“Brother… what happened? You can tell big sister. Did your friend bully you at your sleep over? You must tell Sister! She’ll take care of it!”
“No!” I pushed her off me. “We’re eating! Stop getting your boob sweat on me.”
“Ara, ara… but Brother has been gone so long he no longer smells like home, so I’m helping!”
“I think we should be wondering why our house smells like boob sweat!”
I was eating dinner with my family, but I was still shaken up over the events I had seen through that mirror. There was no way I could have predicted things were that bad. You heard about these kinds of things in movies and video games, but expecting to step into a post-apocalyptic world filled with death and violence was another thing entirely. I had barely managed to escape it with my life, and I understood now that this was 100% because of luck.
Although mom and sister felt like something was off with me, I definitely couldn’t say anything. I finished my meal quickly, excused myself, and then returned to my room. Only then did I allow my hands to shake. I had almost died over there.
I put my headphones on, put on some loud music, and then lay down in my bed, trying to give myself some time to recover. I only remained laying for a few minutes until my eyes landed back on the mirror again. It was still lying facedown on my carpet, in the closed position I left it in. My eyes then fell on her sack. It was made of a thick canvass and had a loop around the top which was sealed. It had everything she was carrying, other than her rifle, in it.
I had snatched it seemingly on impulse, but I had also hoped that she had that anti-cancer drug in it or at least something that would have made my experiences the last twenty-four hours worth it. Putting up my headphones, I sat on the floor and pulled the backpack to me. Just to be curious, I scanned myself with my watch. Five rads. Shouldn’t I be wearing some kind of radiation suit or a lead vest?
“Perco, what is a rad?” I asked.
“A rad is a measuring unit of the amount of radiation that is emitted and subsequently will be absorbed by a human. An object emitting 1 rad will cause a nearby person to absorb 1 rad of radiation per hour. At 100 rads, radiation sickness sets in. At 500 rads, death is expected.”
“W-wait! Are you saying this bag will kill me in 10 hours!”
More now, since I had wasted time with my family. I was acting casually here, but this thing was completely radioactive!
“Would you like to administer Allco’s Rad-B-Gone?”
“Y-yes?” I felt desperate.
I realized that my watch was emitting some kind of mist in a stream. I immediately aimed it at the pack. The fine mist covered the pack. A moment later, there was a beep.
“You have 4 charges of Rad-B-Gone remaining. All radiation in the immediate area has been neutralized.”
I let out a breath of relief, but then I thought of something and scanned myself.
“You have 3 rads.”
“So much for being clean anymore,” I muttered to myself.
“Would you like to take Rad-Z?”
“What is Rad-Z?”
“Rad-Z reduces radiation in living creatures. It is administered through injection.”
“Are there any other drugs I should know about in this watch?”
“You have 4 charges of Rad-B-Gone, 5 charges of Rad-Z, 5 Charges of Rad-R, and 5 charges of RegenX. Additional charges must be refilled manually.”
This little watch managed to hold a lot of medication in it! I asked the watch what the other drugs did, and Rad R increased radiation resistance, and RegenX enhanced healing factors. I didn’t know how good that worked, but I had a feeling it wasn’t at the level of curing cancer. These seemed to be the four principal drugs that the watch was able to quickly administer on the field, although 5 charges were actually the max of each it could carry.
I didn’t take RadZ right now. Katarina was walking around with 20 rads and she was fine, right? I’d just treat it like I had a few x-rays and leave it at that. I finally opened her bag and started going through the items inside.
I pulled out my food and water she had taken. I pulled out a few changes of outfits, a blanket, as well as her unmentionables. I then pulled out a few cases full of syringes. I asked my watch, and it revealed that this was Rad-Z. It looked like it normally fit in these large vials. That made me even more curious about how 25 doses fit in my little watch.
I pulled out a machete, and also a handgun. I gulped seeing both of them. They reminded me vividly of how dangerous that world was. At least, I had some protection if anyone tried to come through. I looked at the mirror again, considering whether I should just jump on it and crack it for good.
“That’s it…” My expression fell as I reached the bottom of the bag.
She hadn’t had much. I guess most of her wealth had been stripped by the bandits. Then again, maybe she didn’t have that much wealth to begin with. The wasteland must be a harsh place. Thinking about how I stole all of her supplies and fled to this place, leaving her in that world with monsters and raiders, made me feel a bit of regret. However, I tried to remember the fear I felt as she stuck a gun against my head. She would have killed me, I had to remind myself of that. She was a tough girl. Even without these supplies, she’d figure something out.
I put everything away, especially the weapons and the girl’s underwear. If those items were found by my mother and sister, I didn’t know which they’d be angrier about. Either way, I’d suffer horribly. I hid those items in my closet. My adventure wasn’t a complete waste, I had the rad-z, and I had the watch. I just had no clue how I could go about selling either of them. A cure for radiation had to be useful, and this watch might advance smartwatch technology by decades. Yet, no matter how I worked my mind, I saw no way of being able to sell this stuff without becoming extremely suspicious.
I ended up falling asleep while thinking about it. My time in the wasteland had been extremely stressful and I had barely slept the previous night. When I woke up, it was already the next day.
I had spent the entire weekend dealing with this stuff, and I hadn’t done any of my homework. I was a senior in high school, and I was graduating in only a month or two. That was one of the reasons my sister had started teasing me about getting a job. I tried to line one up so I could start right after graduation, but it hadn’t worked out so far.
I had thirty minutes before the bus came, so I sloppily fought my way through the homework. I just had an essay and then a math assignment. I managed to hastily complete the essay, but I only had five minutes left for math.
“Calculate the problem?” A voice suddenly rang out.
“Huh?” I looked at my watch.
On the display, it said, “Math problem detected, calculate?”
“Calculate math?” I asked.
“Calculating… the answer is… 4.”
I hastily did the problem, and the answer was right! Using the watch, I had it calculate every answer and then wrote them each down. As I finished up the last one, there was a knock on my door.
“Baby, it’s school time. You’re going to be late for the bus.”
I shoved my hastily finished work into my bag and then left without even changing from the clothing I had been wearing for two days in the wastelands.
On the bus, no one sat by me. I wasn’t an unpopular kid, but I wasn’t popular either. There were a lot of guys who wanted to be my friend, but that was mostly because they had been interested in my sister. They were trying to use me to get to her. Years of this happening had caused me to grow a bit distant and aloof toward anyone who approached me. There were some girls I got along with, but because of my size, they often treated me more like a mascot they found cute rather than a guy they wanted to date. As a result, there was no one there I felt I was close with at school. I got along fine with the teachers, but there was nothing notable there either.
The day passed by uneventfully, and then the next one after that. A few people noticed I was off my first day, but once my old routine occurred, my stress over going to that world started to diminish. I started to move on with my life, and I was able to put the death and fear behind me. I was waiting for mom to announce she had cancer, but she hadn’t said a thing.
I also did go to a pawn shop to see what the watch might be worth, but he was only willing to give me $50 bucks for it. I wasn’t able or willing to show most of its abilities, and what I was willing to show him he just called a gimmick.
Since I had failed in that direction, I changed my sights on trying to get a job. I applied to many places. Like that, a week had passed by peacefully, and that scary world was just a distant memory. The peace had to break eventually.