Mikey sighed. Maybe the science channel and the encyclopedia had let him down; maybe there wasn’t something unusual and mysterious under every rock. But, darn it, he’d come close and it hurt bitterly to have to go back home, back to Dave, empty handed. There’d been a whisper of truth in all of Elliot and Natalie’s leads–the giant worm hole that was really a drainpipe, the mystery whirlpool caused by the school sprinkler system, the tree shadows that looked like a man–but none of them were even close to the unexplainable phenomenon he’d promised to bring back to his know-it-all brother.
“You don’t think that, maybe we might be able to find some more leads, do you?” he said.
Elliot rubbed his neck. “Maybe later, Mikey. It’s getting kinda late, you know, almost dinnertime.”
“Yeah, maybe later,” Natalie said. “Come on, Mikey, we’ll ride you home.”
The quickest way to Mikey’s house led through downtown—or, more accurately, behind downtown. In small, rural places like that, downtowns were often only a single street, fading into the surrounding residential neighborhoods. There was a wide, muddy alleyway behind the shops, many of which had closed and been boarded up, that neighborhood kids would sometimes use as a shortcut; on an impulse, Mikey darted his bike in, followed closely by his friends.
There hadn’t been so much as a cloudburst for weeks, so the alley was dry and hard packed, save for a damp spot behind the old hardware store. As Mikey sped through, he felt a light dusting of raindrops on his face. Letting his pace slack a bit, he looked up; the sky was as warm and bright and clear as it had been when they left the school.
“Hold on a sec!” he cried, bringing his bike to an abrupt stop.
Elliot and Natalie pulled up behind him. “What’s the matter?” he heard one of them say.
“It’s raining here,” Mikey said. “Feel the drops? Like just before it starts to pour, when it’s all gray out?”
Natalie stepped forward, arms outstretched; her hands came away slightly damp. “Yeah, I can feel it!”
“Me too,” Elliot said, looking up. “And not a cloud in the sky! Where d’you think it’s coming from, Mikey?” he said. “Mikey?”
But Mikey was already running toward the old fire escape, on the back of the hardware store. He charged up, heedless of his friends’ calls. The roof was paved with gravel, and a few rusty chimneys stuck up here and there, but the whole was bone dry. Looking out over the rest of the block, he couldn’t see any clouds, any standing water, any leaking pipes. There didn’t seem to be anywhere that the water could be coming from.
“It’s rain from nowhere,” he said, climbing down. “That’s what it is. We were running all over town looking for it, and here it is right under our noses: water from nowhere.”
“You mean…” Natalie said.
“Look for yourself!” Mikey cried. “It’s not coming from anywhere!” He did a little dance among the light, misty drops. “This is it! We’ve found our unexplainable mystery!”
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J. W. Alden