TheNeverPages Serialisation
Series 5, Episode 8

TheNeverPages - Series 5, Episode 8

Brekker’s Journal.

1986, Pripyat, Chernobyl.

Catastrophic failure. Cannot comprehend my disappointment. I am a vacuum. Nothing left in my mind. Cannot describe anger at the workers. They have failed me. Failed the universe. Many dead. Many more will follow. Over the years and across dimensions this will be felt, the reach of this disaster is immeasurable. I predict now that there is a hole underneath the reactor that splinters through all realities: a whirlpool of space-time.

Chain of events as follows:

1:00am: Organised test-firing of reactor’s safety features. Power reduced down to 3200MW. A single turbine should be enough to power coolant pumps in event of emergency power collapse. Simple test.

1:06am: Turbine Nicolai is powered down. Routinely executed. Notations precise. Systems checked. Stable.

3:47am: Thermal power reaches 1600 MW.

2:00pm: We disconnect the core cooling system as scheduled. Intention now is to continue power reduction. Stivya informs me of power shortage on grid. I order Reactor 4 ‘Lucia’ to be held in perpetual usage. Stivya disagrees. Attempts to override test-firing. Attempts to undermine experiment’s integrity. I have Stivya removed from observation deck. Reactor ‘Lucia’ continues to operate. Experiment is not halted.

11:10pm: We intended to reduce power. I note the names of all workers who cast doubtful eyes at my conviction. I can hear the murmurs of dissent in their minds. I feel their doubts. It is that combined negative energy that pushes the power reduction much further than anticipated. Bottomed out well below expected baseline and now I know that we are heading for cataclysm.

01:00am: I can smell the build-up of Xenon. The others cannot. Their senses are not as attuned as mine. The build-up has been caused by running the reactor at a low power. We have raised it to 200MW but it has done little. I compensated for the Xenon build up by pulling out the control rods. An operator detects the Xenon build up. He screams for an emergency shutdown. I force us to press on, we have come too far and we continue with our preparations for the next test stage.

1:23am: Turbine Nicolai is gradually denied steam flow signalling the commencement of the next test stage. The water flow through the core is reduced, thusly boiling increases. Reactor Lucia signals that power is rising. Rising too far. I push for an increase even farther. I am wrestled to the floor by three operators. I gnash and flail and threaten murder. They are too blind and too foolish. I know what they are about to do, and I know what effect it will have.

1:23:40am: The foolish mutineers attempt an emergency shutdown. We are beyond that now. They do not see it. They thrust the control rods back into Lucia. The effect is opposite to that intended.

1:23:43am: Just three seconds after their emergency shutdown attempt Lucia goes Prompt Critical. Exponential increase in fission events. We have entered the catastrophe in just three seconds of irreversible stupidity.

1:24am: From the observation platform, I witness the gargantuan steam explosion, the upthrust rattles my soul. The operators on the outside gantry are vaporised in nano-seconds. Those not hit by the steam, are hit by the sonic blast. They have barely enough time to react as they resonate into pieces. Inside our room we fall backwards, part shock, part awe, part despair. Only I retain focus. Operators scramble for the door. I yell to stop. I yell to wait.

1:24:53am: A chemical explosion follows the steam. A wonderful column of light and gas rockets up past the observation window and blasts the roof of Lucia, breaking into the night! The sound is like static, or feedback. It is electrical, powerful, almost inconceivable. The lights that swirl the chemical fire are vibrant reds, yellows, purples and greens. We are transfixed. It is like the Aurora Borealis.

1:24:54am: The chain reaction we have started fires a chain reaction in my mind. The Aurora Borealis. I have been struck with a monumental idea. I laugh. The operators are screaming.

1:36am: Internal firefighters beat back the flames. Many perish in chaotic backdrafts that swell and belch at their choosing, in three dimensional space, in mid-air, under the floor, on ground level. The fire is almost impossible to contain. Firefighters are courageous. They do not flee.

1:45am: Lucia stops firing chemical gasses into the night sky. The light show is over but the chaos continues. I release my operators from the room and I order them under Lucia and into her crawlspace to investigate and take readings. Cowards turn white, but go. None expected to return and none do. All melted and fused to the underside of Lucia’s core. I am reminded of a previous failed experiment – that of the USS Eldridge. Must find more suitable operators.

05:1am: Firefighters from Pripyat along with townsfolk battle back flames successfully. None wear protective clothing, almost a generation of men wiped out. Young boys and underfed teenagers sent back into crawl spaces around Lucia and reactor core to tighten or loosen fittings. To quell flames and plug leaks. They succeed at huge coast to population and morale of Pripyat (speculation). Many children dragged out of tubes and pipes. Crushed, deformed, melting.

06:00am: Against my wishes, Reactor Three ‘Gregor’ is shut down to prevent further catastrophe. Calm and control are returning to the scene. I begin to retread the events. Begin to piece this together.

6th May, 1986

21:00: Reactor ‘Lucia’ is sealed to avoid further spill and atmospheric contamination.  I offer humanitarian gesture and I order five thousand tons of boron carbide, limestone, lead, sand and clay to be dumped into the devastated Lucia. Dirigibles fly over and men dump the sand bags into the reactor hole in teams. Others walk the mix in by hand or by barrow. Operation is immense. From my observation room, they look like industrious ants. The possibility of a further chain reaction is minimal, though underneath Lucia there still churns white hot toxins. I can feel that reality across the Multiverse is under strain. It is twisting. The sarcophagus over Lucia will hold, but the downward damage is irreparable. I must use this to my advantage. This catastrophe, like the others are combining to form ideas. This could be the merely the beginning: a preliminary sketch for my masterpiece. 

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