely dehydrated, which explains why they appear to have gone insane,” I heard a voice say. I tried to say that I did not want water, but my chapped lips would not let the words out. I felt a stab, and everything went black.
. . . .
I woke up in a plain white room, on a white bed. I could barely move. I rolled over and looked out the window. I could barely make out the words “Insane Asylum” on the sign outside. Words had no meaning to me anymore. I rolled back over, and was met with the banana grin of the two people that I had stabbed a few days before.
“You’ve been naughty,” they whispered. “Now we get to teach you a lesson.” I screamed at them to leave me alone, as loud as I could. I cursed, threatened, until my voice was hoarse. I felt a pain in my chest suddenly and exhaustion crashed over me like a wave, and I could feel my eyes closing. It felt as if my organs were shutting down one by one, and then my vision was clouded with darkness.
“Are you okay??” asked my friend. I was staying at his place. He was a handsome young man, and was twenty years old.
“Yea, haha,” I answered, as my dog jumped on my lap. “Oh hey Reg. Just that dream again. Sometimes I wonder if it's trying to warn me about something.”
“You never know,”he replied, and smiled.