The Girl Who Held The Atom In Her Hand

Breakfast came early for her, and by now she knew the routine-eat as quick as possible, before the big blast came.

Gulping down the scrambled eggs and washing them down with some orange juice, she moved over to the couch and did what she normally did. That would be sitting blankly and waiting for the big smash. There were near-constant little smashes, ones that she knew she had to deal with, since after all, the young woman was overseeing a war.

And then it hit her again, a barrage of terror, pain and fear. Into her mind flowed the waves of hundreds if not thousands. This time it was at sea, on a warship near “Iceland”. It was always Iceland. No one would know the place names in another universe if it wasn’t their job, but she knew them better than any geographer.

Fulda. Iceland. Kola. Orkney. Norway. Berlin. Bonn. Kamchatka. Hokkaido. Sakhalin. Occasionally there was some variety, like “Long Island”, “Newfoundland” and once “Moscow”.

She grimaced and got to work, which was falling asleep and dealing with more of her battle nightmares. Whether or not they were better handled asleep than awake was an open question. There could be a dream of burning up in a tank, then waking up, thinking “oh, it’s a dream”, and then getting hit by a cluster bomb.

Besides, the child knew it was not a dream.

She was saving the world. Or the worlds.

Or was she?

Was she just being an enabler? The elders understood the mechanics of the “subconscious projection.” She did not. But what she felt and suspected was that if the true fear of nuclear combat was there, would it not keep them from sliding into the wars she felt every single day?

That would be nonsense-she was giving them a chance to be resolved without an apocalypse. But was it better off being held off altogether? She didn’t know how they started or how they happened, only that they happened.

And somehow, she didn’t want them to happen. But they kept going on nonetheless.

Another blast hit her, this time of a barracks being hit by a “B-52” (this had given her an experience in the education of weapons systems, too). There was a fire, and it seemed like it was spreading to her body, making her double over. The B-52 was shot down-that’s what it was, and it was making her hurt even more.

Eventually, panting, the girl sat up again.

Looking at the clock, she grimaced. Eighteen hours to go before another day of “atomic peace”.

_ _ _

This came about from the “nuclear handwave” common to World War III stories. I’ll admit the exact mechanism is reminiscent of Louis Lowry’s The Giver, but that was more about emotion in general.

I’ve wanted to write this for a while, and now have done the basic story. The reason why the hands are off the nuclear button is that someone is forcing them-and destroying their mind and life in the process.

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