The bombs came suddenly, blooming into existence like infernal mushrooms. It was hard to pinpoint exactly where the first ones struck though experts would later on agree it was somewhere along the Virginia coast. New York’s only came three minutes after.
One moment, there had been nothing but the dullness of the storm. The snow falling from the formless sky muffled the busy, incessant thrashing of the city in a billion heavy patterns. Muffled sounds even like a pillow pushed up on a loudspeaker. Even the trains had seemed distant.
Then there had been the buzzing, tinkling and clicks of electronics frizzling, the city’s doom heralded by a vanguard of electromagnetic radiation.
In the days that followed, the pundits would gush about the initial flurry of rockets that flew in response and counter-response from both sides of the seaboard. They would say that NORAD did not fail, telling how quickly the North Dakotan ranges had emptied. A farmer would go on a tour, detailing how the thunder of motors echoed one after the other for hours, and hurled long-bodied Minutemen into the sky. The TVs would show still many more gratuitous pictures of the torn East, all the while whispering of what New York had once been.
But that last night had been a normal winter night for many, magical even for a few. Had there been time, she would have written of it. Her diary, filled with the written rigor of her regime, would have told of how she’d put on the shear red dress she’d bought on a whim months ago. The mirror had reflected a different woman back at her, one who wore shear things, who coiffed her hair into elegant buns and dabbed crimson red lipstick across her lips.
She would have written of the warm coat hugging her new form all the way to the nightclub, and the thrill she’d felt in dancing under so many eyes.
He might have written too. Perhaps about work but most likely about a beautiful Chinese boy he’d spied on Columbus Circle and wooed. ”Eze mu,” he’d whispered that last night, dropping kisses upon his lover’s closed eyes. My king.
Enfolded in each other, they’d stuffed cold palms into the warm crook between arm and shoulder, their legs twined like resting garters. They had died like rabbits usually die, sleeping in their winter dens.