Streets spoke to her. She listened. She had to. Nutrition came in the form of a discarded, half-eaten lunch or dinner . No one ever noticed her. Dumpsters provided half-eaten McDonalds hamburgers, subs, pizza crusts… anything and everything. She lived as part of the streets. Water was easier, although the lake didn’t provide water as clean as that in water barrels. She was invisible. Today, the streets were noisier than usual. An undertone seeped into the normal waves of conversation, like rocks had grown in the wave of humanity and conversations all crashed upon them, breaking the tone of the background noise that permeated normal city living. Ebb and flow, a tide of talk rolled to her. War.
She had heard the word before, many years before. It brought back memories of metal, vague images of lights and wires; talk that she couldn’t understand though the voices imprinted themselves on her mind. Blind to the present, her mind fought to bring sense to the mad colours and shapes of her memories. Then contact, a kick. Falling. Her eyes filling with tears looked up into disgust. It was talking, angry about something. She lowered her head and stood, quickly turning and running off the main road into her home, the alleyways and dark corners of the city.
Time flew by, gliding on wings of hunger and fear. Always another alley, another kick, another hamburger, half eaten, frequently rotten. The talk of the city on battles and victories, triumph over evil, nearing an end of it all. The evil was desperate, they were outnumbered and heathens with no God to rescue them or claim their souls. She thought of that word, God, and remembered more. Something about wrath. Men, talking. Men in uniforms, that was it. They talked about wrath and they controlled the metal. She remembered being hurt as they had done something to her. Wires and white lab coats surrounded the metal she lay on. Where? When? She didn’t know. She couldn’t remember. It must have ended at some point because she knew there had been the best time: Flying. Flying in blue over blue; staring out of a small circle in a white wall; a portal that led to an infinity of space. Points, white tipped, jutted out from far away and below, fluffy friends had floated around changing from dog to cat. It had been good. Then it too had ended. She had found herself in a dumpster with nothing but her rags and a little food. Everything was blurry after that, one long lingering dream, a dream that persisted through sleep, enveloping her every waking hour. She shook her head and burped. It tasted wrong.
Thousands of miles away in a bunker the General removed his finger from the button, completing his country’s final desperate act. The nuclear child had been detonated.