What the hell? What am I doing sitting in a parked car at night? I was just… where was I? Where AM I?
A car pulled up alongside, and the passenger’s window rolled down. A shotgun barrel poked out. The shotgun blast shattered the driver’s window and the driver’s skull.
Now everything is blue. Wait, that’s sky, I’m lying down, in a… field? Some kind of field. There’s a… village? Medieval style, is this a theme park or something? Must be, there’s a plane coming in. Wait, the plane is flapping its wings? How —
The dragon ignited the village with its breath, and continued on to incinerate the hay field and its sole occupant, who died screaming.
City. Now I’m in a city. Crowds, busy. Street names, ha! New York? Okay, so— yes, the World Trade Center is still there, this must be before 9/11. News stand, they still have news stands, it’s Wednesday, February 14, 1996. That sounds familiar. Think, think…
The time between the awareness of a bright light and bursting into flame from the nuclear detonation was less than a second.
Back in New York. Again? What was that, a bomb? Shit, yes, February 14 —
The slight shadow from a building added 5.2 seconds before death.
— 1996, my book, The Valentines Day War, it started with New York City getting nuked. Subway entrance, I need to get underground!
The subway collapsed from the force of the bomb’s blast. Some victims lived for hours before succumbing to wounds.
Look around, look around, okay, this is Queens, I had the bomb go off over Manhattan. Where would I find a bomb shelter?
The bomb obliterated Manhattan, but none of the surrounding boroughs or areas in New Jersey were spared.
I’m being carried. What? I’m small? I’m a kid? Can I warn somebody?
“What is it honey?” The child’s father looked up to where his toddler daughter was pointing. “Do you see something, honey? Is it a bird?” They were both staring in the direction of the bomb when it detonated.
It’s dark. It’s night, but I can hear a city. Okay, I was in an alley, it’s a city, it’s Chinese, I think, no the signs are partly English, some Chinatown neighborhood? I’m wearing a dress, what? I’m a girl? Reflection in the window… I’m a hooker? I’m a hooker in Chinatown. I’m in “The Chinatown Strangler.” No, this is good, I know how it ends, he’s a cop, I just need to watch for cops. I can do this.
The hands grabbed the woman from the darkened doorway as she passed. She never had a chance to scream.
New York again. I bet it’s still Valentines Day. How many million people did I kill off in the first paragraph? There’s the—
Over eight million people lived in New York City and the surrounding area in February 1996. A multi-megaton nuclear detonation over the center of Manhattan, with the subsequent fallout, would kill many more than that.
The adolescent boy and his mother sat by the hospital bedside of her father. The boy was fascinated by the beeping machines at first, but eventually grew bored. “Mom, is it okay if I read?”
His mother glanced at the comatose figure in the bed. The doctor had told her it was just a matter of hours, really, and he would never regain consciousness before he finally passed away. “Sure, honey! I think your grandfather would be pleased.”
The boy tapped through book selections on his tablet. “Mom! I was gonna read one of Grandpa’s books, but it won’t let me! It says they’re all age-restricted!”
His mother glanced at her father again before stroking her son’s head. “Sorry, honey, maybe in a few years, okay. The books that Grandpa wrote… well, they can be a little gory and gruesome for someone your age.”
“Oh.” The boy tapped through more selections before looking at his mother. “Do a lot of people die in Grandpa’s books?”
His mother looked at the figure in the bed again. Parts of the body twitched occasionally, but the nurse said that was not unusual this close to end-of-life. “Yes, honey, an awful lot of people die in Grandpa’s books!”
Credit to Ann Litts for giving me this idea. Sorry, Ann, I went just a little bit dark with it!