Skip to content


Keiko took her first hit at 19 after an organic chem lab, tidying, when she fumbled a test tube of what she thought was nitro. She caught it and just stood there trembling. The high lasted for hours, even after she figured out it was only ethylene glycol.

Her real gateway, though, was black powder. She paid cash at the ammo shop and didn’t even have to show ID. It smelled like fireworks. Out behind the industrial arts shed, she threaded fuse into a capped length of galvanized pipe, and her heart in her chest was a boxer at the bag.


Keiko hustles down the stairs, emergency radio chittering under one arm, cat clawing the other, and stops at the sight of it. They said to take shelter in your basement, but she’d almost forgotten she kept a bomb down here.

The rain has eased up a little, and somewhere a train is whistling. Keiko sets down her squeaking burdens and pulls off the tarp: beautiful, baroque, her little hobby engine of destruction.

The walls are tearing; the roof is gone. The wind is tugging at her. So much time spent courting death, thinks Keiko, and here I am hesitating to commit.


Keiko doesn’t tinker with her bomb much anymore, but once in a while she’ll find a good nail or a thimble of black powder and take it down to the basement. It’s a big lumpy thing now, its capped pipes peeking from under the brown tarp like a shy giant snail. Its yield is around 1200 pounds. The shrapnel would do far more damage than the explosion.

Not that she’s ever going to detonate it, of course. It’s perfectly safe. It’s just a hobby, a way to get her heart going, and why does it even matter if nobody’s getting hurt?