Chapter 13

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland

Joe Gillis Rating 0 (0) (0) Launched: Jan 26, 2024
Season: 1 Episode: 13

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland
Chapter 13
Jan 26, 2024, Season 1, Episode 13
Joe Gillis
Episode Summary

"Every chapter gets better and better. Can't wait to read more. Have no idea where this is going and loving it." - Ryan McKinney, Writer and Director, The Invited | In a world on the brink of destruction, Joe continues his journey in an edge-of-your-seat adventure as he faces the desolate aftermath of a global cataclysm head-on. | S1E2 Chapter 13: An explosion wakes Joe, and he worries he might have radiation poising. | A humorous sci-fi serial fiction podcast from author Joe Gillis. Catch a new chapter of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Wednesdays. Join Joe's Community at Read this chapter at

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Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland
Chapter 13
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"Every chapter gets better and better. Can't wait to read more. Have no idea where this is going and loving it." - Ryan McKinney, Writer and Director, The Invited | In a world on the brink of destruction, Joe continues his journey in an edge-of-your-seat adventure as he faces the desolate aftermath of a global cataclysm head-on. | S1E2 Chapter 13: An explosion wakes Joe, and he worries he might have radiation poising. | A humorous sci-fi serial fiction podcast from author Joe Gillis. Catch a new chapter of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Wednesdays. Join Joe's Community at Read this chapter at

Welcome Wastelanders to the Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Audiobook Podcast! My name is Joe Gillis, and I’m the writer and narrator of this Serial Fiction Series. We’re jumping into Chapter 13 this week, but there is a new chapter every Friday, so be sure to subscribe.

Also, if you stay until the very end, you’ll get a peek behind the page with a quick tidbit about this chapter.

The story so far…

A nuclear apocalypse has ravaged the Earth, leaving Joe alone in his Titan One facility. His MECHA tech no longer working, so he was left trying to find out any information on what happened, or if anyone else was alive, by any other form of communication. Realizing his ham radio might be the solution, he spent hours trying to contact anyone in the outside world. After striking out, he decided to get some much needed rest, until an explosion woke him up from his sleep.

Let’s find out what happened next…

Chapter 13

How long was I out for?

It could’ve been 5 minutes or 5 hours. All I knew at this stage was my room was swaying back and forth, and it wasn’t from my head—which was pounding something fierce.

“Oh, come on, man. What now!?” I muttered as I applied pressure to my forehead, trying to ease the pain ripping through my head.

There I was in the middle of a room that was shaking from who knows what, and I didn’t even care about that or anything else going on with the rest of the world right then. Nope, my only concern was how bad my head hurt, and boy, did I want some more aspirin—like stat.

The world was spinning before my blurry eyes as I struggled to orient myself with the throbbing pain in my head—which was not making it any easier to get my bearings. When I could finally focus, I stumbled my way over to the med kit.

The sharp click of the latch echoed deafeningly in my ears like a gunshot in a canyon's silence. I shuffled through the kit until I found the painkillers and swallowed them down dry.

I couldn't wait for these things to kick in because the sound of the walls shaking was like a hundred freight trains barreling through my skull.

I staggered over to Coms and plopped down into the chair. I scanned the interior cameras to see if I could spot any signs of an explosion.

Nothing. That’s good.

Now I needed to turn my focus to the cameras that would serve as my eyes to the world above. And boy, were they in dire need of a good optometrist right now because dirt still covered the camera lenses, making it hard to see outside. On the plus side, some wind must have knocked enough of the soot, or whatever, off of the lenses, to where it was way more visible than yesterday. Not that it mattered much; a gloomy, fog-like smoke blanketed across the amber sky, darkening the world that was on fire above, as ash fell from the sky covering the ground in a snowy blanket.

There was nothing that hinted at what the explosion could have been because everything topside looked bad.

It must have been a gas main or something… Or maybe it was another missile strike?

Knowing that everything was okay, I laid my head down and waited for the meds to kick in. Once they did, I turned my focus to seeing if anyone was broadcasting on any frequency yet. I knew somewhere out there had to be someone who lived through this. I mean, there just had to be survivors, right?

The silence in response was deafening; no voices came through the speakers. Nope, instead static crackled through. My heart sank at the thought of being completely alone in this world. But luckily I was able to stop that snowball, and bring my spirits back up. I focused on the hope that someone else had to have survived.

During World War II, the fear of bombings brought about the secret underground bunker at the White House. The government had turned its attention to this type of scenario during the ’50s and ’60s, building tons of underground nuclear bunkers like Raven Rock Mountain and Cheyenne Mountain so the United States could maintain continuity of government during a nuclear war. People were so afraid of a nuclear attack from the Russians during the Cold War that both the U.S. Government and their citizens built a bunch of bomb shelters.

The million-dollar question was, “How prepared were they?” I would wager good money that the doomsday preppers were better prepared for this than most of our government facilities. I really hoped I was wrong about this, although this was the type of situation where being super paranoid, or geeky, paid off. They built most of the underground missile complexes to survive a nuclear holocaust, but sadly they rarely had the supplies needed to allow the crew to live underground for long periods. The government was more worried about being able to strike back than making sure the crew manning the facility would survive.

Heck, SAC had nearly the same motto as Cobra Kai: Strike Hard, Strike First—I kid you not. It’s funny because they billed the nuclear program more like something Mr. Miyagi might have taught—build up the arsenal so we won’t have to fight a nuclear war. It turned out they just needed to add No Mercy, and then they could sweep the leg of our opponent with confidence.

If that attitude was present at most of the underground bunkers, then the people working at the facilities might be able to stay alive during the initial blast; however, they may not have the supplies needed to endure the fallout. That’s the thing: millions of people would live through the bombs going off; it’s everything that followed that would truly make a difference on whether people survived.

Radiation doesn’t just go away with the blast. Nope, it lingers around and sort of seeps into everything the longer it’s there. Technically, the initial nuclear radiation, which consists of gamma rays that can travel far distances and penetrate most materials, would have passed through most buildings and things upon the explosion. Luckily, scientists found that it passed through canned and bottled foods without making them dangerous to eat or drink. It all came down to the three basic principles in radiation safety: time, distance, and shielding.

On the bright side of things, if you survived the initial blast, you had a pretty good shot at a future. Death was more likely to be caused by the explosion than by the fallout. With a bomb like those used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you had 50-50 odds of living if you were a half-mile to one mile away from ground zero. Farther than that, your odds improved immensely. If you were one mile to a mile-and-a-half away, you had an 85% chance of living. At a mile-and-a-half to two miles there was less than a 3% chance of dying. Past two miles, the explosion caused no deaths.

When I initially heard these stats, I was like, ‘Great, but what about the fact that the modern atomic bombs are way more powerful?’ I guess I wasn’t the only one thinking that—it was part of the research they were doing, too. They found that the larger bombs wasted much of their power near the center of the blast. So a bomb a 100 times more powerful would only extend its range to a little more than four-and-a-half miles versus 100 times farther.

That was good news, but there was one warning I completely failed on—well, if you don’t count taking cover from the blast, which was a big failure on my end since the calculations were off. No, I’m talking about the one where they instructed that if you were outside, to fall flat on your face to lessen the chances of injury from the blast. That’s because being knocked down or struck by falling and/or flying debris was one of the most dangerous things from the explosion. Instead, there I was staring at the blast, admiring it when I should have been getting inside or dropping to the ground. Bonehead move on my part.

Now, they didn’t word it that way, even though I think they could have. The blast was something like the wolf from The Three Little Pigs story. If you could find shelter, you didn’t want it to be behind or in a building that was flimsy like wood. You wanted to find shelter that could handle the wolf huffing and puffing, trying to blow it down, yet still be standing afterwards. I’ll tell you what, that wolf came knocking to my door, and he huffed… and he puffed… and he blew my house down. Smack right into me.

All I had to do was head a few feet into the underground bunker, and I’d be feeling a whole lot better right about now.

As far as I can tell, I got lucky not to receive flash burns. About 30 percent of the injuries from Hiroshima and Nagasaki were from the A-bomb’s light and heat. The heat was felt some 4 to 5 miles away from the center of the blast. It caused serious burns if you were unlucky enough to be within a mile, and was fatal for most near the center.

If you survived all that, you were left dealing with something you couldn’t see with your naked eyes—radioactivity. Nuclear bombs initially behave similarly to ordinary bombs: they blow something up. Besides the size of the blast, the thing that most distinguishes the atomic or hydrogen bomb is the radioactivity that is left behind.

This is where all my years of reading comic books failed me. Gamma rays didn’t turn me into the Hulk, and I am darn sure that if I get bit by a radioactive spider, I’m not going to get any super strength; in fact, a massive dose of radioactivity does quite the opposite.

That’s right, true believers: a large dose of radiation does more harm to your cells by damaging your DNA, and a high enough dose can be lethal. In all fairness to my favorite superhero comic, we never saw if that radioactive spider lived or died after biting Peter Parker, so maybe it was lethal to the poor spider. Nope, instead of getting awesome superhero abilities, your altered cells will give you the possibility of getting all sorts of opposite—cancer. That’s right, the big C. Excelsior!

There was a passage in the book Survival Under Atomic Attack, released by the U.S. Government back in ’50s, that talked about how atom bombs held more power than man has ever seen. Yet, it wasn’t the hydrogen bombs blowing the earth apart that we should worry about—it was that mysterious radiation that should frighten us.

Let me don my imaginary lab coat and chalkboard to explain the rest. There are two different kinds of radioactivity we had to worry about when the bombs went off: the initial radioactivity and the lingering radioactivity.

The initial radioactivity was the stuff that happened at the time of explosion. The gamma rays and particles that shot out over the first minute or so traveled far and fast, yet died quickly. If you were far enough away—which I hoped I was—the exposure would cause temporary blood changes, and you probably wouldn’t even know you were exposed.

As for lingering radioactivity, most of it came from the ashes—which are really called fission products—that are all of those billions of fragments of atoms from the explosion that are invisible and act a lot like dust. These radioactive particles will be scattered about, contaminating everything they come in contact with—hence the need for the decontamination shower to remove any invisible radioactive materials off my body.

Then it goes from worse to better with delayed nuclear radiation. That’s because delayed nuclear radiation is brought about by the fission products and it takes place over time. But wait, shouldn’t something become less horrible over time? Yes, except this is more of the whole idea of it gets worse before it gets better. An atom always wants to be at a stable state, and that was done by it finding a good balance between protons and neutrons. In the immortal words of Mr. Miyagi, ‘Whole life have balance, everything be better.’ However, to get to balance, the radioactive atom spontaneously emits energy over time to bring it from an unstable state to a stable state. And just like the radioactivity that was created by the negative relationship between Daniel-san and Johnny, over time the positive Mr. Miyagi protons ejected the negative Johnny neutrons to eventually lead to a balance in Daniel-san’s life. Radioactive decay in Atom-san achieves the same thing by giving off energy, AKA radiation, which diminishes over time to reach a more stable state, AKA balance.

Yes, Atom-san. Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life.

That was great news to those of us who didn’t want total nuclear annihilation, which I’m pretty sure was all of us. The news would be even better if the bombs exploded higher in the air. They found that high-level bursts were spread so wide and thin that it would take thousands of bombs set off in the air before there would be any serious ground contamination. Supposedly there was no ground-level pollution of any importance after the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m not sure if the people of Japan felt the same way the U.S. Government did, but that’s what the good ol’ U.S. of A. was saying.

Fun fact, boys and girls: they also said that only 15 percent of all those deaths in Japan were caused by radioactivity—none of which were brought about by lingering radioactivity. If all this was true, there might be hope for us yet. Not so fun fact: all the data up until now was all based on the two explosions in Japan… that, and the over 250 ‘accidental’ exposures from fallout in the Marshall Islands after a test explosion. Maybe that’s a negative way of looking at it—I mean, we had gone over 3/4 of a century without building onto that data set—and that was a good thing.

Acute exposure of those who received the whole radiation dose in a short period of time, versus chronic exposure for those with extended exposure, seemed to really hinge on a lot of variables. One fact I had been ignoring was that the symptoms for the initial phase of acute exposure were very similar to signs of a concussion: nausea or vomiting, headache, and dizziness. I hadn’t recalled ever hearing about memory loss, though. That, and the fact that I know I was smacked by a ton of rubble, all led me to believe it was a concussion, or… man, I can’t believe I’m saying this, at least I hoped it was a concussion.

What sucks was that in the latent phase of radiation exposure, exposed individuals experience few symptoms, if any. That meant if you received a higher dose, which you don’t necessarily know, you wouldn’t know your outcome until you hit the final phase, which included all the fun from the initial phase and then a whole lot more, like skin hemorrhages, diarrhea, loss of hair, and possibly seizures and extreme physical weakness, all resulting in either recovery or death. It was an all or nothing situation, I guess. And I may not know my outcome until my hair falls out, which was just adding insult to injury.

This was where my comic books failed me again. Radiation and radioactive spills always led to awesome powers or abilities in the comics. Turtles that were human-sized ninjas, or being blessed with a big, green, super powerful alter ego. Nothing bad happened. Peter’s hair didn’t fall out. Nope, he felt some sort of fantastic energy instead. Nor do I recall Matt Murdock fighting off a bout of diarrhea after being exposed to radioactive materials in the accident that rendered him blind. Instead, he gained the power to see even better than before. None of them lost their beautiful head of hair. Heck, even Master Splinter kept all of his.

Hopefully I had gotten underground quick enough that radiation wasn’t something I had to worry about. That was when I realized something about what I saw on the cameras.

Man, that is a lot of ash falling from the sky.

California had some really intense wildfires, so I was used to seeing ash raining down from the sky, except not this much. It was more. A lot more. That, and it was radioactive.

Then another thing hit me: I could finally see my turbines.

Even though the wind turbines were designed to automatically shut down if the wind reached a high enough speed to ruin the machinery inside, I was worried that the explosion might have created high enough winds to damage the wind turbines, or debris might have taken them out. But there they were, spinning away.

There was more good news on the power generation front. Energy levels were increasing for both the wind turbines and solar panels. I wasn’t sure how efficient the solar panels would be after being covered in soot, but judging by the wind turbines, I think the wind might have just blown off a huge portion of whatever was on them. Either way, I was pretty sure I’d be okay with whatever energy I was generating off of the solar panels and wind turbines. I had planned to build a bunch of above ground buildings, too, so I had way more solar panels and wind turbines installed than my missile bunker actually needed.

My facility was built so that I could live completely off the grid. No power, water, sewer, or anything. I even had a closed-loop system built for my water, so eventually I would be drinking my urine. It really sounded disgusting, but the water in here was cleaner than any tap water I could drink from a house. It was something where you just had to get past the ‘ick factor,’ and it was fine. For me, it was the fact that my system was very much like what they were using on the International Space Station, and drinking like an astronaut made it sound way cooler than drinking my urine.

“Wait, a second,” I wondered out loud as the idea hit me. “Is the International Space Station still up there?”

That concludes Chapter 13 of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland.

Written by Joe Gillis and read by Joe Gillis.

Well, Joe is striking out, isn’t he? Do you think he’ll be able to reach the International Space Station? And more importantly, how long will it be until Joe is drinking his own urine? Tune in next week to find out… well, not the urine part, but you know, the rest of it.

Alright, I'm sure you could tell by this chapter, but I felt like movies and comic books really let us down when it comes to radiation. Do I still love these comics and movies? Yes. Do I wish that Gamma radiation gave me Hulk like powers? No, but that’s because it didn’t seem to go to well for Bruce Banner. I mean, it was nice he was able to save us from so many things because of it, but beyond that, it seemed like he was always trying to find a way to turn back to normal.

Another thing I worked into this chapter was the constant state of forest fires in California. Does it really rain ash here? Yes, it does. Not all that often, but it does—and sometimes it’s pretty dang bad. Otherwise, it’s just a ton of smoky days every year. I probably should air quotes the just, but it’s become our new normal.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love living in California. It’s a beautiful state with everything you could ever want: forests, the ocean, mountains, snow, desert, big cities, and Titan One Missile Complexes. 

Well, that brings us to the end of another chapter.

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Thanks for joining me on this crazy journey! See you all on the flip side!

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland copyright 2023, Joe Gillis, All rights reserved. This is a Jowagi Production and is distributed by Slacker Entertainment.

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