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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Only Day It Ever Rained: A Science Fiction Story

The Only Day It Ever Rained: A Science Fiction Story Anlo was a young man who had never seen a cloud, and had never seen it rain. Anlo had never swam, and had never taken a bath.

Anlo lived with his mother on a very arid planet far from Earth. The planet had just barely enough water to support a small population of plants and animals. On the planet there were only a few thousand of Anlo's primitive race.

Because there was very little water in the atmosphere of the planet, it was almost impossible for clouds to form, and Anlo had never seen a cloud. He had heard stories about how long ago some clouds had formed in the sky, but Anlo did not know whether such stories were fact or fantasy.

Anlo and his mother busied themselves each day with the chore of finding water. They had to walk through the desert, looking for plants that stored a little water. When they found such a plant, they would beat it with stones, to force out the precious water stored within the plant. Once in a while, they would get lucky and find a small amount of water underground, usually in some mud that could be laboriously strained to get water.

In Anlo's small tribe, the custom was that a man could only take a bath twice in his life: on his wedding night, and on the day of his funeral. Water was too precious to use for bathing any other times.

One day a visitor came to Anlo and his mother's cave home, and told Anlo a fantastic story, of an area miles away where little hills were shooting water into the sky. The story was true. The hills were geysers. Under the ground near these geysers was an underground river. Geological activity was heating the underground river, causing steam to be shot up into the air.

Anlo was excited by the visitor's story, and he decided to set out himself to find this astonishing area. Anlo's mother tried to persuade him not to go, but Anlo would not change his mind. Anlo took a supply of water, and set out to the East.

For four long weeks Anlo's mother was worried that he had died on the trip. But finally Anlo came back to the family cave.

“What did you find, son?” asked Mom. “Did you find anything like the story told by our visitor?”

“Mom, you will not believe the story I have to tell!” enthused Anlo. “You will think I am making it up, but every word is true.”

“Tell me all about it,” said Mom.

“I walked many miles to the East,” said Anlo. “After two weeks I found a land with the strangest thing I had ever seen. There were many small hills, and steam was rising out of some of these hills “

“Hills that shoot out steam?” Mom said. “Impossible!”

“Mom, I swear it is true,” said Anlo. “But then I saw something still more amazing. You will not believe me, Mom. But I actually saw...clouds.”

“Clouds?” said Mom. “Oh, come on, Anlo. Clouds are an old wife's tale, a superstitious idea like monsters or demons or fairies. I know that some people claimed to have seen clouds long ago, but that's just an old legend.”

“I swear upon our gods that I really did see clouds,” said Anlo. “I have never seen anything that filled me with such awe and wonder. They were so beautiful to look at, like giant white puffs of fabric floating in the sky.”

“For two days, I just sat around looking up at the glorious spectacle of the clouds in the sky,” said Anlo. “Then the clouds started to grow darker in color. I didn't know what was going to happen. And then the most amazing thing ever happened.”

“Still another wonder?” asked Mom.

“The greatest wonder of all,” said Anlo. “The greatest wonder imaginable. Water started to fall from the sky!”

rain joy

“Water fell from the sky?” said Mom. “Perhaps you have lost your mind to see such a thing. Maybe you sat in the sun too long.”

“No, Mom, it happened just as I said,” said Anlo. “The water actually fell from the sky. At first the water came down slowly. Then more and more water started to fall from the sky. I could open my mouth, and my thirst was satisfied. My clothes got all wet.”

“Praise the gods, it is a miracle,” exclaimed Mom. “Let us hope the gods bless us with this miracle again and again.” She could not use the word rain, because her language had no word for it.

But the rare event did not occur again during Anlo's lifetime. The freak appearance of clouds and rain on the bone dry planet had been caused by a rare geological disturbance near an underground river. The clouds and rain only appeared over a few miles, and no one but Anlo witnessed them.

Time and time again throughout the rest of his life, Anlo would tell the fantastic story of the clouds he had seen and the rain he had felt on his skin and his tongue. Most of those who he told the tale to did not believe he was telling the truth. But some did believe, and they revered Anlo as the one and only Man Who Saw Water Fall From the Sky.