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Summer Thunder is a short story, first published in Turn Down the Lights in 2013 before being published in the story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

Plot

A nuclear war has devastated the world. A man named Peter Robinson is one of the few people left alive, living on the large food supply he and his wife had stocked. His wife and daughter were in Boston when the war started and got killed. All Robinson has left now is a grey stray dog he adopted and named Gandalf. The only other human around is Timlin, an old man who lives in a house located inside a private enclave called Woodland Acres. Robinson visits him daily. Although their part of the US has been spared the immediate destruction caused by the nukes, Timlin believes it will only be a matter of time before they die from radiation poisoning. Around them the animals are already dying by the handful.  

Timlin is proven right when one day Gandalf’s hair starts to fall out and he begins to weaken fast. Timlin himself is also dying. Wanting to spare himself the agony that comes with this kind of death, Timlin commits suicide with a gun. He also urges Robinson to put Gandalf out of his misery, which he does. Robinson himself decides to also end his life, but in a little more spectacular way. He drives to Bennington to pick up a spare battery for his Fat Bob motorcycle, then drives the Fat Bob at full speed towards a hairpin called Dead Man’s Curve, crashing into the warning sign.

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