I remember the air on fire. A strange taste – something chemical. The flames. And something organic alight underneath. My clothes were flame resistant, and the filters in the mask kept a lot of it out. You get an idea that sticks to you like glue, and you try to shake it off, but you know that the thing melted into the leg of the uniform used to be someone that you know.

The papers that discussed the politics that sparked the flames burn the same as the flags that wrapped the bodies who fired the bullets with the names on. The fingers that pressed the buttons sent missiles with jovial names to make shadows of people, and there was an abstracted disconnect between the killers and the killed. Megatons and megadeaths are an order above the personal nature of a true murder. They are blooming in the garden of impersonal as atrocities.

I return to my bunker where the machines impersonate insects given functions that need to be taken care of, because the scale of what has happened is too much for people to comprehend and continue to deal with the minutiae. I know there are people out there, and that they are moving through the husks of routine that are nostalgic hints of a burned away normality, but for me they are little more than ghosts. I have been writing for hours and days, telling stories to myself and the imagined audience who fed the flames which cook my imagination.

Here in the silence. I am the one who sings the absent voices. I am the one who echoes. I turned to stone in the fire, and I am skimming across the polluted water. I know I will sink. But not yet.

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