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Some people open their umbrellas, run for cover, or turn up their coat collars, but I don’t understand them. I mean, when the sky turns grey, when you feel the milk-haze clouds will suffocate you… the rain’s touch the only thing that the world has to give… what are they hiding for? My clothes are plastered to me, I think I’m shivering, my feet are squelching in the frigid ponds my shoes have become, yet, is this not life? Maybe life is just a whole lot of rain, and soggy shoes, and I’m the only one embracing it. I tugged off my sweater and let it drag on the asphalt as I strolled to no place in particular. I think I might have wandered onto the road, for a passing Chevy honked obnoxiously and swerved. “You do not belong here!” it seemed to scream at me. Well, it’s wrong. It does not belong here. A whole pile of metal that someone had the insanity to start moving. Now it’s telling people to get out of the way? And besides, I figured, as I lifted my sodden sweater to my eyes, what kind of road is this, that dragging a sweater along it will not make it muddy? No, it only smells bad, now, I decided. Like gasoline and wet dog. Like those ridiculous poodles that the rich ladies with nothing better to do, dress in clothing much better than what most people could ever afford.
I looked up when I became aware of a slight shaking. Earthquake? No, the buildings weren’t shaking; I was. Wait… yes they were… no, they’re just getting darker. Like everything else. Because I don’t see the sun; do you? I felt really warm now, as though I had a little radiator under my skin. Maybe I am so hot now, that the raindrops are sizzling when they hit me. Like on a skillet. Or the sun. The sun’s pretty hot, no? What if… it rained on the sun? The droplets would be sizzling right in the clouds. Would the clouds… be hot? Red hot… or maybe …black…
I know I woke when I felt the feverish heat gone. I was cocooned in a swath of flower-print blankets and sheets. I propped myself up on one elbow and looked around. The periwinkle walls were hung with paintings and photographs with relative good taste. Except the bright gloss of the photos bothered me. Shiny like a forehead with the sheen of sweat. I let my eyes slide to the left, where on a bedside table, a digital clock glared uncompromisingly at me with its rigid visage. To my right, a chair. On the chair, a woman. As if sensing my curious stare, she started from her sleep with a cry of joy. “Edgar! My love!” She rushed to embrace me. “You had me so worried,” she gushed, her mousy locks bobbing up and down slightly. “Your fever was simply frightful; you were quite delusional and constantly muttering something.” She paused for a breath, and I took my chance. “I am afraid I do not understand you,” I said softly, retreating from her.
“Oh, dearest, I was so afraid too,” she continued, evidently hearing only half of what I had said, “So afraid that I would lose you. You left without any warning; gone for the whole day. What were you thinking, wandering around the whole day in the rain, like that?” she scolded.
“Madam,” I raised my voice slightly, “I do not understand you.”
Her eyes widened slightly and her smile shrank to a small pleading gesture. “Madam?” she repeated, “Madam? No, Edgar, I’m Amy. Please don’t play around with me like that. My nerves have taken enough already.”
“Please receive my apologies for troubling you. I’ll be going on my way, now.” I swung my legs off the bed and scrutinized the room for any signs of my clothing. “Edgar, please,” she wrung her hands, “Don’t talk to me like a stranger. What did I do?”
What did that woman want from me? “Amy… is it? This is the first time I have seen you, and it was kind of you to take me in, but I do not know you; you do not know me. You must have mistaken me for someone else.” I tried to sound diplomatic, feeling my pulse begin to race despite my careful composure.
“I could never mistake you!” she exclaimed, “How could I not know the man I will marry in two days?” She clutched at me, anchoring me down. Marriage? Marriage indeed. More like espionage. A secret organization. And she is in on the plot. Does she really think I don’t see her ring? It’s one of those that opens; the ones that hold poison in the "gemstone". I know it. But I am smarter. And I won’t let her kill me.
“Let go of me, woman!” I shouted, desperate to make my getaway.
Her eyes widened and her face went lax, as though a child whose favorite toy had been cruelly broken. “Edgar…” she whimpered, “What’s wrong with you? You never raised your voice at me before.” Her grip seemed vice-like, hands like claws. If she did not succeed in poisoning me, those claws will tear through my throat. I jerked away from her, and succeeded in breaking her grip. “Edgar, please,” she wailed, clasping her hands under her chin.
“I am not Edgar, woman; I am King Louis XVI!” I proclaimed, for I could not hide any longer. “You shall never kill me! Down with you! Down with Napoleon!” I rushed for the door, burning with a need to make myself heard to all.
“No, Edgar,” she protested, throwing herself in my way, “Please, sit. Oh, dear, you are insane.” Tears flowed freely down her cheeks, but her show of feeble sorrow could not fool me.
“Out of the way!” I bellowed, “You think I do not see who you really are? Conspirator, you are in league with that man. But I will not let you enslave the poor and murder the innocent!” On sudden impulse, I seized her by the arm. “Where is he? Speak, woman. I shall challenge the fiend to a duel. A duel for freedom! A fight for good!”
“Please…p-p-please,” she stuttered through her sobs, “You need help, Edgar. You need help.” She reached for a black apparatus on the bureau and lifted it. What! A revolver? But how oddly shaped. ‘Tis a dangerous weapon, for sure. I must flee. Yet she did not fire, she spoke into it, strange words, she spoke by and by. “Thou dost not know who thou fightest!” I exclaimed. Her only response was a panicked shouting into the instrument, “Please, please, my fiancé, I don’t know what’s wrong with him… Help… Crazy…” Half the words she spoke were no more than codswallop, yet, not five minutes since she ceased her words, an unworldly sound came rushing from yonder. “Let me through,” I pushed against her, but she obstinately shook her head and bit her lip. “Dost thou think me a ninny?” I cried, and flung her to the side. She shrieked a strange ejaculation, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw her start after me. No matter! A king must be valiant, and so I rushed out and upon seeing stairs, I flew up them. I heard the thumping of many feet below me, and looked down. They were coming for me. Those creatures in white attire. “Please stop,” a voice called “We want to help you!”
No matter, they shall not deceive me. The stairs ended abruptly, and a black trapdoor made its appearance. I wrenched it open, and pulled myself up. I could see all; the world became a map upon my hand. I looked, and did not like. For here, so high, on the top of the building, the sky was not blue, the ground not green. Upon hearing the trap door groan, I knew I did not have much time. “Edgar!” a woman’s voice shouted. So close to the edge now. I turned, and saw the figures spill out from beneath, her face among them. I stepped back…