When the Skies Cry

“I’m going to slap him silly, when I get my hands on him,” the young traveler said, as he slogged along the muddy road.

It was raining, and the wind was blowing bamboo leaves in swirling patterns along the roadway, as the trees and scrubby plants that lined the sides waved and groaned and creaked in the grip of those chilly gusts.

His name was Raivar, and he did his best not to spatter mud on the hem of his cream-colored Yukata. It was girded at the waist by a black obi, and there was a purple jacket with strange and interesting designs in off-white that he had clasped over one shoulder. He wore a wide brimmed hat that was almost midnight black, that kept his shoulder-length mass of brown hair relatively dry.

The rain and wind were challenging the hat’s right to remain on his head, and still keep him anything resembling dry. He carried an ornate, antique metal pipe, with a little chain attached, that helped him keep a hold on the slick metal appliance. It glittered wetly, as did his black lacquered nails, as he glanced down to make sure his chilled fingers had not dropped it.

He glanced around the rural setting, and all he could see was the mist rising around in the deepening evening, shrouding the features of the road, and the surrounding countryside in a gray haze. A shiver passed over his body, as he could feel the fog trying to seep into his clothing and chill his skin. His nipples went hard as another chill wind gusted against him, and puffed out the hem of his robe, sending it flowing around his ankles, and the rain spattering its way against his frame, all the way up to his cheek and the slight V revealed of his chest.

“I mean it, I’m going to slap that boy silly,” Raivar grumbled again, as he raised his pipe to his lips, and absently inhaled through the end. No smoke came out, as the pipe wasn’t lit, but it was something to do with his hands.  

The object of Raivar’s ire was nowhere in sight. And that object would be his brother Tothar, who had not shown up at the community auditorium when he was supposed to be. It was a long trudge out of town to the country home of their parents, and Tothar was supposed to pick Rai up. The older brother was doing what he always seemed to do when he was supposed to be somewhere – he was late or he forgot all-together, having diverted to some other activity or unsavory pleasure with his shallow and uncaring group of friends. 

Rai vowed to give Toth a sound kick in the keester for the trouble, and probably see if he could guilt the sibling into some act of contrition. After all, Rai had waited more than an hour in front of the darkened community center, before he finally gave up and began this squelching trudge in the wet, cold, mucky road, as the beginnings of a winter storm surged around him. It would likely turn everything to ice by the following morning. The temperature had already dropped from something you would have in early autumn, down to something in early throws of winter.

And it was just going to get worse.

Within a few minutes, however, the handsome faced boy stopped cursing his brother’s name, and recalled the performance he’d been part of that night, smiling at how his friends and companions on the stage had taken this quaint little play and turned it into something both current and entertaining.

The wind kept reminding him, however, of the worsening conditions, and as he rounded a curve in the road, it looked like the rain was starting to come down heavier, and the deepening evening was robbing the world of its color.

And that’s when he saw the car in the ditch. Its headlights were all wrong, pointed down and at an angle to the road, like it was suspended in mid-air by the mist, somehow. The roiling fog was ghosting around the sporty little red car, like it was trying surround and smother it, to cover up the accident, as if it were embarrassed to let it be seen.

Rai stopped for a moment and rubbed his eyes, blinked and rubbed them again, water dripping off the end of his hat. He started to walk, then jog, and then run towards the small sports car, which appeared to be half on its side, in the ditch beside the road. The headlights lanced against the fog and vegetation surrounding the front, and he could hear the swish-swash the wipers going back and forth on the windshield. The engine was silent.

There was a noise, however; There was the sound of moaning coming from inside.

Rai spang down the embankment to the side of the car, and landed beside one edge of the crimson colored car. The driver’s-side door was deeply dented in, like something had hit it, hard, from the side, and there was shattered safety glass fragments all over the place. Forgetting about everything, he tossed his hat to the side, and leapt up onto the side of the car, and peered down into the driver’s-side door window.

Looking inside the car, there he was – his brother. The slightly older boy looked a lot like Rai, except in this case, Toth had blood all over his face. There was blood on the leather seats, spattered with both the crimson vitae and rain water, and perhaps the remains of a spilled coffee cup. The side of his brother’s face was matted with blood and his long brown hair, so it was hard to see how injured the boy was. He didn’t appear conscious, and his hands were clenched at his stomach. Rai shouted at him several times, “HEY!! TOTH!! “ he beat at the door window but there was no response. Panic was trying to set in, as Rai’s shouts became more frantic.

He stopped himself, and looked at the sky for a moment, trying to calm his imagination from painting such a horrible picture in this low light. He was afraid his brother had his head bashed in, and he was dying in the car. He cried out in frustration anguish, and started to pant, as his frustration tried to send him into a panicked frenzy.

But a little voice sounded in his head.

**Now, child – get ahold of yourself. Panicking won’t help anything. Your brother is in trouble, but he’s not gone yet. Get him out of that car and away from there. I’ll call for help.**

Rai blinked and gulped. He wiped his sleeve across his eyes and found he was clutching the antique pipe in one hand. He stuffed it into his pocket on the inside of the robe, and shook his head, looking back and forth. “Grandmother? “ he said as he looked around, wondering where the old matriarch was, to have sounded so close to his ear.

**No time to explain, Rai-Rai, just do what your grandmother says, and I’ll have help there soon. But you MUST get your brother out of that contraption, and away before it catches fire! Now get moving, pumpkin.. NOW**

He realized the voice was in his head, because, as he knew  – his grandmother had been dead for many years, and there was no one anywhere near to be seen, alive or otherwise.

Tothar groaned again, and snapped Rai’s attention into some kind of focus. His heart was pounding, and he gritted his teeth. “Got to do something.. Must.. be that grandmother’s memory is helping me? “ He muttered to himself, as he forced himself into action.

He wrestled to get the driver’s door open, and it just wouldn’t budge, with the way it was stove in. There was the sound of sparking wires or something, and he could almost hear the sound of a fire starting, the way you hear the pilot light igniting the fire in a gas furnace. There was a WHOOSH.. And he could smell smoke coming from the back of the car.

He hissed and shook his head, water flying from his hair, as he gripped the handle of the car door. He made sure he had a solid grip on the handle, and he pulled backwards. Nothing. He tried again.. And again, nothing.. He could see flames dancing at the back of the car and a sense of dread and fear came over him, and something happened at that moment. The pipe in his robe pocket began to glow super brightly. It was warm against his chest too, but it didn’t burn. It just seemed to have incandesced into a blue-white light that shone so intense, that Rai could see his own bones through his skin and clothing.

**Rai! You have to be strong- and I’m gonna help you.. So.. get to it boy.. Now, PULL! HARD as you can, Rai-Rai.. HARD! Save your BROTHER!**

Rai felt a surge as the light infused him and he felt.. Strong.. It was like something you saw in a comic book or a movie; he heaved again, and the car door came off its hinges with a sound of tearing metal and Rai flung the door away from the car like it was a child’s toy.

Then he reached in, without even thinking about it, yanked the steering wheel out,with a metallic cracking. It had been pressing in against his brother’s hip at a odd angle, trapping him, and he flung that aside too. Then he ripped the safety belt like it was tissue paper. He gripped Tothar under his arm and lifted him out with a gentle tug, the boy groaning and moaning in pain and confusion. He hefted his brother into both arms, and then he heard something – some danger sound, like the spraying of gasoline from a just ruptured tube or tank, and he leaped with Toth, as hard and far as he could.

Moments later, as he landed about 30 yard away from the vehicle up on the road, there was a loud explosion from the car, and fragments of the vehicle blew up and around it into the air, and then started to litter down around the two brothers. Rai was kneeling over Toth on the black top, shielding his brother with his body. The nimbus of the blue-white light seemed to protect them, like a shield, as the last of the debris fell. Rai looked back, and the entire remains of the car was in flames.

**Well done boy. Help is on the way. It’ll get there as fast as it can. Just keep your brother warm, and it’ll all be ok. I have to go now.**

“But Grandma! Don’t go!” Rai gasped, blinking rain out of his eyes. The sudden declaration scared him, like he was going to be left alone. But there wasn’t a reply to his plea. And the blue light from the pipe slowly faded, until it was just a regular pipe again. The rain kept crying down around the pair, as Toth groaned and moaned softly on the wet pavement.

There was just the wail of a siren in the distance and flashing lights heralding the approach of an emergency vehicle in the distance – perhaps an ambulance.

The rain got heavier, and it began washing the blood from his brother’s face. Rai tried to make him more comfortable on the pavement, and tried to examine him, brushing his blood-matted hair out of his face. He could see there was a nasty gash on the young man’s forehead, and bruising starting to turn his brother’s eye black and yellow and purple, but he couldn’t see any other obvious wounds. He’d have to open his shirt to check his brother’s belly for wounds, but there weren’t any tears in the fabric, and no evidence of being cut or impaled below his chest.

“Wha.. what.. Happened.. “ Tothar said in a weak, slurred voice.

“Just another Saturday night at the theatre,” Rai muttered in reply, astounded that his brother had actually seemed to regain consciousness. There was the sound of far off laughter, that seemed to stir his brother, and sent a little thrill down his own spine.

That had been the chortle of his grandmother.

Rai realized that the pipe had been hers, all those years before. Somehow he’d wound up in possession of it. It had been something she’d always carried with her. And now he realized, that somehow, it connected her spirit to his. Or so he speculated.

“S-s-sorry for .. being.. l-late.. lil brother,” Toth whispered, as he opened his right eye, the left being swollen shut. The green glittered like jade in the low light.

As the ambulance slowed and the EMTs rushed out of their vehicle, dressed in their dark blue uniforms and grabbing their emergency kits, Rai looked down at his brother and said, “It’s going to be all right. We’ll just be a little late getting home tonight.“


Story by: Dehrynn Shepherd

Hair- .Shi : Discorded (Shiny Shabby)

Kimono- ::GB::Mens kimono 2017 (Japonica)
Hat- {-Maru Kado-} Suge Gasa (Japonica)
Pipe- [CX] Kiseru Ryuu (Store)

Mist, Rain, & Leaves- {anc} mist cloud, bambooRain, & drizzle (Store)

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