The smell is heavy in the air, that of death and of burning asphalt. My eyes are drawn to the bodies strewn about in the carnage: lying exposed on piles of rubble, crushed beneath fallen concrete pillars, and shredded in tangles of twisted rebar, like the web of some giant mechanical spider.
We made the first strike but they hit back hard. They bombed our cities, evaporated the seas, poisoned the earth. All of what had once been civilization now lay smoldering beneath a sky with air that smelled of ozone, the horizon now ever-dotted with plumes of rising smoke from fires burning on distant continents.
It had been the ultimate irony: finally discovering there is other intelligent life in the universe, and their first words to us are not we come in peace or take me to your leader but surrender your planet and be eradicated. Not or. AND.
But we got ’em. You’d be proud mom, ’cause we got the bastards. Delivered a fist of all of earth’s nuclear power to the breast of their colossal mothership and watched it fall, a burning hunk of scrap metal, into the Atlantic.
As I gnaw the bloody bone – a femur, once a woman’s – and breathe in the acrid air, I look off into the horizon and think, clearly for once, the first clear thought I’ve had in the 5 long years of chaos since the war began:
Victory is ours. But at what cost?