Laura and I exit a building (or the BART station) near the Ferry Building just in time to see a spectacular sunset-red mushroom cloud forming eastward across the urban horizon. We stand with others in disbelief for a few moments as the cloud grows taller into the symbolic cloud that we where taught to fear during the Cold War. This is indeed a nuclear explosion.
Nothing works due to relying on electricity, and we didn’t ride our bikes for some reason. We turn around to head to the Mission and see another explosion rising southward beyond the City. “San Francisco is next!” I cry as we run through the City to get home. I fumble my camera out of its bag to hopefully record our last moments but it doesn’t work.
On the way home, we approach a gate to the next part of the City. Guards/police in strange uniforms aren’t allowing anyone through.
“I need to get to 25th Street,” I tell them and they let me through. A tall guard stops me and hassles me for ID with the address I mentioned. I open up my wallet to show him and he sees a 1980s collectible item that I stuck in there. “Hey, look at this!” he says to another guard, waving him over to look. “I haven’t seen one of those since I was a kid.”
Time has passed and San Francisco still stands. I’m leaving the City alone on a bicycle weighted down with panniers while pulling a trailer with supplies. I’m most likely in the Arizona dessert, riding up a small incline and thinking to myself that the hill wasn’t that bad. I also think of what people where telling me before I left: “You’ll die out there.” “What happens if you run out of food?” “Somebody will kill you.”
Out with other people on bikes, I pass a police car that has the other lane blocked off. I get into a good riding groove and think about my family back East.