By Mike Meginnis

Read an exclusive excerpt of Fat Man and Little Boy by Mike Meginnis, winner of Black Balloon Publishing's 2013 Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize.


Two bombs over Japan. Two shells.

One called Little Boy, one called Fat Man. Three days apart. The one implicit in the other. Brothers.

If a person were to film them falling, it would have to be from a great distance, through a veil of Japanese cities and towns and passing carts, kites, and pedestrians. Little Boy or Fat Man a black spot, center-screen. Encircled, in future broadcasts, by white light: an emphatic moon, where otherwise they would be missed, descending as the gnat-speck plummets.

Until pica don – "flash boom."

Or one might film them from the plane above. Some enterprising journalist or rising military star would begin with the shell in profile, waiting in the plane's cold, clamorous womb. It would fill the screen.

Then the hatch would open underneath. Fat Man or Little Boy would drop out of sight. The camera would pan down to watch the bomb shrink, until it was a speck.

Until it could not be sorted from the landscape below – the factories, the homes, the tangle of power lines.

Until pica don.

The swell of light.