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The Burn

 

As B-29 looked out through the window, he saw that the sky looked undecided whether it should be blood-red or crimson. It almost seemed as if the sky wanted to be blood-red, but felt that the people had seen enough of a blood-red earth. The sun was out of sight, as usual, beyond the thick haze in the air. According to the clock it was dusk, though it always seemed like dusk. Suddenly, a loud blast could be heard. B-29 jumped back. He, like everyone else, never did and probably never would get used to those blasts.

B-29 turned around and looked into the hallway. It was dirty, filthy, ugly and his home. The orphanage was never really a clean place so far as he could remember. In all his six years of life on this earth he had never seen it any different. He had been told that it was much better and that he was too young then to remember. He had been told there was a time when the sun could be seen clearly, when the sky was blue and when the orphanage wasn’t so crowded. Fat chance, he thought!

He felt like walking around and since he had been forbidden to go out on his own, he did all his walking in that one corridor. There were plenty of other corridors, but he liked this one. This floor was also high enough for him to see far away through the window. The other windows were blocked by something or the other. As he walked along the corridor, he saw some children sleeping in one room, a few playing about in another. In spite of all the vices of the orphanage, the people there always tried their level best to keep the children happy. They did a good job.

He looked in another room and saw that all the children were listening to a story. He felt like hearing a story. He went in and sat down. AM-4 - the name of the story-teller, called "Am" for short - was sitting in the centre of the semicircle that the children had formed around him. B-29 chose to sit in the corner, next to the window. Am was talking about "The Burn". B-29 knew about "The Burn". "The Burn" was what happened if you were anywhere within 100 kilometres of an S-bomb blast. He had heard stories of it, none of which were first hand accounts, for no one had survived "The Burn" to tell. He had heard many versions. There was one which said, that "The Burn" was actually when the temperature dropped so low that everything vanished (It was supposedly something to do with some Law of Fizics). Once he was told that "The Burn" was when the supernatural happened. Am was sticking to the safe side. He was telling the children that "The Burn" was something that no one remained to tell.

B-29 walked out the room and back to the window at the end of the corridor. He had seen an S-bomb blast from this very window. He was told that the blast was some 1000 kilometres away. To him, it seemed like 100 metres. He saw a huge blue dome appearing from out of nowhere. After a few seconds he heard the roar. Its size was horrifying. It had given him nightmares ever since.

On the road, there were a few children running about with who he assumed to be their parents. They ran around and then returned to their mother and hugged her. B-29 had been told that he wasn’t always an orphan. His parents had left him at the orphanage promising to return after they had enough credits to take good care of him. They said they would return in a year. They said that nearly six years ago. B-29 thought they had perished in "The Burn".

He heard another blast. This one was much louder. He listened carefully. He saw a huge rumbling and bright light rushing towards him. The Burn! He tried to run, but it was too late. He was in "The Burn". He was being hurtled to the end of the corridor. The walls and floor were crumbling. He heard screams and cries of pain. His skin was peeling off. He felt as if he was hotter than fire. Pain and agony seared all over his frail little body. He couldn’t see, hear or feel anything anymore. He was in – The Burn.