Mike tried the ignition once more, but it was no different from the last ninety-nine times. He hit against the steering wheel and cussed loud. The night wasn’t going his way and after spending a chunk of his night in traffic, it was only fair his car didn’t act up. Not now. Not when it was raining so hard.

He hated the rains, never was a fan of the rainy season. But in Warri, it always rained. He sat in his car for maybe twenty minutes before deciding to try to flag down other cars for help. The idea was not one he was comfortable with but he wasn’t about to keep Monica waiting any longer. This was his big Second Chance.

Reluctantly, he got out and just as he imagined, the rains were on him quicker than he could recover; it was a barrage of incessant stings. He stood by the side of the road and prayed people would stop to help someone stuck on a bridge at this hour. His patience, unlike the rain, had burnt out and he was already shivering and just as he feared, no one heeded his cries for help. In a bid to regulate body heat, he decided to walk and maybe he’d be luckier down the road. Mike walked until it was clear he was going to walk all the way home. His phone kept ringing but he wasn’t about to take any calls in this downpour. It was Monica, it had to be her. She was probably stuck in his house and preparing to add this to the long list of reasons to not take him back. It wouldn’t matter if he didn’t make it home tonight.

As the lonely lane that led to his house came into view, he was quickly reminded of why he preferred driving home at night. It wasn’t safe here. The vigilantes were incompetent drunks. Ugh. But then it was raining so he almost was relieved that the ‘area boys’ wouldn’t trouble anyone in this downpour. So, reducing the spring in his step, he was going to saunter the rest of the way; heck, he began to whistle as if harmonising the rain’s tapping. It didn’t take long for his joy to be stolen, just as he was feeling grateful for the rains, it came back to bite him. It got heavier. Literally a curtain of grey before his eyes. His house was still a fair distance down the lane so he let memory guide him.

His phone rang again, the soft buzzing giving some feeling to the numbness in his muscles. He kept his pace steady, wiping his glasses as he did, sniffling and sneezing in regular intervals. He turned a corner and his feet halted abruptly, so suddenly he almost toppled over. Before him was the frame of a man holding a weirdly trim umbrella.

Mike was pondering the best explanation why someone would have an umbrella in this apocalypse and not use it. He would have done several sexual favours for one a couple of kilometres back. But his thoughts were shaken into confusion and then into fright as the figure seemed to remove something from the umbrella, as if it was sheathing another object of equal size. If he wasn’t sure of the previous object’s identity, this wasn’t the case. The exposed blade extending long from the stylised hilt glinting across the softly receding showers was clear for him to see. The area boys had started getting supplied by the Yakuza? Why would this man have a katana? Why do only bad things happen to him? He asked so many questions, his mouth shut from the cold and trepidation he now felt. Mike sought to plead with the figure that now slowly made its way to him. He just didn’t find the words to say, his feet still firmly stuck in place, he could only move his glasses up to at least get a chance to see his death. The figure now almost upon him, swaying his weapon side to side, mesmerising Mike with its lustre in this beautiful rain.

It was to end here — his life, his dreams. “This easily could be a dream”, he finally said out loud. The figure let out a laugh, sending a fresh wave of chills through Mike’s body. He offered to be robbed and was already taking out his wallet, watch and his still ringing phone. “It ends now,” the mystery man said as he lifted his blade above his head to deliver the death stroke.

The skies belched and growled. Mike was still flat on his back reeling from the blast, concussed and still without his hearing. His glasses were cracked and he had to take them off. As he stood up to gather his thoughts and appreciate what just happened, the charred figure of his assailant laid right before his feet. Ironic that the rains he hated had just given him a chance to live. Because just the blade was about to strike, lightning struck and the killer was the brief host of over fifty million volts; fried to a crisp with the blade bearing an afterglow of a beautiful death. One meant for him.

As Mike walked home, accompanied by the slow drizzle that was left of the rains, he stared up into the heavens, the rains beating against his face. He didn’t care because it was the best thing he had felt, smelled, tasted. He got to his door, put his key in and opened up to see her there sitting, waiting for him. He hoped she would believe the night he had just had. Sword in hand.

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