He saw on the news bulletin that the first rocket had been launched. So it has begun. Larry grabbed the phone to call Rosie. No point, he told himself, she probably already knows. News cables take longer to reach here anyways. The TV screen showed thousands of people fleeing, panicking, into underground shelters. Rosie was probably one of them anyways. He hung up.
The recent global unrest had been on everyone’s mind right now. Many of the people interviewed on the news, especially all the big, wealthy businessmen, were concerned about the future of the economy. Larry was disgusted by their attitude—all he cared about was Rosie. He was content with life on the mountain: it wasn’t easy, of course, but in his opinion, it was easier than navigating through the digital age. He didn’t even know how to use a cell phone. Here on the mountain, he grew his own food, hunted his own meat, made and washed his own clothes. The only reason why he cared about the world was because of his Rosie, who lived in the city fifty miles away.
The US Intelligence Agency confirms that the missile will hit one of the major cities on the West Coast, the news bulletin said. Larry felt the hair rise on his neck. He should be fine—he was in the mountains, the last place the explosions would find. But what about Rosie? Relax, he told himself, she’ll know what to do. He looked outside the window and noted that the night was still heavy—the sun was still far away. He wished for a sunrise: even after living here for over ten years, he still found it fascinating.
BREAKING NEWS: The US Military has fired 10 Minuteman IV missiles at Russia, after it was confirmed that Russia had fired four more similar thermonuclear devices. Larry closed his eyes. The TV continued to ramble.
Reports have come in that the first nuclear device has been detonated over Los Angeles… This is only an initial report, so information is still shaky… That’s what they always say. So it has begun. Larry began to pace back and forth. If only Rosie would call… He thought of the early days, when she was still with him—those happy, carefree days. Before this global screw-up, before the marriage screw-up, before the other man, before all the things in his life went downhill… Now Rosie was the only thing he had left.
It has been confirmed that a thermonuclear device has been detonated over Los Angeles… Information is still sketchy due to the lack of witnesses—there are very few survivors… It appears that Los Angeles has ceased to exist… It has been wiped off the map… There’s nothing there except a giant firestorm… God be with those on the ground…
The phone suddenly rang. Larry did not ever think of how he was able to get to the phone, which was in the kitchen, in one leap.
“Dad?” A tight voice inquired agitatedly.
“Dad, they’re starting to say that the bomb shelters aren’t strong enough…” Larry sighed as sobbing came across the line.
Homeland Security has determined that the nuclear bomb shelters may be inadequate in some of the cities…The news report droned audibly in the background. They said they “simply didn’t expect that Russia would use such large weapons… To create shelters for such powerful weapons… it’s an act of God…”
“I’m really scared right now…”
“Come here, Rosie. Come to my place. I’ll take care of you. You’ll be safe here…”
“Ok.” Rosie’s voice suddenly had the composition of ten years ago: of trust, of innocence, sweetness. How much Larry longed for that only his heart will know. The phone clicked. Larry went back to the news.
The US Military is monitoring the other four missiles and is attempting to remove these threats to the American people. Army bases are launching surface to air fragment missiles and patrol aircraft are doing their best to shoot them down as well. There is a remote possibility that LA will be alone in this catastrophe…
For once in half a lifetime, Larry could breathe normally. So there was hope. He thought of the time he showed her the beautiful sunrise—it was the only thing they ever shared after everything faded into grey. The soft rays of orange and red, tinged with purple and golden clouds, the sun rising like a fruit dripping with honey…
The US military has confirmed that one of the hostile missiles has been disabled. It has been supposed that the missile was heading for Washington DC.
It then occurred to Larry that he would have to make preparations for Rosie. He would have to clear the spare room out for her and get all the blankets and things for her to keep warm. It was chilly in the mountains.
Larry went outside to get the laundry. The sky was still black: sun had not yet risen. The only light there was were the lights from the house—Larry heard that the city had a curfew for lights to ensure that missiles would have a harder time finding their targets. Larry wondered perhaps whether he should do the same. What the heck, he thought, I have pine trees on top of me—how on earth is a missile going to find a humble cabin lamp like mine? He finished his task and went back in.
Experts have confirmed that the destruction at Los Angeles was caused by a 150+ megaton thermonuclear device. It was specifically designed to wipe out a large city and its surrounding suburbs regardless of detonation location. The largest nuclear weapon ever detonated prior to today was the Tsar-Bomb at 100 megatons. This bomb was around 10,000 times more powerful than the one detonated by the US during World War 2 on Hiroshima… Larry switched the channel.
Nuclear scientists estimate the fireball at 10 miles wide, with fallout ranging for 150 miles or so… Larry found himself sweating, regardless of the chill. He went into his room and took a look at the map. His cabin, built by scratch and by his own hands, sat a comfortable distance away from downtown—it took like an hour just to get to the suburbs. But how far exactly was his house from the city? The news report bugged him. His shaking hands drew out a ruler. Slowly, dreadfully, he counted the marks. 25 centimeters! He said aloud. Larry looked at the legend to see the scale. 2km/cm. He did the math. The pieces of information in his brain suddenly connected, a match he had denied for years. Reeling, careening, half-faint with horror, he stumbled out of the room like a madman. The windows were still black with night.
“The light itself is strong enough to incinerate someone completely even at 75 miles away… Buildings fifty miles away would be flattened…” The words of the report continued to resonate and echo in his head. God, spare Salt Lake City, spare Salt Lake…
Satellite images suggest that the first of America’s Minuteman IV missiles have detonated on-target. We are currently unable to download any images as of now…
Russia has confirmed that all our missiles have detonated on their targets… Another thirty Russian missiles have been recorded by our satellites… The US Military is bravely fighting this grave threat.
Larry could only stare.
US submarines have launched a second wave of nuclear missiles into Russia… It has been reported that they are successful…
Russia has declared an “Operation Kliinesslate” in which, they boast, “When this is over, America will burn from coast to coast, with no piece of land left green…” While American officials remain unconvinced about such remarks, the military is stepping up to—… It was then when a horrible screeching sound and the TV screen melted into static. Larry stopped, then understood the meaning of it. Operation Kliin-whatever-you-call-it had started. Russia is keeping a promise for the first time.
A car horn honked outside. Rosie! Larry rushed outside. Rosie met him with open arms. So the end has come, Larry thought to himself. At least, he thought, if the fireballs find me, I won’t be alone. It was still dark outside.
It didn’t take long for Larry to explain things to his daughter. She did not berate him, she did not scrunch her face, nor did she get up and leave. All those behaviors she used to exhibit were no longer there. She merely nodded her head. The two of them bowed their heads and said nothing for a long time.
Larry bowed his head and glanced at his watch. 5:37 am.
“Come, Rosie.” She followed silently. Larry led her from the dining table, through the living room, and out the door. Rosie did not question him. It was still pitch black.
They stood like that on the porch for a few minutes. Neither spoke. Then, there was a sliver of red, poking out through the clouds. The sky began to brighten in a rainbow of colors, first orange, then yellow, and finally, the red sun of dawn.
“It’s so… beautiful…” Rosie whispered. The daughter’s hand sought for her father’s hand, and Larry’s eyes moistened as the dream of his life came true. For him, with tears distorting the colors like a kaleidoscope, this was the most beautiful dawn he had ever seen. Rosie was crying too, silently. She had been floating from man to man looking for the fatherly figure she had always missed. For her, with her hand firmly held for the first time, she knew that at least there was one who cared for her. For them, they were both smiling when the first sunrise ended and the second one began.
If admirals hate and trash your ships,
If you can't get it right;
Then off you go, but don't call quits;
Just go make custom sprites.