Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
“Look, Daddy!” Erin exclaimed in her squeaky voice that Dane always found so endearing, “See how high up Kevin’s kite is?”
“I see it, Princess,” Dane replied with a smile. “He better be careful! If it goes any higher, it’s going to end up in outer space!”
Erin laughed at the comment and continued to watch Kevin fly his kite. Dane watched both of them for a moment and felt an incredible sadness well up inside him when he thought about how things were about to change for everyone.
“Are you sure we can’t work through this?” he asked in a soft tone, not wanting the kids to hear.
“I’m positive. Neither one of us is happy, and I really don’t see things ever getting any better,” Sheryl answered, looking like she was about to start crying. “I just think that it’s better for everyone if we just went our separate ways.”
He wanted to tell her that she was wrong and that they could get through everything together. He wanted to tell her that he still loved her and that he didn’t want their marriage of almost thirteen years to come to an end. He wanted to tell her that he didn’t want to put the kids through the torment of having to see their parents get a divorce. He wanted to tell her that he didn’t think that he could go on without having her in his life. He wanted to tell her a lot of things, but instead, he kept his mouth shut and just sat there trying to accept everything without breaking down and crying.
He glanced over at Kevin and Erin as they continued to fly the kite and wondered how they would react to the news that their parents were calling it quits. He thought that since Erin was only six, she wouldn’t quite understand why they were splitting up and hoped that Kevin could help her cope with everything. He was a great big brother and was very mature for his age, so Dane was pretty sure that he would help take care of his little sister and do his best to make her understand.
“When should we break the news to them?” Sheryl asked, almost as if she had read his mind.
“I don’t know,” he sighed, looking up at the sky. “I just don’t know.”
“Well, we better decide. We’re going to have to tell them sooner or later, and I just want to get it over with.”
“Right. I think it’s only fair that you are the one to tell them since this whole thing is your idea.”
She started to say something but was interrupted by a loud crash of thunder. It was so loud that Dane jumped and a couple of cries of horror came from some of the people playing volleyball. Since Erin was terrified of storms, Dane looked over at her to make sure that she was okay and saw that she had a worried look on her face. He started to get up to comfort her but didn’t have to, as Kevin put his arm around her and attempted to calm her with some soothing words. Yes, Kevin really was a great big brother.
A huge streak of lightning lit up the sky and caused a skinny teenage boy with greasy hair and bad skin who was skateboarding down the sidewalk to curse loudly. The sky started to grow dark, and Dane got up from the picnic table as he figured he was about to be caught in a downpour, and he wanted to get everyone to the car before it started so they wouldn’t get drenched.
Part of Dane was happy that it was about to storm since it meant the conversation he was having with Sheryl would have to be postponed until a later time. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder why the weather had changed so suddenly in just a matter of moments. It just didn’t seem natural to him. When they arrived at the park, it was nice and sunny, making it a perfect day for a picnic. It was supposed to be nice and warm all weekend, but he guessed the weather guy had just gotten it wrong, as usual.
The wind started to pick up, blowing paper plates and plastic cups off several picnic tables. As the thunder and lightning became more frequent, the people playing volleyball decided to call off their game and began to make their way off of the court. The foul-mouthed kid on the skateboard and his pals started to head home as well, as the sky began to turn a weird yellowish-green color that made the hair on Dane’s arms stand on end. He just had a feeling that something wasn’t right, and all he wanted to do was to get his family together and get home where they would be safe.
Before he could tell Erin and Kevin that it was time to go, the rain – and the screaming – began.
Dane knew it wasn’t ordinary precipitation when he saw it shred Kevin’s kite. Instead of beads of water, shards of glass poured from the sky. Jagged shards of glass that cut and stabbed anything (and anyone) they touched.
“What’s happening?” Sheryl screamed as they both stood there helplessly watching, refusing to believe what they were seeing.
“I don’t know!” he replied, closing his eyes as the glass showered the skater kid and his buddies, tearing them all to shreds.
“We have to-” Sheryl began, but she never got the chance to finish, as a large shard fell from the sky and lodged itself in the top of her head with such impact that the jagged point came out of her chin.
Dane didn’t have time to grieve for her death, as he was too busy trying to dodge all the glass falling from the heavens, but he absently thought to himself that at least he wouldn’t have to break the news to the kids that their parents were getting a divorce anymore.
There were dead bodies everywhere, and the grass was stained red with blood. Severed body parts were strewn every which way, and Dane nearly tripped over a still-twitching leg that was wearing half a pair of blue Chuck Taylor All Stars as he tried to make his way toward where Kevin and Erin were.
Many people were rushing to a nearby pavilion where they were shielded from the rain, and the ones that managed to make it there safely started screaming for Dane to join them, but he ignored them. At the moment his own personal well-being was the last thing on his mind, and all he wanted to do was get to his kids and make sure that they got to safety. He was being cut to ribbons as the glass sliced his flesh, and blood from a nasty wound on his head was running into his eyes, but he was still able to see Kevin lying on top of Erin to protect her. Always the good big brother.
He knew that Kevin was dead before he even touched him. There were several shards protruding from his back, the back of his head, and his arms and legs, making him look like a porcupine with glass quills. Blood pooled beneath him, and Dane was terrified to roll him over for fear of what condition Erin might be in underneath. He took a deep breath and moved his son’s dead body, trying his best to ignore Kevin’s condition.
Erin was completely soaked in blood, and Dane felt his heart sink until he noticed that she was still breathing. She was lying face-down and sobbing uncontrollably, so he scooped her up quickly and attempted to make a run to the safety of the covered pavilion. Erin was hysterical and started screaming in his ear, but he did his best to ignore it as he darted across the park.
Unfortunately, they didn’t make it far, as a shard of glass struck him in the calf, causing him to tumble to the ground. He fell on top of Erin but she was able to squirm out from under his weight, and despite the searing pain in his leg he felt a wave of relief wash over him once he realized that she hadn’t been hurt in the fall.
“Daddy, get up!” she cried, grabbing his hand and trying to help him to his feet.
Before he could stand up a large shard impaled him through the back, fastening him to the ground. He tried to yell for her to run, but all that came out of his mouth was a stream of bloody vomit, confirming that he was indeed gravely injured. Several other pieces of glass rained down on top of him, lacerating every remaining inch of his body.
As he began to lose consciousness, he saw one of the people who had been playing volleyball, an attractive blonde woman in her early twenties, run out from under the pavilion. Doing her best to protect herself, the woman picked up Erin, who was still screaming hysterically, and sprinted back toward cover as her friends cheered her on and urged her to hurry up.
Right before Dane took his last breath, he saw that they made it back to the pavilion where they were embraced by a group of survivors who were huddled together. The woman who had bravely risked her life to save Erin’s had only suffered minor lacerations during her rescue.
The rain stopped just as suddenly as it had begun. By the time it was over, the death toll was in the thousands, as the event had impacted not only in the park, but the entire town.
Rescue workers made it to the scene to tend to the injured (and remove the dead), and one EMT – a man who had seen more than his fair share of grisly scenes – made the comment that it was the worst thing he’d ever seen in his entire life. There was another who’d witnessed some of the worst accidents imaginable, who broke down into tears when she saw the countless bodies everywhere.
The local media arrived on the scene as well, and it was only a matter of hours before the whole world was aware of the tragedy. Candlelight vigils were held across the globe and churches everywhere were packed with strangers praying for both the victims and survivors of the horrible incident. Flags were hung at half-mast nationwide, and the President addressed the nation, declaring the day of the event a national day of mourning. In general, the entire country (and most of the world) was shocked and saddened by the occurrence.
There was, however, at least one person happy about what had happened, and he was sure that he was going to make even more people equally pleased once he called in his report.
He sat in a van on the side of the street watching everything going on and smoking a cigarette. No one paid him any attention, so he was certain that he hadn’t aroused any suspicion. He dialed his phone and wasn’t surprised when his military contact picked up on the first ring.
“Yes, sir, Project Rain of Terror was, without a doubt, a complete and total success,” he said. “This method of attack has proven especially effective. Our nation’s enemies will never know what hit them. Yes, sir, I’m happy to hear that the President is satisfied with the results of our demonstration.”
He listened to the instructions that the contact on the other line gave him without saying another word, and then ended the call and drove away, eager for his next mission to begin. He felt a twinge of guilt when he thought about how he’d had a hand in all the death and destruction around him, but felt better once he told himself that it was all for the greater good. After all, every weapon needed to be tested successfully before being mass-manufactured. In the big scheme of things, this was a small price to pay for freedom.
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