Mostly people remember the sounds.
A lot took place in the span that amounted to a day’s worth of hours — agony, destruction, general bedlam — but the sound of it all was what people talked about in the time after. Violence had always been in the media in some form. Be it from movies to game to news reports, man’s ability to destroy himself had long-since been a shocking visual. Of course, the majority of people knew what a fire smelled like and broken glass carries no scent.
So it all came down to the sounds. Before you could press a mute button, change tracks, leave the room, whatever. After that morning, the sounds were everywhere. When it all first happened, people froze awkwardly wherever they happened to be at the time. No person or machine could have produced what struck across the heavens. It made low flying planes seem church-quiet. We watched as structures started to fold. Steel snaps and windows evaporate and brick melts — and it’s nothing like you thought it would be. You almost find a humor in it all. Things get familiar for a moment. You know the crackle of a fire, the billow of smoke in the air’ that all sounds right. But then it goes quiet, though it is not silent. Your ears perk. In the twilight and the dusk you detect soft pleas and helpless whimpers. They endure. Only when the aggressive onset of a hunt sets in is there a lull. Tissue flays wetly and bones crack dry; both a nasty spike in the decibel levels.
And each day carries on into the other.
You lay in what shelter you’ve found or fashioned, hiding or waiting but always listening; always hearing what is and what could be.