Thundersmoke


I’ll call this one “inspired by” Flash! Friday vol. 3-24. I was busy all day, and this poorly-proofread story missed the deadline by about two minutes. Image prompt is a CC2.0 photo by Tee La Rosa.

Sunset creeps across the barrens of the Thundersmoke site: the skies are all aflame. We gather ’round the fire: three anthropologists and a dozen overeager students, exhausted from their first dig.

“Dosimeter check!” My colleague scribbles our absorbed radiation dose on his clipboard. Fifteen centuries after history’s worst nuclear disaster, the site remains too hot for long-term habitation. He clucks his tongue at two of my students. “Significant gamma exposure. Where were you excavating?”

The young woman blushes. Victoria falls in love like water over a precipice; it’s in her nature. Her graduate crush is a well-known charmer.

“Grid reference D-7,” I tell Dr. Klipspringer. Once the site of a massive dam that held back waters for the immense cooling towers. Erosion has ground the concrete to dust, and water thunders over broken ruins.

“They should stay back here at base camp tomorrow,” Klipspringer suggests. “Make sure they’ve gotten anything hot out of their systems before returning to the dig.”

Victoria and her crush glance knowingly at each other.Only the foolishness of youth could think that something so intense, so uncontrollable, could last forever. I stare back toward Grid D-7, where the remains of the largest nuclear plant in history still radiates its gamma radiation glow.

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