By Michael S. Collins
I followed the course of the deluge. I stood at the start of it all, at the start of the river. At the start of time. Shanties on either side. The poor, hands in the air, in delight, exaltation, ecstatic enjoyment of the drops of rain coming crashing from the sky. Every second, more. The sky is. A monsoon arrived.
I stood watching it all. The wet drips settling on my skin. Every single fabric of the moment. The children dancing, excited. I took a step backwards. The features stayed as they were for that singular moment, before starting to melt before my eyes. The rain continued to come down as the river also came flowing down. I took another step backwards.
The features were moving further back. In and out of the picture. In and out of the frame I had in my mind. My eyes were looking at the world like a portrait. I could only see what was in front of me. I took another step backwards.
The deluge continued. It was alive with the textures of rivers and oceans and the rippling of everything in time coming towards me. I took another step backwards.
And was hit with the realisation of the situation ahead, of the realisation that time was flowing. That I was a passenger in it. That I was not merely walking along the side of the river, walking backwards to where the deluge started, past the shanties and children. I was a traveller in time, walking along the eons of eternity. The leases of nevermore. Watching history in reverse. I was travelling into the birth of the deluge.
Away I passed, backwards steps. Across the grassy plains. The rain kept falling down. There was a dip in the road. A tipped over cart. People milled around the cart, beggars crying. There’d been a death. I didn’t look forwards to it. Just kept going. Backwards, backwards, backwards.
The rain kept throwing down. I could feel time tearing at my skin. Drenching me. Keeping me alive. Backwards.
I didn’t recognise the area I was in. It was sometime and someplace, somewhere and somehow. It was nothing that I knew. I had no idea where I was. And still the rain kept on falling as I kept on walking backwards.
Backwards to where it all began, at the time of the Great Deluge. And the rain kept falling. And yet it never rose. The river levels never rose. The puddles never grew. It just kept on raining. Rain, beating down on the ground. Into the past I kept walking. Backwards.
The kids were melting. Out of focus, out of composure, out of existence. Out of reality. As slowly they continued to melt. And slowly, existence continued to roll back as I walked backwards into the void. And found myself at the birth of the deluge.
Passing down the street. I recognised the street! As I walked past, I recognised them all. I recognised the streets in their innocence. It was Sauchiehall Street. I recognised this place. I was home. I was home in Glasgow. Home, after all this time! Home! After all these places and all those events, after all that I had seen and done, after everything that I had been, and every place I had known, and every woman I had loved, and every great time I had hoped for, and every wish that I had seen, and every gift I had squandered and every person I have seen die in squalor and misery and for lack of charity, and every injustice I have encountered and fought, and every insubordination that I had seen: I was home.
And the rain had stopped. I turned to a Big Issue seller, standing by my side.
“Any spare change, mate?” he said.
I bought the Issue, and gave him a tip.
Drops of rain began to fall from the sky.
On my head. The start of it all.
“Ah, that’ll be the rain coming” said the seller.
“I know”, I said. “It’s had a hell of a journey to get here.”
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My name is Michael S Collins and I am a member of GSFWC (the Glasgow Strange-Fiction Writers Circle). I have been published in several countries (including Literature E-zine websites, ad writing for Bob Furnell) and do book review for magazines such as The Fortean Times. My short fiction has appeared in magazines such as Aesthetica, Clockwise Cat, The Short Humour Site, MicroHorror, TBD, and was included in the DemonMinds anthology in 2008.
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