Randolph Rudolph the Radioactive Boy by Mike Miller
When the Rudolphs first moved to New Franklin, the nuclear powerplant hadn’t been built yet. Back then, it was simply like all the other towns in South Dakota. Surrounded by nice rolling hills covered with lush, green trees, the little berg had small buildings, cobblestone roads, and a quaint little collection of people content to live the same way they always had for the past couple decades. From afar, the town of New Franklin looked like a pleasant toll painting, nicely rendered in bright, vibrant colors with just enough sleepy movement to remind you it was a center of life. It was just an overall really nice place to live in... until the powerplant.
Indeed, that thing really fudged things up for everyone.
Nobody really knew who made the decision to put it right in New Franklin. But “they” didn’t even put it a respectable distance from town. Right at the corner of Main and 2nd was the front entrance to the giant, concrete construction.
“They” hoped that the powerplant would provide cheap and affordable energy. And it absolutely did. The state saved millions of dollars on energy in the very first year of the powerplant.
However, “they” didn’t know that the radiation would eventually kill all the inhabitants of New Franklin as well. As the first one built in the territory, it wasn’t built that well.
At first everybody was happy about it. The naive folk of New Franklin even threw a one-week gala to celebrate the powerplant’s opening. The promise of all the wealth and fame it would bring was intoxicating.
But then there were half-empty balloons floating around the streets for months as people found a bigger mess to clean up than the one from the parade. You couldn’t blame the folk though, because they never had a clue. They trusted “them” to do the job right. So the people of New Franklin never expected that the day they broke ground on the powerplant would be the day they also began to dig their town’s own grave.
And that was also the same day Randolph Rudolph was born.
More than a remarkable coincidence, some say that the fact that the New Franklin Powerplant and Randolph Rudolph shared the same birthday was destiny. It was a cosmic miracle of sorts seeing as how Randolph was the only inhabitant of New Franklin that lived through the cancerous fury of the powerplant.
However, there were several other infants born on the same day as Randolph and the powerplant who all eventually died, so the theory is still under review. So while Randolph survived, no one else did. Unfortunately, this also included his parents.
His father was a very proud individual. His ancestors had all valiantly died at war. Mr. Rudolph didn’t have any wars to fight now, but he did picket the powerplant every day after he finished with work. He was one of the few citizens concerned with the next generation of New Frankliners, particularly his recently born son. However, all of that marching up and down the street just feet away from the core reactors took its toll. Mr. Rudolph was the first to die from the cancerous radiation.
And when people saw what happened to poor Mr. Rudolph, everybody else left or died too. And those people who had left town eventually died still, but not before they started a new New Franklin some thirty miles away from the original. And the New New Franklin didn’t take kindly to any old New Frankliners that might be carrying that radioactive scurvy with them.
So then Rudolph became the only original inhabitant of old New Franklin who didn’t leave. But the powerplant was still completely operational. The New New Frankliners would still return to the old New Franklin to keep the plant running. It may’ve been bad for life, but it was a great job. So except for when the men and women who operated the New Franklin Powerplant were around, Randolph and his aunt were the only ones in town.
Ursula Rudolph came to New Franklin just to take care of Randolph. In a past life, she was an aspiring singer, betrothed to a well-to-do movie producer, and had a large home on Malibu beach. All of that changed when she overdosed. There are many other ugly details too, but they aren’t worth mentioning. All that’s important to know is that Ursula Rudolph is a good woman now. She took care of Randolph as best anyone could in spite of his condition, sacrificing her Southern California lifestyle for a humbler one in Southern Dakota.
So the boy had a condition. Randolph Rudolph was a child of remarkably average proportions, eleven years old now, blond scruffy hair, two eyes, two ears, two hands, two feet, one mouth and two halves of a nose, which is just a fancy way of saying a nose. If you thought there was some sort of gross mutation involved, you were wrong. Randolph was perfectly normal in almost every aspect... except for one.
Twelve years of constant, unadulterated radiation had taken its toll and left its mark. The eerie green field of light didn’t really appear until he was about three and a half, just about the time when Randolph’s mother was passing away and Ursula had arrived to take care of the Rudolph home. One night when Randolph was tucked into bed and about to fall asleep, Ursula turned off the lights, but the room wasn’t dark.
After that there was an amazing amount of specialists and doctors who flooded into New Franklin to study the mysterious “Glowing Boy.” But after all the research, time and money invested, they came to the simple conclusion that all of the years of radiation had made Randolph glow.
And their other conclusion was that Randolph himself was a source of radiation now, and that made everybody clear out pretty fast. Before all the scientists left though, they gave Ursula a special suit. Everyone in the Randolph home already had to wear yellow suits lined with thick lead to stop the powerplant’s dangerous rays. But since Ursula had to now concern herself with a second source of danger from within her own home, she had a very special suit doubly reinforced with space-age, synthetic Kevlar polymers to protect her from both Randolph and the plant. The world figured that a free state-of-the-art protective suit was the least it could give Rudolph and his aunt after all of the other crap it had given them.
By the time Randolph was old enough to go to school, all the science money had long vanished. So Ursula had to find her own suit for Randolph to wear to protect his classmates from his deadly rays.
After an exhaustive search, she settled on an old-fashioned bronze diving suit that was originally designed for an orangutan to participate in some underwater experiments by the navy. It had an oversized helmet with a small porthole in front to look at the fish.
Randolph hated it, but Ursula thought he looked super cute in it.
END OF EXCERPT