Sadly today, nothing else blows up.
The attacker contained his explosion that time. Rather than enter the building, and destroy it utterly, reducing it to nothing more than a smoldering crater, he held in the full force of his power.
Instead of a large bomb, designed to take out such a place, his explosion mimiced something far, far smaller, that would have done very little damage to the internal structure of the offices. If he had been inside the closed and locked warehouse, such an explosion as the one he let out this time, would have barely caused the roof to move, or girders to melt. Only the barest of derelict equipment nearby him would have been affected, and anything flung would likely have caused more damage than he would have.
The only people caught within the boundaries of his eruption were those closest to him, a small handful of the 15 to 20 people that were waiting outside, watching his approach.
Most of the survivors were those whom had sought to escape from any sort of attack, realising what he could be, the moment he began his paranoid ravings. Some ran for the building, seeking solace and safety within the thick, brick walls, lined with steel, praying the relatively ancient construction would provide more shelter from their assailant than remaining outside would. They weren't thinking of the explosions he, as it would come to be believed, caused in the other cities, and the destruction he rained down upon their streets. All they were seeking was safety. A quick fix. Escape and then find the next step. One problem would get solved at a time.
The pavement around where the young terrorist exploded was singed, even darker than it had already appeared, and the surrounding area no longer glistened from the wetness of newly melted snow, the pavement singed dry from the heat. The mark of dry asphalt inscribed a perfect circle around where the young man was standing, as if an umbrella had stopped the snow from falling in that very spot, leaving it untouched, rather than cleared from the blast.
Charred skeletons littered the ground around the point of detonation. The bones had been burnt black, and some of them flaked into ash as the wind swept through, carrying the blackened outer layer that wrapped around the marrow. Their clothes had been reduced to so much ash around the bodies, blasted clean off their bodies, and lost to the heat.
The skulls lay against the ground, the dark, ashen bones matching the black asphalt they rested atop of. Their jaws all hung open, frozen in a silent scream to the skies. Empty sockets where eyes had once been, but had been boiled away stared blankly, seeking answers that would never come.
On the wind, carried through the air, was the scent of burnt flesh and hair, as well as the scent of the incinerated clothing. Survivors covered their mouths and noses, afraid to breathe in any particulate matter from their coworkers, as much as they didn't want to smell the carnage.
One unfortunate soul was on the edge of the explosion, trying to run away from the man, forseeing what was to come, even if he didn't know the specifics. The force of the explosion threw him through the air, but not before flames had licked at his back, catching his clothes on fire, and burning straight through to the skin underneath. His hair caught fire right away, disappearing in a flash, and carrying the flames to the back of his skull, as the force from the blast flung him into the air and he landed on the parking lot, skidding across the asphalt, tearing the front of his clothes, what remained of his clothes that were barely hanging by the barest threads from his body, as well as scarring up his face and hands.
He began screaming from the flames licking at his body, but still had the presence of mind to roll around, to put out the flames. Somehow in his pained mind, he recalled his old elementary school training to stop, drop and roll.
The burns scraping up against the hardened tar and stones beneath him as he rolled around, only caused him to scream more, and he eventually stopped rolling, fortunately the flames had been put out, if anything can be found fortunate about his situation.
His cries echoed around the empty parking lot, the only sound that could be heard, distracting everyone who had witnessed the explosion, as they focused their attention on their dying coworker, some of them wished he would be put out of misery, and out of theirs, but no such mercy was forthcoming.
With his hands extended like blackened claws, he tried to crawl across the parking lot, further from the incident, fighting through the haze of pain, trying to get away from any more damage that could possibly be forthcoming, from a secondary explosion, if something else caught on fire, if he could even think clearly enough to comprehend such a thing being a possibility, or maybe he just moved on pure instinct, his deepest, most basest desires wishing to get as far away from what hurt him so severly.
He only crawled a few inches further, before the pain demanded he cease his attempts at flight. If his hands had not been burned as badly as they were, he may have managed to continued forward, but using them to pull himself forward only served to tear more into the tender, deep burns covering his flesh, nearly to the bone on his fingers.
The screams he made had died away, as much as he wished for them to continue, but his throat had been torn raw by his screaming already, and as his death drew near, blood oozing from his burns that had not cauterised completely, and from the wounds of being thrown against the ground, brought him closer to his final moments, a crimson puddle, contrasting against the dark watery shimmer of the hardened tar he lay upon.
While everyone was enthralled with the final moments of that nameless drone, fruitlessly trying to save himself, his life already at it's end, with bare moments left to him, no one had noticed that their assailant, the suicide bomber which had sought to strike a message of fear into this unsuspecting midwestern city, and reverberate throughout the world, was still alive.
With the cries of the dying man faded away, and his life soon to follow, eyes slowly began to tear themselves away from his charred, bloodied body laying and twitching upon the ground, reaching over the faded, yellow markings of a parking space, as if he was a man trying to cross the finish line in a horrific race.
They slowly turned from the scene of a fan futilely clinging to life, and surveyed the scene around them. Their eyes fell upon those less fortunate, that were killed instantly - or some may argue they were more fortunate, as they did not suffer through what their associate was finishing up. Gazes quickly turned from those equally horrible skeletons, some bony hands still clutching at the air, and they finally found their attacker.
He stood there, directly in the center of every mark, every bone, every lost life, perfectly left their right in the middle of it all, an expanding sphere of destruction spreading outwards from where his feet remained. They were planted firmly in the center of all that destruction, scarring the otherwise pristine parking lot. He had not moved even the barest inch from where he was before the explosion.
While the man caught at the dge of his outburst slowly died, he only stood there, his eyes closed. The only sign of movement that would even indicate he was alive, despite the odds of anyone survivng as he did, no matter the evidence of those now watching him, was the movement of his chest, as he slowly and calmly breathed.
Small puffs of white began to blow from his nose, as the cold air slowly filtered back into the brief moment of intense heat he had created out there when he had taken those lives with the barest flinch of conscience.
Even the attacker's clothes were untouched, the wind continuing to cause his trenchcoat to lick hungrily around his legs, as if nothing had happened, and everything was perfectly normal with this young, unassuming man.
His fist remained clenched tightly at his sides, balled into tiny fists, and his knuckles gone white from the strain of holding his hands thusly for so long. A slight shaking could be seen, if anyone looked hard enough, as his tensed muscles and the strain of holding them as he did for so long, was taking its toll.
Sweat beaded on his brow, and dripped lazily down his head, dripping a lone drop off the tip of his nose, that sizzled for a brief moment as it hit the still hot remains of the pavement beneath his feet.
Finally, his hands unclenched, shaking, and his lips parted, taking in a large, sharp gasp of air, inhaling deep, and filling his lungs. Was he waiting for the air to cool, so he could breath, or was he engrossed in concentration, for some unknown reason?
None of those questions even entered the minds of the people who had borne witness to the horrible act wreaked upon their friends and coworkers that day, and likely never would. Likely, such details would escape their notice, consumed entirely by the sheer, inescapable, impossible fact that the man who had just blown himself up to send the latest message from his group, remained standing for all to see.
He was surrounded by the disheartening evidence of the explosion he had caused, and surely he had caused it. They all saw him explode, before they averted their eyes from the flash of the flames eminating from the burst of energy. At least, those who weren't running saw what he had done, and even some of those were keeping their heads turned, watching the threatening man over their shoulders, heedless of anything that may be in their paths ahead as they tried to put as much distance between them and him.
But as beyond belief as it may have seemed, there he stood. Unharmed, not burned, and breathing with a calm and ease that made it look as if nothing at all had happened to him. If not for the carnage arrayed around him, one would be hard pressed to tell that anything had even transpired there on that cold, October morning.
Some of those watching their adversary wanted to scream, wanted to collapse at what they saw littering the ground around them. Others wanted to run, to continue to put more distance beteween them and him, but the incongruity of what they saw, what their minds were telling them was impossible, kept them frozen and silent, as they stared wordlessly at the strange sight before them, unable to prcoess what was standing their before their disbelieving eyes.
What finally caused them to move from their immobile stances, was when he finally moved himself, comfirming that there was indeed someone there, and not some elaborate trick of their minds, somehow wanting to see him there. His own gaze broke from where it was staring, looking off blankly at the building he was so close to causing damage to. That wasn't his goal, at least not today, and not yet. Today's goal was to send a message, not cause too much destruction.
The man looked around, his eyes falling upon those whom he had deigned not to kill, at least not yet.