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He could feel his skin peeling off. He could hear the cries of pain and suffering all around him under the din of the blast. He opened his eyes, saw white, bright light, and realised why it was better shut. He was in pain and agony himself. He saw his muscles disintegrating. Around him was fire; everywhere there was fire and people burning like him. He wanted to speak and he did. "Take me out of this", was what he said.

The next moment he was back to reality, as he knew it. There were no fires, no screaming people, and no peeling skin. All that there was was a dull greyish room with a few machines on his right and an anxious thin man with a helmet of sorts on his left. The thin man spoke "How was it man?" The voice was an anxious one with wheezing in between. The returnee said "Scary". The thin man replied "A nuclear bomb blast is no happy thing. Especially when you are in one. I hope that when the Senator gets a sight of this, he will change his current trend of thought. Anyway, thanks for giving me your opinion Jim". Jim got up and as he was walking out said "No problem, Bob. It was my pleasure".

Jim clicked his sunglasses out and stepped out onto the street. There was nothing different about it, but it seemed so very "pleasant" to Jim just then. The street that Jim was on was not something anybody would refer to as a pleasant sight. It was a gloomy street out of the middle of nowhere. The sky was always grey with that slightest dab of bright, sometimes blinding sunlight. Nevertheless, after seeing a nuclear bomb scene first hand anything would seem pleasant.

Jim was helping his old college friend Bob try out his nuclear bomb simulator. Bob was quite a whiz when it came to computer programming. He had used all his programming knowledge and research facilities to collect the material for this. He had created an amazingly scary view of what it supposedly looks like to in the wake of a nuclear blast. In that Virtual reality world, he had even simulated slight feelings of pain to give the user some idea of what the bomb could cause.

Bob was a part of the group BTB (Ban-The-Bomb). They were a group of peace activists who fought against the slightest hint of war by bringing about awareness in the world. BTB’s latest work was to fight against the current trend in the government to upgrade the nuclear arsenal that the USA had. The leader of that trend was Senator Marley. He believed that the USA needed to upgrade their nuclear arsenal and be prepared for any nuclear war that could happen. BTB and many other organisations like them went crazy since them and tried to do everything they could to stop this. That is where Bob’s program came into the scheme of things. BTB thought that if they could show the Senator what a nuclear bomb felt like for a victim, they could change his mind. And the rest, as they say, is recent history.

Back to the street, Jim saw children racing each other on their bicycles and dodging the still cars at the same time. Traffic was going no faster than it usually did on that street in New York. On the footpath was a beggar wearing an old torn hat, salvaged shirt and trousers and a pair of seemingly-50-year-old Nike shoes. Jim went through his cloak pockets, took out a $20 bill and gave it to the old man. Jim was not rich by any measure, but liked to help when he could.

Jim went back to his thoughts. He wondered why people had to die. Why couldn’t the world live in peace? Why did people who had no bearing on a war have do die so horrifyingly as in a nuclear blast? He guessed that people must die otherwise the already big problem of overpopulation would be bigger. However, he still felt very strongly about people’s lives just being ended because some big-shot decided that they must. It was not even as if those big shots were gods who had the absolute right to decide the fate of those people. Moreover, usually the reason for a war or these acts boiled down to some whim of some human somewhere on the planet.

Jim turned at the corner and was still lost in thought. He wished that all of this was just a dream. He wished it was just a nightmare that would go away soon and wouldn’t bother him. He did not like to hear about people dying like this. He looked up and saw the cars moving on this road. He saw people walking in and out of shops and enjoying a bit of life. Life has so much to offer, he thought. Life, although it may be just some illusion, was a gift that something had given everyone on the planet. It was a chance to discover one’s self. Life was an opportunity to enjoy. Hardly anyone that Jim knew would agree with that. They hated life, yet hated to die. Jim never understood that. He thought that if you don’t like life, why live it? Why not let some one else enjoy the gift better? However, they would never listen. They would still live in their gloomy way. They would curse everything and everyone around them and wouldn’t do the least to improve it or try to enjoy it.

Jim had known as long as he could remember that life was to be enjoyed and that whatever opportunity one gets to enjoy it he/she should. He was happy. Neither was he a rich man, nor was he a pauper. He earned what he could by working for social organisations. He was only thirty years old. He had never married and did not really have any true desire to. He took life as it came to him.

As Jim looked up, he realised he was just a block away from home. For him home was just a place that he could spend his spare time in without disturbing anyone else. He lived in a small apartment in a 4-storey building. There was one bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom and a living room. He had everything that he really wanted. He was looking forward to home after this particular trip. He wanted to listen to some soft music, perhaps "The Blue Danube". He felt as if he needed that to soothe his brain after that scary show of Bob’s.

He had reached home. As he searched for the key to his building, he felt a tap on the shoulder. It was a short young boy, wearing a ski mask and with a gun in his right hand. Before Jim could speak, a bullet pierced his abdomen and he fell to the ground. His "assassin" then started rummaging through his pockets. Jim put his hand in his left pocket and gave the "assassin" all that he had. The boy stared for a second and then snatched the money and ran away.