Author : Matthew Velez
I miss the rain. It’s been years – I’ve long since lost track of how many – since I saw it last. Since anyone saw it last. It’s been so long that no one really remembers it anymore, except for what you’d find in dictionaries. I remember rain as being so much more than those bland descriptions. I remember falling asleep to it, listening to the soft, even sound of running water, distinct from yet blending into all else. I remember sitting by windows, letting my mind wander while tiny droplets formed patterns on the glass, ambient light casting tiny shadows. I think I’m the only one who remembers, but all I have are faint flickers of memory.
I live in a city of mist. An endless fog blankets the entire city, providing moisture without the need for rain. A fog that is unobtrusive, casting what it hides not in opaqueness but in shades of gray. No one remembers the onset of the mist; it simply was and now is. All that we remember was that before the mist, there was rain, and now there is none. With the mist came a loss of knowledge; we lost contact with the world, with our own history, where we came from. No one, save for maybe the City government, knows where the City is, what country it is a part of, how old it is, or even what its real name is. All we call it now is ”The City.” We know of nothing else.
One day, I tried to leave. It wasn’t because I was dissatisfied with City life; it’s a laid-back place. It was due to wanderlust, an urge to see what was beyond. I wasn’t really doing anything else, anyway. So, I packed my things and walked on the main road for hours. The City was big, but it wasn’t infinite. Eventually, all that was left was the road itself, with no other ground I could see. The only sounds were my lonely footsteps upon the asphalt. Gray-white mist surrounded me, blanketing my clothes with a faint dampness I couldn’t feel. The road kept going. I looked back to find that the City was out of sight, hidden by the now-opaque mist. I knelt down by the side of the road and reached for the ground beside it. It was a hard, unnatural substance, the same color as the mist. It felt almost like the steel used in buildings, but somehow more organic. It was wet with condensed mist seeping down into cracks I could barely feel.
I continued. Nothing happened for ages, until I heard a sound. A steady, even sound splashing in the distance. A sound that I identified immediately, even though I hadn’t heard it for countless years. My pace quickened as I heard the rainfall from my childhood. Eventually, I saw it: a shimmering form breaking the opacity of the mist. The white fog gave way into more color, a sickeningly gray-brown earth extending beyond the horizon. It was entirely featureless. The rain fell unceasingly, causing faint wisps of smoke to emerge with each impact. I slowed my pace, until I felt a thick pane of glass in front of me, barring my progress. It bore no seams or faults. There was no way in or out. Its only peculiarity was a plaque etched in the glass. It said, in large, plain text,
“The City is all that is left. There is nothing else. Turn back now.”
The acid rain continued to fall on the remains of the world.