Chatter filled the underground station as a herd of people hopped in and out of the subway like kangaroos before the train hurried away. The train was congested with sorrow, joy, grief, creativity and opportunity. Inside the interior, propaganda posters with a bold, patriotic figure stared and pointed eternally at the viewer and told them to ‘enlist today’. As the train's wheels screeched across the track, a family of rats scurried from its base. When they reached the surface of the subway station, they hurried past shoes and trash cans into the city that never sleeps.
Above the subway tunnel, exhaust puffed from the tailpipes of mustard taxis, creating a pseudo-warmth. They trekked on the tired pavement and honked their horns as if it would do any good in the sea of traffic. Pedestrians scampered across the streets, putting their lives at risk to get to where they needed to be.
Buildings climbed toward the welcoming hands of God, and people weaved in and out of doors all throughout the cramped streets. Coffee shops and restaurants overflowed with people laughing and living, crying and grieving, all for better or for worse.
Beggars camped near lamp posts throughout the city and played music in hope for some generous, measly change. Passerbys glanced at the beggars but resisted eye contact. Men and women in expensive clothing advertised business suits and Bluetooth earpieces up and down the sidewalks while pigeons cleaned up any dropped food on the cracked concrete.
As people continued on with their daily routine, an unfamiliar plane flew above the wispy clouds. Suddenly, countless leaflets tumbled down.
Read this carefully, as it can save the life of a friend, relative, or even your own.
We call upon the United States to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all American armed forces and to provide proper and adequate assurance of their good faith in such actions. The alternative is prompt and utter destruction.
For a brief moment, everyone stopped what they were doing. Pedestrians put a pause with their race against the clock, taxi drivers cut off their engines, beggars held off on playing their music, and people in restaurants came out to see what drifted from the sky. Confusion splattered over the faces of everyone in the city’s flock, but within a few minutes, their restless lives were back to normal.
Not a single person decided to leave the life they had come to know. The subway continuously advanced to its next location, taxis transported the city’s people, beggars played their music, pedestrians raced to their location, and restaurants were filled with life.
As the insomniac city continued on, a change in the air occurred. Paranoia filled a portion of residents of the bustling metropolis as they clutched the leaflets. Nonetheless, the Big Apple refused to succumb to the threats.
Some decided to pack their bags and leave their chaotic-yet-comforting lives. For a few hours, the Lincoln Tunnel was overpopulated with vehicles that seeked freedom from the ‘doomed’ city. Despite everything, the city functioned just fine without them.
A dark, triangular aircraft with a foreign flag decaled onto its belly emerged from the cotton candy clouds. As the unfamiliar plane reached the heart of the city, Times Square, it released its payload. There was little alarm as the people continued with their everyday lives.
The payload hurled into the earth and buried itself. It pulled the ground up into a purple-grey mushroom and turned it to fallout. Radiation gusted in every direction, releasing a high-pressure shock wave that vaporized the people.
The station beneath the surface was depleted of not only the people that crowded the area but the sorrow, joy, grief, creativity and opportunity. Everything had vanished to thin air. The propaganda posters were tattered by the intense heat and waited in the train’s interior to be seen by nobody. Corpses lined the fragments of the staircase that lead to the surface.
The false warmth that dominated the air above had turned to a fabricated arctic, and the tired pavement was finally able to rest in peace. There were no pedestrians racing against the clock while the pigeons dissolved into the mushroom cloud. The music that came from desperation faded as well.
The buildings that reached God were decimated. The remnants were nothing more than mere skeletons. One lonesome lamp post stood tall and proud as if the blast had not occurred. Bone fragments laid on the surface, barely resembling the people they once were.
Imprints of people’s final moments were caked onto the surface of the fractured bricks that survived. Some were walking, others enjoyed street food, while others still were relaxing on benches.
Coffee shops and restaurants were drained of their emotion. Glass crystals were scattered across their dying floors. Overturned tables and chairs rested in peace. For the first time in decades, there was no distinctive movement. The only apparent sound was the howl of the wind carrying the lethal fallout. The city that never sleeps had fallen into a deep slumber.