This is part II, so be sure to check out I. Storm first

 

Morning. Got home, I guess. Queasy. Headache. So dry.

Six empty tall cans, scattered around the computer desk. Yup.

It’s still raining outside, but just a normal, gray rain, not like whatever that was last night.

Shit, what was that? I was hurt, but I when I check my scalp, all seems good. Hamper check, one sodden yellow linen shirt, no trace of blood.

Huh. Nightmare, I guess. There are crumpled up sheets of printer paper on the floor, and it seems I pulled the feed tray out. No idea where I decided to put it.

Crusty brown patch on the keyboard, on the desk. Blood. But from where?

The rain is really starting to pound down outside. I wonder how high the river’s gotten? About five years ago, after a night-long torrential downpour, what’s normally a meandering little ankle deep creek swelled and rose most of the way to the top of its concrete chute. Lonely Planet says that there are an estimated three rivers in the whole country that haven’t been locked in and channeled by a nation that, all protests to the contrary, hates and fears nature more than anything else. Take the train through the mountains and see the great concrete cliffs that have been installed in the midst of the monoculture forests, miles from any road or habitation, in the name of landslide prevention.

Out my window, however, the land is green with rice fields. Every May, the farmers scrape them flat, then close the exit sluices and let the waters in. The fields turn to shallow ponds over the next few days, and the farmers head out, booted up, with squeegee planers in hand, to make sure that the mud beneath the surface is perfectly flat. I think the eggs must wait below the dirt or something, because the season of frogs is next, ribbiting merrily away, seeking the perfect mate. Wonder what makes a sexy ribbit? Whose grunting little croak gets the girls all foamy and ready to squirt? Are there guys out there who nothing but game, stunted seed leading to the next failed generation?

I’m parched. Six tall cans, and probably didn’t have any water before I went to bed. Need breakfast.

Ice. Banana. Protein powder. Spinach. Peanut butter. The blender sounds like it’s running inside my skull, shards of ice ripping through my frontal lobes, shredding the cerebellum where the lizards never died.

Enough.

As soon as it touches my tongue, I retch, spewing yellow green bile all over the wood-grain linoleum. What the hell? This shit has gone seriously off. I want to rinse my mouth, but the thought of anything in there brings on another set of spasms to my stomach.

So dry.

Best go for a walk. Cell phone has a really good camera, maybe I’ll go check the river. Last year, there was a landslide upstream, a hillside broke lose and covered the river pathway in about four inches of stinking muck. The rain hit even harder up in Kyoto, when I followed the creek down to the main river in town a day later, I could see that it had completely jumped its banks and risen two thirds of the way up the levee. What a sight that must have been, five hundred yards wide, sweeping away everything. The fence behind home plate was bent flat.

The disaster warning app on the phone has gone gray. Inoperative. Antenna icon Xed out.

Desktop internet down.

Must have been more than some ugly rain last night, but the green outside the window looks nice, and something tells me the rain would feel good on my skin. I grab my phone. My umbrella stays behind.

Still thirsty, but I was right, the rain feels good, seemingly soaking into my skin. The path through the fields is quieter; rain can be so loud smacking down on the griddle-pan landscape of asphalt and cement that the city secretes like a protective chitinous shell. Out here, the rain rustles on the rice, whispers on the water, caresses my skin like a mother her child.

Stones? Nuts? Black oblongs, making their way slowly out of the flooded paddies, hundreds of them, some sort of walnut sized snails. They weren’t here yesterday, I walk this path every morning, never seen anything like them. A neat line of them, on the concrete wall. I squat down, they’re moving, but every so slowly, heads sliding smoothly back and forth over the lip, leaving it polished and reduced where they’ve passed.

Grazing.

I reach down, cup my hand, drink from the pure natural water of the paddy. Sting of fertilizers and pesticides, but mostly washed away by the rain, I can feel the liquid soaking through my tissues, filling the parched matrix of muscle where the young await, melting their encysted eggs. Something in me wonders that I’m not alone, but the old man next to me has gone to his hands and knees, drinking the nectar directly from the pool below us.

The concrete wall of the paddy is almost gone now, we’re not needed here.

Our brothers within urge us on, antennae stroking the nerves, sliding, questing, out of the skin into the cool, humid air. The river, imprisoned in its concrete slot, lies waiting.

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