The Consequences of Nuclear Waste
by Jill Warden
It was an ordinary day like any other. Bob and Joann were enjoying the sunny afternoon after being cooped up inside for so many winter months. Joann had invited a few of the neighbors over for barbecue, and had gotten special matching paper cups and napkins. “These are just too cute!” she thought as she set the redwood picnic table nestled in the corner of the freshly mown yard. She felt a sense of pride in her homekeeping skills, and was confident that fake-blond Edna would have to acknowledge that she, Joann, was an excellent wife and hostess.
Bob was dutifully wearing the apron his mother-in-law had gotten him as he sweltered over the grill. Truth be told, he only enjoying eating barbecue, and never really wanted to do the cooking, but the old bat had somehow implied that manly men always did the outdoor cooking. Now he always found himself thinking about his desk job whenever he donned that apron- the desk job that prevented him from being the hunter-gatherer his ancestors were, the job that paid his mortgage, the job that fed his children, the job that slowly, systematically drained him daily of his manhood.
Suddenly, Jenny and Frank came screaming across the yard. They were clearly terrified, and a huge ruckus erupted behind them.
“What? What is it?” Joann’s heart was pounding at the sight of her children’s pale faces and huge eyes.
At that moment, an enormous bipedal lizard burst through the well-manicured hedge that was Bob’s pride. Rearing back its head, it released an angry screech that seemed to obliterate any other sound in the neighborhood. Jenny and Frank were sobbing and clutching their mother, who covered her face with her arm and pushed the children behind her with the other.
When the creature’s scream had died away, Bob said, without taking his eyes off it, “Get in the house. Now.” Without hesitation, Joann grabbed the children and ran in, slamming the sliding glass door. But she stayed, watching her husband through the glass, terror gripping her, ice for blood.
Bob squared his shoulders and marched to the creature that loomed before him. He tried to steady his shaking hand, and took deep breaths to maintain control. The lizard leaned forward, and a large, forked tongue flicked against Bob’s face. Bob clutched his barbecue tongs. He wasn’t sure what he could do with tongs, but he needed to hold on to something, anything, that made him feel less helpless.
The lizard rose back up to its full height and cocked its head, curiously looking at Bob. It suddenly occurred to him that he had an entire vessel filled with burning coals. Even if he couldn’t hurt the lizard, perhaps he could scare it away. But he knew he had only one chance to make anything happen before he would leave himself- and his family- completely vulnerable. Carefully, he began to back up toward the grill. Quickly, he caught sight of the chimney. As the lizard watched, Bob scooped up the hot coals and flung them….