This is for the rainy day blogfest. It says something fairly sad that the thing I most associate with rain is cricket. Well, that and imaginary rain creatures. I hope you enjoy it.
Per sat in the cricket ground’s stand and listened to the raindrops as they fell around her. Big ones, little ones, awkward ones that slithered inside the collar of her raincoat. The ground staff dragged the covers out onto the pitch for the fifth time today.
‘Excuse me, miss?’ Per hadn’t heard the man approach. Or his two heavily built colleagues, either. She should really have spotted him, given the brightness of his red and yellow blazer. ‘Would you come with us for a minute?’
‘But they might be back on soon.’
Per swore as the two larger men took hold of her arms and lifted her between them. ‘You can’t do this. I’m-’
‘We know what you are,’ the first man said. ‘Please don’t be difficult.’
They dragged her to a room at the top of the pavilion, where an older man sat at one side of a desk, reading a file. They deposited Per in a chair.
‘What’s going on?’ Per demanded. ‘Who are you? You have no right-’
‘Actually, we do.’ The man opposite her put down the file. Per saw that it had “Persistent Light Drizzle” at the top. How had they got her full name? ‘As for who I am, you can call me the major. Have you heard of the MCC’s paranormal division?’
Per shuddered. She’d heard rumours about the men in red and yellow.
‘Cricket is a delicate game,’ the major said. ‘So vulnerable to the weather. Especially in a world with sun birds and storm gods, rain dancers and cloud dragons. And rain nymphs, of course.’
‘You know what I am?’ Per was impressed, despite her fear.
‘Of course.’ The major steepled his fingers. ‘What we don’t know, oddly, is why you’re here. We’ve run checks, obviously, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of bookies paying you for the draw. Or the opposition team, either, and you’d think they’d welcome it, the way their middle order has been going. Of course, if you had been doing that, you would have been in quite a bit of trouble.’
Per could imagine. Or at least, she could imagine enough not to want to imagine.
‘My own guess,’ the major said, ‘is that you actually like the game.’
Per nodded. ‘I do like it. Running about. People hitting sixes. They look so happy. Well… until the rain arrives. I’m sorry. I really can’t help it.’
‘I know, which is why I’ve bought you this.’ He handed Per a square of cardboard.
‘A ticket to Australia?’ Per glanced around nervously. ‘I’m being deported?’
‘Nothing like that. We’d just like you to help your country. It’s an Ashes year, after all, and… well, I’m afraid that without a little help from the weather, our boys could be in some trouble. Will you help?’
Per nodded so fast that the water in her raincoat splashed around her ears.
‘That’s settled then,’ the major said. ‘Cucumber sandwiches all round to celebrate, I think.’