On Monday, September 6, 2004, the floodgate began to leak. Rain inundated the streets of Winterfield, Australia. Residents of the houses lining Winterfield's streets rushed back to their homes as the rain assaulted them harder and harder. A single lightning bolt flashed through the dark, cloudy sky. The clap of thunder following it drew gasps and cringes from various people. What drew yet more gasps was the mournful wailing of the siren from Winterfield's town hall.
Ten-year-old Ivy Wells heard the siren as well as anyone else. She sat under a tree half a kilometer from the city, staring over the field of flowers at the line of trees blocking her view of the city. Her parents were probably looking for her now, but they wouldn't know where to look. She'd neglected to tell them this time, and this wasn't a place she usually visited. Ironically, she had only come here to pick flowers for them.
The siren didn't stop for another miserable five minutes. Ivy wanted to run home the whole time, but didn't want to leave the security of her tree. A jumble of large branches and leaves above her allowed only a few drips of water through, but the number of drips was steadily increasing. She looked up. The leaves were bending under the continuous barrage of rain. Still, Ivy savored the last dry moments she could before a bucket load of rain water splashed over her head. Her sleeveless, light blue dress did little to keep her dry. It was a summer outfit, after all. It had been so hot out just an hour ago.
Now soaked and cold as she'd be anywhere else, Ivy got to her feet and walked out from under her tree. The wind had picked up since she'd taken cover. Now, it pushed against her, making running near impossible.