Friday, August 20, 2004

Nuclear Redemption

We all knew it was gonna happen again. The sirens had been screaming again, it would just be a matter of time till the bomb dropped. People ran about, frantically looking for cover. I was calm. No. Not calm. Resignated. I had seen all this before, and their panic seemed foolish in the face of the inevitable.

There were a few nuclear shelters for the privileged, scattered over the hills like little huts. They were rather meant to calm the masses than to be really effective. They didn’t go very deep into the hill. What’s the point of survival anyway?
Still, my survival instinct caught up with me. Did I really just want to wait? Maybe there was hope. I ran into one of the bunkers, which was crowding with people.

I don’t know what architectural moron had been at work here, but I wonder if people really wanted to have a panoramic view of the coast from the bunker, where mushroom clouds would rise into a burning sky soon, like this was a luxurious 5-star-hotel. The panoramic view bunkers were the most expensive ones. I guess the architect had really missed the point here.
Hah. Maybe it wasn’t too bad if you painted them white.

I had seen it all before. Just the memory made my blood freeze. People melting, burning, being torn to shreds by the heat and the nuclear storm. Screaming, roaring, the incredible stench of burnt flesh which would actually smell marvellously of grilled pork, if you didn’t know it was human.

I pushed the memories away, looking around corners for more protective cover, even though I knew how pointless it would be. The covers that kept people from being burnt immediately would collapse onto them, crushing them, and the few that would survive this would be devoured by the firestorm.

But there was still optimism. People fought tooth and nail for the corners away from the windows, even though they must have known how little difference these spots made.
Why bother to survive? Just so you can die a slow, horrible, agonizing death? Why fighting for shelter if all it did was to extend hell?

I pushed my way back outside, against the stream of people trying to get in.
The sirens’ howl was deafening, but I could hear the sound of approaching bomber planes cutting through the noise. I turned to the coast and saw them coming.
And suddenly I was calm.
I heard crying and turned around. A little girl stood behind me, sobbing, screaming her little lungs out for her mom who seemed to have disappeared. Maybe momma was one of the few lucky ones who managed to get a class A seat behind the bunker window.
I took her hand. The little one was so desperate with fear, she did not discriminate. Any adult who would stick with her was fine with her. She clung to me.
“Hey, it’s ok!” I said. My mad reason told me I should find shelter for her. But did I really want this little angel to burn alive, turn into charcoal in front of my eyes?
She looked up at me.
“Let’s go to the beach, sweetheart!” I said. “I’ll buy you an ice cream, and then we’ll watch the clouds, what do you say?”
She smiled through her tears.
It would be over in the fraction of a second. We would be gone before our disintegrating bodies registered the heat, or the pain.
And when we walked down to the beach, there was no more fear in us.

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