Nellie Bly delivers a terse story that takes place completely in the thoughts of an unnamed narrator desperate to savor the time that remains. The Atomic Bomb Falls is a quick read, but it delivers with a strong right hook.
This is a short story about courage, despair, and everything in between.
THE ATOMIC BOMB FALLS
Short Story | About Courage
By Nellie Bly
For the PROGNOSIS NEGATIVE contest
The atomic bomb falls.
I can see it. Every minute detail. Where its hand moves, my eye moves. My eye twitches in its socket like a small machine. I am in control.
I know where it is going; I know where it has been. My mind is master over the hand as destructive and benevolent god is to mankind. I am its creator. My mind, eyes and soul cast over its future as I trace the clock rim, preempting every strike and fall.
The hand continues to move. I focus, struggling to slow it down, to draw each movement longer with my gaze. As much as we are one, the tick prevails. It will never sway to my will and it will never change. When the clock ticks I am enthralled.
Am I superior? I can close my eyes, and the tick is dead to me. I can walk from this room and the tick cannot follow. It doesn’t chase. It can only tick. I could snatch it from the wall, clawing hungrily at its gears and springs until its heart falls silent. But somewhere, somewhere across the globe another mechanism, tangible or otherwise, would pick up the baton. I just know.
If a clock ticks in the forest, and nobody hears it, the clock is still ticking.
Now, try as I might, each tick of that clock is pushing me further over the precipice on which I stand.
“You have cancer,” the doctor repeated.