When he was first deployed as a Pripyat security guard, Yaroslav was scared. It was, after all, the scene of the worst nuclear catastrophe in the world – immediately killing as many as 54 people and increasing cancer risk for thousands in the area. That was before Yaroslav discovered idiot tourists will pay morally loose Ukrainian guards considerable money to sneak into the still irradiated exclusion zone. Since since then he’s made a killing.
“For the past few years it’s just been Call of Duty nerds now and again, as well as your standard abandoned-building Instagrammers. But this summer is looking to be the best one yet.”
After the release of HBO’s Chernobyl – a shockingly relevant docudrama about a man-made ecological catastrophe set in the Soviet Union – Yaroslav is expecting an exponential growth of tourists looking to accidentally become infertile from gamma radiation. Despite the graphic portrayal of acute radiation sickness and an anxiety ridden atmosphere, the series has popularised Chernobyl for the sort of people who go on serial-killer ghost tours. In fact, Yaroslav even may need to get creative with meeting demand.
“Usually I just say the town is off-limits to tourists and cough suggestively. But with the increased interest in Chernobyl, I’ve had to open up an online booking service for people who want to sneak into the most radioactive places in Europe,” he told our reporter. “I’m even setting up a side business selling creepy Soviet-era gas masks for people who really want to get into character. That character being a Kazakh conscript ordered to clean up nuclear graphite for 90 seconds at a time.”
“These morons are putting my kids through university,” the Pripyat security guard said. “The next 20,000 years of radiation are going to be good for the corrupt police officer industry.”
The Tragic Traveller’s reporter on the scene – wearing a hazmat suit – also asked a few American tourists who had procured entry through Yaroslav about their trip.
“It’s so eerie,” said Talia, 37. “It’s so scary to think that a society’s hubris and mistaken invincibility could lead to humanity almost being wiped off the face of the Earth. I’m so glad that won’t happen again in the next 30 years or so.” She then took a selfie in front of the famous decrepit Ferris wheel, ignoring the Geiger counter going beserk in her pocket.