A Postcard from Armageddon




I’m 31 feet below ground at the Delta One (D-01) launch facility, standing in a reinforced concrete tube, behind a foot-thick steel blast door. A loop of Cold War tunes plays in my head: The Final Countdown, followed by 99 Red Balloons (the English version, with that sexy accent). I’m facing a grey metal control panel with several bakelite telephones and a number of switches — but only one of them matters.

I’ve got my hand on the key. And I have to admit, I’m tempted.

What if I could switch the targeting? A list of all those who have ever wronged me flashes through my mind. Noisy neighbours. Overbearing border officials. The Japanese postal service (who once held up a shipment of fadge my father had sent me at great expense, and which arrived a month late festering with mold). Egging the homes of these people would be one thing, but 1.2 megatonnes of thermonuclear annihilation would send another message entirely.

I turn the key, and it clicks home.

Nothing happens.

“Hey! I told you not to touch anything! Get away from there!”

I’m being scolded by the tour guide, who has been provided exclusively for my photographer and me.

That’s when I remember I’m in a museum.


About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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