After taking a hot shower and getting properly dressed in a comfortable pair of gym shorts and a clean, unwrinkled, red t-shirt, Joseph was ready to head out into the world with Marko to discover what they could about the rain.
“You ready, Marko?” Joseph asked as he came running down the stairs to their shared living room. Marko looked up to him from the leather sofa and nodded. He then stood up and began to walk out the door with Joseph behind him.
“Yep. Where do you want to go first?” Marko responded as the two stepped outside, nearly blinded by the sudden burst of vibrant sunlight. The windows inside their home were always shaded by their curtains at this point in the summer, as the daytime sun was incredibly cumbersome for a few of the residents to deal with.
Joseph shielded his eyes and cringed as he looked out into the neighborhood around them, studying the light reflecting brightly off the cement sidewalks and back into his eyes.
“Holly and Joan are probably headed straight to the library,” he said as he began to think carefully about Marko’s question. “So maybe we shouldn’t go there. We’re likely to come up on similar information if we do that which may not be incredibly useful for our time,” he explained as the two of them began aimlessly traversing the neighborhood.
At about 4 pm, Treetop Hill was fairly lively for a small town. There was a college just on the outskirts of the town that Joseph and his friends all attended. They shared the house they lived in, paying equal shares of rent and utilities every month.
“I see what you’re saying,” Marko said with a rhythmic nod and a smirk. “You don’t want them getting in the way of our research. I see now.” He smiled and looked at Joseph with a goofy grin.
“That’s not exaaaactly it,” Joseph responded, knowing well that Marko was only joking, but Joseph wanted to be serious about the matter, so he got back on to his train of thought. “I just think that we could possibly find out more if we ask a professor at the college. I’m thinking we can go to the religion department and see if anyone is still there that we can talk to.”
“Huh. Hadn’t thought of that,” Marko said, nodding his head once again. “You’re a smart guy, Joseph. I’m jealous.” The two of them began to walk in the direction of the college as they had decided this was their new destination. The college wasn’t very far from their home as they all generally walked there each day during the normal school year.
“I try sometimes. I’m definitely not as smart as Enrique though. That kid is a genius,” Joseph said, looking around at the neighborhood as they walked. There were plenty of cars driving up and down the street and small children playing games along the sidewalks. Joseph noticed a particular group of kids that were drawing strange pictures on the ground with white and red chalk.
Marko noticed them too and they both began to watch them curiously as they walked by. From what they could tell, it looked like the kids were using the red chalk to draw some red creatures with wings, horns, and a tail. Then, it appeared that the white chalk was being used to draw an angelic creature that also had wings and was vanquishing the red creature.
The two of them decided to stop once they understood the bigger picture. Absolutely perplexed, Joseph had to say something to them.
“Hey guys,” he addressed them cheerfully, trying to quickly gain their trust. “What are you drawing? It looks really cool!” He exclaimed with a bright smile and a forced tone of excitement.
“It’s the devil being defeated by an angel!” A small girl around seven years old shouted happily with her tiny white teeth sparkling in the dazzling summer sun shining. This made Joseph even more curious, and he thought of more questions he could ask them. In total, there was three little kids drawing these same pictures.
“What made you want to draw pictures like this?” He got down on one knee to be eye level with the little girl and pointed to the picture of the devil.
“Mommy told me that one day the devil would come, and an angel would have to fight him!” She said with an adorable giggle, standing up to her feet quickly with her long pigtails fluttering on her shoulders.
“Oh! Does she tell you this story a lot?” Joseph asked with a newly peaked curiosity.
“Hmm,” she began to think to herself, but the other kids continued to draw in silence, seemingly uninterested in the conversation they were having. “Well mommy talks about it sometimes with daddy and we just listen,” she explained with a bit of uncertainty in her tone.
“Is mommy home right now? Can I talk to her?” Joseph looked over to the house closest to them, assuming it must be theirs and then looked back at the girl who was nodding her head with her long blonde pigtails bouncing up and down.
“Okay! Take me to her then!” Joseph exclaimed and she shouted a hearty “okay!” as she began to skip playfully to their door. Marko and Enrique followed after her from a short distance, noticing a woman looking out of her window watching them.
The little girl opened the door and shouted “Mommy! Some boys want to talk to you!” in just a few short moments, the woman that was watching through the window appeared at the door. The little girl backed up and ran back to her siblings.
Now standing in the doorway, the woman appeared to be about forty years old with frizzy brown hair that was a bit of a mess and peering brown eyes.
“I don’t want whatever you’re selling and I’m Catholic. So, if you’re looking to convert me to Mormonism, I ain’t interested,” she seemed a bit irritated, but she couldn’t be blamed. Solicitors were very common at this point in June and it wasn’t hard to mistake sudden visitors as them.
“No ma’am,” Joseph assured her quickly with nervousness beginning to settle into him. His voice started to shake, showing his inherent social anxiety. “We noticed your kids drawing demons and angels on the sidewalk and we were interested in finding out why that might be?”
“Why didn’t you just ask Alyssa? That girl will talk your ear off if you let her,” her slight country accent began to show itself as she quickly calmed down from the initial engagement.
“We did actually,” Marko responded quickly. “But, she said it’s because you and her dad have been talking about it, and that’s what we’re really interested in.” The woman sighed lightly and gestured for us to come inside.
“If y’all are really interested, I’d rather you be comfortable while I babble my mouth on and on,” she said as we hesitantly walked inside, immediately feeling a cool blast of air conditioning that almost dried my sweat on contact
Joseph and Marko walked in further into the house and she gestured for then to have a seat on her couch. They sat down next to each other and she sat across from them on a loveseat with a small glass table between them.
“It’s because of that damned rain,” she explained with worry plastered on her face. She then took a sip of water that she had already sitting on the table and made a gesture asking if the boys wanted any. The two of them shook their heads and fixed their attention back on her.
“What about the rain?” Joseph asked intently, listening carefully to her response.
She took a moment to continue drinking her water and sat it down, sighing lightly beneath her breath. “I heard about that rain from my own mama. She predicted it, in fact. She used to tell me all the time that the devil will come and the rain will come and we were all gonna’ die. People thought that woman was crazy. Me too, in fact. But that crazy old woman was right.” She seemed distraught while explaining and the new mood offset Joseph’s overall feelings towards their current situation.
“Your mom knew about the rain way before it even happened?” Joseph asked with pure shock in his voice. He leaned forward, gaping with his eyes narrowed intensely on the woman’s face.
“Yeah. She knew alright. She ain’t know all the details but she kept saying, ‘The rain will come. The rain will come.’ I used to call her a crazy bitch. Now look at me — telling the same things to my little girls and boys.” She looked out the window from her seat, watching her kids continue to draw on the sidewalk.
“How did your mom know about the rain and what did she think it meant?” Marko asked as equally dumbfounded as Joseph.
“I don’t know how she knew. She just kept sayin’ it. But, she did say it meant the end of the world unless the devil is defeated by an angel. So everyday I just pray to God that everything gone be alright.” She sat back in her seat and surveyed our serious expressions.
Joseph and Marko didn’t have anything else to ask her as they realized they weren’t going to get any more useful information. The story of the devil rising then being vanquished by an angel was just the story of the rapture, and they weren’t particularly interested in that jargon. However, the very interesting takeaway was that this woman’s mother knew about the rain years before it happened.
“Thank you so much for your time, ma’am,” Marko said dismissively as they both stood to their feet and gestured towards the door.
“Y’all keep prayin’ now.” She said with a serious look on her face, making them stop all motion. “Don’t lose faith. Jesus will keep you safe from harm.”
They nodded politely and walked out the door, walking up to the kids once again. They looked at their updated drawing and noticed that the red chalk had been used to draw what looked like rain. And in the devil’s arms were small children being held.
“Umm,” Joseph mumbled before regaining his thoughts. “Thank you, Alyssa. Thanks a lot,” he said awkwardly, feeling uneasy about the updated drawings.
“You’re welcome!” She exclaimed happily. Her attitude towards this situation was even more unsettling for Joseph as it appeared that she was drawing herself in the arms of the devil, and it now appeared that possibly the devil was vanquishing the angel. What was even more strange was that the angel now had red drawn all over it and around it like a shroud of fire. The devil was now covered in a white shroud that appeared as though it was protecting the small child in its arms.
“Is that you in the devil’s arms?” Joseph asked softly, staring closely at the drawings and studying them in his mind. Marko even took the next step in taking a picture of the drawings.
“Well,” she paused. “That’s not the devil. He’s the angel, but he looks like the devil on the outside and he’s protecting me. The one that looks like an angel is really the devil because the devil tricks you into seeing the wrong thing,” she explained in a slightly confusing way, but for a girl about seven years old, Joseph couldn’t really ask for better.
They took in that information carefully as it still left them incredibly curious, but there was little that they could do to fully understand the picture which was also perplexing because that implied that kids’ drawings had a level of complexity that the two college students couldn’t quite fathom.
“Thank you again, Alyssa,” Joseph said as he and Marko began to walk away. But, before they could get away, one of the little boys grabbed Joseph’s wrist, alarming him suddenly.
“While you were talking to mama, I drew this for you,” he said as he handed Joseph a drawing of something that was incredibly difficult to make out. Joseph then looked over to where the little kid was sitting and noticed that he had been drawing on paper with colored pencils this entire time and there were several equally strange drawings.
“What is it?” Joseph asked completely confused. He raised his eyebrows at the picture and studied it the best he could.
“It’s a picture of you.” Joseph was stunned as the picture appeared to look nothing like him, and this boy had to be at least ten years old, so he should have at least been able to draw something that looked almost like him.
The major confliction Joseph was having was that he appeared as two people. The two people were connected by a black shadowy mist that covered most of the details of their body and legs. The left face was facing the left side of the page and it appeared to kind of resemble him as it had his short black curly hair, green eyes and lightly tanned skin. The right face was facing the right side and it appeared to have redish-brown skin with even more black mist covering it. Its eyes were this very strange orange color without a pupil. It had two sharp white horns sticking out from above its ears and a single large red and black wing protruding from that side. It was as tall as the person in the picture.
“Oh. Thank you,” Joseph said hesitantly as the kid hurried back to his spot with his siblings.
Joseph and Marko walked away awkwardly in silence, feeling incredibly unsettled about the prior situation. They continue to walk, studying the picture they were given by the young boy and pondering the overall encounter.
“Okay. What the hell was that?” Joseph exclaimed as they got far enough away from the kids so they wouldn’t hear them.
“I don’t know, man,” Marko responded with a slight quiver in his voice and a head shake. “Those little kids freaked me out a little bit. Like what the hell did he mean that this is a drawing of you?” Marko began to sound angrier rather than confused.
“I have no idea. A part of me wishes we hadn’t stopped to talk to them because that whole situation was incredibly unsettling.”
“Right, but at least we got some information?” Marko seemed uncertain as to whether the information they gathered could even be considered useful.
“Kind of,” Joseph responded, thinking hard about all the information they gathered. “The only thing I don’t find very useful in developing our theory is the part about Jesus. I’m Jewish, man,” he joked and the two of them chuckled softly.
“But seriously though. What can we take away from this?” Marko asked, staring at Joseph who had his eyes and attention focused on the path ahead of them as they were coming up to a busy street across from their campus.
“I think that there’s something weird going on with those kids. I think they’re acting on something beyond what their mother told them. That drawing of me had nothing to do with anything their mother said or anything I believe she would have taught them about. That concept he drew has nothing to do with Catholicism, so I have no reason to assume she would have taught him that.” Joseph spoke with more confidence, thinking critically about the encounter.
Before Marko could respond, their conversation was interrupted by the walk sign allowing them to cross over the busy street onto their campus. Joseph and Marko acknowledged the cars as they passed through the crosswalk, giving them a second to take their minds off this mentally taxing dilemma.
“So, you think that maybe these kids are crazy like their grandma?” Marko asked, implying that they may know information beyond what they should.
“Maybe,” Joseph responded, continuing to ponder the information. “I don’t think all of them are, but I definitely think that the boy that drew the picture might be. Everything about him was so chilling – the way he said ‘it’s a picture of you,’ the way he looked at me when giving me the drawing, and I almost feel like he never even saw us when we first came up to them. That’s what really shocked me more than anything, and my first response was that it can’t possibly look like me because he never saw what I looked like.”
“You’re right!” Marko exclaimed. “He never did look at you. Not once when we first came up because I was watching him draw that picture of ‘you.’ He had already started it before we even got there, and that made me even more confused when he said that it was a picture of you.”
“He STARTED it before we got there?” Joseph exclaimed purely in shock.
“Yeah. I believe so. At the very least, he had the outline of two people drawn out already.” The two students approached their destination, an old-looking three-story building built generally in the shape of a chapel.
“Well whatever. Let’s see if anyone here can help us out.” Marko agreed and the two walked into the building quickly and headed down the halls towards the section of the building with the most professors’ offices
When they got to this section, they surveyed the rooms and room numbers, looking for any office with an open door. The room ‘147’ was wide open with the light on.
Joseph looked at the name on the room, “Dr. Kilmer.” He had never met him before and assumed it would be an awkward encounter but decided to continue with the plan and casually knocked on the open door.
Dr. Kilmer looked up quickly with a confused expression on his face. His glasses dropped down slightly and he immediately fixed them as he studied the faces on the two seemingly lost students looking down at him.
“Yes? How can I help you?” He asked hesitantly, still astonished that he was getting student visitors at this point in the summer.
“My name is Joseph, and this is Marko,” Joseph introduced them, and the professor nodded his head with a slight smile. “First of all, we were wondering what you teach here?” He asked, looking around the fairly empty room for a clue but came up short.
“I don’t teach here yet. This upcoming semester will be my first and I will be teaching a few religion courses and a mythology course. Why do you ask?” He still seemed a bit puzzled and waited patiently for a response.
The two students sat down across from him in the two available seats and awkwardly looked at each other while trying to figure out how to continue this already strange conversation.
“Well we were wondering…” Marko paused and looked over at Joseph who briefly shrugged his shoulder, taking Dr. Kilmer’s attention away for a swift second.
“We were wondering,” Marko continued, “If you knew anything or thought anything about The Devil’s Rain.”
“Oh,” the bald old man with a dangerously receded hairline laughed softly, making Joseph and Marko considerably confused. “My apologies,” he continued, “I do know of the rain, but I don’t know much about it. All I could possibly tell you are stories and legends, and that is not very scientific.” The man explained, sounding a bit disappointed as he felt that he genuinely couldn’t help them in their research.
“Well that’s exactly what we’re interested in!” Joseph spouted with his green eyes lit and a large smile on his face.
“So, you want to know about the not-so concrete information? Well, I have plenty of that. Are you looking for any specific lore or legend?” Joseph and Marko looked at each other and shrugged. They hadn’t really considered that question and thought of something to say on the spot.
“How about you start with telling us what you personally believe is the cause for the rain?” Marko answered, and the two fixed their attention on them intensely.
The old man nodded his head and reached into his drawer and pulled out a very thick hard cover book that nearly resembled a bible of some kind.
“This is a book that I use to personally record interesting myths and legends that I hear people discuss and talk about in the current world around us. There are myths dating back to mid-1800s and more recent one’s such as The Jersey Devil, Slender Man, Resurrection Mary, the vanishing hitchhiker. That’s one of my favorites.” He explained with a smile on his face. It was incredibly easy to tell that Dr. Kilmer took a lot of pride in his myth collection and loved the hobby dearly.
“So, you’re gonna show us what you have on The Devil’s Rain then?” Joseph asked, seeming a bit impatient as excitement began to rush up inside of him. He looked closely at the book as the professor nodded his head and began sifting through the pages, looking for the recordings of the rain.
“I keep them in order by date in which I’ve encountered them in my own history which means The Devil’s Rain should be a fairly recent entry.” He continued to sift through his pages and came to a sudden stop and smiled. “Ah! This is it. Let’s see what we got on the rain.”
The professor began to mumble to himself as he was reading off information that he didn’t consider to be particularly interesting for the guests. The two students assumed he must be skipping information that he was certain they already knew.
After about 10 seconds of looking through his notes, he started to read something that he knew the boys would want to know.
“So, I wrote down my first personal experience with the rain. It reads, ‘June 17th 2023 approximately 2:15am. This hellish rain came out of nowhere. I don’t know why I was up at 2 in the morning, but I guess I drank too much coffee while filling out paperwork. At first, I thought I was just seeing things and the late-night exhaustion was just getting to my brain, but I had to take a closer look for myself. Blood red rain just didn’t make any sense. I then stepped outside to allow myself to get a first-person view of the rain and see if it really was red or if there was something weird in the sky making it look red. Sure enough, I was covered in what looked like splashes of strawberry Gatorade, and I nearly panicked, but tried my best to keep my composure. I had to be dreaming, I thought. But I could feel it, and I could hear every soft tap of rain against the ground and my body, and the smell was just too real. There was no way I was dreaming at that point, and I was in fact covered in red water. I stopped thinking about it in what I considered to be an irrational rain and just considered it a freak occurrence in nature and went to bed without giving it another thought.’”
Joseph and Marko seemed puzzled by the end of his story and stared at him with a cringe in their faces.
“Wait,” Marko said abruptly. “Your first encounter with the rain was exactly seven years ago today?” Joseph swiftly turned to Marko with a confused look on his face as that detail nearly slipped his wandering mind.
“Yes. Seven years ago today,” Dr. Kilmer responded with a blank expression, wondering why that piece of information stood out to him.
“Our first encounter was only three years ago,” Marko began to explain, and Joseph nodded his head. “We thought that the rain was only three years old and that it started here.” The professor began to shake his head in disagreement before responding.
“I used to teach at Yellowstone Christian College, but they didn’t pay me enough. Anyway, that’s where I first saw the rain seven years ago. And even before me, in a later entry, I wrote about how someone at the college came to me telling me that they saw the rain a month before I did at the actual Yellowstone park near the super volcano. That made me think that maybe the rain was being caused by the volcanoes somehow which made a lot of sense at the time, but once I started hearing about the rain in various places across the country, I knew that couldn’t possibly be it.”
“Seven years ago, huh?” Joseph spoke to himself, desperately trying to figure out how to put some of the pieces together. “We didn’t know that it was happening all over the country either, but if the first place was Yellowstone, we’re definitely going to want to investigate that further. And if the volcanoes can’t be the answer, what conclusion are you now considering then?”
“Maybe it’s the rapture. Maybe it’s some kind of Native American revenge curse that they put on this land. Perhaps it’s even extraterrestrials trying to communicate with us. Honestly, I have yet to draw a logical conclusion. But listen, I’ll keep filling out this journal, and I want you two to come back to me whenever you can with whatever information you find. We’ll find a logical conclusion with some dedicated research.” Dr. Kilmer began to write something down on a sheet of paper and then handed it to Marko. “This is my personal cell phone. Feel free to call or text me anytime with either information or a request to meet up in my office and discuss. I am really interested in discovering the cause—just as you two are. So please do not hesitate and keep me informed!”
The two nodded their heads, starting to feel a sense of pride in their work and appreciation from the old man. They hadn’t truly thought that this mystery would turn into a real project that got other curious people genuinely involved, but this was now the reality of the situation.
“Absolutely! We’ll definitely keep in touch. Thank you so much for your time and everything!” Joseph exclaimed and the professor reached out to shake both of their hands and waved to them as they left the room with a hearty smile.
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