There’s a saying amongst a certain diminutive, humanoid race that goes, “When Mordor calls, the comfort ends.” I can relate. I’ve been waiting months to find out when the full-scale laser attacks on my dark passenger would begin.* I figured when I did find out, I would have a few weeks to prepare. Nope. It’s happening. Or, rather, it has begun. The Enola Gay has dropped her first of five payloads. I am now, officially… the Irradiated Man!
Bom Bom Bomm[Insert wavy image to signify a shift in time]mmmmm!!!
It all happened very quickly. I got the call at 3:05 last Thursday afternoon. I was preparing to walk out the door for a meeting with one of my partners at the Borderlands Film Festival. Last minute work on a project had kept me busy long past the time I should have left. I was running late, but the phone rang and – against my better judgment – I answered it.
I should have heeded my gut instinct. When the nurse on the other end told me my first round of radiation would take place on Monday the 27th, I reflexively reached for my calendar. It wasn’t until a few beats later that I realized exactly when Monday the 27th was. “This coming Monday?” I asked, caught off guard. She gave a smoky, seductive laugh and said, “Yes, this coming Monday. You sound surprised.”
I explained to her that I knew I would be getting a call sometime that week, but had no idea I would be summoned so quickly. I expected to wait a few weeks, or months even. I had been told there were only so many machines to go around and many children of the atom** waiting to use them. I said as much. Her voice became less convivial and more businesslike. “It looks like your doctor thought it a good idea to do it sooner than later.”
I was a little numb when I hung up. Damn. The old adage about it never being a good time to get bad news was proving true. I was in the middle of several projects. I had posters and reception menus to finalize. I was setting up a premiere in Phoenix. Hell, I had a movie to wrap up! How could I just drop everything and journey back to Mordor for two weeks?*** I mean, I knew it was coming, but in five days? I had to scramble to prepare for a two-week absence. It wasn’t easy and I’m still apprehensive, but what can I do?
Not freaking out is a good start. Waiting for that first round of treatments on Monday morning was nerve wracking. I was nauseated, jittery and had a low-lying stress headache all morning. I even made a play date with Prince Valium before leaving for the noon appointment.**** As it turns out, the treatment itself was far less grueling than all the tests, deep probes and simulations leading up to it. And, as predicted, it was over in minutes.
That doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. With the doses of radiation being so high, I’ve been told to expect side effects after a couple of these treatments, which will only get worse for a few weeks after I’ve completed all five. There are repercussions for which I will need to be prepared. Ugliness awaits. The kind that lurks under bridges and in children’s closets. The kind that dehumanize you. Dramatic, huh? No, really, it will be seriously distasteful.
I’ll have to make sure I’m within sprinting distance of the nearest restroom at all times and my diet will have to reflect that inevitability, which means bland and mushy. Ick. There will be some hair loss, particularly in the irradiated area.***** There will be skin irritation, right along my waistline, which will make wearing pants fun. Oh, and I’ll probably develop a taste for human brains. Okay, I made that last part up, which is a good thing. I’d probably starve here in the Orc lands…
Sadly, I have been told several times that I can expect to develop no discernable superpowers. Nor should the proton beams turn me into something big, green and grumpy.† No extra appendages. No late night desires for human flesh. No glow-in-the-dark skeleton. Just lethargy… and a very real danger of sharting. Nothing is ever like it is in the movies, not even Mordor. Hm. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Sam: Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?
Frodo: No, Sam. I can’t recall the taste of food… Nor the sound of water or touch of grass… I’m naked in the dark, with nothing. No veil between me and the ring of fire. I can see him with my waking eyes!
Drama queens. You don’t know ‘ring of fire’ until you’ve gone a few rounds with the harpoon dildo and had your insides turned into gamera soup by proton beams. My poor cinnamon cheerio may never be the same again! All this impalement, blitzkrieg and unpleasantness better be worth it.
Foot (Of Mount Doom) Notes
*It sounds a lot more exciting than it is, obviously, though I do have to admit the pew, pew, pew sounds would definitely ratchet things up a bit…
**Makes us sound like a cult, or those mutants from Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, which is really what I feel like some days…
***It would be nothing like those long, sweeping shots of the Fellowship striding purposefully across every picturesque terrain like a tourism commercial for Middle Earth. More long stretches of desert peppered with billboards, abandoned rail cars and graceful bird-nadoes.
****The Prince and I are old friends. The kind that make frivolous promises in the heat of passion, but never really follow through after the fun has worn thin. These days we circle each other warily until our passions collide. I have no idea where I’m going with this…
*****Anybody have a merkin I can borrow? I promise to wash it regularly and never to feed it past midnight.
†Shut up, Donny.