Barack Obama could still read by the light of a yellow-gray sky, which hung low over the White House lawn, dripping black rain into the yawning mouths of scorched, thirsty survivors, who leaned against the cool, metal gates. He was poring over the Bible, holding it close to his face. It was difficult to see. He shouldn’t have looked directly at the blast. He lay the book down on a desk in the bedroom he once shared with the first lady, and removed his reading glasses. He flipped on a light in his private bathroom and, leaning in close with both weak hands on the porcelain sink, he saw himself for the first time through fresh, milky cataracts. Orange accents permeated the president’s pupil. He might have cried if he, too, wasn’t so thirsty. The sink ran cold water over his hands, which he splashed on his lined face. The irradiated water felt so cool against his skin, and then a fiery agony spread through where the water touched. He grabbed at a towel and rubbed it against his face, but the coarse cloth pulled away loose, weak skin. He then used the towel to dab at the blood, and he collapsed into the corner. Alone.
Everyone was sunburnt from the nighttime nuclear strike. Outside, a statehouse clerk drank urine straight from a homeless man’s genitals to quell her own maddening thirst. The sound of high-altitude nuclear detonations offered a soundtrack to the visible, but silent, exoatmospheric nuclear detonations permanently destroying satellite communications around the planet, and which blanketed the continent with electromagnetic pulses of hate, bathing every smartphone in a crippling shower of unsustainable energy. The crisis was solved. The homeless man grinned at the irony, his silver eyes rolled back in his head, and he vomited black bile down the sides of his cheeks. He made no effort to get up, and inhaled the bile into his lungs. He coughed and gasped, but the piss orgasm rendered him blank, and he could not move. He lay there and choked on bile as his internal organs rapidly mutated and purged their contents through the pores in his pocked, blistered body. The clerk watched him peacefully, savoring the moment. She prayed for an equally graceful death.
I sat in my office overlooking Floyd Avenue. Without power and working transportation, I studied the fallout patterns from a 1973 book on what to do if the policy of mutually assured destruction between the Soviets and USA ever unfolded. The aurora from overhead EMPs lit my view.
The winds blew east, but the fallout plumes in every direction, the book said, and I imagined that if we still had TV, an emergency broadcast would predict the fallout spread far enough out to sea, that it could later ride a jet stream back over the wind, and penetrate my shitty ventilation. Even still, the bombings would continue. I went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. Some water droplets hit my signed copy of OJ Simpson’s If I Did It, darkening the dusty cover where they hit. I opened the medicine cabinet and rifled through its contents, knocking prescription pill bottles into the sink, antibiotics to cure my roommate’s STI. I found a dull razor blade, broke it in two halves along the rust line, and lay down in the bathtub.