The sirens rise softly, like a red sunset. A driver hits the brakes,
rolls down his window to listen. A young boy’s jaw trembles
as he stares at his mother, screaming to the sky for salvation.
Pedestrians panic into a frenzy of self preservation.
They push and pull and pummel their way to assumed safety.
Or they stand still, looking for help or hope or comforting words.
That’s when the brilliant light comes.
The city becomes a space of screams and burnt out retinas.
The heat flash hits and melts the skin of man and woman,
child and animal, sets clothes aflame as easy as the pages
of a history book, burns the flesh, the vomit, the shit and dries
the piss in the seconds before the blast arrives to redesign
the face of this magnificent city into a charred ruins.
No one survives within five miles of Piccadilly – ground zero.
In the suburbs, reinforced windows shatter all the same. Frightened
families hide in basements or under hastily constructed
lean-to shelters made from living room doors. Adults cry
as much as the children as they puke and panic with the terror that sends
them into shock. Roofs of houses crack open to radioactive dust, looming
high above the ground in a gyre of wind and heat that will not sustain.
The hopeless souls await the fallout.