by Max Binks-Collier
She turned back and the blue-white glare seared her retinae before the heat, one hundred million degrees Celsius, as scorching as the inside of the sun, turned her to a pillar of carbon, around which sky surged from earth: unfurling stratocumulus clouds of incinerated sidewalks, streets, paint on buildings, tree branches letting out crosshatched slats of smoke against crimson-black sky before distinctions fused in white-hot sfumato, like nuclei, or the boundaries between the known and unwise, when physicists noticed that splitting particles a quadrillionth of a metre birthed fireballs four hundred and fifty feet wide after a seventh of a millionth of a second, hurling a shockwave of compressed air as heavy as twenty pounds per square inch, enough to crinkle and blacken buses like squeezing sooty Coke cans, enough to sink flesh sizzling down to bone a hundred kilometres away, enough to produce clouds that burst through the firmament as filthy balls, ridged and swelling like the tumours in bones caused by ingesting a microgram of plutonium, whose half-life is twenty-four thousand years, about twice as long as the Holocene, which we have long since passed, for when she turned back, before the blindness she saw that the fireball was slick, beautiful, an amniotic sac.
[Max Binks-Collier is a writer and journalist currently based in Toronto. He has published fiction in Joypuke Magazine, Red Herring, and Dark Moon Digest. His poetry has appeared in The Veg and PØST-. Non-fiction work of his, from narrative non-fiction to essays, has been published in Graphite Publications, Historical Discourses, and 24OurMusic.]