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He turned the page quietly, glancing down to look at the little girl. She looked back up at him, eagerly. He smiled and looked back at the book. He had read it to her so many times that he practically had it memorised, but she would tell him off if she thought he was reciting it instead of reading it out.

“But the wild things cried,” he said.

She took a deep breath and joined in, her voice simultaneously high pitched and growly in her best Wild Thing impression. “Oh please don’t go- we’ll eat you up- we love you so!”

He leaned in close and whispered, as he always did, “And Max said, “No!””

She giggled, and slurped at the last of her hot chocolate.

He read the book with her through to the end and kissed her on the forehead as he tucked her in.

“Goodnight, sleep tight,” he whispered, picking up the empty mug.

She looked up at him with wide eyes. “You’ll come and read to me again tomorrow?”

He smiled. “Yes,” he said. “Tomorrow.”

He turned away and bit his lip as he waited for the airlock door to open. He stepped inside without looking back at her and waited for the decontamination shower to drench him. He shut his eyes as the water sprayed out.

“You have to do it,” she told him. “You’re the only one who’s immune to her.”
“But she’s just a little girl!”
“A little girl who can radiate instant death the second she gets upset. Who makes people sick just by being near them. We can’t contain her any more. You have your orders. You can give her a dose in her hot chocolate. She won’t feel a thing.”
“… Yes, Director.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: The words this week from Three Word Wednesday are Drench, Immune and Radiate.)