Monday, September 26, 2011


by Gil James Bavel

Mission Day 654:
12:21 hours
Ganymede Base mining station
Second Shift

With the survey work completed for the week, the North Forty had been leveled and was ready for the new terraforming equipment. The crew of Ganymede Base were in the mess hall taking a well-deserved break. Marquis Williams broke the silence of lunch.

“So, Devon,” he started, “We going to break out the construction gear tomorrow?”

Berkshire played with the food he’d squirted out onto his plate, mashing it into the vegetables they’d grown in the hydroponics bay. “Bright and early. Be up at six hundred hours, I want to get an early start on it. We’re going to finish getting the East side leveled and ready so by the time the Friday Run ship comes in, all we’ll have to do is set it up and join it to the existing structure.” He looked at John Biggs, and Will Jensen. “You guys are going to need to set up the interface for the new airlock. They’re adding steerage for six more bodies. That’s three rooms worth of kits, a corridor and another restroom. We’re going to be doing work outdoors for a couple of weeks. But I want it done in short shifts, like the survey team does. Too much radiation out there, your suits can’t handle long durations. Keep it to six hours, no more.” He eventually found something edible on his tray and forked it into his mouth. Chewing, he said, “I got most of the East side surveyed, it’s nearly level already. Mostly filling in small craters and laying a slab. Shouldn’t be too hard.”

Biggs nodded, reaching for his drink. “I can knock the cutting out tonight, and put a panel on the inside, so we’ll be ready in the morning to depressurize.” He turned to Jensen. “Will, you want to put in a few hours this evening after dinner?”

Jensen was caught shoveling food into his mouth, an orange glop that at one time could have been some kind of meat—with sweet potatoes, probably. “Sure, that sounds fine,” he answered. I’ll prep my suit.”

Biggs drank from his glass and shook his head. “Shouldn’t need it. We won’t make the cuts on the outer wall until tomorrow, I just want to get a plate up on the inside so it won’t take us long in the morning.” He looked at his Commander. “Boss, there’s very little chance of anything going wrong, but in case, do you want to relocate into the radio shack?”

Berkshire contemplated the food on his tray and shook his head. “Nah. We should be all right. Besides, if there’s a problem, there’s not much we can do about it anyway. Anybody that’s squeamish can get into a suit. You’ve been cramming on your construction training, right?”

Jensen swallowed and said, “Yeah, all week. We’re ready. It will only take a couple hours after dinner, we’ll be in bed early.” He looked at Biggs as if it were a challenge.

The stark, white interior of the mess hall reminded him of a museum. “Hey, boss,” Jensen said, “Can we at least paint the new unit when we install it? White gets so boring.”

Berkshire looked at Jensen with a smile. “Sure. Paint it green if you like. Just get it back to regulation before you pressurize it.”

A panel lit up by the telescreen, which was showing several external views of the surface around the base. There was a transmission in from Earth. Berkshire reached over and hit a button. “Look alive, people, it’s the Director, regular priority.”

Received from Jovian Deep Space Array, 12:24:17 hours,” the computer voice announced.

Indeed, the staid face of First Director Chenowith materialized on the telescreen. He appeared in the foreground in front of the camera, again with a bevy of technicians behind him going about their duties in the background. It was a familiar sight to the crew.

“Greetings, Ganymede Base”, the transmission began. “Fine work you’re doing. We want you to know that we’re all behind you. I have a mail packet coming in for you after this transmission ends. Just wanted to let you know that your supplies and the spare parts and construction materials for the new addition will be arriving on tomorrow’s Friday Run. As you’re aware, Devon, the mission council have determined that the North Forty is incompatible with further mining stations, but not for a blower, so you’ll be getting a new one of those as well. I’m putting you in for a note of merit for getting it done ahead of schedule. You probably saved yourself a week of surveying by getting that out of the way. Good work. Also, Devon, after the mail packet, there is a priority message for you, eyes only. Take it in your private quarters. Keep up the good work, everyone. First Director Chenowith out.”

Dr. Lisa Obermeyer rolled her eyes. “Note of merit. Big fucking deal.” Turning to Berkshire, she grinned. “Gold star for you, Devon.” She had finished her lunch and pushing her tray forward, got up to go to the restroom. “You’ll be able to get another raise soon.”

Berkshire seemed nonplussed. “Feh, out here it really doesn’t matter. Okay, everyone, mail call.” He got up and began handing out pads to the crew. “Take your time, there’s another half an hour before anyone needs to worry about getting back to work. Enjoy your videos from home, folks.”

Obermeyer looked at Jensen with a wink and closed the restroom door behind her. Jensen took his pad from Berkshire and looked it over. Message from his mother, several from his family on Moonbase Beta, and a recording from his nephew back on Earth. He picked up his tray, finished what was on it, and retired to his quarters to watch them.

The rest of the Ganymede base crew followed suit, and slowly got up, looking at their pads, putting the trays from lunch into the washing unit. Berkshire went to his quarters and took the priority message from there. Sitting down at his COM center, he piped it through. It was a program designed to run only with an officer’s password. Berkshire entered his. The computer at the COM center unpacked the archive, processed it, and it ran.

They were specifications for the new addition, plus plans for the blower, algae kits and the spare parts they’d ordered. The only priority eyes-only material other than that was a directive that the addition be up and habitable as soon as possible. Why that couldn’t be opened in front of the rest of the crew was beyond him. He took notes on the specs, and saved it. Back to the grind, he thought, and turned off the workstation. He’d share the specs with the crew later.

Click Here

for Part VIII

No comments:

Post a Comment

Archive of Stories
and Authors

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee.

Keith Graham's

Keith Graham's

Keith Graham's

Keith Graham is a computer programmer,
blues harp player, fellow beekeeper, and
speculative fiction writer. He currently
maintains 45 active websites. He has
published more than 50 stories over
the last six years in venues such as
others. Underground rock music
played an integral part in the early
days of cyberpunk, and The Freezine
of Fantasy and Science Fiction is
excited to have Keith onboard, and
grateful to showcase the premiere
of his passionate story of rock'n'roll

John Claude Smith's

John Claude Smith's

John Claude Smith writes weird fiction,
something between Horror and Magic
Realism, most of it psychologically driven.
He's had over 40 tales and over 1100 music
reviews, interviews, and profiles published.
He is currently shopping two novels and
a collection to agents and publishers, all
while starting the third novel. Gotta keep
on keepin' on! Looking forward to Rome
in the not too distant future, but for now,
just looking for the next short story to
be written.

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff is the author of the
short story collection Screams From
A Dying World, just published by
Afterbirth Books. David is a hardcore
vegan and tireless environmentalist.
His contributions to the punk horror
scene and the planet in general have
already established him as a bright
new writer and activist to watch out
for. The Freezine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance. David's latest
books include the Wuxia -Pan
(martial arts fantasy) horror
novel called Hunting The Moon Tribe,
already out from Afterbirth Books.;
The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies,
[Deadite Press, 2010]; and
[Deadite Press, 2014]

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.

When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found HERE.