In from the Rain

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Young Adult Readers And Writers


Connor is stuck home alone when a lost man knocks on the door for help.

Submitted: May 21, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 21, 2018

A A A

A A A


In From the Rain

1

Rain pounded against the tall glass windows as Connor Lange sat alone in the expansive living room of his grandparents’ mountaintop villa. The storm began shortly after nightfall, and Connor’s imagination was running wild. Even with the TV on, the whole situation was unsettling. It wasn’t the first time he had to house-sit while his grandparents went travelling to some obscure location, but it was his first time doing it alone. Usually, he’d bring a girl or his friends, or his older sister would stay as well. However, this time, he had no such luck. He was single, his friends were all busy, and his sister was working defense on some big case.

He was alone in a huge house in the mountains.

The worst part was the storm. When he first drove up to the house, there was only a light drizzle. But, out of nowhere, the sky opened up and buckets of water came pouring down. The thunder shook the windows and the lightning lit up the mountaintop. Connor prayed to every god he could think of that the power wouldn’t go out. His only protection from the ax murderers and psychopaths that Connor believed lurked outside was the fancy security system his grandparents had installed.

Connor switched yet again to the weather channel, hoping to see a report of the storm letting up. Instead, he was greeted by images of flash floods and landslides. He turned off the television.

“Ah, this sucks…” he mumbled to himself. “This is how horror movies start.” He took out his digital SLR camera and laptop to distract himself. A little storm didn’t mean he couldn’t get any work done. He had at least four projects he needed to edit, and he probably had a hundred new photos to sift through. Homecoming season was one of the busiest times at the studio he worked at, and he didn’t want to fall behind.

He was about halfway through editing the pimples off a group of high school kids when he heard a loud banging coming from the kitchen. He jumped up, nearly losing both his laptop and his camera, and dashed towards the fireplace. Only when he had an iron poker in hand did he take slow, tiny steps across the room to the kitchen. The banging hadn’t stopped by the time he finally reached the kitchen’s saloon-style door. His hands were shaking and he considered doubling back to call the police instead. Boom! Thunder rumbled outside and the banging grew louder. The photographer slowly peeked over the top of the door. He didn’t see any glass on the floor, but he couldn’t see the window itself. With a tight grip on the poker and a deep breath of resolve, Connor burst into the kitchen with a battle cry to rival the Vikings. The banging didn’t stop. Slowly, though he’d nearly exhausted his courage, he crept around the counter until he could see the window. His heart stopped when he saw the culprit’s shadow.

A dark, clawed figure was crashing against the window, trying to break in. The figure seemed to be hanging from the roof by its long, thin torso. Its myriad clawed appendages struck the window mercilessly. Its skeletal fingers dangled from each boney limb and blew in the wind like leaves. Connor looked closer.

A tree branch.

The photographer’s face flushed with embarrassment as he strode to the back door, cursing under his breath. The tree branch had flown into the roof and tangled itself in the lights lining the overhang. Connor roughly tugged on the branch until it came loose and tossed it in a trash pile near the shed.

Drenched from his short time in the rain, Connor threw off his wet clothes and went upstairs to change. He could hear his sister making fun of him. “Man up, Connor,” he mumbled to himself as he put on a pair of pajama pants and a plain white t-shirt. “It’s just a storm. No serial killers would go out in a storm like this….”

The photographer decided to go back to work and returned downstairs. Before he could even sit down, however, the doorbell rang. The sound echoed through the quiet house over the pelting of the rain. There’s no way a serial killer would ring the doorbell. Right…? Connor thought to himself as he inched towards the door. He peeked through the peephole, but it was too dark to see. He only made out the shadow of a person walking away. Despite his fears, Connor cracked open the door. The shadow belonged to a young man, about the same age as Connor himself, soaked to the bone from being in the rain. Upon noticing the door opening, the man turned around. It was hard to tell in the rain, but he may have been crying.

“Uh, hey. Are you okay?” Connor asked, opening the door fully.

“U-um, sorry to bother you…. I just…. Is there anywhere within walking distance? Like a store or something?”

“Walking distance?” Connor repeated. “No, you have to go back down.” He frowned, his conscience and common-sense battling in this mind. His conscience won. “Did your car break down? You can come in and call AAA or something.”

“Ah, no, it’s okay. I’ll just—“

“No, man, come on. At least dry off a bit.”

The man hesitated for a moment, glancing over his shoulder. Eventually, he stepped inside. “…Thank you.”

In the light, it was clear that the man had been crying. His brown eyes were red and puffy, and his cheek was slightly bruised. Connor also noticed a button missing off the vest he wore over his t-shirt. “H-hey…. Were you attacked?” the photographer asked, trying to push back his earlier fears.

“Attacked? N-no, I…I fell,” the man replied, averting his gaze. He was shaking like a leaf, he looked like a frightened rabbit.

“Huh….” Connor was skeptical, but he didn’t press. “Well anyway, why don’t you hang here for a bit? You can dry off or call someone or whatever.” The man didn’t reply. It looked like he was trying to think up an excuse. “Look, I’m not shady or anything! I just…. These mountains are rough in the rain, so I can’t just let you wander around on foot like that. You might fall again.”

The man nodded slowly, wrapping himself in his arms. “Thanks…” he whispered.

“No problem. Oh, hey, lemme get you a towel. Hang on.” Connor ran upstairs and pulled a large towel from the closet. When he returned to the entryway, he draped the towel over his guest’s shoulders. “Do you wanna shower? Or eat? Oh, I’m Connor, by the way,” the host rambled awkwardly. He had to bite his tongue to keep from offering up his grandparents’ jewelry next.

“I’m Ryan. And, um, I’ll just call someone and get out of your hair.” Ryan reached into his back pocket, but a look of dread filled his face. “Huh? Wait….” He checked every pocket before hiding his face in his hands. “I can’t believe this…” he groaned.

“Oh, here, you can use mine!” Connor offered, quickly pulling out his smart phone.

“I-I don’t know any numbers by heart…” Ryan admitted between sniffles. He was crying.

“Oh, hey, me either! Who would have thought convenience was bad, right? Haha…” Connor joked. His joke didn’t seem to cheer his guest up. Ryan only sunk to the floor, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs. “U-uh, Ryan, hey…. Don’t worry. I can’t really drive around here well in the rain, but once it clears up, I’ll take you down, or to your car, or we can look around for your phone. Did you have somewhere to be?”

“No…. I-I was just here…” Ryan mumbled into his hands.

“Well, then you can be ‘just here’ until the storm lets up, right?”

Ryan nodded and lifted his head. Tears left lines down his flushed cheeks, but he managed a small smile. “Thanks again…. And sorry. I’m not usually like this….”

“You look like you’ve had a bad day.”

“Kind of….” Ryan stood and wiped his face on the towel. “If it’s really no trouble, I’ll take you up on that shower.”

“No trouble at all! I can lend you something to wear while your clothes dry, too.”

“Are you always this nice to strangers?” Ryan asked as he peeled off his soaked Converse.

“Only the ones crying on the doorstep,” Connor teased. “Besides, you don’t look like a psychopath.”

“Don’t psychopaths look like everyone else?”

“Huh? I-I guess. I never thought about that….”

Ryan let out a soft giggle. “I’m not a psychopath, I promise.”

“Yeah,” Connor replied with a smile. “I doubt psychopaths would lose their phones.”

2

It had been nearly an hour since Connor left his new guest, Ryan, to take his shower. He’d explained how to work the shower somewhat excessively and left a pair of pajama pants and a button-down shirt. While he waited, he couldn’t help wondering what Ryan was hiding and why he was hiding it. Was he actually attacked? Is he running from something? Is he really just clumsy? Connor couldn’t concentrate on his work. He decided to check on his guest. His hand was hovering over the door, ready to knock, when the door opened. A cloud of steam hit Connor in the face and a startled gasp sounded from inside the cloud. “I was just making sure you were okay,” Connor explained.

“Oh, uh, I’m fine… but these pajamas don’t really fit…” Ryan replied sheepishly. Once the steam cleared, Connor saw what he meant. The sleeves of the button-down shirt reached past Ryan’s knuckles and he kept trying to roll them up. The shirt itself looked more like a dress on him, which made sense since he was more than a head shorter than Connor’s six feet and seven inches. And the pants…. “The pants didn’t have a string, so….”

Connor thought, looking over his half naked guest. Ryan was tugging on the bottom of the shirt to try and cover his bare legs. The photographer shook his head. “Sorry, I’ll get you something else. Hang on.” He went to his bedroom and dug through a drawer until he found a tank top and basketball shorts. He double checked for the drawstring.

“Thanks,” Ryan said when Connor handed him the new clothes. He stepped into the shorts right away. They seemed to fit.

As he changed shirts, Connor saw that his guest had more than just the one bruise. His slender torso was dotted with dark spots and he wore a ring of purple around his upper arm. Is he really okay? Maybe I should call the police… Connor thought as Ryan dressed. “U-uh, hey,” Connor began. He wanted to ask about the bruises, but something in the other man’s eyes stopped him. “I’ll, um, I’ll throw your clothes in the wash. I have some wet clothes sitting around, too.”

“Oh, uh, thanks…” Ryan relied, retrieving his wet clothes. “I tried to squeeze out the water, but they’re still pretty wet.”

“Yeah, I bet. I was out there for five minutes and I got soaked too.” Connor took the clothes down to the laundry room after showing his guest to the living room. His own clothes were still on the kitchen floor, so he used snacks and drinks as a cover to smuggle them out.

When he returned to the living room, he found Ryan flipping through one of the photo albums he used as a portfolio. Some of the photos were out of place and Ryan was trying to find their proper slot. “Don’t worry about it,” Connor told him as he approached the couch.

Ryan jumped at the sudden voice. “Ah, oh, um, I’m sorry!” he stammered. “Your bag fell and all these pictures fell out, and…”

“It’s okay, really. Those fall out all the time,” Connor reassured his guest, sitting next to him on the couch.

“O-oh… Um, are you a photographer? These are really good.”

Connor grinned. He always liked to be complimented for his work. “Thanks. Yeah, I work at, uh, Happy Smiles. The name is pretty lame, but I like the studio. I do some freelance stuff, too. Like parties and weddings.”

“I got my graduation pictures done at Happy Smiles,” Ryan commented as he looked through the portfolio again. “You even do photo shoots for models?”

“Well for their portfolios, yeah. Then they go to an agency.” Connor paused, meaning to end the topic there, but he continued without thinking, “Have you ever modeled? You’re pretty enough for it. You’re body’s not bad either. A little skinny…” the photographer rambled. He didn’t realize what he was saying until his companion’s face flushed red.

“I, um, a little. I helped the photography and art classes when I was in college. It was an easy twenty bucks.”

“Sorry, that came out way creepier than it should have…”

Ryan let out a soft laugh. “It’s okay. I was just surprised. I act, actually. Just at this small theater downtown, nothing big…. So I’m used to… strange comments.”

“Acting? What kind of plays?”

“Usually kids’ shows…. But sometimes we do Shakespeare or musicals. Next week, we open Beauty and the Beast. I’m just one of the servants though.”

“Nice, maybe I’ll go check you ou—check it out. The play,” Connor stumbled.

Ryan laughed. “I have a boyfriend, you know.” He continued to smile, but as he spoke, the mirth left his eyes.

“I’m not trying to hit on you…. I’m straight.” Connor cursed his lack of social skills. “I’m just not good at making conversation,” he joked. Out of the corner of his eye, the photographer noticed headlights pulling up to the house. “Wow, I’m popular tonight,” he muttered as he went to the front window, happy for the distraction from his poor conversation skills. Outside, the headlights of a small pickup truck floated up the driveway. He turned to his guest. “Hey, do you know anyone with a pickup truck? I can’t tell what color….”

Dread painted Ryan’s face as he rose from the couch. “P-please, don’t answer the door….”

“Why? Who’s that? A serial killer?” Connor questioned, closing the curtains and retreating back to the couch and reaching for his fire poker.

“No… that’s…. It might be my boyfriend.”

3

“Your boyfriend? What, did he sense someone hitting on you?” Connor asked, hoping to lighten the mood. But he only made the situation worse. Ryan looked like he was going to start crying again.

“I-I’m sorry, I lied…. I came up here with him, but….”

Connor’s voice darkened as the truth behind the voices began to come to light. “Did he hurt you?” Ryan looked away, avoiding eye contact. “Should I call the police?”

“No! No, please don’t. He didn’t… I mean, it was my fau—“ Ryan tried to explain. He was cut off by the doorbell.

“Just go into the kitchen. I’ll tell him you’re not here,” Connor instructed over the obnoxious ringing. Before his guest could object, he shoved him towards the kitchen.

Once Ryan was safely hidden, Connor went to the door. “One time is enough,” he snapped as he opened the door. He didn’t plan on showing his new visitor an ounce of hospitality. The man Ryan feared was his boyfriend was handsome, with neatly styled hair under the hood of his black hoodie and a close-shaven beard covering his cheeks and chin. Even through the hoodie, Connor could tell this man probably frequented a gym.

“Yeah, sorry…. But I’m looking for someone. I’m worried he might be hurt.” The man’s voice was soft and apologetic, but the slate gray eyes scanning the room behind Connor looked more like a wolf hunting prey. “His name’s Ryan.”

“You’re the only one that’s dropped by.” Connor lied. “You can’t get a hold of him?”

“No, he left his phone in my truck….”

“Well, shit. If he’s on foot, you should call the cops. He might have slipped and fell.”

“Maybe—hey, do you wear Converse?” the man suddenly asked. A glint of anger flashed in his steel eyes.

“What? No, I—“ Connor blurted. Then, he remembered Ryan’s shoes. “I-I mean, I do sometimes.”

“Where is he!?” the man yelled, grabbing the front of Connor’s shirt.

“C-calm down, bro,” Connor pled, raising his hands in surrender. “I don’t know what you’re talking—“

“Those shoes belong to my boyfriend! So, he must be here,” the man interrupted. “Ryan! Where are you?” He pushed Connor into the house and stepped in, still holding the shirt.

“I’m telling you, he’s not here!” Connor objected, trying to push the intruder away.

“Liar!” Ryan’s boyfriend let go of Connor’s shirt and threw a punch, knocking the photographer to the ground. Connor’s ears were ringing and he couldn’t hear the rest of the man’s accusations. He only saw his fist rise into the air for a second blow.

“…op!” a voice called from behind as Connor’s hearing returned. “Jake, please, stop!” Ryan had emerged from the kitchen and stood between the two men.

“Ryan? The hell are you wearing?” Jake asked, his gaze still burning with rage.

“I just borrowed some clothes because—“

“Did you fuck him?”

“What? No! Jake—“ Ryan was cut off by the back of Jake’s hand. The blow sent him reeling to the floor.

Connor jumped up and pulled Ryan towards him. “Listen, asshole, if you don’t get the fuck out of here right now, I’m gonna call the cops.”

“So I’m not good enough for you?” Jake bellowed, ignoring Connor. “You just toss me aside and find a new cock to blow, you little slut?!”

“N-no, I just…” Ryan sobbed, blood trickling from his broken lip.

Connor tried to step in again, but Jake only shoved him aside to grab Ryan’s arm. “Just what? Don’t fucking lie! Just cozied up to some stranger? Or have you been cheating on me with this fucker?!”

“I’m not cheating on you, Jake! Just listen to me!”

Slap! Ryan’s cheek glowed bright red where Jake’s hand made contact. Connor couldn’t hold back any longer. He lunged forward and put all his weight behind a punch to Jake’s face. The intruder let go of Ryan and stumbled back towards the open door. Connor swung at him again, this time hitting the intruder’s ear and knocking him down. He didn’t know what came over him. He punched Jake again, straddling the man to hold him down. This time he heard a crunch. “Guys like you make me sick!” he shouted, ignoring the pain stinging his knuckles. “How can you treat someone like this?”

“Connor! Stop!” Ryan screamed, clutching the arm of his boyfriend’s assailant. “Get off him!”

Connor stood, panting, his hands dripping blood. “Why are you defending him?” he rasped.

Ryan knelt next to his boyfriend and ran a finger over a swollen, bloodied cheek. “I loved him…. He wasn’t always like this. He used to be nice to me. He works set in the theater, and he always brought me coffee or snacks during rehearsal and gave me flowers after every show….” Ryan paused, tears streaming down his cheeks once more. “But all of a sudden, he stopped seeing his therapist and he started losing his temper more. I-I told him, the first time he hit me, that… that I’d leave him. But, I couldn’t do it….”

Connor had so many questions, but he couldn’t form a single one. Now that he’d calmed down, his hands were throbbing. He could only force out a mumbled apology.

“No… I guess, he kind of deserved some of this…” Ryan said through a forced smile. “You should put ice on your hands.”

“Huh? Oh… Yeah, maybe. Thanks. I-I’ll call an ambulance. You can tell them whatever you want,” Connor told Ryan.

“Thank you. I’m glad yours was the house I found.”

Connor smiled in response and headed to the kitchen. He carefully pulled out his phone, avoiding as many hand movements as possible, and dialed 911. He explained the situation as vaguely as he could and hung up immediately after to avoid more questions. As he was balancing an ice pack on his hand and grabbing a wet towel for his victim, he heard shouting from the other room.

“Hey, Ryan, you okay?” he called, rushing out to the entryway. “Ryan?”

Empty.

The front door was wide open and both Ryan and his boyfriend had disappeared. Connor sprinted outside to see Ryan fighting as Jake tried to shove him into the passenger side of his pickup. Rain was still falling in buckets, so Ryan couldn’t push against the truck without his bare feet slipping off the side. His hands were clawing at his abuser’s arm as it slipped dangerously close to his throat. Connor took a calming breath and strode toward the truck.

“Hey, douchebag. Let him go.”

“This was none of your fucking business,” Jake screeched, pausing his attempt to stuff Ryan into the truck. “You have no right—“ He was interrupted by a sudden push against his chest. Ryan had used the distraction to find a foothold and push off from the car. The sudden push forced Jack to step back, which in turn let him to slip on the wet stone driveway. Both Jake and Ryan were sent tumbling backwards. As soon as they hit the ground Ryan scrambled off his boyfriend.

“You have no right to hit me,” Ryan argued. “I won’t do this anymore, Jake!” He wasn’t crying anymore, but there was pain in his eyes.

“You can’t…. I won’t let you leave,” Jake groaned from the ground.

“I called the cops, they should be here soon. So you can either drive away on your own, or they can drive for you,” Connor explained calmly, relieved to see Ryan fighting. Jake slowly rose on wobbly legs. He was clearly in no condition to drive. He would never make it safely down the waterlogged mountain paths. “Wait…. Maybe you should go to the hospital…” Connor suggested, his conscience getting the better of him.

“Fuck you,” Jake spat. “And fuck you, too, Ryan. You’re gonna regret this.” He hobbled to his truck and braced himself against it until he reached the driver’s side. Connor and Ryan only watched as the man climbed in and tried to start his car. For some reason, he was frantically searching for something.

A soft chuckle sounded from Connor’s side. “I pulled his keys out of his pocket when he carried me out here,” Ryan admitted. “They’re somewhere in the grass now.”

“Guess you didn’t need my help,” Connor replied, grinning.

The truck door flung open and Jake stumbled into the rain again. “Where are my fucking keys!?”

“How should I know?”” Ryan commented defiantly, the smile gone from his face.

“You took them, didn’t you, bitch?” Jake accused, limping forward.

Ryan backed away, still afraid of his abusive boyfriend despite the brave façade. “You probably lost them.”

Jake opened his mouth to respond, but was stopped short by the whine of approaching sirens.

“Looks like your ride’s here,” Connor announced.

Within seconds, an ambulance followed by a police car pulled up behind Jake’s truck. “You little bitch!” Jake shrieked. “You’re really gonna let me get arrested? After all I’ve done for you?”

“No…” Ryan started, his eyes downcast.

“Ryan, wait, you—“ Connor objected, but Ryan touched his hand to stop him.

 to me, Jake,” he continued, a triumphant gleam in his eyes.

Connor heaved a sigh of relief as the paramedics and police officers descended upon the scene. Jake’s wounds were immediately tended to and Ryan began explaining the situation to a female officer. He seemed hesitant at first, but told the story nevertheless.

According to Ryan, he was on a date and Jake decided he wanted to go for a drive after dinner. Once they were alone in the mountains, Jake tried to pressure him into sex and Ryan refused. In response, Jake became violent and tried to force him instead. During the fight, Ryan managed to escape and ran until he discovered the villa.

Connor told another officer his take on what happened, only slightly playing up his actions. When they both finished, Jake was taken away in a patrol car. The female officer adamantly sided with Ryan while the other officers tried to claim both parties were in the wrong.

  Connor realized as he watched from the porch. The rain had slowed to a light drizzle during the questioning and there was no more reason for Ryan to stay. Connor felt oddly disappointed at the thought.

After a while, Ryan joined Connor on the porch. “I found my phone,” he announced with a smile. “It’s just about dead though….”

“If you want, you can use my charger before you go,” Connor offered.

“Oh, thanks…” Ryan replied. He seemed disappointed. “Um, are my clothes dry by any chance? I got soaked again,” he asked with a weak laugh.

“I doubt it, I never put them in the dryer. But if you’re in no rush, you’re welcome to stay the night.”

Ryan flushed red. “I, uh, I don’t really….”

“I don’t mean like that! Get your mind out of the gutter, man,” Connor replied, his own face growing slightly warmer. “Just to crash.”

Ryan let out an embarrassed giggle. “Ah, right, sorry…. Well, if it’s okay with you…. I’m a little tired to drive.”

“Don’t worry about it. I don’t mind the company.”

***

The next day, Connor awoke to a bright beam of sunlight shining through the curtains of his bedroom. He and Ryan stayed up a while after the police left with Jake. They talked about the storm, photography, acting, current events and celebrities. The farther the conversation drew from earlier events, the happier the pair became. It was past midnight before they finally retired to bed.

Once he dressed, Connor peeked into the spare room he cleaned for his guest. The bed was neatly made and empty. “Did he just leave…” he wondered dejectedly. He looked out the window down to the driveway. The truck was still there. “Ryan?” he called as he headed downstairs. He checked the dryer and found Ryan’s clothes still inside.

“Good morning, Connor,” a cheery voice spoke from behind, nearly giving Connor a heart attack as he emptied the dryer.

“Jesus! Were you hiding or something?”

“Sorry,” Ryan apologized with a giggle. “No, I was just watching TV. I woke up kind of early. The police called.”

“D’you have to go down there?”

“I will later, I guess…. I was just waiting for you to get up.”

“You could’ve woken me…” Connor muttered, separating his clothes from Ryan’s.

Ryan pouted. “Someone’s grumpy in the morning….” He accepted his clothes and stood in silence for a moment, chewing his lip. “Um, do you wanna grab breakfast somewhere?”

“Are you asking me out?” Connor joked with a raised eyebrow.

“No! No, I, um, I didn’t mean it like that, really. I just want to, uh, repay you for helping me….” Ryan’s cheeks flushed pink as he fidgeted with his shirt.

Connor laughed. “Well, date or not, I’m not gonna turn down free food.”

The other man beamed brightly in response. “Okay! I’ll go change then.”

 Damn, I wish a girl would be this excited to hang out with me….


© Copyright 2018 H.Y. Motte. All rights reserved.

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