In the small Australian town called Ballarat, in the early 1970s, a nuclear family of three is at home on a Sunday morning. They live on a street near the local fire station, which has on its roof a siren. For one reason or another, on that morning those inside the fire station decide to test the siren, and its infantile wail is heard across town. When they hear it, the two parents are immediately stricken with absolute, immobilising terror; the blood seems to drain from the mother's face, sweat appears on the father's forehead, and both of them look utterly without hope.
The reason for their fear is that the siren is an old, repurposed air raid siren from World War II. It is of that same rotary design that was once found in Berlin and Kyoto, the cities from which the parents in that nuclear family immigrated two decades earlier, where as children they had heard those sirens and been just as terrified as on this day.
More than thirty years later Kerry Müller, the woman who was the young teenager in that nuclear family, remembers that morning, and says, "Christ, they nearly shat themselves. I think that's the kind of thing that people need, though, and it's the kind of thing that stays with you. The way a sound like that can give someone such a physical reaction, and affect them at such a subconscious level, that's the kind of thing that really makes you a pacifist."
For BrevityQuest10, 250 words.