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We walked back to our bikes, silently. The prospect of doing something, anything, was better than nothing. The sheer horror of what we had been watching on the television had made us both numb.
“So how do we get started?”
“I don’t really know, I guess I need data, maybe just start talking and we will see what happens.”
We rode our bikes down the street towards a small library. It was the same kind of squat square uninspired block architecture you can find in suburbs everywhere. I never understood why anyone would build such boring structures to house humanities most valuable possession. They were only open twice a week now, budget cuts. Rain led us around back; we leaned our bikes against the ugly toad of a brick building and sat down.
“What do you want to know? I mean I have lived in Boston my whole life, or at least… I used to.”
The grief was just too much; it was going to take a while to start thinking about things like ‘The City of Boston’ in the past tense. After several minutes she used her arm to wipe her green eyes, and started again.
“I grew up poor, my mother was a drug addict and my father, well, I never really knew what happened to him, he left when I was 11. I spent a year or two as a ward of the state, spent a year living in a car. I managed to finish high school, and was going to go to college but needed to save up enough money. That’s why I was messin’ I figured I could collect enough cash and then go to school. Then mom got sick.”
She paused briefly.
“That bitch, she never did nothin but snort coke and bring home loser boyfriends. I almost had enough for the first year at Emerson, then that bitch goes and gets breast cancer.”
“I hate myself, for hating her. You are supposed to love your mother, I should be happy to give her all the money in the world, I should be happy to take care of her, but I always felt like she had it out for me. She ruined my past, and now was taking away my future.”
My brain was starting to feel a tiny itch, but it wasn’t anything like before. Rain kept talking as I leaned back against the building.
“But yea, I gave the doctors all my money, and even borrowed some, but you know how that turned out. All I got for my troubles is whatever is in this fuckin box.”
She reached into her messenger bag and pulled out a small cardboard box. It was from her mother, Karen, she had drawn a little heart on it, Rain really was named Rain. She saw me looking.
“Yea she named me Rain, because it was raining the day she took the pregnancy test in the back of a 7/11, great story huh? I should be happy she didn’t name me slurpy, or big gulp or some dumb shit. Fuckin drugies. I don’t know what could possibly be in this thing, but I just can’t bring myself to open it.”
She put the box back in her bag.
She looked unsure of what to do next, I hadn’t started screaming, or blurting out the future, it wasn’t working.
“Why not tell me about Marla?” I encouraged.
“Marla, that crazy bitch.” Rain said with a huge smile.
“I met her at a concert, she was in front of us and some jerk grabbed her boob, she decked him in the face. The bouncers kicked us all out. I was so pissed at her. She had a handle of vodka in her backpack. We sat around outside the theater and got drunk. You know I can’t even remember the name of the fuckin band we were supposed to see…Marla is like that, you only notice her.”
“We started hanging out. She was weird for sure, but she was a good friend and I loved her. She was the first girl I ever slept with, and let me tell you Marla is the kind of girl you want to be your first. She was amazing in bed, I mean the things that bitch could do with that snake tongue…”
I must have been turning a shade of red reminiscent of a beet, because Rain started giggling at me.
“Hey you told me to tell you everything right?” She laughed again “God I hope she listened to me and left the city.” Thinking about the city drew the joy out of her. She looked at her feet, and then at me.
“Is it working Q? You feel anything?”
“I don’t know, my brain…itches, but like nothing is coming, it used to work with less information than this, maybe we are not getting the right kind of data? I need like some websites or something to look at, something more about the city.”
Rain stood up, one hand on her hip, another on her chin, thinking.
“Stay here.” She reached into her back and removed a large U-lock and walked around the corner. I heard the tinkling of broken glass. Moments later the back door started to open, and Rain was there with one finger in her mouth.
“Cut mah fwinger on tha fuckin gwass, I wiwl be fwine.” She was talking with her finger stuck in her mouth.
We went into the dark library, heading towards the backroom. I knew from experience that you shouldn’t even bother going to the computer lab, they always have way too many filters to get a good data stream, we needed the staff computers.
We were in luck; the librarians had a high speed connection. It all came back to me as easy as breathing. I started clicking, opening windows, checking sites. The massive devastation of Ophelia was all over the net.
“Keep telling me about your friends, the more data sources the better.” I tried to split my attention between the two sources of data.
“I didn’t really hang out with that many other people; I spent a lot of my time at the hospital, or riding my bike.”
Thousands of bodies were washing up on the beach in Maine according to CNN.
“I knew some guys that I worked with, but we never hung out after work or anything. I was trying to save up as much money as possible to pay for moms surgeries”
Fox reports that southern Baptist preachers were saying that god had smote Boston for allowing gay marriage; the end times were surly at hand.
“I got hooked up with them mobster guys though this dude I knew who worked at a bakery in the north end. He said that they had helped him get some money for a car, so they could help me.”
Google maps had new satellite images up of the cape and Boston, the carnage was visible from space.
She was trying to read over my shoulder but I was opening and closing windows too quickly.
My brain was starting to itch badly, but still nothing was appearing. Had I lost the ability?
“What about your friend Jake?” I asked.
Weather.com showed that rain from Ophelia has caused massive flooding all along the east coast causing hundreds of more deaths.
“Jake, well technically he is my loser brother.”
Telephone networks were down all over the country as people flooded them looking for relatives.
She kept talking; Jake had never liked their mother and had refused to give her anything, leading to a rift. When Rain’s mother died Jake felt horrible, and had spent the last month trying to make it up to Rain. That must be why he gave me such a nice bicycle for free.
The entire front page of Digg was stories about the storm, the same with Reddit, and all the rest.
Page after page shot past my eyes, Rain continued to fill me in on details of her friends lives, where they lived, how old they were, what they were like in bed, everything. My brain felt like at any point it might catch fire it itched so badly. Why wasn’t it working!
In my frustration I grabbed my head in both hands and stared at the keyboard. As I looked down I saw the small cut on Rains finger, and I realized what was missing.
“Rain, I need more.”
“I have already told you everything I can think of.”
“I know, I think I need you to do something else for me. Every time I have been able to do this I have been in some sort of trauma. Either starving, or dehydrated, or…” The memory of her decking me in the jaw flashed in my mind. I looked up into her eyes.
“I think that it only works when I am in pain. I need you to hurt me, again.”