Old Man Star made it rain; made it rain paper air-planes and starfish. He'd never understood how he made these fall from the sky and the why, now he was elderly, barely mattered.
the Second World War he'd been closely studied by scientists and head
doctors; poked and prodded by men in white coats like a lab-bred rat.
The Home he lived in allowed that. They'd taken him in after finding
him, as a young boy, wandering London's bombed streets. He couldn't
tell them his name, where he lived, or if he had family. There were
fragments, but they were hazy, lodged in a part of his brain that he
had limited access to.
then, cases like him were thought to be caused by the doodlebug
bombs: low-flying bombs that quietly dropped out of the sky, but
exploded loudly. Doctors said they upset the circuitry in his head,
but he didn't know anything about that; all he knew was that he was
different. The other Home kids fell down suddenly and fitted, whereas
he, subconsciously, made intricate paper planes and brightly coloured
starfish rain from the heavens.
to remember his own name, the nurses had named him David, which was
better than being called Star Boy or Boy Spy. He grew up there for
ten years surrounded by a mixture of awe and fear as they said he was
able to enter a world that others couldn't. Was what he could do
trickery or an inexplicable condition?
agreed it was undoubtedly a combination of the two, but David at
sixteen believed he'd been chosen to show that not everything was
always just so; miracles happen as does the perverse, the bizarre,
the impossible. The world was full of random occurrences and he was
one of them. War had torn up nature's rules and chosen to rewire him.
could smell when it was about to happen like heavy rain hanging in
the air or the fresh scent of spring. His pores soaking it up like a
withered plant until a tingling sensation took over his hands, shot
up his arms and exited forcefully from the crown of his head so that
it threw his skull back to the sky. His arms pinned to his sides with
the palms of both hands spread wide as his eyes rolled inwards.
in that twitching pose, pilot-less paper air-planes would then dive
from the skies and release bombs of bright orange sea stars. As they
dropped, some of these starfish would sag and lose one or two of
their five arms, which would spin off and land with a splat somewhere
on a tree-lined street. Passers-by found shelter whenever they could
and peered in earnest at their heavens as the street they'd just been
walking along became littered with flimsy fighter planes and strange
star-shaped fish. The Second World War was over long ago, what was
reaction was always the same when this rain suddenly stopped. They
glanced nervously about and then cautiously crept out from their
hiding spots. Small boys excitedly picked up the paper planes and
played war games; housewives inspected the starfish and collected
them in buckets; shopkeepers cleaned their smeared windows, and
people continued on to wherever they are going to or coming from.
when recovering from a trance, shook himself like a wet dog and gazed
at his surroundings with a nonplussed and slightly amused expression.
Had he caused that? And that? He was usually trapped in a monochrome
world the next day and the day after; grainy images of the world
floated around him and were gradually broken up by vivid flecks of
raining paper planes and sea stars used up precious energy making
David old well before his appointed time. The years were brutally
stripped away before he'd lived them until his eyes twinkled and his
face glowed with a translucency. Nobody now wondered what he was: he
was an old man, an old star.