Storytime: The Rain Room.

January 17th, 2018

There was a man who almost had everything.

He was almost the richest person of all.
He was almost the most famous person of all.
He was almost – ALMOST almost, but not quite – the meanest person of all. But not quite.
And his most famous, treasured, and coveted almost was his house, his mansion, his tower, his eyesore, which had almost a thousand rooms. Nine-hundred and ninety-nine rooms. Of almost every kind you could ever imagine.
He had a stone room, where every surface was cold and sun-warmed and gray and red and sandy and sooty and solid as eternity.
He had a wood room, with paneling, and floorboards, and rafters, and branches, and roots.
He had a song room, whose walls were speakers and whose roof was scrolling sheet music and whose walls were insulated triple-thick.
He even had a sun room, where ten hundred hundred gems reflected and trapped and cajoled the light from dozens of windows, keeping it aglow no matter what the hour.
But there was one room that was missing, one room that wasn’t there.
He didn’t have a rain room.

Almost anyone else would’ve decided nine-hundred and ninety-nine rooms was enough. Certainly enough for one person. Especially enough for one person who only ever slept in one room and did business in another three or four ninety-nine days of a hundred. But not this man. His house had been under construction for decades, his hair had turned grey and fallen out, his teeth were loose and yellow, and his eyes were watering. He almost knew exactly what people thought of him, and it made him half-mad to think of what they’d say when he was gone.
No, he had to have one thing wholly. He had to have his house complete. He had to have his rain room.

He asked sages, scientists, philosophers, pundits, and plesiosaurs.
“You can’t put rain in a room,” they told him. “It’s the most fickle and fluid of all things. If you let it stand, it’s a puddle. If you let it flow, it’s a stream. If you let it boil, it’s vapor. It’s out of everyone’s grasp and yours too.”
The man cursed them all roundly and threw them out of his nine-hundred and ninety-nine room house, where he spent the night trying to think and falling asleep, in that eerie zone where an hour is a second and a minute lasts five months. It’s a strange place to be in. Things can find you there. Like you.
Whatever it was that bumped him in the night, it left a mark. The man woke up sore-backed, stiff-necked, and bright-eyed. A spark had found him, and it leapt into his fingers, his keyboard, his commands.
People with iron rods and beards were set to work. People with sunglasses and carefully-chosen suits were told to walk. Money moved soundlessly under the world like a fat-bellied, dainty-toed rat.
Construction resumed on the man’s home for the first time in twenty years. Some of the blueprints hurt your eyes, some of them hurt your head, and all of them made a little knot twist behind your backbone, like something invisible and important was being pinched, or maybe filched.
But enough money can make someone do almost anything.

On May 23rd – a Thursday – the rain stopped.
It was in the sky, and then POP it was gone and the sky was empty. Bleeding a little, but empty.
It didn’t actually go POP but it looked like it should have.
When the sky went POP, the man was standing in his home, in his thousandth room, and he was waiting. He’d been waiting for hours. If he hadn’t fallen asleep ten minutes ago, he would’ve been able to see the first drops fall, as opposed to feeling them run down his nose. It made him cough and run down the hall for a tissue.

/In the rain room there are ten trillion droplets a thousand thunderheads and one billion gentle showers. There is nothing underfoot but ripples and there is nothing overhead but grey./

It didn’t take long for somebody to panic, and that’s the sort of mood that always attracts hanger-ons. People need crops. Mists. Clouds. Downpours. They’re the bread and butter of a good sky.
So the people came to the thousand-room house of the man, and they asked, demanded, begged, and requested that they receive rain, that they see rain, that maybe one person shouldn’t have all the rain in the world in one room.
And the man answered their pleas with the carefully-chosen proverb, aphorism, koan and keystone of the oldest philosophy of all, which was “I don’t care about you.”

/In the rain room there are places where you can wait and fill yourself up again. Stand there and let the cold and warm and wet beat into you and slide through the skin and sluice the sludge out of every vein and let it run clean and calm again./

In the weeks that followed, the world did a lot of things. It strained seawater, filled bathtubs, drained reservoirs, and a lot of other things. It almost did a lot of other things too.
The man didn’t notice any of it. He was too busy walking through his house, his thousand-room house. Opening every door. Checking every room. Some of them hadn’t seen anything but cleaning staff since he was a young man. It was very peculiar for him to have something, instead of almost having something, but he didn’t feel any different at all. That made him a little nervous.
He was saving his rain room for last. In case that helped.

/In the rain room there are no taps or faucets. Nothing can be turned off or closed. Open-ended only./

On the first of June – a Saturday – the man dressed himself in a waterproof grey coat. He picked up a black, ivory-hilted umbrella. He put on rubber boots.
And then the man stepped into the rain room, which was bigger than he expected. And damper, too. He sneezed.
He looked around in every direction he could name, and he heard the endless pit-a-pat and felt it on his clothing.
“Dull,” he said. And he reached for the doorknob.
It wasn’t there. This is the sort of thing that happens when you try to fit a closed system in a close space.
The man shouted for a bit, but the rain drowned him out.

/In the rain room there is no talk of chance. There is no risk. It is, and it is, and it continues to is. No tenses permitted beyond the present./
For a while the rest of the world looked pretty dire, and it almost seemed like things were going to get bad. The rain was wedged pretty tight into that house, and it wasn’t coming out.
Then the obvious solution presented itself: why not bring the world in after it?
It took a lot of shovels, and a lot of boxes, but by August 4th – a Sunday – the world had moved in to the Rain Room, and the rainwater puddled and streamed and vaporized as it should again, where it should again, when it should again.

The rest of the house fell down but almost nobody noticed.

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