All the windows were open.
It was like it was a hot summer day and the oppressing heat had forced them to become sociable. But it wasn’t. It was December 3rd and the air was freezing.
The windows could only mean one thing: someone was dying. Or something.
The building was stood in the middle of the city, created by some “genius” architect fifty years prior. He must have thought the curved walls and the shiny aluminium surface would be timeless. Retro. How wrong he was. The building’s shine has been reduced by the years, and the pollution in the air has stained it black and yellow-green in several places. The curves… well, they’re still curved. But who wants to live in a curved building?
I was stood underneath it, gas mask on tight and my nose itching from the dry warmth inside it. My fingers, on the other hand, were blocks of ice. I beat them against my sides for warmth and kept my eyes fixed on the windows.
All of them were open. Not just most, but all. Something inside had gone very wrong.
I suppose I should have known by the extra bitter smell in the air, or by the black stains licking the window frames. But the gas mask cut out all smells and the lenses on the gas mask had blurred with so much looking upwards and breathing.
It was announced on the television later that afternoon, once I’d made my way up the dripping stairwell back home to Mom. She was stood in the kitchen, coaxing the induction stove to get just a little bit hotter to heat up today’s liquid protein. I was on the carpet, flipping through my homework.
Someone hadn’t just died. They exploded, from the inside out. A powerful new kamikaze weapon of destruction, killing off three members of the justice system and the cities main ambassador.
Mom dropped her ladle when the announcer said it. And my stomach turned as cold as the air outside.
The remission was over–the war had started again.