She wiped her brow. She’d been working almost nonstop for twenty-four hours with only a few hours of sleep and the pressures were building. Her hands shook more than usual and her speech had turned from soothing concerns to irritated commands. She had started her shift as nurse in charge just six hours after the explosion.
Her hospital lay the closest to the plant, less than an hour away from Ecoparque. Juanita stared at the men, their condition, and remembered. She had heard the explosion and gotten up to help her mother out of bed. The blast had shaken their little adobe house. "What was that?" her mother asked, fear radiating out from her deep brown eyes.
"Probably one of those sonic booms, Mama. Nothing to worry about."
But Juanita had worried. Outside, feeding the pigs, she saw the lightning like fire in the sky. This was no ordinary storm. Something terrible had happened.
Her worry escalated even more when she got to work. Three people came in immediately. They doubled over with nausea and severe headaches and vomited on the floor before she could shove a basin under their mouths. She had taken their blood pressures. They were a little high, but not that high. What was this strange condition?
One of them shouted to her about a big blue ball and his blood pressure shot up. He acted confused and turned delirious before her eyes, mumbling and pawing at the air as if it were inhabited by demons.
She stared at his wristband. Diego Gotari. "Have you been drinking, Señor ?" She looked into his dull eyes.
He looked at her and began mumbling about nuclear waste and explosions as if he'd had a shot or two of whiskey. Juanita sniffed, but couldn't smell any alcohol. He looked so pale in his robe. She put him to bed and held his hand.