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The Puddle: Downpour

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The rain came down on the first day in October. It gave no warning of its approach, following one of hottest days on record. The rain lasted five days with no let-up, and many were forced out of their homes due to rising water levels. Living in a small village didn't help, either; the green hills had become slippery deathtraps and old renovated barns showing signs of the age their owners had fought so hard to conceal began to crumble. For most people in the village it was the rain which concerned them. The fact it lasted almost a whole week, unrelenting, was certainly odd, and many local news crews had been called to report on it. But for me the real bad stuff happened after the rain had stopped and the sun took back its place overlooking the world below.

I was the one who found the puddle, but I want no credit for the find. If I had the chance again I would have turned a blind eye and kept on driving. It was in the middle of a back-road seldom used by people other than farmers or out-of-towners. I used it for this exact reason. I liked peace and quiet. When I noticed the puddle I pulled my car over to the dirt track leading up through the woods and back into the village and killed the engine. Immediately the puddle looked wrong somehow, as though it wasn't meant to be here. Curiously I approached and stood over it, looking down at myself in its rippling reflection. The sun had been out for three weeks since the downpour, yet this puddle seemed unaffected. It was large, perfectly rounded and had a bluish green tint swirling around inside it. I poked it with a twig and, kid you not, could have sworn that damned puddle pulled back in surprise of being touched. It tried again and got the same response, only this time the colour of the puddle darkened to an oil black and then back to bluish green again. I know I should have left, but I was intrigued. One last poke, I decided, then I'd leave it be. How foolish the human mind can be.

The puddle, if you could call such a thing that, not only pulled back when I jabbed it a third time but actually reared up like cobra poised to strike. It came down fast, and if I hadn't been as agile as I was, it would have engulfed me then. It crashed down onto the road, making no splash or spraying any water, and settled back down into a gentle ripple again. My heart was pounding. I needed to close the road before a car -

The Ford was coming fast, lights flashing and music blaring. I tried to stop the driver but he seemed unaware I was even standing there in the road. I dived to the side as the car whipped past me and over the large, puddle-like thing taking up the entire path ahead. For a moment the Ford looked to have cleared the puddle with ease; then I saw what was really happening, and like an unfolding dream I watched it in silent, fascinated horror.

The Ford hits the puddle going easily eighty, and at first it looks to have made it over without difficulty. The front two tires ease over the bluish mass, but the back two freeze, suddenly halted. The car lurches forward, trying to wrench away and out of its predicament but its stuck fast. The driver opens his window and looks out, at first merely pissed that he's struck, and then his jaw drops and a look of terror fills his tanned face. The next moment the Ford is sliding slowly downwards into the puddle, further and further until it's upright like a metal tombstone, and the diver tries to flee but he can't, the puddle is pushing against the doors. He screams for help and I run forward, stumbling, regaining myself. Now the car is almost gone, swallowed by the puddle (no, not a fucking puddle!) and then the driver is sucked down inside, too, and his screams are no more, and the thing closes itself up as the taillights of the Ford flicker and die as it slips away into the things watery body.

I ran. I couldn't have saved that man, anyway, not a chance. I ran until my legs ached and my head pounded and my eyes were watering. Upon reaching the village I grabbed the first passer-by I could find to tell him what was happening.

"It's like a fucking puddle!" I screamed.

"I know," the man replied and I gaped at him.

"You know?" I almost screamed. "How?"

The man waved a hand towards the village. "Look around," he said, "they're everywhere."

And he was right. Large, bulbous puddles lining every street corner and road, some coloured that sick oily black and others the shade of bluish green. Hundreds of them now, spawning from one another like malignant tumors.

The rain hadn't been just a downpour. It had been a curtain.

Those five days had allowed these things to come down, to land and sprout. And now we were trapped slap bang in the middle of them.

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