Copyright © 2008 Robert McCurdy
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Dedicated, to everyone who has enjoyed my efforts at telling Jim Colling’s story, and who has been looking forward to finding out what happens to him after Rat Line.
And once again, to my wife, Margie, who remains my best critic.
In theory, Gyori Abramov knew what to expect, but his senses were not prepared for the miniature sun created by the nuclear explosion. He felt a twinge of embarrassment at having not been able to control the sudden reflexive reaction that left him feeling as if he had jumped out of his skin. Most of his professional life had been spent exploring how to release the energy locked within the atomic nucleus, and he knew he should not have been startled by the success of his efforts.
Abramov had seen the American newsreels, of course, showing mountainous mushroom clouds of rising smoke. But the clear white wave of light had not, and perhaps could not, be accurately portrayed by the camera. He was momentarily both stunned and fascinated, spots dancing before his eyes, despite the dark lenses of the protective goggles. Within moments, his ears were assaulted by the wall of sound that followed on the heels of the flash, and he felt himself taking a step backward, despite the thick pane of glass that covered the concrete observation bunker’s narrow window.