The asthmatic death rattle of the air-scrubber was a comfortable sound, a beacon home in the crushing waves of the street. It had guided him home every night now for eight years to the same drafty building and the same putrid stairs, and the same motherless little girl at the top who made it all worthwhile. Clara was eleven and all that came with it. Her father would give his life to save hers.
We pushed our way through the shattered city. All around us were the signs of a race without hope, an entire nation devoid of both love and life. "Is this what they saw at Pompeii?" I wondered. Men and women both, dead before they died.