The rain splatters on the window of my bathroom, and sends a shiver down my spine.
It's here earlier than I thought.
I dry myself off and get dressed. I consider not even bothering, but I do so anyway; I think out of routine. There is comfort in the routine.
Going down the stairs, I tell myself I'm not going to go into the living room; not look at it; not even think about it. But at the bottom of the stairs, my gaze is drawn there.
Under the blankets, there they are: still on that faux Persian rug we bought when we were married. I stand there for a long time, leaned up against the doorjamb, before my resolve gives way entirely and I settle next to the body of my wife. Michelle.
Legs crossed, hands clasped under my chin, I stare at the dinner-plate-sized stain of blood on the sheet. With shaking hands, I draw it down from her face; it's not that bad actually: aside from the neat hole in her forehead and the dried blood, she could be alive.
Cupping her cheek, her skin is still soft against my palm, but cold. A tear rolls from my chin onto her lips. They taste of salt as I kiss them.
Beyond Michelle lies little Stephanie. I crawl over to her, stopping just a moment to attend to the new sounds of small drops of water hitting the tile floor of the upstairs bathroom. The horror of what that means is nothing to what I am about to make myself see.
Stephanie was only five; the bullet took off the top of her head. This life I created, my beautiful child! Whom I destroyed. Her body feels so tiny in my arms as I gather her to my breast, her head lolling before I take it in my hand and press her cheek to mine.
A mighty crash upstairs shakes the house and I throw Stephanie to the floor, covering her body with mine. No irony: I would gladly give my body a thousand times to save hers.
Part of the roof must have caved in. The unmistakable sounds of full rain upstairs, inside the house.
It won't be long now.
I reach for the coffee table, for the gun. Feeling its heavy weight in my hands, for the hundredth time I check it again for bullets: None, of course.
I don't even like guns. The only reason I have it is because it was my father's. Michelle wanted to get rid of it, but said we could keep it on the condition that she never saw it again. So it was last night we spent two hours hunched over at the far end of the crawlspace looking for that damned gun, the triumph of its finding spoiled on discovering that there were only the two bullets.
I realize there's a strange new sound, like billions of beetles chewing on paper, and with a chill my eyes turn ceiling-ward. The dry stippled surface is wet in spots, and they're growing, and meeting and merging. Before long, nipples of water form in their centers and drip, drip, drip onto the carpet... the rug we loved for its vibrant colors, and turning gray at the water's touch.
With a shushing sound the wet drywall comes loose from the rafters above. I scream and launch myself into the kitchen as it crashes behind me, bruising my elbows and knees on the hard ceramic floor. Not looking back, I frantically crawl to the only "safe" place left to me: hiding under the stout oak breakfast table.
Trembling, I pull a chair between me and the doorway to the living room, staring at the rainstorm that's invaded my house. It's not the water I'm watching for. With my heart in my throat, I notice the first tendril against the doorjamb, and another, and another. Growing together and sinking into the hard wood. The doorjamb cracks and collapses as it's consumed.
Over minutes the gray advances, covering the floor, cabinets and walls like a demon fungus, and as it gets nearer to me, I swear it's moving faster, almost as if it's searching for me, hungering for me.
A shushing sound above my head: I look out from beneath the table; a few feet above my head, the ceiling has bowed halfway to the floor, and it's covered in thousands of those tendrils, waving in the air, searching blindly for the next thing to consume. At their base, they interlace with each other, holding the ceiling together for now. There must be trillions –– trillions of trillions –– of those things in there.
That gives me an idea. It's the only way.
Carefully avoiding the demon fungus of the floor, I climb up onto the table and take my chair with me, staying low to avoid brushing my head against the ceiling.
With a courage that doesn't find me until I feel the table shift beneath me –– whether it's the legs that are softening or the floor beneath them, I am not sure –– I swing the chair at the pregnant mass of the ceiling and am rewarded with what feels like a ton of wet goo that knocks me to the floor. Agony for only a few seconds as skin dissolves and nerve endings are destroyed. With ruthless efficiency I'm turned into another two hundred pounds of my patented weather control nanobots.