A rumor begins to circulate. A local reporter picks it up and runs a small segment late into the 10 o'clock news hour. A regional broadcast picks it up. By Monday, it's national news.
They're going to rebuild Chicago. They're going to erect new buildings, build new bridges, construct new airports, bring in new animals. They're going to rebuild it all. Make it as if no tarnish or devastation ever touched the City of Big Shoulders.
The protests begin shortly after.
Let shadows be the only residence now, one woman says, clutching to the picture of her daughter and granddaughter.
Let the buildings fall when the weight of death has finally crumpled them, says a man, grasping a cane with a snarled and burned hand.
Leave the dead to their city, to their streets and homes and shopping malls screams a sign held high by hands that wept watching the devastation from a flickering television screen.
Someone asks, quite politely on a talking head show if building new sky scrapers, planting new trees, opening new schools, will bring back those lost, the three million who were burned and crushed and mangled. If welding new metal and cutting new doors will heal the scars and mend the skin of hundreds of thousands. Will new reflection ponds and long oak benches ease the painful memories of running and running and never stop running and don't look back, get out of the city, now now NOW.
A minister in Alabama says that instead of rebuilding Chicago, they should plant a flower for every soul taken too early before their time.
A man from Utah says its penance for the buildings that so high, they seemed to scrape away at the blue of the sky. Sometimes God doesn't want to be bothered with man grating away at his doorstep.
A politician from New York says to level the whole city and build completely anew.
A actor in Los Angeles recommends making a movie of it all, of the destruction and the reconstruction. Everything. Capture everything. Remind future generations that no matter how far down we all are thrown we always rise up.
A little girl in Memphis asks when her father, a business man whom travels a lot, will be home. Last time she talked to him, he was at someplace called O'Hare.
Fingers are pointed.
Voices are raised.
Tears are wept, and swept away.
The Autobots will help, a reporter says.
The Autobots are glad the city is gone, another says.
The wind rushes through the barren streets as if the ghosts themselves are still screaming for aid.
The windy city.
The crying city.
How do you rebuild on the ashes and bones of the dead? How do you pick away the glass and concrete and metal of hundreds of buildings and construct something different? Where is the line between memorial and apathetic?
They say that they are rebuilding Chicago. Protesters line the streets of Washington, New York, Boston and small towns around the globe. Signs are raised, rattling and shaking, white poster board with hand written messages. Let Chicago lie in ruin, they all say. Let it dissolve into a ghost town, a Chernobyl for the new age.
Let the dead, at last, rest in a sense of peace.