“Dirty weather where the sun don’t shine. Dirty weather with not much air. Broken trees, chaos and radiation in the air.”
The day of the beginning of the end was nothing except ordinary. The usual television and gossip, shopping and socializing. And the world was at peace. Yes, the world had finally started to learn from history and had begun to eradicate homelessness and famine and drought and poverty. There was less intolerance, racial discrimination and hatred and barely any wars. An international treaty on nuclear weapons had just begun to be discussed. The future looked bright, until the night of Tuesday the 12th of November 2034.
Blackness. Calmness and night.
The night when suddenly out of nowhere came a catastrophe that no one had foreseen. A catastrophe that was to change the world, and that could possibly eradicate humanity from history.
7.48pm, A rainy night in Europe,
A virus written by persons unknown had been transmitted to nuclear missiles in Russia and America. This had been carried by drone and had triggered the launches of multiple nuclear missiles. The nuclear missiles fell where they had been targetted, the Amazon.
The Amazon, the great giver of life, the great giver of shelter and the great giver of medicine. The home of (number) species of animals and (number) plants. The home of (number) indigenous tribes and unknown tribes.
7.53pm, Europe, London, Paris, Berlin, everywhere.
Missiles. Panic stations. Confusion, frustration. But no governments to blame.
Terror in the streets. Radios and televisions tuned to emergency broadcast stations. People crying in their homes in the villages with no shelters nearby, trying their best to hide from further attacks and radiation. People running in the streets to the shelters and the bunkers and the underground levels of buildings in the cities. People running panicked in the streets with tears in their eyes. People rushing to panic buy food and supplies.
What is happening Mother, asked a little child, but the mother did not know what to reply. And she tried to be calm but there was fear deep inside her, and fear in her eyes.
Millions of feet running through the streets, discarded belongings everywhere. People in tears. People screaming and shouting. People looking anxiously to the skies. People questioning the lengths of their lives and doubting. For what is the point, when hundreds of nuclear missiles are in mid air.
And will there be anyone left, and will anyone care? For there is no point really and I will I’m sure, too be subject to the radiation.
Forgive me, allow me to introduce myself, I am Peter Horowitz, just a normal man, going about my day like billions of others. I went to work in the office, I shuffled papers, I booked peoples holidays, I was polite to my colleagues who I don’t always agree with. I talked to my boss, a rather large fat man who sweats alot, and who is very opinionated. Hmm, I feel like I always need a wash after talking to him. For he talks and talks and the air fills with the smell of sweat, and it almost makes you vomit. But he’s the boss and I have no choice but to tolerate him.
And then afterwards, I take some much needed fresh air, and smoke a cigarette, which is no good for my health, but it is better than the smell of sweat. And afterwards I spend the next few minutes recovering. For the air is always so rancid, so rancid it feels like it could eat away at your flesh. Something I’d really rather not die of, but it seems like a good possibility. Hmm! Death by sweat and radiation. Not something that appeals to me. But I am trying to avoid the morbidity of these minutes.
I make a cup of tea, and then I fry some eggs, some mushrooms and some sausages, and then heat some baked beans and tomato’s. I also burn the toast, but it doesn’t really matter. I could be possibly cremated any minute by nuclear missiles. And this could be my last meal. It’s a strange thought really. A last meal. Not something that I would ever wish for. Well at such a young age anyway. For I’m thirty three, and I have no grey hairs and am fairly fit. I go to the gym twice a week and I exercise and go swimming. I drink lots of fruit juice. I drink a little, well beer that is, but not in great quantities. And I love to go to the cinema by myself, and I watch science fiction and action films, but not romance. For my romantic life is non existent these days. But I did have a girlfriend a couple of years ago, but it never worked out. Her name was Debra, she was short, she had blue eyes and blond hair, and was of medium build, with a good sense of humour, and also a good intellect. She worked as a Doctor and had seen everything, the most traumatic experiences of peoples lives. From births, deaths, stabbings, gunshots, cancer, tumours, diseases of the brain, well, everything really. But somehow she coped and she worked all hours and we made up for being apart by going rollerskating, ice skating, and to watch live music, and also films at the cinema. We loved to read books to each other, we wandered around the art galleries of Europe. We went on holidays to places of culture, such as Rome, Egypt, Morocco, Mexico, and Brazil. But wherever we went it was always a pleasure. And we enjoyed each others company, free of stress and the working life that creeps upon you like a cancer. A cancer that sucks the years quickly away into a black hole, never to be seen again. Anyway we had a good couple of years together, but our relationship didn’t last unfortunately. She wanted children, and we’ll I wasn’t ready.
Oh yes, Mother and Father, Karen and David Horowitz. Of Italian descent and of good humour. Well they raised me. And they raised me well in South London, Croydon to be precise, a bland sort of a place until there were the riots. The riots which burnt down Reeves corner, the most interesting Building in Croydon, well it used to be. Which doesn’t really say alot for Croydon. But it had it’s trams which made escaping a bit more fun. And I escaped most days with my sister Ruby, for school wasn’t that thrilling to say the least. We swore the teachers were brain dead, but I can see now, teaching is not an easy job and all is forgiven.
Anyway It’s funny how you look at life.
Now, back to Ruby. We were close, we were always close, when she was growing up she was tall for her age, about 5″7, and she had a great sense of humour and a love of language and art. She was witty and silly, and stood her ground when she had to, but she was always there for me, and she, she had a good heart. We went on countless school trips to the museum’s, the art galleries, the zoo’s and the funfairs. And with our parents we went to Europe, Asia and America, and visited places such as Miami, Los Angeles, Sanfrancisco, Bangkok, Singapore, Sydney, Paris, Berlin, and quite a few others. All great experiences, of which I’ll get back to later. Ah yes, Ruby. Yes. Ruby, Ruby, Ruby. One of the lyrics from one of her favourite songs. Infact I still listen to it now, now that she’s gone.
She was killed, in a car crash, and I, I, I, really still can’t believe it. Incredible really after twenty three years. But it was a savage blow, and one that I’ve never really recovered from. Neither did my parents who got divorced. But they did their best at the time, they tried to cope. They tried to deal with things in their own way. They, struggled on, we all went to counselling, but, life was never the same. As you would expect of course. Hmm. My sister. I miss, I miss her every day.
Television channels, every one, displaying videos of people in South America, all panicked and fear stricken in the streets. Wondering no doubt, what would happen and thinking, what would it mean to their lives. No one had any inkling of how bad it could be. But they all were far from hopeful as was I.
The minutes seem to drag on for an eternity and seem to crawl to a halt whilst waiting for the inevitable to happen.
The Brazilian television stations are going into overdrive. The presenters are very emotional and are unsurprisingly fearing for their lives. It is a dark time for Brazil. It is a dark time for the Earth. It is a dark day for human kind.
The ticking of the clock as I watch it is unerving. The hands seem to move so slowly, hammering home the sense of impending doom. There is no way to rest. And It is futile to even try.
8.08pm I use the bathroom. I pace backwards and forwards in the living room.
I, try to clear my mind. But it is not easy. For Hiroshima and Nagasaki fill my thoughts and I can’t but help think of all the people who’ve been incinerated and the cities devastated, in what has been so far, the worst atrocity of human times. But maybe for not much longer.
8.10pm Butterflies in my stomach, a sickness is creeping up on me. And I am already starting to feel nauseous at the thought of the many billions who could die. I feel uneasy and nervous too but the thought lays in my mind and it won’t go away.
Yet, I probably should begin to think of my own existence. For in the minutes to come nothing is guaranteed, and more missiles could be being triggered and fired into Europe. There really is no certainty of anyone living at all.
8.11pm I really should go. I grab my coat and a backpack and I fill it with food. I take the photographs of my family, and I pack some fresh clothes including a coat, some soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and some deodorant. Then I head out the door and I lock up my flat, for what may be the last time. Is this the end of days for the human race? I wonder for a brief moment, but I am in a rush.
8.12pm I step out onto the street. There are people running everywhere. I begin running too, for time is critical. I head rapidly for the underground station. I see it getting closer but it is jam packed. I have I would say about ten minutes before the missiles hit Brazil. I really cannot be certain that missiles are not being prepared to be launched at Europe.
8.13pm I reach the entrance to the underground station with much relief. Bodies are piled upon bodies. They are crammed in like sardines.
8.15pm I finally pass through the entrance to the underground station. There is an eerie silence and many hurried footsteps to the lower levels below. I am glad to be inside, for my life could depend on it.
8.17pm I walk as fast as I can given the amount of people who number in their thousands. Families with their children, couples, people on their own. I look in their eyes, and they all have that same look. Their eyes are glazed and anxious and they are waiting for the inevitable.
8.19pm The beauty of the Amazon will never be the same again. Firstly, the explosions will probably decimate some of the rain forest like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Secondly the contamination will kill off any surviving trees and the vegetation. Further more there is the possibility that the Amazon probably carries most of the cures to world diseases in its plants. Plants that we have never analysed for their medicinal qualities before. Roughly only about 4 percent have been analyzed and researched. And it is a sad day for humanity.
8.20pm I drift off out of my thoughts. I look at the people. What of their futures, what of their children’s futures? Families and people in general, who only a few hours ago were living as they usually do, going out for dinner, shopping, going to restaurants, to parties, to the movies, to school, out for walks to the beach and to the countryside. And now a couple of hours later it has all changed. And no one has a clue what the future holds including me. I wish I did but the future seems, unfathomable.
8.21pm I surprisingly find somewhere to sit, the stairs of the underground station are filled with people, the platforms are jam packed and the benches too. I sit on the floor listening to them. Some are talking frantically, some are crying, parents and children alike, many really don’t know how to react. But how can you react when you don’t know how bad it will be. I sit on the floor and think of my parents. They have been dead for over five years now. And I’m not sure what they’d make of this. When they were alive they were hopeful of the future, hopeful for a better world. The international nuclear ban was a wonderful step forward to us all and it filled them with hope especially.
8.22pm A man with a megaphone relayed a message loudly, the first reports of the sightings of the nuclear missiles over Brazil had just come in. There were seven of them, all headed to different parts of the Amazon.
8.23pm A man in the distance was pacing backwards and forwards, and talked to himself disturbed by his own thoughts. A baby cried to its mother.
A member of the underground staff stood with a grim look upon his face.
Another man nearby vomited nearly onto the tracks.
A woman in a red dress was sobbing in the distance.
I in my own way, I feel numb. For It’s just a waiting game and there is really no way to relax.
8.24pm Another announcement was made from one of the station staff. A nuclear bomb had crashed through the trees but had failed to go off.
8.25pm The first nuclear missile hit successfully and exploded on impact, destroying everything in its wake. So far only God know’s what happened to the trees and the environment. The explosion was reported from a distance. The horrifying nuclear explosion shattered the rainforest and tore it asunder and set it flame. A mushroom cloud burst into the air, and was seen from the distance by horrified onlookers. Radiation began to fall. Indigenous Indians were probably incinerated where they lived and hunted for food. Men, woman, children, all gone in a brief moment. Wildlife too. A catastrophic moment that would leave the world never the same again.
8.26pm Life, death, tragedy, tears in everyones eyes and tears in mine. Contemplative thoughts as the machinations of destruction begin to sink in. What a glorious world it was I think, but will it be ever again, probably not, the contamination in the water systems alone will probably outweigh the contamination in the air. But I’m no expert.
8.27pm Five further nuclear missiles smashed into the rainforest, each one hundreds of miles apart from the others, and some well over a thousand. There were massive tremors of the Earth. And more destruction than can ever be possibly imagined. Though I’m sure It will be horrific, but also I’m sure too no one will be able to tear their eyes away from the news reports on the television channels and the radio stations.
8.28pm Cold drinks begin to be handed out to the crowds of people on the platforms. Food too. Much needed and greatly appreciated.
8.29pm A vast area of the Amazonian rain forest has gone. Trees lay like Tunguska in some areas, whilst the areas closer to the explosion are decimated and the remains are aflame. The man who announced it had tears in his eyes. And we all feel it. The most untamed place on the planet. The place with the most species of plants and animals totally destroyed and contaminated for possibly thousands of years to come.
(c) Ben Robinson 2020