Second Jonah

The missile plumes rose silently into the sky like ghastly fingers.

I fell to my knees.

Coming across the plains, the launch rumble reached into my chest seconds later. It was the thunder of God’s own voice uttering doom – Nineveh unrepentant – and I am to blame. They curled over my head, white and tipped with fire, straining to clench an apocalyptic fist and rip light from the sun. I watched until they vanished in the clouds, then rose and stumbled in the opposite direction.

Sweat inside my mask, my breathing loud and labored by panic. The heavy pack pounded on my back with each step on the hard dirt, the metal rifle stock dug into my side, prodding me on.

It was a mile to the road, then another to the station with its long steps down to the steel-door basement.

I have never, ever run a four-minute mile.

Weird thoughts crowded my head. Stupid ones. The world was ending and the question burning in my mind was if Alice ate all the candy out of the MREs.

Small wonder someone finally pushed the button; Humanity’s sense of proportion is totally out of whack. I mean it’s the fucking Apocalypse and I couldn’t stop thinking about M&Ms.

And the nagging accusation this was all my fault.

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