A New Machine

We walked out onto the desert, under the searing sun, where just a few hours ago, the sky had two suns, not one. One of the others behind me said something I couldn't make out through the gas mask he was wearing. We walked uncomfortably towards the waiting jeeps, each of us with our own thoughts, trying to negotiate the distance to the jeeps in the stifling suits, each of us trying to come to terms with what had just happened ... what we had helped happen.
We piled into the two jeeps, all twelve of us. I touched the pouch at my waist, making sure my camera was there and the spare one next to it .... you never know what might happen and this was too important for me to screw up.
One of the men said in muffled voice, "We can't stay there too long, a few minutes at the most. So you guys had better do what you need to do real quick."
Three of the men nodded back to him, including me. Quick! I'd rather not be here at all, given half a chance I'd turn and run all the way back home, all the four hundred and fifty miles back.
The jeep bucked and threw us about all the way, about ten miles ... less than five minutes, it felt like a lifetime. It's only a lifetime. A lifetime in a span of five minutes, five agonizing minutes until we saw what we'd help accomplish ... I wish those five minutes really had been a lifetime.
The jeep in front of us stopped, somebody called back, "We can't go any further, we'll blow the tires if we do."
How would we blow the tires in a desert? I thought the man was off his rocker. I got out of the jeep with the others. We started to walk ahead and I understood what he meant. My feet landed with a crack on a green, glassy rock that crumbled beneath my weight. I saw more of the stuff ahead of us, a lot more. I photographed a sample of the stuff and followed the others.
"Hotter", said one of the men looking at a Geiger counter, it's crackling piercing the silence between us.
We continued walking, stepping on more of the green glass ... our steps became slower, smaller as though we didn't really want to continue. I know I didn't, but we did anyway and I kept clicking away, a photographic record of man's greatest achievement ... of man's greatest mistake.
"Hotter", said the man again with more urgency ... the Geiger counter emphasizing his point.
And yet, we continued.
I don't think any of us were prepared for what we saw ... after all, we didn't know what to expect, this had never been done before ... now I wish we'd left it that way.
There was a crater with more chunks of that glass, it must have been at least a thousand feet wide and there we were ... twelve men standing at the edge of it. Standing at the cusp of an age of awe. At the cusp of an age of horrors. At the cusp of the atomic age.
"It's too hot, we can't go down there", said the man with the Geiger counter, the needle going crazy in its glass case.
One of the men turned back, a folder in his hand, "The Manhattan Project: Trinity", printed across its cover. He put his hand on the shoulder of one of the men staring into the crater, the other flinching as though the hand weighed a ton.
"Thank you, doctor. This wouldn't have been possible without you."
The doctor fell to his knees, tears streaming down his face onto the gas mask and evaporating before they could fall off. "What have I done?! Forgive me!"
The world changed that day, some say for the better, others disagree.
All I know is, on that day we realized this change, that even with regret, could never be undone.
--
On September 11th (how fucking ironic) 2007, Russia had a press release stating that they'd tested "The Father of All Bombs."
There are two quotes that stood out -

"The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature," the reports said. "All that is alive merely evaporates."

Followed by -
"At the same time, I want to stress that the action of this weapon does not contaminate the environment, in contrast to a nuclear one."

I was laughing so fucking hard, there were tears in my eyes.
--
A few people asked me what the 'The Manhattan Project' was. Relevant links below:-
The Manhattan Project
Trinity Test

5 comments:

Bhavna said...

hey..this one is a very different one altogether.....nice read though...

'Smee! said...

Whoa! So that's what the Father of all bombs is about...

Rize said...

read it..read it again...
i need to go back to school i think..dint understand!!

Stargazer said...

@Bhanvna - Thank you.

@'Smee - Yeah, it reminded me of The Manhattan Project. Apparently hind sight isn't 20-20

@Rize - The Manhattan Project is the allied effort to come up with the atomic bomb. Trinity was the first and only test for the project. The person(s) in the post are at the site of the Trinity test after the bomb was detonated. Hope that helps.

Rize said...

ah! now it makes sense ..thanku!