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Deluge

J.S. Veter's stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Luna Station Quarterly, and others. She has self-published three novels and is currently writing a HiLo series for middle graders who want an exciting story but need an easier read. Jessica writes in Dundas, Ontario, Canada, where she is an avid gardener and enthusiastic chicken-mom.
Min put her breather to her face, puffing from the climb.
Getting old, she chided herself. Were she still seventy, she could have made it in half the time, and not needed the breather.
She'd timed it right. The clouds which had been gathering on the horizon since this morning towered high over the caldera and the dome, black at their base, a curled dark grey and lavender at their height.
This is it.
It wasn't the first time Min had said that. Five. No, was it six? Six times in the last half year they'd tracked clouds like this. Six times Min had come out to watch. Six times she'd returned to the dome, kicking dry reddish dust with her well-worn, desert boots, telling herself next time.
Min lowered the breather, sucked in a thin lungful of Martian air. She could taste the water in the air. When was the last time she'd done that? Decades ago, before time and distance and muscle atrophy had banished her from Earth.
There was a low rumble. Min felt a thrill in her gut. More lightening flickered staccato-like and a fork of electricity tapped the desert floor. Another rumble, and the wind changed direction. Min's coat flew open and she shouted with laughter. Not so long ago, standing outside like this, breather dangling from a slack finger, would have been unimaginable.
Fine red sand leapt upward, whirled toward her. The light went flat as clouds scudded overhead.
Then noise like tearing fabric. Min started, adrenaline surging, and the rain hit her. It was bitterly cold, that first man-made rain. More like sleet than rain, if Min were honest.
It passed in seconds. Puddles dotted the regolith, speckled red. Min checked the horizon. She was alone.
She chose the biggest puddle, and jumped.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019


After a certain age, women disappear as protagonists in SF/F. As a reader, I always thought that sad. As a writer, I realized it was within my power to create the kinds of characters I wanted to read about. Deluge was inspired by the memory of a steaming summer day in Toronto, a sudden downpour, and the laughter of a dear friend as we splashed our way home up Jane Street.

- J.S. Veter
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