The wailing reached my head; Bouncing off the walls and ceiling of my brain. Echoing down my spine and vibrating through my legs, rumbling the ground beneath my feet.
The deafening cry of the raid siren buzzed all around the Bakuhatsu cafe in the bleeding heart of Hiroshima. Raid drills like this happen all the time nowadays.
The sirens blast, the cafe stops serving, and everyone finds a table, bench or chair to crawl under and pray that they aren't going to be blown up. Not today at least.
Then the walls stop shaking. The last reverberations leave my skull and the buzzing fills its place. Like the native evening cicadas nesting in my ear canals.
Soon, I imagine the little cicadas flying out as the hum begins to subside. Flying off into the clouds, only to be seen the next time the heavens decide to rain down their deafening howls.
Then, like it never even happened, the people are back on their feet. The booths by the window are full again.
The large family seated by the fish tank freely talking whist slurping on their ramen.
I can hear the cars start their engines and begin to move again outside, pedestrians pour back onto the sidewalks and continue on their way to whatever destination life is taking them today.
"I wish this would all just stop. Its effecting the business! When it's over we could start a cafe empire, I reckon!" Teji says from behind me.
Teji owns the Bakuhatsu cafe. So, technically they're my boss, but I've known them since we were children so it's hard for me to see them as anything but my best friend.
And It's only because of Teji that I've even got this job. I've always admired their sense of positivity and hope; two things I've always struggled to understand
"I know. Is it bad how used to it we all are?" I respond. Eyes still fixed on the vibrant cafe springing back into action as if nothing had happened just moments earlier.
"That's just the world we live in now." Teji tells me. "But don't worry. Emperor Hirohito will protect us.
That German tyrant may have given up like a coward, but Japan is stronger than ever! Now go take table 5's order!"
Teji's enthusiasm is commendable, but it doesn't make me feel any better. Every day, pressure from the United States to surrender increases.
Emperor Hirohito still believes in this cause, but the reality of achieving it is slowly slipping away. Even a lowly cafe waiter like me can see that.
I blink out of my thoughts and head off to table 5 to take the order of a mother and screaming child I've been dreading all morning.
I shut the door on another day at Bakuhatsu. Roll down the shutter, and padlock the handle. The sun was setting over the city.
Casting waves of orange over the sky as if a brush stroke smeared it to the ceiling of the universe.
I swing my leg over my bicycle and begin to pedal down the road, heading east, towards my small home in outer Hiroshima.
The sinking sun casts long shadows across the gravel as I sail past buildings and houses and dogs barking at me as I pass.
I reach the overpass that I cross before getting to my housing district, and I stop.
Before me lays a sprawling city of grey hues dotted with the red, white and yellow blinking eyes of cars travelling and arriving home.
The sky casts a brilliant glow over the city, my home, with bursts of blood orange fighting the advancing shadows and reflecting the flat roofs of apartments.
As I take in the breathtaking beauty, the honking and screeching alley cats fade around me, and a black silhouette expands upon the horizon. I lean forward, against the railing, squinting.
It's a plane, a bomber. A faint rumble seeps into my bubble world, as the cicadas begin to hum around me once again.
A plane, soaring straight towards me, right over my head, leaving a black speck in its wake; whistling on its descent. I Rest my shaking hands on the railing as a thundercloud devours the city.
A growing tsunami of explosive energy surging towards me. The ground shakes as ungodly cicadas fill my skull. This is the reckoning. The retribution of life. I bow my head.
Cracks spread across the pavement like shattered glass and the pavement gives way. I fall. The buzzing in my head grows to unbearable silence as I become consumed by darkness.