I don’t know what happened to the world. Father says that we hurt it.
Not you, he would always tell me. You didn’t hurt the world. We did. Mankind.
Because we were greedy. We wanted too much. We crossed the line.
The line that held everything together. And when we crossed it, we hurt the world—and the world hurt us back.
How could a man hurt the world?
Not just a man, Father said. And then he told me; he told me about the Cities, the great buildings that mankind built. He told me about the wars that mankind raged, brother against brother, sister against sister. He told me about the animals mankind slaughtered, the ones I’ve never seen and will never see, because they are gone now. And he told me about the Bomb.
A horror, Daughter. It was a horror. Do you know what a horror is?
A bad, awful thing?
That’s right. A bad, awful thing. And we used it against each other.
Mankind fell. The Cities fell. Everything fell. There was fire in the sky for years. Do you remember the smoke, beyond the Mountain?
I said yes. As a child, I used to watch the smoke, great black pillars of it, winding over the top Mountain. It would drift into the clouds above and never really disappear. It just spread. Spread and spread and spread, until the sky was no longer blue, but a deep, sad gray that covered the Sun and the Stars. I remember crying, crying for the Sun and the Stars. And Father told me that I shouldn’t cry.
I would never see the Sun and Stars again.
That smoke wasn’t always there, Father told me, his weathered face in a heavy frown. It came from the fires. Fires that consumed entire Cities. Fires that rained from the sky, like…
Like falling angels, Daughter. Like falling angels bringing hell to the world.