A blinding light filled the city, followed by 3900 degree flames and 1000 km/h winds. The bomb had fallen for 43 seconds from the plane to ground zero, the exact same time it took a second bomb to fall three days later, when the light filled his life a second time. Years later, he came to place a religious significance on these numbers. Just as Jesus told his disciples that he would destroy the temple and raise it again in three days, Tsutomu believed that God was destroying him and raising him up with the bombs.
But on that first day, all that Tsutomu could think was “OH MY G-” as his shadow was burned onto harbour ground. His right side was given third degree burns, with his clothing forever tattooed into his skin. He couldn’t see for a day, and his hearing was never the same. He was thrown from where he was standing to the ground and across the harbour ground by twenty feet. His whole body suffered burns, bruises and cuts. All of his hair was burned. To the day that he died, he could never be convinced that somewhere nearby, there was burning hair. That smell never left his nostrils. Most of the first minutes of the bomb are non-existent in his memories.
The city, at one instant, a bustling cornucopia of life and people living it, became a flaming mass, whose buildings were flattened, and whose residence were thrown into death or suffering. People closest to ground zero were immediately killed. Their skin completely melted off their bones, their organs boiling and exploded out of their sacks. Their bones were turned to ash in seconds. Nothing that resembled themselves a few seconds before would remain. Children, of all ages; old folks; fathers; mothers; sisters; brothers; priests; police officers; women giving birth; people in bed; people eating breakfast; people on buses; lonely people; people with people in their lives; evil, vile people; virtuous people; people of high class and low class, the rich and poor, one and all were completely and utterly destroyed.
Tsu, somehow, had survived where many were left dead or rendered useless, all but dead. His first memories after the explosion are of him getting up off of the ground. He remembers the ground was burning, that his rubber shoes would stick to the ground. Without sight, he could not observe the devastation that surrounded him. All he could hear was an all encompassing loud pitch. The smell and flavour of the air was that of burnt: buildings, people, himself. At first he didn’t move. He tried sitting down a couple of times, but the scorched earth prevented this. When he tried to move around, he would tripp on smoldering debris, which burned him to the touch. He was in excruciating pain, the left side of his body felt as if it had been pealed and salted. The are was suffocating, and his mind soon turned to spectres of water and lemonade and other refreshing things. Although Tsu could not hear anything at the time, he wasn’t missing out on much. The bomb had decimated almost everything in its path, including the things that usually fill the environment with background noise. An eerie silence filled the city for almost two hours, the only sound coming from the wailings of a couple survivors, and the soft burning of flammables which miraculously survived the initial fire-ball.
Neighboring cities slowly began to understand what had occurred, but no one could fully take in everything. Sound began to come from neighboring cities’ governmental response units: fire-engines, police sirens, ambulances. The first few people onto the scene could not believe their eyes. Newspapers photos and television media videos would, for the next six months, assault the nation with pictures of confusion, chaos, tragedy, miracles of hope and survival. Pictures of firefighters, policemen, ambulance personel and volunteers, working together to pull a child from a smoking pile of rubble. Pictures of limbs, unidentified body parts, burned faces. Landscapes, before and after, incomparable.
Videos of the few survivors laying in hospital beds, most of them in cotton cocoons, protecting their burned flesh and exposed insides from the air.
Tsu was found, walking in a small circle, near the location where his former work building used to be. When the rescue workers got to him, they couldn’t believe it. He was quickly the spotlight of most newspaper stories, of how a man, three miles from the drop zone, survived, relatively unscathed. The crew who found him at first couldn’t convince him to get into the ambulance. When Tsu was tapped on the shoulder, he was afraid, being blind and deaf, and lashed out. He took up a pathetic fighting position, mimicking the fighting position of heroes he had seen in movies when he was young, with his father. Waking from a state of shock, his body, upon feeling the touch of another, went into survival mode: fight. He shouted, and turned frantically, throwing jabs every now and then. The rescue crew, at first waiting for Tsu to simply calm down, eventually decided to tackle Tsu onto a stretcher and tied him down. The straps on his right side, when removed later that night, peeled off the new layer of skin his body was desperately attempting to build. Without being able to hear the pleas of his rescuers, he believed them to be captors, and fought with them every minute until they decided to sedate him.