This is another bit of Samuels’ fiction I got through his Patreon page.
Review: “Caught in the Rain”, Mark Samuels, 1988.
This was Samuels first story and published in Black Brain Recluse #11 and, as a mature writer, he’s certainly aware of its faults.
It’s a little too vague and has a theme of environmental apocalypse.
The plot is simple.
The story’s protagonist, and its only character, is waiting for a bus in a deluge with excessive lightening. When he gets on the bus, he is filled with dread. There is a bit of overwriting here with a metaphor that doesn’t work – “droplets streaming along the window like transparent maggots”.
He gets off at his regular stop and sees no one, but the location is alienating, unfamiliar. The lights in buildings seem distant. There is trash everywhere. He has the feeling of somehow being pursued. His heart begins to beat heavily. The branches of swaying trees seem to claw at him. There is a horrendous flash of lightening, and the rain becomes monsoon like.
He falls to the sidewalk. The clouds seem to brush the tops of buildings. He crawls to a doorway. He waits for his “inevitable fate”. A “vaporous thing” could be searching for him. He tries to scream, but he knows “the sound would become nothing but a gurgling choking as his lungs were filled with rainwater”. The street lights flicker and go out and “falling rain hissed ominously in the darkness”.
Is this partly a post mortem fantasy with the narrator having a heart attack and partially drowning in the rain? Was his feeling of dread a premonition of impending death from natural causes or something else?
There are a lot of unanswered questions. There’s little linking this story to Samuels’ future work. It is set in city as most Samuels’ stories are. It seems to be London, a favorite setting for Samuels, but I only base that on the presence of double-decker buses. And, right in his first story, we get a variation of a very common Samuels’ motif, televisions, when they make up part of the light the protagonist sees in those distant buildings.
On its own merits, though, it’s too vague, and I can’t recommend the story.