Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dream bomb

I have always been obsessed with nuclear weapons. Maybe that was externally inevitable: I grew up under the twin shadows of Reagan-era Mutually Assured Destruction and the Alvarez impact winter. As soon as I knew what nukes were, I wanted to know everything about them. How many there were, where they were going to fall, how far away I needed to be, whether I wanted to survive a total exchange....

I can only remember dreaming about A-bombs once. It was when we were living in Norman. I dreamed that I was driving on Highway 9, which runs southeast from Norman and Oklahoma City. In my dream the road was elevated so I could see the whole OKC metro area spread out before me to the horizon. It was sunset. A warhead came in, burned a white line down through the atmosphere, and hit in the middle of the city. But it didn't detonate, it plowed right into the ground and threw up a huge fountain of earth. Like, miles high. Then, nothing. After a few seconds, a bone-deep rumble. Then more geysers of soil and rock, forming a circle more than 30 miles across*, like Satan's own cookie-cutter had punched through the landscape from below. Clearly, this was outgassing from a subterranean detonation. Then that 30-mile-wide pancake of land, containing the entire city and all 500,000 people within, lifted up in the air, ballooning, as if inflated from below, and cracks appeared and light shined through and I could finally see that the whole city was being blown upward by a nuclear fireball, and as the city-pancake cracked and broke apart the individual pieces fell into the fire, just like stone blocks sinking into lava.

* I know that it was 35 miles across because the A-bomb article in the World Book Encyclopedia set Mom and Dad had showed the footprint of a 15 megaton bomb, the largest we ever detonated, and the "light damage" area was 35 miles across.

That's it. That was the whole dream. It stuck with me because it all unfolded in slow motion, and because it was so big. I had plenty of time to think "that's impossible" and to watch in horror as entire neighborhoods cracked off from the fragmenting city and fell into the inferno, until the last fragments of the city were overtaken by rising fireball. It was wildly unrealistic--subsurface detonations just don't do that--but you know how dreams are: most of the time you don't have any choice about believing what you see.

I hadn't thought about that dream in years, but then tonight I came across this. Part of me shudders, and part of me thinks, "Freakin' cool, man."

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1 Comments:

Blogger Darren Naish said...

Just watched the Spartan test. Shame there's no sound. Very scary.

5:03 AM  

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