My parents are big paranormal geeks, but I don’t believe in any of that crap. Ghosts are bedsheets, sasquatch is a guy in a suit and zombies are cheap halloween costumes. The spirits of our ancestors do not watch over us, as some of the people on the reserve I live on like to believe.
That should put into perspective how little I would believe the events I am about to relay to you if you told them to me.
I was in my room when I noticed it was starting to rain. It didn’t rain much in the area where I lived, so I viewed it as unusual. However, I put it out of my mind and focused on what I was doing, which was probably just talking to friends or playing League or something. I didn’t notice when the rain reached torrential levels.
Eventually, my mom knocked on my door. “Stephen,” she asked in a sing-song voice, “I just noticed we’re out of milk. Think you could run down to the corner store and grab us some?”
The corner store was more than a few blocks from where we lived. The Navaho reservation we lived on wasn’t big, but it wasn’t small by reservation standards.
“Mom, it’s kind of raining outside. Can I do it tomorrow, or when it stops or something?”
“Aw c’mon,” she teased. “I thought I raised you better than that! What would your ancestors think if they knew that their descendant was too weak to fight off a few raindrops?” She liked to tease me like this. She wasn’t very spiritual, but she liked to act like she was around me to bother me. It was pretty funny sometimes, but I often tuned her out after she started talking about animal spirits or weather gods or whatever.
“Fine,” I said begrudgingly. “I’ll grab my coat, but you owe me for this one.” She smiled, and I allowed her to kiss me on the cheek before I went out.
That very easily could have been the last time I saw her.
I walked out into the rain in my flimsy spring coat. It was pretty bad, but the corner store wasn’t that far away. I’d get wet, but I’d be back inside before I got hypothermia.
As I walked, it seemed that the rain had worsened. It started off as a downpour, and turned into a deluge. The rain was so heavy, I couldn’t see properly through it. At one point it got so bad, it forced me to my knees. I wouldn’t be able to last much longer in this weather. I saw the corner store lights through the torrent and ran towards it.
As I was running towards it, I heard something off in the distance. It sounded like a shaking rattle, or something similar. “Odd weather for rattlesnakes,” I said to myself jokingly. I slipped in a puddle of water and fell on my back. Pain shot up my spine as it acquainted itself with the asphalt. As I got to my feet, I saw where the rattling was coming from.
There was a thin man, dressed in what seemed to be a traditional Native American breechcloth and headdress. It could have been someone out for a bit of spiritual ritual thingies (I’m not really caught up with my spiritual folklore. I could recount the Dark Souls lore for you though.) or a tribal elder on their way somewhere.
The only thing that was odd about him was that it seemed like he was dry. Through my somewhat blurry vision, I saw him: no drooping feathers in his headdress, no wet spots on his buckskin. What the hell? How could some old geezer in a buckskin walk out into a rainstorm without getting wet? I decided I’d follow him to see what was up with him.
He headed down an alleyway, and I hurried to keep up with him, being careful not to slip or splash in any puddles.
A man was lying drunk in the alley. This was not uncommon here. A lot of people drink to forget on the reserve. Sometimes they forget too much.
The thin man briefly considered the drunk, before waking him up by shouting something in Navajo. The drunk mumbled something back in English. This seemed to enrage the thin man. He began yelling and shaking a wooden tube he was carrying. So this was where the rattling sound was coming from. It was a rainmaker. If you don’t know what a rainmaker is, it’s basically a hollow tube full of rocks that you shake in rain dances. I’ve seen a few of them around here, enough to recognize it at first glance, but what was this old guy doing with one in the middle of a rainstorm? Going to try and do a rain dance backwards to make the rain stop?
As I looked on, I managed to get a closer look at the old guy. I say old, but really I mean ancient. He looked like he didn’t have an ounce of muscle in his body. His wrinkled and tanned skin clung to his bones like a child clung to its mother. He had a long hooked nose, and his eyes were strange. He seemed to be blind, as his eyes were incredibly clouded, and he didn’t seem to be looking directly at the drunk. If he was blind, how did he find his way around? Was he using the goddamned rainmaker for echolocation or something?
I noticed that the rain was lightening up around me. It wasn’t stopping, but it didn’t feel like it was going to knock me over anytime soon. It seemed to intensify around the drunk. The rain fell down hard on him. When he tried to breathe, it spilled down his nostrils. When he tried to beg for mercy, he choked it through a mouthful of rainwater. He stumbled around, but his personal deluge followed him, tearing away at his clothes. I think it started freezing at some point, because it managed to tear holes in his clothing and skin. He couldn’t escape the rain, he couldn’t breath properly, and he had a hell of a hangover.
The poor fool lasted about a minute.
The man with the rainmaker looked at the corpse and nodded, as if to give his approval. It began to melt into water before my eyes. Soon, all that was left was a dried out skeleton covered in skin and lean muscle, looking similar to the rainmaker man.
It began to stir.
It got up on one knee, and rose weakly. It gained its bearings in a few seconds. The original skeleton handed him something.
I lost it then and there. I ran down the street and didn’t look back once. Whatever the hell that was, I didn’t want to be a part of it. The whole way I was running home, I could swear I could hear that goddamned shaking. It matched my heartbeat, getting faster as I ran.
When I got home, my mum asked me what the matter was. I told her what happened and her face went pale.
She told me about the legend of an old Navajo chieftan named Hok’ee back in the early days, before the Europeans came to the continent who would sacrifice children to the weather gods and put their small bones in rainmakers in times of drought. He would tell his tribe members that the people in the nearby Apache camp were stealing their children. This eventually spurred a horrible and bloody war, with the Navajo losing. Hok’ee was drowned in rainwater once the Apache found out what he did. They never gave him a proper burial ritual. The legend goes that they had to abandon the area because there was too much rain for them to live there, despite it being in what is now the south-western United States.
I couldn’t handle the implications of it all at once. The idea that the corpse of an old Navajo chieftan haunting the reserve left me in disbelief. I went to my room and tried to go to sleep.
That was four days ago. I haven’t slept since.
The goddamned rain paired with that shaking, that horrible fucking shaking has been keeping me up every night for four days. I just hope the rain will stop soo
Sorry, I dozed off at the end of that last part. Exhaustion does it to all of us. I had a dream for the brief time I was asleep.
The rain man was there, and so was the drunk. About a hundred skeletons stood there, shaking, dressed in clothes I would recognize as belonging to my neighbours. All of them had rainmakers. I looked up to the sky to see that it was raining blood. The shaking grew steadily louder until I woke up.
I looked out my window just now. There are more skeletons out there than there were in my dream. All of them are fucking shaking those rainmakers. I think I can see my parents with them. I don’t know why they won’t come into the fucking house.
Hok’ee isn’t there with them
I just checked my closet and there’s a fucking rainmaker inside it
The shaking won’t stop
The rain won’t stop
The rain men won’t stop