A relentless rain pattered against the roof of the shelter. As the sporadic lightning flashed, the forest’s trees were illuminated as the storm’s ruthless energy blew them back and forth. Huddled in the makeshift shelter, a stoic Edward sat, gazing out at the fury of mother nature.
His face bore many superficial gashes from tree limbs and the dirt of the forest had stuck to this sweaty skin like tar.
Plagued by exhaustion and an insatiable hunger, the aviator was in a daze. Ed had followed his training to a tee, with no result. With rescue out of the equation until the seemingly interminable weather cleared, he utilized the wings of his downed Tomcat as the shelter in which he now sat. Hearing footsteps from behind him, Ed turned and looked up at his copilot and best friend.
“Get any sleep?” Ed asked.
“Nah.” Jack, Ed’s copilot--a sandy haired, tall, muscular man responded.
“Haven’t seen this much rain since...” The Marine’s voice trailed off, “Well… ever, really.”
Ed’s eyes darted around, the downpour blurring his vision of the forest around him. He swallowed heavily, exhaled, nodded.
“It’s comin’ down,” He affirmed.
What had been a routine training mission over rural Virginia had turned into chaos when both engines on their F-14 tomcat had failed simultaneously. This extremely rare phenomenon known as dual engine failure is something that all pilots train for. But that night, in the pouring rain and close to zero visibility, the two pilots had no choice but to eject.
Ed reached into the pocket of his flight suit and retrieved a small, brown notebook. It had a pen velcroed to the outside which he removed. These notebooks were actually called “Rite in the Rains.” The pilot chuckled to himself as he had previously always laughed at that title--but tonight, this book would certainly live up to its name.
The aviator stared at the blank paper for a few moments, the soft glow of his emergency flashlight providing just barely enough light to write. With hands trembling from fear, cold, and exhaustion, Ed slowly forced himself to write each word carefully:
This was no accident.
We hit something at Angels 12
Hercules thought it was turbulence.
I did too.
We hit something.
I know it.
While he wrote this, the sky continued to dance with the bright and furious display of lightning. But as the bolts danced through the night sky, Ed too felt in his heart an arcing of hope. There had to be a logical explanation to this. They had hit something, lost control, punched out, and were waiting to be rescued.
All they had to do was wait until the rain stopped.
But what if the rain never stopped?
What if this storm lasted for days? They had no food, no containers to collect the water, and the nearest town was at least an hour’s walk in an unknown direction.
They just had to wait. And hope the rain would stop.
It had to, right?
‘The rain will stop…. Any second now….’ Ed thought to himself…
And then he fell asleep.
The next morning, police responded to Ed’s house after water began to flood out of his front door and flow down his neighborhood’s road like a river. Paramedics removed the Naval Aviator’s body from the bathtub, where the man had died from drowning. On the counter in the bathroom, a note had been written and left for investigators to find:
You’re the only person who could stop the rain. But you said no.
I planned to marry you since that very first date in flight school.
But you pushed me out.
You said no when I got down on my knee.
I love you.
And I’d rather die than live in a world
Where you don’t love me back.