We only bothered with the radiation suits so we would live longer and be able to do more to stop the leak from killing millions of people. The longer we stayed alive the more we could achieve and the less time those who came after us would have to risk their lives. People were calling this a ‘suicide mission’ but none of us thought of our lives as a loss. It was so sudden we had no time to think about the afterlife but we all had an idea of how things would be.

“Jinx do you have any kids?”

“No, Henry, I never got married and I guess maybe I scared off the gals!”

Jinx grinned at me with those wildly crooked teeth. He looked at little crazy but he would not be working here with us if he had not been in the top 10% IQ range of those who had applied to work here. Even an engineering degree was not enough. We called him ‘Jinx’ ’cause he seemed doomed to fail at attempts to lure the ‘fairer sex.’

“Don’t worry you’ll get 70 virgins when we are done.”

“HAWWWWW HAWWWWW!!!!!! Neither of us is the right religion! You screwed up atheist!”

“Hey, according to YOU God doesn’t care if I am an atheist!”

Jinx got quiet. I watched him and he turned to look at me…

“They will say we were heroes. It won’t matter what religion any of us are. Hey let’s catch up to the others they will think we are not eager to die!”

Jinx laughed and ran ahead.

The group I worked with had been specifically chosen for the highest risk work. We were all young, unmarried, and, as far as any of us knew, without children. There were no women in our group although I suppose there could have been if any had wanted to join us. None had wanted to join us. We worked in the parts of the plant that exposed us to the highest potential amounts of radiation. We never thought the worst would happen but it had and as the alert sirens went off we did the safety regimen and donned the suits and as we got ready, in as few seconds as possible, to contain the damage already being done as quickly as we could. We already has sworn an oath among ourselves that, if the worst ever occurred, we would give our lives freely for the common good. This happened on our shift so we were keeping that promise and it seemed strange that not a single one of us was frightened at what would soon happen. We ran, as fast as the suits allowed, into the radioactive fires we were to fight.

Jinx and I lasted the longest. He fell, and I kept working alone while others had come and gone. They could not take any of our bodies out of those of us who stayed. With each minute I was there my determination to eradicate this fiery hell grew into a singular intent so strong that I watched my body keep moving some minutes after I had left it. They would tell stories, that would be forgotten, in the years following the accident. Stories about Henry, the man radiation could not kill….

….30 years later a team of scientists were studying a new bacteria that was eating the radiation inside the reactor. They were astonished at how closely it resembled human melanocytes. Behind the team of scientists and just above them was another team of men the scientists could not see. The unseen men were speaking unheard words…..

“Henry, check this out!”

“Hey Jinks it looks like we had kids after all!”

“Huuuuuuhhhhh!!!!! BACTERIA! HAWWWWW HAWWWWWW!!!!!”

“We wanted to save people so badly we sent our intent into every cell of our being and so they kept going after we left!”

Jinx just grinned his wild man snaggle toothed grin.


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