Kiyoshi Fukuyama blinks in the pale sunlight. He steps, gingerly, and raises his scarred hands to call for a taxi. He is here for one reason and one reason alone.
He is going to kill J Robert Oppenheimer.
It has been twenty years since Little Boy and Fat Man fell from the sky and crippled the glory of the Japanese people. Twenty years since the Americans slaughtered soldiers and innocents alike.
Twenty years since Emperor Showa betrayed everything the Japanese people have ever believed in and capitulated under the American onslaught. The unnecessary onslaught.
All down to Oppenheimer. Sure, his cronies had helped but he had been the mastermind, the puppet master holding all the strings. Now time had come for him to pay for all the hurt he had caused. One life for the two hundred thousand of Kiyoshi’s people that perished in the blast that day.
He got in that taxi and asked it to take him to Princeton University, curtly. His hands stole into his briefcase to play with the weapon waiting inside, a weapon almost as ‘Ahh, you are in town for the lecture, no? Father of the atomic bomb, talking about…’ His speech slowed as he took Kiyoshi’s race into account.
The forty-eight remaining minutes of the journey were spent in silence.
They arrived, miraculously unscathed, at the McCosh Hall. Kiyoshi paid, with a generous tip, before beginning his long walk to vengeance. Three hundred and twelve steps to my allotted seat.
‘I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.’ The voice, oddly high and hoarse, creaked across the audience. ‘That’s what I said after I witnessed the Trinity Test. The awesome power of the atom bomb.’ He coughed, staccato and cutting in the rooms dry air. ‘But now take a look. The world stands on the brink of war and those who truly understood the atom bomb are reduced to lecturing in public theatres.’ He stood, thin and hunched over by the podium.
He talked, solidly for two hours. All the while his punctuation was enhanced by his coughs, his voice holding strong despite the reedy quality. Two hours on the state of the world, the growing conflict.
Two hours in which he apologised no less than fifteen times.
By the end, Kiyoshi could do nothing but cry. He was not alone in that audience, though he was the only one with radiation burns on his hands. A thousand apologies wouldn’t cut it, but one…
Perhaps Kiyoshi could forgive one man. In this second, in this moment, he could forgive this man who was so clearly on a direct path to an exit. One moment of forgiveness.
The events of this story are purely fictional. To my knowledge, no such lecture as described in this short happened.
The Idiot in Tin Foil