Dramatic historical fiction based on the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb in WW2
Blazing heat. A wicked sprawl of absence. Like those photos of tornado destruction in America, except here there were no shredded trees. Only shattered stone, brick, and fused earth blasted of anything that ever lived. Miyuki rubbed her good eye. Had she lost her color vision, or was there nothing left anymore but black and white? All lay simmering under a roiling cloud on the horizon, smearing gloom across the once-bustling void.
Where is it? Where is Hiroshima!? She knew, but she couldn’t know. She couldn’t let herself know. Could she? She struggled to stand for a better view. And to prove her mettle. Leaning with a hand braced against her knee, she turned her head for a quick look. Reality raked her brain. There had been a huge American bombing raid. That’s why everything’s smashed. The first bomb must have hit her building. That’s why I can’t remember anything.
She’d been to Tokyo and seen endless rivers-in-the-sky of bombers dropping devastation. She’d even seen the aftermath of the Great Firestorm. But this was far worse. I can’t imagine how many bombs it took to blast my world away.
Miyuki felt her soul again smashing against hopelessness. Like waves crashing an iceberg. And there was nothing more she could do about it.
It’s so futile, trying to withstand the might of the Americans. She’d heard they were giants of men. They flew their planes and bombed, then left untouched. Never, though, Hiroshima. Nobody knew why her hometown had been spared. But now, Everything gone. Everyone gone.
Resistance brought this. Resistance is futile. So futile.
“But the Emperor must be saved! The cost does not matter,” she whispered, wiping bloody saliva from her lip. The mantra had been drilled into her since childhood. It ripped through her. She crumpled. She writhed across the searing sidewalk. This time, though, the pain was welcome. A just punishment for not being a sacrifice to my Emperor.
But as she rolled onto the cooler ground, a joyful thought arose. Maybe I was spared so I can still be of service to Him! Maybe I’m the only hope to get a message to the outside world. If it still exists. They must be told. Hiroshima’s army posts are wiped out!
These thoughts pried memories from places she’d tried to hide them. Heart-rending flashbacks of four years ago when she proudly carried the flag. The way of the warrior—drilled into her since birth. Such euphoria as she swept along with crowds cheering the raid on Pearl Harbor. That affair started all this.
And now this.
But the Emperor is not to blame, she knew, He is a God.
Miyuki staggered back down the stairs. She found that the radio set—tucked into a recess as a precaution against bombing raids, and supplied with battery backup as well—still worked. Re-wiring the battered microphone using her teeth and good hand, stringing singed electrical cord as an antenna, she dialed up Tokyo and huffed a coded message indicating a bombing raid. Rocking madly back and forth, wracked by hacking coughs, she gasped out the awful truth of it.
After fulfilling her duty, Miyuki panicked… I raised a false alarm! This isn’t real. She paused, hung her head, and forced herself to absorb the enormity.
It’s very real.
She turned toward the cool wet earth where she first awoke. It looked so inviting. It seemed to call her, beckoning with kindness. Mother Earth. Limping over, she lay against her. She pressed her broken body into her. Give me life. Please… life.
Miyuki pushed her fingers into the dirt, imagining roots.
Nothing. No surge of energy.
Beside her, an ant poked its head out, drew back, then wandered from its tiny tunnel. Pastel washed her black-and-white world.
She was not alone.
Perhaps it’s best that father and mother are in a U.S. internment camp. They, like her, would still be alive. Father… you would know what to do if you were with me. Miyuki drew strength from him, even from 8,000 kilometers away. And her mother would caress her. She could feel her mother caressing her.
Koji Kimura, August 6, 1945
As his daughter stumbled in disbelief half a world away, Koji Kimura sat cross-legged on the wooden floor of his quarters in an internment camp near Santa Fe, NM. Stone-faced and naked but for a loincloth, he mulled his dilemma.
I have dishonored the Emperor.
And what of the consequences? According to the ancient code he must die, and by his own sword. Torn between two nations, he had chosen that which transcends nationality: the law of his ancestors; the way of bushido. He had obeyed precisely the teachings of Tsunetomo: A true samurai acts without hesitation to fulfill his duties, no regard for the outcome. But my result has been failure. Dishonor. A disgrace to my Emperor. There was only one way to regain his dignity. With his knife he would commit Seppuku—ritual suicide.
Trancelike, Koji focused on a towering pine outside his window. Behind his grimace his resolve grew ironclad. He watched his dagger, clenched in both hands, as it began a slow rise in front of him, tracing up along the trunk of the deep-rooted tree. As he was about to thrust, Emiko burst into the room.
Before Koji could achieve glory, she launched catlike across his belly, kicking and flailing. Grabbing around his neck, she pulled his head to her bosom. Caught off guard, he was at first overpowered. In a swift jujutsu move, he wrested himself from her grasp and pinned her to the floor. Her shrieks would surely arouse the guards. After several desperate attempts, Koji clamped his hand tightly over her mouth. Still twisting and writhing, powerful as a panther in her adrenaline frenzy, Emiko clawed his eyes and broke free.
Koji spun away and jumped to his feet, holding his knife in a death-grip, its point pricking his stomach, releasing crimson trickles of life. He glared determination. But no matter; he could not kill himself before his wife of 23 years.
“Why? Can’t you see it’s all a lie?” Emiko pleaded.
In silence the two stared, tears scouring her slender face and blood streaking his stocky abdomen. Both began to tremble. Koji studied her like never before... petite and so vulnerable. With this thought his mind faded out her image. It ushered in a view of Miyuki. I will not bring shame upon you.
A spasm of pounding rattled the front door.
Koji didn’t flinch.
Upon the crashes of the door being kicked in, he set his feet at shoulder width. Thrusting out his left elbow he quickly swept his arm around to his side, hand outstretched and palm to the floor.
Emiko backed away, hands clawing her face and pulling her hair, erupting in shrieks.
With sudden violence, she was yanked back through the doorway.
Koji heard boots scuffing the floor.
“NOW!” a voice boomed.
As three soldiers came racing half-bent-over around the doorjambs, Koji restored his honor. Miyuki will be proud.