Episode 34 - To betray you must first belong and understand

For the past two weeks, our radiation detectors have picked up increasing radioactive spots in the pond shore. Our last images sent by Argo3, the mini-sub, have shown that the nuclear missile, at the bottom of the pond, is still in place and it's contents secure. Without knowing the cause of such high radiation readings, the Professor asked us for our assistance to dig up some soil samples during our daily pond patrols. Since Private Harvey and I were scheduled for today's first patrol rounds, we brought along some shovels and a burlap bag. Professor Evgeny followed us down the pond trail carrying his Dose Meter. We walked around the pond quite a few times till the Professor instructed us to stop. - Here! Let's get some of that mud in the bag. - said Professor Evgeny. I got on my knees and started to dig. It didn't take long to fill up the bag. - Professor? Should I be touching this stuff without proper equipment? - I asked just before I sealed up the burlap bag. - Good question Harris! - he said excited. Brian looked at me like we were about to hear a huge speech. And we did. The professor smiled and proceeded to explain: - There are many sources of Natural Radiation my friends. Radiation is all around us, naturally. Radon gas exists in most parts of the US, in different levels. Radon is produced from naturally occurring Uranium-238 in the soil. In fact, the decay of uranium and thorium is the principle source of energy the heats the core of the Earth. Radiation existed long before Man, even though some would have you believe otherwise. Note that even though most of the heavy elements are alpha emitters, they can still be dangerous, if they get inside your body. Your skin stops alpha particles if the source is outside your body, but your internal organs and tissues have no such protection. - the professor finally finished. It took me a minute. - How about radioactive dust? - I asked almost panicking. - Radioactive dust can be hazardous Harris, but look at our soil sample, it's wet and basically clay matter. Just try not to breath too close, alright? - explained professor Evgeny while winking at Brian. I wasn't all convinced but I decided to close the bag anyway. From the distance we heard the Jeep approaching. It was Ben, driving like a maniac through the thick bush. - This can't be good - I thought to myself. Still inside the car, he yelled: - It's here! It's here! The National Geographic Magazine! - He then passed me a copy. With the usual yellow frame and header, the magazine looked like any other issue. But on its cover it had one of the hedgehogs and the title: "Inside Mulberry Ridge's Secret Military Base". While I used the hood of the jeep as a reading table, Ben passed around the remaining copies to the others. All of a sudden nothing else mattered. We all gathered by the Jeep to read the article about our Mulberry Ridge. As I got reading, I realized Mr. Nigel Brooks wasn't only talking about the area's natural beauty. He was questioning our presence in the Ridge and he even mentioned that we may be protecting some sort of a nuclear project. In bold letters in the center of one of the pages the article stated: "Basically spreading information is going to help people make better decisions regarding nuclear growth". I was mad. Infuriated. - This is a bunch of crap! - I said to Ben while pointing to the magazine. -How can he get away writing this stuff? Half of it it's not even true! - I said with indignation. Sure, I understand this country made mistakes and continues to do so, but the PondPatrol Mission is only here to protect and fix damages caused by previous administrations. I felt betrayed. - That English bastard! - said Private Harvey. - Yep! I enlisted to do good things for my country, but according to Mr. Nigel Brooks I'm now seen as a criminal just for being here. - said Ben frustrated while scratching his itching back. Professor Evgeny didn't say much. He just shook his head, discontent with the article. - Harris, we should probably get going before our soil sample drys up. - said Private Harvey. We all agreed. We got in the Jeep and drove back to Base Camp. Upon arrival I noticed the fire pit smoking. I walked up to it and found several copies of the magazine burning. Sergeant Palmer must've put them in there. I didn't blame him.

by Corporal John Harris, May 11, 2006