The Rainwalkers

Jacob & Rebecca Black



Twilight is Stephenie Meyer's.


Entry into the Rain Scene Challenge

and this is the night his mum died.


Jacob Black, barefooted and clad in pyjamas, walks out of the swing doors of the hospital and into the night.

The building spreads out huge and ugly behind him. The hour is early; early enough to be called late. Everything is black and still, the lights of the hospital and the cars spreading a shivering glow out into the surrounding forest. The birds which herald the morning are nowhere to be seen; resting under their winds, no doubt, beady eyes closed and beaks still and empty of all song. Night animals scutter over the ground around him, and his big, unlearned eyes follow them with alarm. It is hot; a midsummer night, but there is no dreaming to be done.

He turns his head up to the sky and searches for the moon's surprised face, but it isn't there. The dark heavens hover over him like a weight about to drop. He wraps small arms around his flannel-covered chest, and glances over his shoulder.

The windows in the hospital are all lit, with shadows of people flitting across them like ghosts. The swing doors of the reception oscillate, back and forth, back and forth, slipping through the doorframe and back out again. Cars edge in and out of the carpark, their headlights burning small explosions of light into the night.

He steps up onto the pavement, small bare feet curved to avoid the rough tarmac.

The world around him hums with expectancy. The air he breathes in is heavy and wet, and he glances up at the black sky again. He steps into a pool of orange light spilling out of a tall street lamp. He walks around the circle of light, arms out to keep him steady, humming happily to himself. Twinkle twinkle little star, he sings, how I wonder what you are. The bleak sky stays dark and unchanging above him. He curves a small, chubby hand around the trunk of the street lamp and swings around it. Up above the world so high; his childish, soft voice clear in the rustling, shivering, never-still tension of the night. Like a diamond in the sky.

He looks up as a man walks swiftly over the pavement towards him; footsteps clinking in the almost-quiet, clutching a briefcase and frowning. He spots the little boy and raises his eyebrows. Why are you all alone? he asks. Where's your mum, where's your dad? The little boy smiles up at him and says that they're asleep. They'll wake up soon, he assures him, but I'm just going for a walk.

The man, a doctor, stares at him, a little boy of perhaps no more than five or six. He is bewildered by this matter-of-fact declaration. What's your name, he asks, tell me your name. The little boy smiles a milk-toothed smile and says I'm called Jacob, and I'm going for my walk now thank you. And he plods his small-footed way along, the eyes of the doctor following his large, dark head and blue pyjamas. You do know it's two in the morning, he calls, and Jacob ignores him, grinning widely.

The man shakes his balding head and carries on towards the hospital.

The temperature is growing warmer, the air thicker, and a breeze whispers through Jacob's hair. He puts his small thumbs behind the elastic in his bottoms, saunters along the pavement until it comes to an end. He stops on the edge of the road, looks, listens, just like the teachers tell him to. He glances behind him at the hospital, and grins at the thought of how angry his parents would be if they knew where he was. He jumps off the pavement and lands on the road, wincing as a stone digs into the sole of his foot. The air buzzes with a power, fizzing with the tautness of the calm. He can feel it breaking around him, the atmosphere crumbling, and a small droplet of water lands on the nape of his neck. He rubs it off with his hand and carries on along the road.

He looks into the forest which lines the way, peers between the dark trees, trying to see beyond. He takes a tentative step, but leaps back and squeals as something small and quick flits across his path. He tries to catch his breath as his heart jumps into his throat. Another raindrop lands in his hair and he ruffles it. Another falls on his nose.

The rain steadily increases as he winds his zig-zagged way down the night road. A car swerves around the corner, bright yellow light illuminating tiny specs of grey which flutter towards the ground in countless numbers. The wind is becoming stronger, too, rushing through the trees and shaking the branches. It parts around Jacob as he walks into it, blowing his hair back, wafting the rain which dribbles down his face. It grows steadily wetter; soon droplets are collecting in his long eyelashes, falling off as he struggles to blink. The flannel of his pyjamas is steadily soaked, and dirt grips to the water on his feet.

Everything is very dark and very loud and he glances around him. The forest is shivering and shaking in a fast-gathering storm, and he can't see, he can only hear, and the whistles of the wind and the patter of the rain quickly stream through his imagination and turn into monsters and witches and ghosts. He looks over his shoulder, but can no longer see the hospital. The sky growls deeply at him and lighting flashes across it. Breath rushes fast and furious through his tiny body and he looks desperately about him for light. He turns around, stumbles over something black and nameless, and lands on the ground with a thump. Tears burst from his eyes and he cries out, struggling to stand up, eyes wide and scared.

He bites his lip and looks down at his palms, at the knees of his pyjamas. They are stinging and bleeding and coated with the grime of the forest floor. The blood is trickling from his knees and congealing under the flannel. He'll ask his mum for a plaster, when she wakes up, he thinks. When they let her out of that bed and she comes home.

The road winds along in wide curves, the forest standing tall and dark on either side. Thousands upon thousands of trees, with shadows leaking out between them like ink. He turns big eyes towards these trees, towering around him, ten times taller than he is, thin and leaning and shaking in the gales. A stationary parade which the rain pours down on. He cranes a small neck backwards, taking in these dancing giants and feeling very frightened.

The wind is screaming at the rain and the rain is trying to hit back, slamming itself down with as much volume and velocity as it can manage, but it has no effect because the wind cannot feel it and carries on screaming. The sky is heavy browed and disapproving, glaring with dark eyes at its children, trying to express with its countenance that which it feels, growling occasionally. Lightning every so often will flash up the sky like the blink of the camera; here's one for the family album and no doubt.

He calls out. Mum, he shouts, Mummy, Daddy. His voice is high and helpless, splintered by tears, and he starts to run back the way he came, the storm biting his heels. He stumbles and totters and holds his hands out in front of him because it is so dark and so black and the rain is falling into his eyes and he screams and screams and lightning cracks the sky open and he screams out for his mother, mummy mummy mummy!


The call comes from further along the road. He recognises it as his sister, and he screams out to her, as the rain pounds into him and his hair lies slick and wet against his scalp. He can see a black form running towards him, and he runs towards her and falls over again, his pyjama top catching on a rock, all the buttons popping off and the flannel tearing across the middle. He rolls over and grit and stones stick to his wet chest. His sister shouts out to him again, runs to him, kneels down by his side and grabs him around the shoulders, holds him against her.

Where's mum, where's dad, I want to go home I don't like it please can we go home now please please I don't like it. But she doesn't reply, merely holds his tiny body against her own, not much bigger. She's crying, and he wraps confused hands around strands of her hair, curling up in her lap, huddling against the cotton of her own pyjamas, trying to hide from the storm.

She looks down at him through red, stinging eyes, notices how his top is hanging off the flannel collar, slides it from his body. The air is too hot for him to mind, but it is so wet and raindrops slide down him.

She is holding terrible news behind her lips and she is trying very hard to keep it together long enough to tell her little brother; his huge dark eyes watch her face in bewilderment and he is begging her to take him home. He looks up at her and she looks down at him, takes a breath, tries to say it. The words struggle up her throat, then are pushed back as another sob breaks through. The rain pours and the wind slaps the lengths of her dark hair against her skin. Becca, he says, Becca, what is it? What's wrong, where's Rachel, is she at the hospital? His voice is so high, like the ringing of a xylophone.

She looks away from him, not able to look at his round, wet little face. She can't do it. She can barely believe it herself. Becca, he says, please can we go back now? He wriggles his small hand inside hers and she clenches it tightly, bends down and cries into his hair. Stop it, he says, I want to go and get mum and dad and Rachel and go home, now, Rebecca, now.

And she shakes her head and takes a breath and wipes the layer of tears and rainwater from her skin and speaks. We, she says, we, we can't, Jake, she says. We; and her voice breaks. She presses her fist against her mouth as thunder tolls over them once more. Jacob whimpers, wriggles to his feet, tries to pull her up. His feet are coated in mud and grime. His dark chest sticks out; he looks unbalanced. The wind roars and the rain spits down on them and she doesn't respond.

We need to wake them up, he insists. Come on, Becca, come on, I'm scared.

They turned her off, she says, and cries harder. Jacob looks in mystification at his big sister, trying to understand how someone can be thirteen and still such a baby. Turned who off? he asks.

Mum, she says.

He frowns, rain trickling down him, his sodden bottoms sticking to his small, thin legs. Becca please can we go back, he says. Let's wake them up and go home.

She looks up at him desperately, angrily. She shouts at him and he lets go of her hand. We can't wake them up, she yells, we can't wake them up because dad won't wake and mum's dead.

Jacob stares at her. She looks at him, and then folds over, pressing her face against her legs and sobbing. He looks at her, looks up at the sky, looks over the treetops to where he can almost discern a faint, artificial glow. Rain is falling down thick and fast and it's obscuring his view, dripping down his face and rolling down his bare back. He's trying to understand but he doesn't. Of course they'll wake up. Don't be silly.

She doesn't move. He walks over to her and wraps little arms around her, feeling her shaking underneath him. He tries to tug her up, make her move. He doesn't understand.

A car curves around the corner, a man leaning forward towards the dashboard, peering through the window. His windscreen wipers slide easily through sheets of rain, and his headlights swing across the scene. He pulls over, jumps out of his car. The little boy turns around, his eyes huge and his bare chest covered with rivulets of water, his torn pyjama top lying on the ground beside him. Kids, he calls, kids, your dad's awake, you need to come with me.

Rebecca sits up, turns red eyes towards him, and the man finds it difficult to look at their childish faces. The boy pats his sister affectionately on the shoulder and toddles over to the car, and she slowly stands, follows. Lightning rips across the clouds once more, and Jacob turns frightened eyes to the sky and reaches up for the edge of the seat, pulls himself up. His sister stumbles inside behind him. They both leak onto the leather.

What about mummy, Jacob asks, is she awake yet?

The man closes the door behind him, looks at the little boy in his mirror, closes his eyes. No, kid, he says. She isn't.

Rebecca begins to cry harder.

The car slides the few hundred metres back to the carpark. Jacob watches as an ambulance wails its way in, paramedics jumping out of the door and wheeling a stretcher inside. Sheets of water slide over the ground. Rain pounds into the windows. He pulls his legs up to his chest and watches the busy night world, as the man drives the car around the back.

He hopes they'll be going home soon. His knees hurt where he's scraped them, and his hands are bleeding. He hopes his mum has a plaster in her coat pocket.

Inside the hospital a doctor is stood in a cold, metal room in the basement, filling out a form. Behind him, a sheet covered form lies on a metal stretcher. Still warm.

A dark skinned man lies in a hospital bed, the storm raging furious behind the window. He is listening to words which break his heart, he is shaking his head, he is refusing to accept it, refusing to believe it. He is being shown a wheeled chair which is to be his cage for the rest of his life.

The little boy and his big sister walk into the waiting room. Another girl, his other sister, stands up and calls out to them, Jake, Becca, she calls, and runs over. She is crying heavily and her face is red and blotchy.

A lady in scrubs hands them a hot chocolate each. Let me get a plaster for you, she says kindly to the little boy, looking down at the dark stains on the knees of his pyjamas.

Jacob shakes his head. My mum will do it, he says.



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