The Menacing Echo of Silence by Al McDermid

The divine winds were still, so the pitiless roar of enemy bombers was drowned only by the desperate wail of the air raid sirens. From the faintest purr of the first enemy plane until the last bomb fell, the world was noise, nothing but noise; the sirens would scream, the engines would roar, the bombs would fall, but fall somewhere else.

That morning started as all others, but it was not; three planes the radio said, so it could not be a raid. Only one was seen. It sounded almost lonely. Had it gotten lost, separated from the other planes, on their way to deal death to some other city? Would it deliver its death dealers here? At 8 o’clock, the ‘all clear’ sounded.

In a flash, the sun came to earth, followed by darkness. The bomb brought no fire, but small fires, started by stoves and fallen wires, ignited here and there, feed on the rubble of the collapsed, wooden city, swept by the bomb-born wind.

And above the destruction that signature cloud rose, towered miles above, like the shadow of a colossus, or of some monstrous god. In its wake, the menacing echo of silence.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “The Menacing Echo of Silence by Al McDermid

  1. I can’t think what to say. You captured war. It’s horrible, war. I can’t imagine having to live through war. I hope we never do in this country. This is a very good story.

  2. guy

    I think of a chatty older fellow i know. Always talking about drinking and women. He’s about 80. I knew that he was from Hiroshima, but didn’t put two and two together until he told me “i was there, you know.” Now that i read this i think maybe he’s chatty because he was there that day.

  3. “The menacing echo of silence…” Wow. Perfect.

  4. I always imagined that mushroom cloud as erasing all sound. Powerful story, you paint war and tragedy too harrowingly well. Peace…

  5. Al McDermid

    I think this time I’ll break from my usual habit of thanking and commenting individually because, in this case, I don’t know what else to say, and strangely, it was easier to write than it is to think about. So, thank you, everyone. As always, I appreciate your kind comments.

    I did want to add that all of the details for his were gleaned from John Hersey’s “Hiroshima”.

  6. Perfectly drawn, Al. Powerful and real, too real.

  7. Kim Hutchinson

    Silence speaks volumes in this stunning story.

  8. This stopped my heart, so tragically lovely.

  9. So well done! When the sun comes to earth, that signature cloud, the silence! I was not there but this is how I imagined it! That stillness… thank you for putting it into words so well!

  10. Striking opening and delicate descriptions. I’ve always felt that silence is only manifested through noise – and vice versa. You captured that very well and it even feels a little dreamy here, the violence.

  11. Pingback: Week #32 – Silence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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