I was driving along the California coast, heading south, somewhere near Santa Barbara, when I realized I was near the Coastal Gun. This was apparently hastily built in the early days of 1942 to protect Southern California from Japanese naval assault, and remained, to this day, the largest gun ever made. It could fire well over fifty miles at a sustained rate of something like a shell every ten seconds.
As I drew nearer, I also realized that, for the first time in 50 years, they were going to try firing it a few times. What luck, that I happened to be here at the time! So I pulled into the parking lot. There was a gift shop and restaurant and such; the Coastal Gun had become quite a fine tourist draw.
They handed me headphones, huge ones that completely blocked out all sound; I could hear only the pumping rush of blood in my own brain. I milled about with the other tourists; we nodded and smiled at each other and make hand gestures to indicate how excited we were about the Gun.
The gun would heat up so much when fired that a river had been diverted to flow through it during its manufacture, and the river emerged from the gun's innards and then dropped down a seemingly endless hole, an infinite waterfall. I stood on the bridge and held onto the rail and looked down the tumbling waterfall. The presence of the longest gun barrel in the world, standing erect over what seemed like the deepest hole in the world, was so embarrassingly Freudian that I felt sure it MUST have been an obvious and deliberate statement by the chief engineer.
I looked back at the other tourists and then the gun fired. I didn't really hear it, so much, but the impact in my stomach was like a kick, and my view of the tourists warped and then shimmied as the fluid in my eyes rippled and deformed from the air pressure change. OOMP. The voice of God beat-boxing a kick drum. OOMP. OOMP.
The waterfall began to steam, then boil. I stood on the bridge, surrounded by warm vapor, looking out at the Pacific Ocean as white-hot meteors flew over my head and out beyond the horizon, once every ten seconds.