Melissa thought nothing of the rain when she let her labradoodle, Boris, out for his morning ablutions. It looked heavier than usual, slightly greasy with a strange shimmer, but rain was rain.
“Looks like someone poured baby oil and glitter into the clouds,” Sam said. She stood at the sink, coffee mug in one hand, toast in the other, staring out at the small concrete yard.
Melissa didn’t pay much attention to her daughter as she toweled Boris dry. Droplets of water splattered from his curls onto her bare arms and legs. The water stung, but the pain quickly faded to a dull ache that she barely noticed.
“Have a good day at work, love.”
Sam held her handbag over her head to shelter from the rain as she ran from the house to her car parked at the curb. Melissa locked the door after her, while Boris stood at the front window with his head under the privacy curtain and watched her drive away.
Melissa scratched her arms and legs as she walked upstairs. The itch grew worse after she’d showered and dressed. She couldn’t stand still as she made her breakfast.
After her first cup of coffee she took out her phone and read the morning news. She dug into her legs under the kitchen table, her feet making a rhythmic shushing sound as they rubbed across her jeans.
Strange rain causes allergic reaction across country.
Over one hundred hospitalized in Dublin for severe self inflicted wounds due to exposure to rain.
Doctors warn people to stay out of the rain.
Melissa almost forgot her own itch as she watched videos of patients covered in blood being wheeled into hospital by paramedics. Despite being restrained, they still fought to scratch themselves raw.
She searched for home remedies to treat the itch. She looked up whether animals were affected. She text Sam to see if she’d got safely to work.
The situation grew worse as the rain made its way into the reservoir and the water table. Tap water was banned, and people hoarded bottled water.
Melissa, Sam and Boris huddled on the couch in front of the television watching each development on the news.
Images of people who had showered in the tainted water played across the screen, their bodies raw as if they’d been flayed. The worst were the people who had drunk the infected water. Some had cut their torsos open in an effort to scratch their digestive tract.
“Do you think we did this? I mean, was it pollution that caused the rain?” Sam asked.
Melissa rubbed more echinacea and camomile onto her arms.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s chemical warfare and they’re testing it out on us before they unleash it on other countries.”
Sam snuggled against Melissa, the heat of her body making the itch worse. Melissa didn’t want to say anything, but she couldn’t keep from squirming until her daughter moved away.
“Maybe you should go to hospital, Mam.”
“No, I’m managing fine. The hospitals are barely coping as it is. Better I stick it out here as long as possible.”
Boris whined and jumped off the couch. Melissa wondered when Sam would go to bed and she’d be able to scratch without judgement.
Melissa found a fresh coating of blood staining her bedsheets when she woke. She’d run out of clean bedlinen but was too afraid to wash the soiled sheets in the tainted water. She didn’t know how she’d hide the evidence of her nighttime scratching from Sam. Boris wouldn’t spend the night in her room anymore because she scratched so vigorously in her sleep.
She carefully peeled the duvet off her blood slick limbs. Her arms and legs were completely nude of skin, but faces gazed up at her from the tissue underneath, and the creatures waved in greeting.
Sam screamed from her bedroom.
“Mam, it’s aliens. They’re hatching out of people in the hospitals and eating the doctors and nurses. The government has called in the army and declared a state of emergency.”
Melissa looked down at the beings nestled in her arms and legs. They didn’t look so bad, in fact, they looked kind of cute. Like little newborn babies. They were hungry though.
Melissa smiled at the creatures as Sam opened the bedroom door. Breakfast was served.