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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Accidental Downspout

I was dressed in a green wool suit, wholly inappropriate for the weather, but right for the 1940's style murder mystery weekend I was acting in. I was glad that my character would be killed in the first half of the first day. After that, I would go into town and get a shave and a haircut, rinse out the temporary hair color and return as a late arriving "guest" for the rest of the weekend. My job at that point would be to be a sort of improvisational "shill" who would be responsible for making sure one of the investigation teams stayed somewhat on track with the story. Missing out on the main action would give me the excuse to say "What happened, again?" with great sincerity. I had done this enough times to discover that was typically enough to keep things on track.

I always got a kick out of the round up at the end of the weekend where our roles were revealed. There were always a few people who never knew I was one of the main cast the first morning.

This particular time, things went a little bit odd when I returned from town. There was a child out on the porch, just sitting and looking out at the rain. Now, this is an "adult" weekend, as there are frequent bad words, some partial nudity, and the occasional heavy sexual tension. (Sometimes the guests brought their own brand of this, which, as a single actor, was not unwelcome.) So, I was surprised to see the child. I stepped out onto the patio to try to determine where he belonged.

And I was a child, playing on the same patio, but newer, with a fresh coat of whitewash, and brand new cloth screens between the beams. "Let's go on the roof to watch the storm come in!" said a little brown-haired boy, my brother, older, braver, but shorter than myself.

I watched as he swung out of the patio door and hoisted himself up the corner post, stepping on the lantern support and then up onto the roof. I ran out to the uncovered part of the patio, pacing him as he raced over to the shorter part of the roof. By leaning back, I could see the black and green cloud wall approaching. Wind and lightning whipped around the thing silently. The wind stirred across the yard behind me and flowed, full of the leaves dropped in an early fall, up and over the roof of the house, as if the storm contained some giant vacuum cleaner. "Get up here! It's keen!"

"I can see it from here. Looks like a tornado, we should get in the basement!"

"It's too late for a tornado, you're missing the lightning!"

"I can see it from here!"

"No you can't!"

"Can, too!"

"Chicken!"

Well, I couldn't let that stand, so I hopped up on the rail and walked over to the corner post with the lantern support. My brother had turned back to watch the storm. The climb terrified me. I half walked half crouched over to my brother once I was on the roof. It was covered in leaves and the footing seemed unsure. He laughed but quickly turned back to the storm. He was right, of course, I couldn't see all of the lightning. The storm had to be at least a mile across, a solid green-gray wall of blurry motion, shot through with lightning that rippled around the circle, up into the thick clouds above and leaping off the roofs and trees below as though it were being drawn up into the thing.

I stood, completely amazed, entranced.

"Told you."

"Uh huh." I nodded, still standing slightly hunched over, afraid I would fall backwards.

We could hear the rumbling of nearly continuous thunder, like an approaching freight train. The cloud and its lightning storm began to blur and fade. Too late, I realized that was the storm letting loose, the curtain falling on a show. I turned and went back to the patio, where it would be easier to get down.

"Yellow!" My brother teased.

"I don't want to get..."

But it was too late. The water from the storm front hit. I could barely make out my brother, it was as if I'd been dowsed with the laundry tub, only the water kept coming. I scrambled on all fours to the corner post, easing myself down over the edge of the roof, hanging on to the lantern support for all I was worth. I could feel my feet slipping on the hand rail of the open part of the patio. I turned to see where my brother was. He was coming straight down the roof. I'd seen him hang from the gutter and drop to the patio chair before, so figured that was what he was going to do. I grunted, I should of done that. It was a ten foot drop off the handrail to the ground below if I slipped.

Then, the wind came. I could feel the whole house shake. My brother hadn't made it back to where the patio was when he slipped, then rolled towards the edge of the roof. It was probably twenty feet to the ground where he was. I shouted his name. His foot slammed into the gutter and he hunched up against it legs drawn up to his chest, but instead of crawling back to the relative safety of the porch overhang, he stood up and waved at me, keeping one foot in the gutter. Another gust, and I dropped to the rail, forcing myself to fall on the patio side. It hurt, but I was safe. I stood up, there was no sign of my brother, the gutter where he'd been standing was burst out, and water poured out of the accidental downspout. I limped over to the rail, but couldn't bring myself to look down right away.

After a moment, I followed the falling stream of water, watching it arc down past the patio, and finally to where it splashed on the small crumpled form of my brother in the broken berry bushes below. And I knew, I just knew he was gone.

The adult me stood alone on the patio, in the midst of a sudden fall shower. I turned and looked out past the edge of the patio, eyes along the roof line, and there about six feet past the end of the patio was a rusted hole with the ragged edges still slightly bowed out, water poured out of it far in excess of what one might expect for such a gentle rain. I walked to the edge of the patio, following the falling water with my eye, and there at the bottom of the fall, it fell in a bramble bush, pushing the leaves and branches playfully to splash on what I'd always thought to be just a granite stone, but that I now realized was a grave marker. The young boy was there with me, appearing out of nowhere.

"It wasn't your fault." I said.

"I still miss him. He won't come play in the rain any more."

"Of course you do. He loved you." I turned to face the boy, and he faded away smiling sadly.

The older gentleman who owned the house slid open the door. He watched me standing in the rain for a moment or two, then motioned with a towel in his hand.

I looked out at the gutter again for a moment, then turned back to the house.

He handed me the towel. "I should fix that gutter some time."

I looked at him, "no need, looks like the water goes right where it's needed."

"You saw him, didn't you."

I nodded. I could hear the sounds of the guests chattering about their clues in distant parts of the house, the old man and I looked out across the rainy valley.

"I still miss him."

"Of course you do, he loved the wonder of the world, the adventure of it, loved you."

The old man handed me another towel, "hold that for me,"  then stepped out onto the patio himself.





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