They made her lick radium, and now she wants revenge. (1917 historical fiction)

An image from the movie “Radium Girls”. | Radium Girls - Bing search

They told her she was safe. They told her she was pretty. They told her it was safe to paint with, safe to ingest, to put daintily on her tongue to sharpen her brush. God, were they wrong. As she laid there, mutilated and alone in the dreary hospital, she wondered what she did to deserve it. They were just too excited, weren’t they? They discovered it, and immediately thought “ooh! How can we capitalize this?!” They disgust me more than my reflection ever could. God damn you, Curie brothers. Look what you’ve done to me. She was only fifteen when they told her she had a year left to live. She lived in denial for most of those months. She couldn’t romp and play with the other children like one might expect a young girl with nothing to lose to do. She had to work in the clock factory, painting the very substance that was killing her onto watches, making them glow an elegant lime. She, too, was guilty of laughing and smiling as she painted it onto her dress and face, looking like a bioluminescent fish shining brilliantly in the dark at any dance or party she’d go to after work. It seemed like she had traded her beauty and her life for temporary elegance. She thought her job was a blessing (albeit an exhausting one), but it turned out to be a curse. The symptoms ravaged her body once they started. Her teeth became crooked or fell out altogether, her face scarred and fell apart, and massive lumps began appearing all over her. Nobody knew what was happening to the vivacious Ruth as blood unceremoniously fell from her lips. “And here I am. No friends or family surrounding me, on a solemn and cold Fall day, bound to this bed by my own body.” Her head spun to the point of the world becoming hard to perceive and her body ached all over. The only sound she heard was the buzz of the light above her. She could feel the normal sensations in her body becoming harder to recognize as she drifted into a refreshing yet depressing numb. The world went black as her heart let out its last pained beat. Her soul drifted out of the hunk of meat. She took on an eerie, intimidating form. She kept some of the scars and destruction from her poisoning, but it now looked like a wonderfully monstrous part of her rather than a burden. Her hair floated like black, ghostly tendrils and her feet became transparent after her mid-shins. She was annoyed to find how much of the radium had seeped into her very soul, as her dress, eyes and clocks throughout her appearance glowed light green. She realized she must be in some sort of Purgatory. She was raised in a Christian household, so she was confused. Why couldn’t she get…elsewhere? Why was her soul still here? What had she done wrong? Then she realized: she was here for vengeance. She would avenge herself. It was a cold, drafty evening in the factory. The girls would be clocking out in about an hour. That’s when the light bulbs shattered out, all at once. The girls screamed and panicked. The door slammed open, but with no-one there to provide the force to do so. The younger of the group clung to each other. Buckets of pure radium spilled onto the floor as tables and shelves shook violently. Windows shattered, one after the other, seemingly to some sort of blunt force. Childish, euphoric laughter echoed through the concrete room. Everything immediately stopped as a man in a suit slid, panicked, through the doorway. “Christ, girls, what got into you?!” He observed the destroyed room in anger and confusion. “What did you all do?! Have you all gone mad?! Don’t you know this job is practically spoiling you?! Think of what the other children your age must go through in this day and age, all while you paint and laugh and sing, making yourselves sparkle with precious material reserved for our products. I mean, look at the state of this room. I’m to fire you all right now. You all really-” Before he could finish the statement, he was shoved down into the radium on the floor face-first by the invisible force in the room. It tingled on his lips and filled his mouth, nose and eyes. It stung like a thousand wasps and he cried out obscenities that no gentlemen should ever utter. Ruth stamped him into the ground for an extra measure. She grinned a jagged, hideous smile. He’d soon succumb to the same fate as her. This factory had twisted her, inside and out, and if any rich, big-headed moron were to ever treat these girls the same way they did her, she’d remind them of the torture of a death to radium. She haunts dangerous factories like these, bleak hospitals, and ballrooms she would have danced in, had she lived. Her spirit is forever angry, and her corrosion seeped into her heart as well as her skin, rotting her soul to pure sadism and malice. She was a violent experience in herself. “At least I glow.”



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store