As the earth moved from dusk to night in Iraq, at Mangala's feet balls of flame grew in Baghdad then collapsed into burning pools, and elsewhere in the land it was the same, and it went on, and on, and on, as though there would never be an end to it. Were there screams? No mortal knew, nor did the gods. No body would be found and buried by loved ones, nor eaten by maggats, nor by vultures. All was flame, then gas, then nothing.
"This is the Shaq'an'al," Mangala whispered, "the miracle of shock and awe that changes the hearts of men, or leaves them forever changeless."
He glanced to his left. Lunchtime at 21st and K in Washington, D.C. A young woman, well buttressed in her tights, stepped into the health club as a well-dressed man bought food from the cart of a woman who had much mustard but little English. A mother pushed her baby in a cart, and a young man at in front of a small cafe, sipping coffee mindfully. Men and women smiled, or frowned, or kept a cold public face amid the gentle showers of spring.
Mangala again looked at the flames. "Same planet, same instant, same children of the gods," he said, shaking his head sadly.