Posts Tagged ‘hazmat’

Last month I was invited by a friend to join an online ‘3-minute fiction’ writing group. Every week we receive a prompt in an email, usually a quote from a magazine, newspaper or book, which consists of one sentence that we then must build a short, 600-800 word story around. The catch is that we have 3 minutes to study the prompt before spending the next hour or so writing the story. I will be posting them here! Confused? Read on.

4/11/2011 Prompt: What’s surprising isn’t that it happened, but that incidents such as this don’t happen more often.


The hazmat suit was hot and heavy. She didn’t like the way that the air tanks pushed into the unscratchable spot between her shoulder blades and made her itch for hours after she had taken it off. She didn’t like the way it called attention to her breathing process, amplifying the fear that she felt with every exhalation. And, she really hated not being able to see out of the thing.

She didn’t like the fact that it made her feet look like clown feet. Big, ugly clown feet. For a moment she considered a life relegated to wearing only men’s shoes. She shuddered at the thought as she swung the Geiger counter around slowly, listening for any fluctuations that may indicate higher levels of radiation. So far the readings had been steady. High, but steady.

Despite her grievances, she trudged on. After all, it was her job.

She jiggled the knob and pushed the door open, blinding white sunlight was on the other side, begging to come in.

“Are we all clear in there, Lil?” she heard her bosses voice crackle over the intercom.

She turned to see him standing there in his own reflective body condom, writing something onto his plastic clipboard.

“Yeah. I’m not getting anything new. It’s the same as it was last time,” Lilly replied.

Lilly walked past her superior and made her way toward the backyard. She accidentally knocked over a tricycle because she didn’t see it was there. It fell to the ground with a sound that reminded her that she needed to do the dishes when she got back home.


“Hey, take it easy on the fixtures!” her boss said. “Maybe someday they’ll be worth something.”

Lilly grunted.

“Maybe someday we’ll be worth something?” she replied.

Her boss chuckled; a series of harsh, clipped sounds that tested the squelch limitations of the intercom system.

“Yeah, yeah, Lady Mary Shepherd. Maybe someday we’ll be worth more than paper,” he said. “Get those readings done so we can get the hell outta here! I’m hungry.”

Lilly rolled her eyes.

“I’m on it,” she said.

The next step that Lilly took would be her last.

Back at the station the mood was somber; the death of a fellow worker had that effect on those still living.

“A rake? Really? If this wasn’t so tragic it would be funny,” one man said to another.

“Yeah, apparently she stepped on it in just the right way,” the other man replied. “When it came up, the handle shattered her face shield. She was dirty before we could get her in the chopper. Such a fucking shame.”

The man contemplated his friend’s words.

“Yeah. What’s surprising isn’t that it happened, but that incidents such as this don’t happen more often,” he said.

Silence fell over the two as both became lost in their own thoughts. After a while, the first man spoke.

“At least it was a rake and not a hoe,” he said. “ I wouldn’t want people coming to my funeral knowing that I was killed by a hoe.”

“Word,” his friend replied.