Orwell banged away on the old
pipes, listening for any change in the echoes. Outside water was falling
in torrents, almost as if someone in the sky had decided that a flood had
been long overdue. Maybe it had. Because he was a jack of all trades, he'd
been around more than one municipal agency. Most knew him and knew that he
wouldn't mind coming in for some extra work. Of course, most often that
just meant some elbow grease. Staying in a town that had an evacuation
order was maybe not as smart. Now he was the only worker still in here, with
a vague promise that one of the rescue skiffs would wait for him
"How's it looking?" Elisa called from the top of the
Water was trickling down from the ground floor. She'd done all she could
to keep the water out but she could only do so much. As long as the river
didn't flood they'd make it through with little damage, but the danger was
definitely there. Otherwise the evacuation order wouldn't have been
issued. She was a freelancer of sorts and it just so happened that she'd
been on duty to guard the old movie theatre site when the order had come.
So that meant she would be the last to leave. And with an urgent repair on
the heating system in progress, she could only hope that the problem would
be found soon.
"I think the problem is coming from the boiler. It might just be best
to turn it off and wait until the weather clears."
Elisa laughed, relieved that they'd be getting out of there, "I hear you, no point in fixing it if the flood is
Orwell couldn't help being drawn to Elisa. He clearly shared a lot with
her, his pointy ears for instance. He didn't get the feeling he got from
actual elves from her either. Like he needed to bow down deep and worship
their supremacy. Which led him to believe that she wasn't a full blood.
Maybe when all this was over they'd get a chance to talk.
"I'll go tell Hugo that we're getting ready to leave."
"I'll just go shut down those installations so I'll be right behind
But before they could make another move, the young rescue trainee
that had been waiting for them at the nearby river, rushed in and yelled:
"The river is just about to flood! We need to leave now!"
Orwell immediately turned and ran toward the boiler room and didn't bother
with the safety protocol. They had bigger things to worry about. But if
the equipment kept running and the water got in it would be disastrous for
the building. It took him all of 2 minutes to get back and by that time
the water was already at his ankles.
"Hugo went to get the boat, he reckons he'll be able to pick us up
with the boat in no time at all." Elise told Orwell and went ahead of
him, not bothering to try to get out on the ground floor but going up one
"I don't want to risk opening the doors. I tried to seal everything
as best I could. We can get down from the fire escape."
Orwell nodded and followed without argument.
Outside, Hugo wrestled against the push of the incoming water. He'd left
through a window, dropping into knee-deep water. And the water level would
keep rising for a while. In a couple of minutes the current would be too
strong to stay upright. He figured he had until it reached his waist to
get to his boat that was still at the dock. With the water running into
the town, the rope anchoring his boat should hold. But he honestly had his
It seemed to take forever but Hugo reached the dock and his boat. He waded
across the submerged boards and hoisted himself into the rocking boat. He
started the engine and had no trouble steering the boat to follow the flow
of the water into town after he'd cut the rope. In a matter of seconds he
was back at the movie theatre, angling his small skiff to try and keep it
as steady as he could in the water.
Elisa jumped first, glad to see Hugo return. The water level was rising
fast. She didn't think it could get much higher but as the rain wasn't
letting up, that would be anyone's guess. Her efforts to keep the water
from entering had probably all been for naught. Just seconds behind her,
Orwell jumped the small distance and Hugo wasted no time to get the boat
"Where are we going?" Orwell asked.
"People have been instructed to get as far away as possible, but I
know the police, army and volunteers have been ordered to keep a few
emergency shelters for as long as possible. I'll head for the nearest one
and we can just keep going until we find a place that's still
standing." Hugo told them.
Orwell looked around and seeing that some walls were already crumbling,
corners losing the fight with the rush of water, he felt the gravity of
Hugo's words. Just how far would they need to go before they found people?
Were there still people around in town or had everyone listened to the
evacuation order. He knew a couple of people who might spit in the face of
"Would anyone mind a little detour?" Orwell asked, "I want
to check on some people."
Orwell wouldn't exactly call them friends, nobody would call them
outstanding citizens, but the guys at the inn had let him stay and hadn't
asked questions. He couldn't leave them if they were in trouble.
"Your family?" Hugo asked.
"No, but I'm worried they might not have left."
"I don't think it matters." Elisa shrugged, "The water can
rise but we'd still be in the boat."
Hugo let Orwell give him the directions to the inn and actually hoped
they'd be able to save some people. That would be exciting. Today he'd
begun to feel like he really mattered. He'd always wanted to be someone
people could look up to. He was a strong swimmer so joining the life guard
was just something that felt right. But training had been far from
glamorous. But today that could change and Hugo'd be able to prove
Elisa had no doubt that what they were doing wasn't wise, but she knew
she'd probably have done the same if the positions were reversed and her
family or friends weren't safe. All she could do was keep her eyes open to
spot any dangers before they came to close.
"That balcony doesn't look all that safe." she told Hugo.
The younger man deftly steered the both away from the balcony. Maybe just
a minute after they'd passed, the wall crumpled and that balcony crashed
into the water, sending out a wave that rocked their boat. Elisa quickly
shook her head and returned her gaze forward. There was no need to worry
about things that could have gone wrong if they hadn't.
They'd followed Orwell's directions and were headed to a part of the town
that clearly had suffered more from the flooding. The buildings here were
older and less maintained. The streets were narrow and there was a lot of
debris they needed to get around. Clearly this wouldn't be a fast detour.
So far they hadn't come across a single sign of life. But whether that was
because people weren't there or they were hiding and unwilling to leave
their home was anyone's guess.
"We're close." Orwell told them and pointed.
The inn stood at a crossroads. The building seemed to have faired better
than others in the same street. Hugo got as close as he dared and left
Orwell to crawl across some floating crates to finally reach a window that
he broke so he could get inside. The inside of the inn was dark. He heard
nothing but the pained noises as the structure was being tested. But he
had to make sure.
"I'll help." Elisa said as she crawled through the window behind
"Thank you." he said, "I'll take downstairs, you check the
Elisa nodded and made her way down the hall, knocking on doors, opening
them and doing quick searches while calling out she was here on lifeguard
business. Downstairs, Orwell took one look at the water that was trickling
inn through cracks and vents and knew he'd probably wouldn't find anyone
down here. He called out and waited a minute before heading back
Together they searched the remaining rooms and came up empty.
"Let's get out of here." Elisa said.
They returned to the boat and set course for the nearest rescue point. But
found that abandoned and flooded. No-one had bothered to lock the doors
and whatever had been left inside was no doubt useless by now.
"Where's the next post?" Elisa asked.
But before Hugo could answer, Orwell saw a head poke up from out of the
water. The creature was larger than a fish, larger than a crocodile but
not as big as a whale. It was a deep blue colour, with bright
orange-yellow eyes and whiskers.
"Hello." the creature said,
"I seem to be lost."
"Uhm, we're not exactly in a good place either." Elisa said,
being the first to find her voice.
"Fishticks." the creature
said, "Well, Let's just try again."
And suddenly the world turned black and then refocused into something
weird. A waterfall seemed to run down from the sky and above them rocks
were floating. They were in the water but it was clear and warmer than the
place they'd come from.
"Hmm, still not quite right."
the creature said, "But I think you'll find
your way here."
And then it vanished just as quickly as it had appeared, leaving the three
"Welcome to the Empyrean Stair." a voice told them, "I see
you were brought by a sea dragon so you must be here for the Wheke Ika
hatching that's due to happen. Let me give you a tour and get you signed
Background found with google
Story was probably inspired because I wanted to see 'Hard Rain' again :p