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The Airborne Gift
An Account of the Winston Bombing
The movie was fucking horrible. Sadly, the best part about it was the overpriced Dr. Pepper I bought beforehand. I wish I could say that the worst parts were the sappy Christmas scenes and the shitty bathrooms, but no, the worst was yet to come. Nonetheless, the whole thing absolutely reeked of cheesiness and soft-headed romance.
The only reason I was even watching this stupid shit-fest was because my friend had given me a ticket and described it as a witty comedy. I suppose that was her idea of a joke, because to my dismay, it was a really fucking stupid romantic comedy, and I was never exactly a huge fan of the genre in the first place.
It happened around the point that I realized that the movie was going nowhere but downhill, and pretty damn fast by the looks of it. Looking around me at the sparsely packed theater, I could see several girls with glazed-over eyes, their entire beings infiltrated by this horrendous Christmas romance. A few of them had boyfriends with them, who were all either snoozing or checking their watches impatiently. I stood up to leave when suddenly the movie was cut short and the lights were turned on. For a split-second, I thought that somehow I had done something wrong, but then realized that would be ridiculous. Confused, I just stood there, waiting for something to happen. After much complaining from the girls and cries of relief from the boys, a greasy teenager stumbled in with an expression of pure terror on his face. I recognized him as the one who had sold me my Dr. Pepper.
“Out! Out!” he screamed frantically. “Everybody get out, and just go home! I’ve no time to explain, just go!” He was clearly in absolute terror of some unknown horror.
There was a bit of baffled murmuring before an extremely obese woman heaved herself out of her chair. I was amazed that she could stand, much less manage to actually stuff herself into one of those seats.
“But Ah paid fifty fer me an’ mah young ‘uns!” she bellowed amidst a swarm of children.
The terrified soda vendor took out his wallet and threw a wad of cash in her general direction, telling us even more fervently to leave, with a tense, trembling finger fixated on the emergency exit.
When I finally made it outside, I was absolutely blown away by the chaos that met my eyes. It was as if every inmate of every asylum for the criminally insane had broken loose. Police were beating people senselessly; cars were ramming into everything within reach; people were slaughtering each other right in the parking lot; children screamed for their mothers. I needed to find out just what the fuck was going on there, so I found a man who looked safe enough to approach.
“Sir? Sir?” I asked. “Excuse me, sir? Can you tell me what in the holy fuck is going on out here?”
He just stared at me hopelessly, with tears welled up in his eyes. “You don’t know?” he replied. He was barely audible over the surrounding cacophony of madness.
I shook my head.
“We’re gonna die…. They’re gonna kill us all…. We’re gonna burn….”
“Who’s going to kill us? What’s going to make us burn?”
He blinked at me, fresh tears rolling down his face. “The nukes…. They’re gonna drop…right here… right In this city….”
“Who!? Who is doing this!?”
He just shrugged his shoulders sadly and shuffled along, seemingly in a daze. I simply stood there, dumbfounded. I was hardly aware of the anarchy around me. I just kept thinking: Who? Who’s dropping the bombs? It couldn’t be true, it just couldn’t. It was less than a week before Christmas, there was no way this was happening. I tried telling myself that Wal-Mart had been set on fire, or that Apple went out ofj business, but I knew the man had been telling the truth, I just knew. Catastrophe was nigh.
It eventually occurred to me to try and verify what the man had said, so I went from person to person, but they either didn’t know anything, or it gave me the same story the first man had told me. Yet, nobody I asked seemed to know who it was that had launched the nukes. It wasn’t until a police officer bashed me across the face and told me to go home that I snapped out of my panic.
At first I started to walk back towards my car, but soon realized that there would be no way to get out of the parking lot amidst all this pandemonium (given the car was even still intact). Luckily, I only lived a few blocks away from the Winston Cinema, so it wouldn’t take all that long to get home by foot
But who knew how long would be too long?
The journey home wasn’t much better than the parking lot. Every law there was under the sun seemed to have been thrown out the window. Vehicles lay stranded in the road; people lay injured or dead in the streets…. Gunshots and explosions were incessantly sounding in the near distance, mostly from police, but some from civilians. Some of those areas also had tear gas being implemented, but, luckily, I managed to skirt around those areas. It wasn't until I was nearly home that the tornado sirens went off. But I knew all too well that it wasn't tornadoes. Those sirens… they… they were manifest omens of death, banshees wailing in the distance for all to hear- for all to know…. Cold, chilling, bloodcurdling, ghastly… all these words apply. It didn't matter if you plugged your ears, nor does it matter now that my ears have been blasted completely deaf. They're always sounding, always echoing in my head, always reminding me of my imminent death. They may have long grown silent since, but they might as well be still going off.
Finally, and miraculously, I managed to make it home without much difficulty. After locking and bolting all the doors and windows to keep people from breaking in, I immediately put my cat Greens into his carrier and brought him downstairs to the basement, along with his food and a bowl of water. I then brought all of my canned and non-frozen food down, followed by all of my drinks. I scoured my kitchen for any jars and containers, emptied and rinsed them, filled some with water, and brought them down too. It was as I was going back up for pillows and blankets that I first heard the distant buzzing of planes. Strangely, at first I just stood there, listening as the insect-like buzzing grew steadily louder, thinking to myself: why are they using planes instead of missiles?
After that, I'm not really sure what exactly happened, for the next thing I remember was crying in the basement, with Greens in my lap, when the loudest, most God-forsaken blast met my body and ears, which ultimately knocked me out, as I woke up on the ground later in complete darkness, in what felt like an industrial furnace. My first thoughts were that I'd died and gone to Hell. Well, half of that was true. I may not have died, but I certainly did go to Hell. But I can feel my death coming soon. Everyone I ever knew or cared about is most likely dead. Friends… family… all gone. All of them. I knew I shouldn't leave the basement, but the heat was unbearable.
There's no hope anymore. None whatsoever. All I can do now is sit in this burning world and wait for that Dark Angel to finally take me away from this place.
Yet, despite my hopeless situation, something pushes me onwards in my meager and painful existence. I still drink this irradiated shit and still eat my irradiated food. I still kept on living after I crawled out of my basement into these charred ruins. I still kept going after Greens died purring and sick from radiation in my lap. I still breathe even though the air burns my lungs. Something keeps me going. Looking around me, all I see is decay and ruin. The sun never shines anymore. The rain is black and the ash that hangs in the air pricks at my skin. I can barely breathe, and when I cough, blood comes out. It feels as if my organs are rotting alive, which probably isn't too far from the truth.
I write this in the hopes that maybe somebody, someday, will find this and read it. I want the children of tomorrow to know just what exactly took place here in Winston in the year 2035. Maybe, just maybe, humanity will learn from its mistakes. But my hopes aren’t high, because we obviously didn’t learn from Nagasaki or Hiroshima. We still wage war and destruction, even though all it does is tear us apart. But at least now I can rest with the knowledge that I made at least some attempt to change the future. All I can do now is hope, despite how hopeless this all seems.