(///allotment.fishlike.baroque – Ligatne nuclear bunker, Lativa)
The thing that really stood out when the end came was the serenity of it all. Take Ronald, pottering away in his London allotment, standing up to pause and stretch, leaning on his shovel when he heard the deafening noise and turning his head instinctively to the blinding flash in the sky.
Or Deirdre, sipping tea in a baroque café in Paris, nibbling daintily on a shortbread biscuit even as the roar engulfed her. Horace on America’s East Coast, insisting on using the few seconds that remained to hole his putt. Fiona, waking briefly in her Sydney bed to give her husband a final embrace.
You see, it had been the waiting that had been so unbearable. The escalation of conflict. The threats, the counter threats, the growing certainty that this time sanity would not prevail, the human instinct for survival would not rescue them. That had been the torture, the permanent anxiety over the destruction to come.
So people had stopped worrying. They had developed a fishlike ability to forget everything almost instantly and had just got on with living and having fun, determined to enjoy whatever was left to them. They blocked out the madness of their leaders, a madness they were powerless to stop.
People were calm when the bombs fell, and as oblivion swept over the world in great waves, they relaxed, knowing the ordeal of the waiting was over and happy at least to have made the most of their last few days.
Surrendering to the light had proved to be easy after all.