Prologue

I can't remember what I was doing when it hit. After something like that whatever you were up to was unimportant. Now I think back to it I remember bits of the day beforehand, but nothing much. I live on the outskirts of a small town in Iraq, in the middle of nowhere. You constantly hear stuff about us on the news and how things are always getting blown up but things are really not that bad, now I realise that we were lucky, until now. Mum had asked me to go out to the stores not that far away from home so I'd cycled off into the distance as usual. I stopped off at my favourite place in the whole world, my little hill. It was so empty and peaceful, due to my siblings: Tom and Lisa I didn't normally get much of that in my life; I learnt to appreciate the little things like silence. It was up there that all my problems began.

I heard thunder, but it was much too loud and far too close for comfort. I slowly turned.

The first thing you felt was the shock wave, hurtling towards you and throwing you back into the air. It was like an invisible monster, striking me in the chest, its claws sweeping up dust (so naturally I told myself it was a monster); there was enough to block out the sun and as you stared at the sudden darkness of the sky you noticed the plume of smoke rising higher than any skyscraper, with a faint orange glow at its core. There wasn't time for anyone to scream in that short second. Everything had happened at once.

I ran.