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Little Boy

Even after three years his captors were unaware that he was a railwayman before the conflict. For four days they had been working on overhauling a set of points that a team of apprentices back home could have fixed in a morning.

He had seen so much horror as a slave laborer but life was easier on the enemy mainland. His application to his work learned as an apprentice at the railway yard helped him close off his mind and concentrate on his work. He worked steadily and well, conserving his strength and energy and avoiding the attention of the cruel guards.

He had ceased to feel any connection with anyone and anything. He ceased to care about yesterday or tomorrow.

He felt thirsty; the sun was on his back. He heard the sound of a single aircraft but didn't look up. Soon it would be lunchtime and he would have some water. At once the air seemed to be sucked away. Everything went white; there was heat, a hot wind then a thunderclap. He kept working while the others stopped and looked.

He needed more rivets for the next section of track. He pushed through the crowd to the store cart. The guards and captives had stopped work and were looking at the unnatural cloud where the city had stood. Some of the guards were crying. He found what he needed and returned to his work.

Capture in Singapore, building the Burma Railway, torpedoed in the China Sea, shark attack, recapture - he believed that the town they were looking at was called Hiroshima.

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submitted at 10:39pm

15 November 2007