When the Rains Came

Theodore Welstead was alone when the rains came. Sat in the great hall of his forsaken castle, he warmed himself by the fire burning at one end of the long room. On the walls a hundred braziers of wrought gold rested, but none were lit. The paint was flaking and the metal dulled by the ages, by years upon years of uselessness. Once a thousand men had sat on the benches running the hall’s length, food had been served on great platters by servants and music had echoed through the rooms, filling the cavernous building with life. But no longer.
The castle had once been called something, but the words had long since passed from the memories of the one man who remained to recall them. No doubt it had been a grand name, befitting of such a grand place. Situated atop a mountain the views were stunning, reaching to the horizon in every direction, vistas and valleys, lakes and forests and peaks below stretching as far as the eye could see. Or at least it used to be so.
One day, the world was beautiful and parties would light the mountain every night, celebrations of love and friendship continuing into the morning, blissful people falling in love with the night and awaking in lavish rooms above the clouds. The next, they were all gone and silence conquered Theodore’s world.
He woke up on that fateful day and awaited his servant to bring him breakfast, but no one came. He walked to the hall and found everyone gone, everyone but himself. That’s how he remembered it, at least. Sometimes he remembered faces of people he used to know, but no names. He had no need of names now, of names or words. His world consisted of three things: himself, the Castle and the Sky.
He was in his teens when everyone disappeared and to this day he hadn’t aged a day. His body was in the awkward stage between childhood and adulthood, a few spots spread across his face and shoulder length blonde hair, not short but by no means tall. Though the sun had risen and fallen many thousands of times, the aeons did not touch him as they had the castle.
That, then, is all you need to know about Theodore and his Castle in the Sky. Now, one day he awoke like any other. Huddled by the fire in a thin blanket, he stared out the windows, finding solace in the infinite depths of the grey sky. He stood on weary legs and paced to the balcony, humming tunelessly. Standing beneath the sky and above the sky, he surrendered himself to the void in which he lived, screaming an inhuman scream, a scream of loneliness and love, of hate and regret, despair and fear, hope and longing. Sure enough, the sky swallowed up his dreams and despairs and mercilessly turned its back on him for the hundred-thousandth time. And so Theodore was left alone again, a confused boy with an old man’s mind, the greatest lord of nothing.
Then it rained.
You must understand that for as long has he could remember, his world had remained the same. It had slowly decayed, with nothing changing each time the world turned. So the rain made all the difference in the world to him. Deep in his soul, the water trickling on his cheek awoke something deep, something fierce he hadn’t felt for far too long. He felt alive. A thought floated into his mind, a new thought, of sitting there with a girl, with someone he loved who he could confide in and defy the rain with. Of being content and sharing his cursed loneliness with another person. He thought of love.
But alas, still he was alone, with only the beast inside him for comfort. The feeling could never be sated, he knew. Never again could he go to sleep alone in his Castle. The horizon was his and he was the horizon. The maelstrom thundered around him and he was no longer a pathetic boy, but the storm itself. He was the world and the world was empty. Slowly, he climbed onto the thin stone curtain wall surrounding the balcony he stood upon, and tilted his head up to the wind. He was puzzled for a moment to find out the rain was salty, before realising he was, in fact, crying. And for that one moment, he was a god. Jumping forward, he joined the rain on its inexorable journey downwards, until he too was lost far beneath his castle. The storm passed, leaving a castle on a mountain empty.
When you show a man the world, he can never be satisfied with the life he has. And so Theodore Welstead was no more when the rains left.


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About Peter Hughes


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