Friday, 16 October 2015

#whimword - Glow

The screen crackled with static before fading to bright white light. Fifteen people held their breath expectantly. As the intensity of the glow diminished it became clear we were looking at the slow ballooning of a mushroom cloud.

The detonation had been successful.

Only then, when the screen confirmed our victory did I contemplate the enormity of what had just happened. This detonation was more than just the mushroom cloud and the bright flash of energy, it was also the deaths of a hundred thousand people and the poisoning of the land. Some would die quickly, the fortunate ones at least. Most would take months or even years. In decades, children who haven't even been born yet will feel the effects of our actions here today.

I sat down abruptly, overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. What had we done? Surely nothing these people have done to us could possibly warrant this.

A week later they brought in a small group of survivors to monitor the progress of their radiation sickness. My superiors told me to investigate ways of speeding up the process. I refused. Our "subjects" were walking corpses and I had had a hand in that. I couldn't bring myself to look at them.

I quit the next day.

I should have left long before then, when I first realised what we were doing was wrong.

At first I wasn't sure what to do. I'd spent my whole life training with the academy of science, learning to turn scientific discovery into military superiority. I didn't know anything else.

Then I realised; I had a passable knowledge of anatomy and was a leading expert in radiation damage. Perhaps I could use this to undo some of what my research had done.

I found the nearest medical centre and they immediately accepted my offer of help. They were understaffed with too many critical patients and far too few resources; they were more than happy to accept an extra pair of willing hands.

At first I got given menial jobs only; cleaning up waste, carting patients around and folding laundry. I did what they asked but that kind of work always left me with too much time to think. And I chafed; I felt I could be more use elsewhere.

When a patient started crashing while I was transporting them I didn't hesitate, I went straight into medical mode. I  remember barking out orders to those around me and they were  followed. The patient didn't make it, but I'd done everything I could and shown how I could really help.

*

I'm still here, at the hospital. It's been years now, but the sick keep coming in. Because of me and what I've done. I've considered going back home, but the nightmares still haven't stopped. The guilt is still haunts me. I don't think it'll ever go away.

Anyway, I'm showing signs of radiation sickness myself; I'll probably be dead soon anyway. Feels to me like karma; I deserve nothing less.

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