A young man, just fallen out of a harsh relationship, spontaneously goes on a blind date with a slightly older woman who, unbeknown to him, is part of a supernatural experiment that will change both their lives, and their country's.
Title: For Whom Does The Rain Fall?
Intended Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic, Futuristic Fiction
Narrative Mode: Third-Person Limited Omniscient
Rating: R / Mature (18+)
The following writing contains mature subject matter that some readers may find unsettling: drugs, sexuality, vulgarity, nudity and other mature themes.
This writing is fiction. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.
Chapter I: Malignant Memory
Monday, February 14th, 2157 CE.
6:13pm Pacific Time (GMT - 8:00)
Victoria, British Columbia Province, Dominion of Canada, Earth
"Love is blind. And only hatred is blinder."
A young man sat upon a bed, legs tucked loosely against his front, and back lying against a pillow upon the headboard. His arms were folded upon his kneecaps. Tears ran down his dark cheeks, and he sniffled.
The bed had a blue gelcomforter, with a watery pattern. It was tucked into the corner of the room, and the wall was textured with wooden panels, as if from a forest cabin. And upon the wall, above the bed, was a digital calendar. Gray 'X's had been drawn, ritually, across the boxes of days passed. However, the most recent box, still un'X'ed, had a red heart around it. The screen glowed with the pulsing of the heart's animation. It was, after all, mid-February.
He sobbed. Tears ran down his richly brown face. With a hand, he wiped the tears away. And then he yelled, in frustration, to his empty room, "Aaarrgh!"
"Is everything okay in there, Lewis? Your date will be here soon!" A woman's voice, through the door.
"No, mother..." he whispered, too quietly for him to hear.
However, the door never opened. And Lewis was still caught in the heartbreakingly tender embrace of nostalgia. Earlier that afternoon, he could remember it too clearly.
It had been stiff and oppressive. Too much. It was too much. Lewis had choked. The hands on his head, thrusting, had made it worse. He had withdrawn, and had looked up at a smiling face.
"What's wrong, Lewis? C'mon, you're making progress!"
Weeks of contemplation had been building up to that moment. Then, Lewis had locked eyes with the other man, their gaze passing across a heavily muscled, hairy chest.
"Biff, I can't do this -- it's not you it's... m- I-I'm straight, Biff." The words had come out abruptly. And there had been no mistaking the sincerity that rang out in the final phrase.
Biff gradually became flaccid, and he sat down. The silence was awkward. He had had the look of an ancient Greek statue, naked. There had been something undefinably thoughtful about his saddened face. He frowned, and said "Is this a joke? Because, Lewis, puppy, it ain't funny!"
Lewis had stared him down, "I'm not attracted to men."
"Oh, please, don't lie to me. I've seen the way you--" Ding-dong! Memory faded.
Lewis leapt up at the second ring of the doorbell, and wiped the last, and final, strings of tears from his cheeks. He ran past his mother, where she was knitting in the kitchen, grabbed his wallet from a side-table, and approached the front-door.
It's not her, he realized. That's a man!
He could see, through the window of the front door, a tall, Caucasian man holding a box. As his heart sank, he opened the door.
"Double-pepperoni with pineapple?" The man smiled, wearing a matching pizza delivery hat and shirt. Red and yellow. A cab-like car, idling in the driveway, had the same color scheme.
Lewis twisted to face the kitchen, his green dress shirt pressing against his body tightly. He raised his voice, "Moooom! Your pizza's here."
"Pay the man and bring me my pizza, Lewy! Your allowance is here on the table."
The delivery man caught a glimpse of the side of Lewis's face, and noticed a small welt on one side of his jaw. Curiously, he asked Lewis about it, "Kid, how did you get that bruise?"
"Huh?" Lewis pulled out his wallet, ignoring the bruise. "How much?"
The man glanced down at the bill.
Lewis opened his wallet, only to see a picture of Biff staring back at him. His angular, pale face, hawk-like, was a haunting reminder of earlier that day.
"Oh, please, don't lie to me. I've seen the way you look at me."
"Envy." How could I have confused envy with attraction? I've been such a fool.
"Envy? Envy, my ass! You wanted a piece of me from the start."
"I've been relying on bicuriosity." No, I wanted to be a piece of you from the start. And you're not capable of love!
"You told me you were gay!" He had spat, then, angrily. His face had flushed a deep red. It clashed with the soft, red rivulets of hair that had once seemed so beautiful to Lewis.
"I thought I was." Cold. Distant. Defensive. Was it just a phase?
"That'll be be twenty bucks," he replied.
"Pardon, Biff?" Lewis asked.
The pizza man cleared his throat, "I said, that'll be twenty bucks. And.." he tapped his name-tag."My name's Paul."
Lewis withdrew twenty-five credits from his wallet, a twenty-five percent tip. All smiles.
"Oh, thank you!" Paul said, as he handed Lewis the warm box of pizza. "Enjoy!"
And as the delivery man turned to leave, a young woman walked up the driveway. The damp, somewhat flooded yard didn't seem to bother her, as she stepped gracefully around a large puddle at the edge of the driveway. She paused, to remove a stray piece of hockey tape that had stuck itself to one of her boots, and then looked at Lewis.
He smiled, displaying confidence he didn't actually have.
The young woman blushed.
Paul knew, intuitively, what was going on. And he, too, grinned discretely as he got into the driver's seat of the delivery car. I hate being single on Valentine's Day! He slipped his keycard into its slot. With a very faint clicking, the car began to hover smoothly.
Oh, they matched me up with an African-Canadian! she observed without prejudice. She curtsied eccentrically with a laugh. Her dress was vertically striped with five bands of indigo blended against five bands of a blue calico. At the base, it bloomed outwards in a frill. The synthfiber made it look like glossy, soft petals. And her black hair fell from her slender, lightly brown face in subtle waves. A robopurse, shaped like a plush sloth, hung from one arm.
She's stunning... and... I feel something. Lewis stood, shocked silent. His jaw hung low, on its own accord, as he motionlessly examined her.
He looks to be just an ordinary secondary school senior, but there's no need to rule him out based on that immediately. Best to catch them while they're young! she assured herself, checking him out. Tight jeans, faded. A green dress-shirt. Slim figure, adequately toned. Corn rows, and... are the braids tied in a ponytail? Definitely metrosexual. Let's hope his personality at least reflects his appearance. Tolerance, sensitivity. He better be open-minded, because I'll have to tell him the truth at some point if we hit things off.
Lewis closed his mouth abruptly as she walked around him, eyeing him. Sizing him up. Scrutinizing his clothing, his hygiene. This would be harsh, were it not for that innocent smile she has...
I hope he's willing to eat out. I'm not in the mood for pizza.
His mother walked outside impatiently, dropped forty credits of allowance into Lewis's hand, and took the pizza box from him. He remained still, on the cold porch. She closed the door on them, quietly, as she stiffled a laugh.
Slowly, Lewis pocketed the cash.
"Are you Lewyboi39?" she queried, thinking, Because if you aren't, I hope you've got a brother who looks half as good as you do.
"Yes, that's my alias." He was tense.
"Then I believe I'm your blind date, tonight," The smile returned. The thirty-nine must refer to his year of birth. "Don't worry, though, I can see just fine."
Gradually, his nervous lips curled into a grin.
Her hand confidently extended towards him, "Name's Preeti."
He shook her hand, still grinning awkwardly, "Lewis, Lewis Smith."
"Preeti, Preeti Bond," she immediately adopted a fake British accent. However, she immediately noticed that he did not understand her jest. He doesn't watch action movies, does he? And the James Bond franchise has been around for well over a century and a half! Finally, she broke the awkward silence, "Err... Samal, actually. Preeti Samal."
"Nice to meet you, Preeti Samal," he told her, repeating her name so as to remember it. She's random and eccentric. I like that.
"Nice to meet you too, Lewis." Sincerity. Kindness.
And at that moment, it began to rain. Heavily. Cold, freezing rain. It deluged the melting snow. It looked to them as if it would continue to rain for a long, long time.
"Alih, my umbrella please," Preeti said. Global warming be damned! The sloth-bag, hanging from her arm, put a paw in its mouth, reached down its own throat and regurgitated a short metal cylinder with finger-grooves. With her free arm, Preeti took the hand-sized bar from from the robotic purse. She passed it into her other arm, and held down a button on its side. Meanwhile, she walked onto Lewis's porch to avoid getting wet. Her other hand was scratching the sloth's belly affectionately, along the magno-zipper that ran down its belly.
Lewis looked patiently down at the hand-held device.
Fzzzt ! The device in Preeti's hand gave out a gritty tone of feedback, as it malfuntioned.
"Shit!" Preeti swore. If only I were allowed to cast one without this damn projector! "Oh, I'm sorry."
"Don't worry, mine fizzles all the time," he confided, only to get Freudian after-thoughts, "Just needs fresh batteries. I'll go get some."
Preeti adjusted a dial on the bottom end of her umbrella, Better a large brolly, big enough for two, if we have fresh batteries. And the thought of intimacy made a dire, stern warning echo in Preeti's mind. It was fresh, from earlier that day. It had been given to her, and two of her classmates.
"You are allowed to date. You are even allowed to carry on permanent relationships. However, do not use your abilities. As tempting as it may be, you must not let anyone know what you are capable of. And, if things get physically intimate, be sure to control yourself. Also, keep your morals in check! As your mentor and head researcher, promise me that you will be cautious! If the government gets their hands on this project, we're done for. The feds are just like the Americans -- mere puppets, the strings of which are not held on Earth."
As Lewis handed her the batteries, she noticed how soft his touch was. She remembered the handshake -- firm! And now, he moved with a gentle grace, batteries in hand. They slid into place, through the bottom. Then, she sealed the device. Holding it firmly in her hands, fingers in their respective grooves, she began once again to press and hold the thumb-button.
Lewis reached for his own, arm headed for his back pocket.
Preeti shook her head, and watched him smile. He's a sharp one, when he wants to be.
Zzzzt... The umbrella-field began to project. It softly hummed to life, and quieted down to an inaudible frequency. However, a rod of shimmering blue grew up from its tip, and topped itself in a thin, hexagonal canopy.
Preeti gave the device a quick shake, and its translucence congealed slightly. Above her, umbrella was now blocking raindrops beyond the edge of where the Smith's roof covered their front porch.
In southern British Columbia, the act of holding hands around the projector of an umbrella was referred to as 'dry lovers'. The device vibrated softly in their hands and projected a field that kept its holders dry. It was said to bring good luck to a relationship, though few people believed in superstitions in an age of science.
"Don't talk, I want to hear the rain. It speaks to me." And your mind speaks to me. Damn this temptation. Damn it to Mars!
"Alright," Lewis said. Good, I need to clear my mind. "We'll have plenty of time to talk tonight."
"Sometimes silence speaks more than words." Damn this temptation! It's... forbidden. I mustn't! No, I can't give in... wh-what is this !? It's so foreboding...
In her mind's eye, Preeti saw. She knew not what, though she saw it anyways. She saw. She saw things. And they spoke to her.
"I thought I was." Cold. Distant. Defensive.
"Biff," a pause, "I thought I was. I was mistaken. I am not attracted to you, and I'm not sure if I ever genuinely was."
Something came hard and fast against Preeti's face. No, it was not her face. It was...Lewis'? A man punched Lewis?
The memory began to blur, as Preeti watched. She saw herself, as Lewis, falling to the floor. And he lost sight, before he hit. However, she heard. Preeti heard the man, and the roll of thick tape, before Lewis lost his hearing as well.
Lewis turned to look at Preeti as they walked across the Johnson Street Bridge. She seems as focused, on something, as I am. I wonder what she's thinking.
She kept walking, at his side, absent-mindedly. And then, her hand around the umbrella, under his, began to shake. He was sure it was not simply the calm vibrations of the projector. These were definite tremors.
"Are you alright? Are you cold, Preeti?" I assume her threads have decent heating elements. Nevertheless, her arms are bare. Well, if she's taking me where I think she's taking me, we'll be there soon.
Preeti did not answer.
The body was not ready. Tense, from the argument. Tired, from previous exertions. It hung, limply, between the duct tape strands that tied each limb to a bedpost.
The agony. The tight, binding of strong tape that strangled the body's loins. The limp body stirred, as a voice boomed above it.
Biff. The mental label was stuck in the memory, and Preeti knew not what it meant.
"I'm gonna teach you not to fuck with me like that, bitch! You'll always be my whore, Lewis. Puppy... always!" A fresh thought was pinned to this memory, Irony. Lewis wasn't the one behaving like a dog.
Preeti's mind swam with confused thoughts. Is this a nightmare he's had? Dreams are sometimes this fragmented to recall. If only I knew more...
The agony struck, as the man entered Lewis. Invading his tense, beaten body. Rape. Sodomy. Too rough. Too fast. Too much. And, as Lewis yelled silently against the hockey tape across his face, Preeti's screams echoed through her own head. She withdrew from his mind, continuing to scream. And, finally, her screams gained a medium and a volume, and left her open mouth.
Lewis hoped that the tears running down his face looked like raindrops, so that she would not ask about the them. So that she would not ask for whom they fell. However, as they neared their destination, he felt her hand shake. He remembered how his hands had shaken, earlier that day, in bonds of tape. And how he had woken up at five o'clock, in a cold puddle outside Biff's window, with his damp clothes and a few lovers' mementos lying over him in disarray. And, as he had stood up, he had noticed the strands of thick, black tape hanging from his arms and legs. Then, finally, he had realized that he was naked, with a strand bound tightly, painfully, around his scrotum.
"Aaaaaahhh!" Bone-chilling. High, soprano range. Dulled, by the passing cars and the heavy rain.
He maintained a grip on the umbrella as her fingers lost their grasp, falling out between his own fingers. Now, she stood panting, leaning against the rail of the bridge they were crossing.
"Preeti?" Lewis queried, aiming the projector to keep her dry, instead of him. He wasn't sure if he should move close to her or not. She's almost having worse problems tonight than I've had!
That's some scary shit in your brain, dude, Preeti deliberated. And, after a while, she turned to him.
"What was that for?" he asked, noticing how pale she looked.
"Migraine. I'm sorry. They come unexpectedly," she lied, "and without mercy."
He gave her a sympathetic look. And then, they continued walking. The bridge ended, and a busy urban street began. Passing various local stores and restaurants, they had much to talk about. And, finally, they reached their destination.
At a quiet restaurant and bar in Victoria, a tall, muscular, jock-like figure sat alone upon a bar stool. He grimaced, at his empty glass. He wore a red sports hoodie, the hood covering his head.
"More gin, Biff?" The bartender had failed, thus far, at making conversation with his only customer. And he waited, patiently, for the evening to mature. It was, afterall, mid-February.
"Sure thing, George. Pour me a tall one, I can pay for it."
That lad ain't half as sad as his fake ID, The bartender thought. On the other hand, though, we need all the business we can get in the winter.
Outside, Preeti and Lewis approached the door. She switched off the umbrella in their hands. The forcefield blinked on and off for a moment, and then vanished completely. It had been tilted thus that the remaining droplets fell to the pavement, under the canopy of the modest eatery.
"You've got customers," Biff said as he saw Preeti through the window. Then, he turned back to his glass. If that pretty lady had a cock, I'd --
"Pay me up front, on that gin, please." The bartender interrupted his thoughts, "Ten credits, Biff."
Beside Preeti, Lewis opened the door. And, together, they entered the establishment, passing through a cheap set of censors that scanned them for security purposes.
After carefully stepping over the bright orange forcefield floodgate panel, which was not yet necessary in this neighbourhood. They wiped their boots on the mat, while the storm raged on.
It's probably just for show and doesn't even work, Lewis reckoned, regarding the secu-scan, as his eyes passed over the empty table alcoves, and the bar.
Biff pulled out his wallet, "There you go. Ten credits."
Preeti and Lewis walked to a table, away from the door, and passed the bar. The back of a stool obscured the jersey number on Biff's sweater, and his hood obscured his face.
Preeti, however, caught the attention of the bartender, "George, is Sam Wong on chef duty right now?"
"Last time I checked, darling, he was!" The bartender confirmed with a nod.
"Excellent!" Preeti exclaimed.
Then, George resumed counting Biff's change. "Look, kid, if you've already had too much to drink... you're down a loonie."
It took a while for Biff to remember that 'loonie' was Canadian geiser slang for a single credit. It helped, though, that he knew exactly how short he'd been.
"Oh, sorry. Here, I have one," Biff said. I was just trying to cheat you, you old coot. "And I have a few tens, for later." He heard Preeti's voice in the distance, but couldn't make out what she was saying. Oh, I'd love to hear that voice scream... gotta find a man who can go that high.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Preeti!" George shouted from behind the bar..
Arrrgh! Biff's thoughts groaned. Of all the days to break-up with someone. Lewis, you scumbag.
"Same to you, George! Where's your gal at?" Preeti asked. I really hope he proposes to her tonight.
"The missus is dropping in late tonight," he told her. Which'll be damn more exiting than nursing this broken hearted teen with a half dozen glasses of gin. That is, provided things have moved along with that wretched divorce of hers.
Preeti and Lewis now sat in an alcove, across a table from each other, looking down at their menus that were displayed on screens embedded in the table. She was pointing out various recommendations, based on who she knew to be on staff.
George turned around, and yelled behind himself into the kitchen, "Tell Cindy there's customers. We can't run this place without a waitress!"
Preeti shared an anecdote, of being a waitress at the eatery before starting university. Also, she seemed to have several close personal friends who worked at the place. By the end of it, Lewis was hungry, and part of him was even considering applying for some shifts.