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"The Martians have landed," Kathy said.
Emma joined her at the executive picture window of her executive office suite, and looked out over the lift towers and rooftop air-conditioning huts for the flying saucer. "Where?"
Kathy pointed down to the street, where two humanoid figures in steely-grey space suits stalked past lines of parked cars, their single flat glass eyes staring fixedly to the front as the paving stones shattered under their booted feet.
"Probably cosmonauts, fund-raising to get their mates off some space-station," Emma said.
Emma’s personal assistant joined them at the window, blocking off the remaining light. "You know them," he said. "The one on the left’s Des. Used-car salesman with the shiny metallic suits. The other’s Robbie. Thug in overalls. Looks like they’ve found a sartorial compromise." He glanced at a slip of paper. "They’ve got an appointment."
The figures turned into the building. Kathy grabbed a thick report as she headed for the panelling that hid the executive toilet.
Dust mites scrunched into oblivion as Des and Robbie’s boots shredded the thick pile carpet on their way from the lift. Des held his helmet under his arm, chest thrust forward displaying the glowing blue slogan "Milbi — Nuclear Wasteland".
"Won’t shake hands," Robbie said, holding up a motorised gauntlet. "Makes too much mess on the floor." He sounded like Darth Vader.
"What can I do for you?" Emma asked.
"We’ve got a job on Milbi," Des said. "Indian ocean island, almost uninhabited. We thought you might like a report."
"Building a theme park," Robbie said. "Nuclear disaster. Burnt out reactors, blasted heath, two-headed cows, harbour full of decaying nuclear submarines. If we can find a good fault line, we’ll try for a working nuclear power station."
"We couldn’t get Chernobyl," Des said, "but we’ve got our eye on one like it in Latvia."
"Where’s the money coming from?" Emma asked.
"Part of the island’s been leased as a waste dump," Des said. "We thought it would set the tone."
"What sort of waste?"
"Nuclear. Toxic. You name it."
"The island is an extinct volcano," Des said. "It’s even got its own mushroom cloud, right round the peak. You just tip the waste into the crater, and let it soak in. We’re going to build a pipeline from the wharf."
"Sounds a bit iffy."
"The waste’s all short-lived," Des said. "Quarter of a million years, that sort of thing. Geologically, that’s nothing."
"We’re gunna use the old army barracks for the tourists," Robbie said. "Twenty to a room, barbed wire, land mines. And we’re gunna let ‘em let off their own bombs. Found out how to make them off the Internet, and Des speaks enough Russian — you know, ‘Lada’, ‘Zil’, ‘Nyot possible’ — so plutonium’s no problem."
"Do those suits keep out the radiation?" Emma asked.
"They’re not bad," Robbie said.
"We’re not planning to supply them to the guests," Des said. "It would detract from the experience. And we wouldn’t be able to tell who’s staff,"
Emma said. "Why would anyone come?"
Robbie snorted. "’Course they’ll come. New experience."
"Have a look at Tahiti, Mururoa," Des said. "Flotillas of boats. Tens of thousands rioting in the streets. And that’s with no advertising, the authorities trying to keep them out ..."
"Okay," Emma said. "You make it sound like good business. But why should I want a report from you?"
"Inside info. So when they ask a question in parliament, you’ve already got the dope."
"It’s not exactly independent."
"We haven’t got two heads, but I reckon we can manage two faces," Robbie said. "We’ll pour a bit of shit on it, sound impartial, no worries."
"Twenty grand. Or if you want an enquiry, three million."
"I’ll think about it."
The boots scrunched into the distance. Kathy slipped out of the executive toilet and replaced the unopened report on Emma’s desk. "I hope we’re not going to be on the same plane," she said.
"You’re not going there too?" Emma said.
Kathy nodded. "Do you want a report?"
"That crater’s a joke, for one thing. The rock’s so fragmented it’s like gravel. Put anything in the top, it spurts out the sides. And if you want to postpone global warming, you’ll get dust enough if they ever let off a bomb."
"So what are you going to do?"
"We’re trying to make sure the waste never arrives. " She fished on her handbag and pulled out a sheaf of photographs of rusty, leaking drums.
"Look good, don’t they?" Kathy said. "The gunk’s spray-on. They’re full of water. Clean water. Or as clean as you get, these days."
"How does it work?"
"It’s easy. You’ve got to be a bit of a crook to ship toxic waste. So if someone offers you a bit extra to make a switch, it’s not going to be on your conscience. And nobody’s going to look too closely at the other end. The big risk is that they’ll triple cross us."
"What happens to the real waste?"
"It goes back where it belongs. Cyanide tailings into the head office drinking water. Nuclear waste onto the President’s rose garden or the eighteenth green."
"And what about the theme park?"
Emma’s personal assistant placed a sheaf of leaflets on her desk. She picked them up and leafed through them.
Picnic on radioactive glass from a real nuclear test.
Jump the fence, get plutonium on your shoes, and stroll through a real nuclear waste.
ARMAGEDDON TO GO
Thousands of nuclear reactors all over the world are only a minor mishap from meltdown. Be there when it happens, and experience the panic and chaos of the end of the world.
GROUND ZERO ENTERPRISES
BRINGING YOU TO THE BLUE GLOW
"I got these at the Travel Agency downstairs," her assistant said. "I think Des and Robbie may be have been gazumped."
Emma gazed admiringly on a photograph of a radioactive dust storm. "I suppose these guys have their uses," she said.
"Why’s that?" Kathy snapped.
"They keep our minds off global warming."
Copyright © D.W. Walker, 1995
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