PC007: Fear of Rain

By Robert T. Jeschonek
Read by Mur Lafferty
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky
First appeared in Postscripts

“Won’t be long now,” he says, his voice a gravelly tenor. “Not long till my
retirement party.”

If you didn’t know better, to look at him, you’d think he was just another little old man hobbling around downtown Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Just another Central Park bench sitting, Social Security check cashing, prescription picking up, stumbling on the curbs, taking too long to cross Main Street old timer. You’d never know the kind of power that boils inside him.

Maybe you’d see him bang his fork on the plate a second time, and you’d hear the thunder, louder than before, but you wouldn’t connect the two. You wouldn’t realize that he’d made it happen. You wouldn’t know what he was about to do next.

But I know. I know all about what’s coming.

Rated PG. Contains drops, trickles, drizzles, torrents, downpour, and flooding.

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18 Responses so far

  1. 1

    thomasowenm said,

    May 13, 2008 @ 7:45 pm

    I did enjoy this story, however I would not classify it as a fantasy piece. I don’t know what type of genre this would be, but I ‘m not sure Pennsylvanian rain gods would justify this as fantasy. Other than that Mur’s reading of it did seem to give life to aphrodite. Aphrodite’s love for Mr. Flood came through in the telling. Alhough I would have liked, personally, to have her accept her destiny, and let him die. Finishing what he started and unleash total destruction on the little burg.

  2. 2

    Scooter said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

    I did like this a great deal. In some ways, it reminded me of Mur’s Citytalkers story, although there really isn’t much that I can point to as being similar other than the obvious weather connection. Nice to see that you’re including all types of fantasy here.
    I did find the pronunciation of “Johnstown” distracting. I suppose that the natives may pronounce it without the “w”, but I’ve always heard it as “Johns-town” and I’m only about 80 miles away from there.

  3. 3

    Rachel said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 1:11 pm


    Mur and I didn’t confer about that. I can’t speak for Mur, but I’d never heard of Johnstown prior to this story / wiki dip. Seems likely we just both picked up the way it’d be pronounced in our local areas (for instance, right now I live in a Johnstown county), rather than the way Pennsylvanians pronounce it. Thanks for the correction.

  4. 4

    Scooter said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

    Western PA pronunciations are certainly unique in some ways, and place names can be something else. We also have a tendency to not pronounce French names correctly. Duquesne is pronounced du-cane, but “North Versailles” is pronounced “ver-sails” and Dubois is “due-boys” Of course, the protagonists may just have their own particular methods of speech! Who are we to question the gods?

  5. 5

    Yicheng said,

    May 15, 2008 @ 11:53 am

    This is the first podcastle I just didn’t really “feel”. There were just too many things the reader is supposed to assume, and questions that are never answered. Where did the main character come from? Does she remember her old family and home? What happened to all that energy that she released? Why was the old man there? What’s his role in the cosmic sense? Are they dead? Are they humans? Are there others like them? Aren’t there “controls” or “enforcers” for what-ever-they-are’s that go rogue? All these questions just make it hard for me to relate to the characters and understand their motivations.

    This is probably my least favorite podcastle to date.

  6. 6

    The Blow Leprechaun said,

    May 15, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

    I’m Yicheng on this one. I thought this would be a great part of some other story, but on its own it lacked something.

  7. 7

    Blaine Boy said,

    May 18, 2008 @ 2:31 am

    To Blow Leprechaun and Yischeng:
    Wouldn’t it be a great set-up then for an entire universe like this. Maybe in some stories you can’t be completely dependent on the writer to give you the answers. I hate that too when you have to get your own answers, but still I’m getting into that sort of mentality now. Rain has always been such a beautiful and romantic idea for me. Now it has another saving power. Thank you Mr. Jeschonek for that.

  8. 8

    Potter08 said,

    May 18, 2008 @ 10:40 pm

    I really was hooked on the story this week, BUT… it drove me crazy every time anyone said the name of the town. It’s Johns-Town, not Johnston. Sorry, but I grew up near and in Johnstown and I really hated hearing the mispronunciation of the name of a place I’ve read about and lived in. I know that this was spoken about many times already in the comments, but this was probably one of my biggest holdups in the story. I know it’s not something I’d normally like to admit, but I was yelling at my speakers every time it was said and then cheering the one or two times that I thought I heard Mur say it correctly.

    Otherwise, I really liked hearing about a supernatural way that the town has been flooded over the years. Most people have never heard of Johnstown at this point. At one time, this small town in Pennsylvania was huge. Speaking about true areas and locations about this once booming steel city helped the story come more to life for me. Although, since I know of the places mentioned, it was easier for me to imagine walking the same paths the characters had. If I had not known already of places like the inclined plane as most of the listeners probably had not, the lack of more details may lose some. I think that with less character background the listener/reader is left wondering what could be or could have been……. sometimes anyways. This was one of those for me.

  9. 9

    Spork said,

    May 20, 2008 @ 6:51 am

    I liked this one, but up until the happy ending, I just kept thinking that it should have been on pseudopod.

    I, too, kept thinking of City Talkers, but I wasn’t sure if it was the weather connection, or the reader connection.

    All in all, a satisfying story. I knew she was going to do something, but I couldn’t figure out what it was before she did it. It was a good solution, a satisfying ending, and a nicely told tale.

    Now, about the audio quality? You’ve really gotta fix that. There were so many audio artifacts that I thought I was listening on an ancient radio in the middle of a mountain valley.

  10. 10

    Curtis said,

    May 22, 2008 @ 3:40 pm

    Great story. Having family who is from Johnstown I felt connected from the beginning. I too see the City Talkers similarities. Who would have guessed “Mr. Flood” and he controls the rain?!?!

  11. 11

    Snöfrid said,

    May 29, 2008 @ 6:59 am

    It’s an really awesome story. I can’t help but wondering over the possibility of this happening in reality. I’ve always felt conected to air and water, I can watch the rain or the waves at sea for hours. It’s like the water’s whispering to me. Anyway I loved this story, it’s really remarkable.

  12. 12

    Dave said,

    June 5, 2008 @ 8:54 pm

    Uh… ok.

    I think I would have liked it better if she’d just given in and they’d made a flood to put all previous floods to shame.

    Her motivation seemed kind of weak, to me. I mean, the old man was clearly crazy, yes. But the upside down rain thing just… I dunno.

    The flood itself was more interesting than either of the characters. I’d rather have just heard a story about a terrible flood and the way the townsfolk dealt with it, whether it ended up helping them or not.

  13. 13

    Enknot said,

    June 9, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

    This is the craziest thing ever. Ok, so both my folks are from Johnstown (pronounced John’s Town) and I was born in 1977. My mom was pregnant with me when that flood they speak of hit. She almost died with me in there. She told me a really freaky story about being trapped in a building during that flood, and of a stranger who after helping them seemed to vanish. Luckily they got out and moved to Maryland. I can’t tell you how on point they are about how small an inconsequential that town is, but I think it has more to do with Mr. Steel leaving town, I’m sure Mr. Flood punctuated the message of “get out” to those who made it away.

    Way to go Mr. Flood!

  14. 14

    Dave said,

    June 12, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

    I agree with the previous comments.

    I was enjoyed this story until the end but I found the end to be unsatisfying.

  15. 15

    The Fix | From the Podosphere: May 2008 said,

    July 16, 2008 @ 7:38 am

    […] “Fear of Rain” by Robert T. Jeschonek (read by Mur Lafferty), Johnstown is subject to disastrous floods […]

  16. 16

    Ben said,

    August 12, 2008 @ 11:45 am

    I can’t handle it. Yes, we talk funny in Western Pennsylvania but it’s not Johnston. It’s Johnstown. There is no question about it. I don’t know how you fancy city folks learned English, but us small town, non progressive idiots say “JohnstoWn.” There is a “W.” I know, we’re just illiterate out here in the middle of nowhere, but come on. It’s so distracting it’s hard to even listen to the story.

  17. 17

    Jaxon said,

    August 30, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

    I really enjoyed this tale. It was a tad poignant and [doom trodden] for my taste but the luxurous use of language to paint clear and emotive pictures of the actions, scenes, and feelings was nothingless than beautiful poetry disguised as prose.
    The flawless reading by Mur Lafferty probably made the audio version more enjoyable than actually reading this story.
    I wondered whether these people are normal mortals until chosen to carry on the supernatural work by their wards or were they born that way. I wondered if Mr. Flood soon died bitter and resentful after the double cross. I wondered if Aphrodite gave up her power in reversing the flood or if she eventually had to bring on another flood and
    protege. However, I chalked up these missing details as characteristic of a short story.
    The fact that there was a real historical Johnstown flood made the story more riveting.

  18. 18

    Fear of Rain « Writing Every Day said,

    October 23, 2008 @ 11:44 pm

    […] of Rain Posted on October 23, 2008 by Pam Phillips While listening to a reading of “Fear of Rain,” by Robert T. Jeschoneck, I was immediately drawn in by  Aphrodite, […]

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