Friday, 27 March 2009

A Colony On Mars : Chapter 2

. Friday, 27 March 2009

CHAPTER - The trip to Mars
July 7, 2107: Upon arrival their Shuttle pulled along side the Orbiter then
matched the orbital speed. They heard some clunking sounds then after about
five minutes the door slid open. There were about 35 passengers on the flight
from Las Vegas, most appeared to be in their mid to late twenties. Just as with
a conventional airliner passengers began to stand up and retrieve their carry on
luggage. A young lady in a snappy light blue NASA uniform appeared at the
door and ushered the passengers into the orbiter terminal. They found seats in
the waiting room. They were seated beside a large man. They assumed the
man was to be a passenger on the same flight they were taking, and struck up
a conversation with him.
“Hi, I am Tim Erkin and this is my wife Carla, are you also a new Mars
Colony, Inc. employee?” “ Yeah, I was just hired” said the man in a deep
baritone voice that you would expect from a man of his size. “My name is
Archibald Shrimp, but everybody just calls me Archy. I am from West Virginia, I
signed on as a laborer but I am also a part time minister of the gospel. I was
called for preachen bout eight years back. I been worken in the coal mines
most of my life. I spect we gonna get to know each other pretty well in the next
ten years.
They had a chance to become only briefly acquainted with Archy before
the NASA hostess announced that they could now board and get their room
assignments. The thirty five of them were lead through the air lock and into
another waiting room, this time on the ship.
Carla remarked to Tim “That man we just met just does not seem like
the kind of person that the company would hire, he talks like he is downright
ignorant.” “That's not the impression I got,” Tim responded. “I've been back in
those hills touring the coal mines and that is the way they all talk.”
A junior ship's officer dressed in a blue jumpsuit, and wearing ensign's
bars, started calling names from a roster. White clad attendants lead the
passengers off one by one or in groups of two, to the assigned rooms that they
would be calling home for the next two and a half months.
Tim and Carla were told that since they were a married couple they were
entitled to a suite. Their Suite turned out to be an eight by fourteen foot room
with a double bed, two folding chairs and a small round table. The floors were
carpeted. There was a fairly large TV screen mounted on the wall in front of the
bed. There was also a built in dresser and mirror. There was a four foot by five
foot enclosure near the entrance that took up part of their space, it contained a
shower, toilet basin and mirror. All in all pretty spartan but what did they expect
on a space ship.
They had no more than put their carry on luggage on the bed when there
was a knock at the door. It was the their steward who had shown them to their
room. He introduced himself as Damian, their steward. He told them to let him
know if they needed anything, not that he would get it for them but he would tell
them how to get it. They could always reach him or the steward on duty
through the intercom mounted on the wall beside the bed. “At the moment
though,” he said, you are to go to The Company Room 812 where you will be
issued your on board ID cards. They will be ready for you when you get there.”
Following Damian's directions they took the narrow stairway down three
floors to the eighth floor where they located room 812. They received yellow ID
cards with their picture on them. They were told they must wear these ID cards
at all times. They later found out that yellow meant they were workers
employed by Mars Colony, Inc. The nice young lady that issued them their
cards ask if they had any questions. “Yeah, where is the dining room the class
room and the bar.” asked Tim? “Here is a map of the parts of the ship that you
are authorized access to. I am afraid that we refer to the dining room as the
mess hall. The bar only serves soft drinks or coffee. It is called the 'Day Room'
you will be going to different classrooms from time to time. They are all
numbered on your map. You will see color coding on each floor, you are only
authorized access to the top three floors, 8, 9, and 10. Enjoy your trip, these
are the best accommodations that you will have in the next ten years.”
In their exploration of the top floors they found a nice Day Room with a
small library, a mess hall that would seat about four hundred diners an
adequately equipped gymnasium. They also located several locked
classrooms. Peering through the doors revealed some strange paraphernalia
inside. Many of them resembled what was probably a rendition of the Martian
Upon returning to their room Carla turned on the TV. They saw a
schedule displayed on the screen. Breakfast was from 0600 to 0700, lunch
from 1200 to 1300 and dinner from 1700 to 1800, meals would be served at no
other hours. The time on the clock at their bedside indicated that it was already
1130, almost time for lunch. There was a button marked personal messages on
the remote control so Carla gave that a try. Their names appeared on the TV
screen accompanied by a message that said that they were both to appear at
room 914 for orientation at 1330. There was a message for Carla that said she
should report to the mess hall at 0400 for training. There was also a message
for Tim. It said that he should report to room 865 at 0730 to begin training. They
kinda chuckled and Carla said “Well so much for a long leisurely trip.”
They arrived at the mess hall at 1200 sharp to find about one hundred
people ahead of them in line. They noticed when they got up to the door that
the diners were taking a plastic tray, stainless steel silverware and a paper
napkin. Then by placing their tray on top of the glass sneeze guard and easing
it forward they received a portion of everything offered. Once seated they
noticed a selection of sauces along with salt and pepper on each table. The
food they found to be institutional but adequate.
At the Orientation they learned that the ship which maintained artificial
gravity had started with 85% Earth gravity. They all acknowledged that they
had noticed the reduced gravity and were fascinated by it. “Here is how it is
going to work” explained the Government speaker. “We start at 85% but that
will diminish as the trip progresses. By the time we reach the two month mark
of this journey we we will have the gravity down to thirty five percent. That is in
order to get you accustomed to Mars gravity gradually so it won't be as much of
a shock to your system when you actually arrive there. Prolonged exposure to
a gravity of less than 1.0 which is the gravity off Earth will cause stress on your
body. This need not be a problem, at least not while you are on Mars but it
could be when you return to Earth. You could have dizziness, problems
maintaining your balance, nausea and disorientation for several months after
your return. There are things that we can do to minimize the effects living in low
gravity. After this meeting you will be given a shot which will strengthen your
bones and muscles, you will receive a stronger dose of that medication each
month of your trip. You will continue to receive the shots monthly during your
stay in reduced gravity, while on Mars and on your return voyage. You will
continue to receive modified shots monthly for the first two years after your
return to Earth. It is complicated but the human body tends to circulate blood
differently in reduced gravity. The system you were born with was designed to
function best at 1g but we have found that system can function just well at thirty
five percent of 1g if the proper medication is administered on a regular basis.
These shots will help prevent you from developing osteoporosis and muscle
degeneration as well as adjusting your blood flow to and from your heart and
brain. Missing the shots could result in serious medical consequences so be
sure to get your shot monthly. The shots alone will not do it. You will be
furnished with special vitamins that are to be taken daily. It will be necessary for
you to enter a special exercise room on Mars, and on this ship every day.
These exercise rooms are equipped with artificial gravity and will Increase
gravity gradually by 50% during the hour that you are using the exercise
equipment. You will do some high impact exercise like weight lifting and some
low impact rapid movement exercise such as treadmill and bike riding at each
session. You will need to do these exercises on a daily basis. If you shirk these
exercises or don't give 100% you will be shortening your life expectancy
considerably, particularly after your return to Earth. Perhaps some of you have
already found the gym on this ship and thought, well that is a nice touch for the
exercise nuts but it is far more important than that. The exercise is vital and
necessary for your survival. Because of the gravity change that takes place
exercise periods commence on the hour every hour so plan your day
accordingly. You must slide your ID card when you start your exercise period.
Anyone who goes 24 hours without exercising will be held accountable. Get
used to it as you will be doing it every day for the next ten years, or for however
long you remain in low gravity. Just so you will know the gravity on Mars is at
thirty five percent. The lowest gravity that human beings can tolerate over an
extended period of time is 33% so gravity is your enemy. Regular exercise,
shots and vitamins are your friend.”
“Next I would like to discuss the matter of time and date. The time that
we use on the ship and the time that is currently being used on the planet is
Greenwich mean time and the calendar is the ordinary Earth calendar that you
have used all your life. We use Greenwich Mean time based on the 24 hour
clock. We do this because an ordinary wrist watch can provide you with this
information instantly The 24 hour clock is also called military time. The United
States military has used this 24 hour day for over two hundred years. Please
never refer to AM or PM again when giving someone the time.”
Since humans seldom go to the surface of Mars and when they do, it is
for only one hour or less at a time, it is more or less irreverent what time it is on
Mars or what the date is. scientists have worked out a Martian clock and
calendar. The display also gives the current temperature and wind speed. If
you are planning work on the surface it will be necessary to consult the Martian
clock and calendar that has been posted in several places in the Government
cavern and adjacent to each elevator. You can continue by the same time and
date that you have always used. It is important that humans only go out on the
surface when the weather is warmest and the light is best.
“It is inevitable that a certain amount of work will have to be performed
on the surface but it is important that you know that you can not even tolerate
the surface for one second without suffering serious health consequences.
Fortunately we have developed Mars suits which are similar to space suits in
appearance but quite different in many ways. They are specially equipped to
handle the outdoor conditions on the planet. While wearing one of these suits
in the middle of the day a man can work on the surface for up to an hour under
optimum conditions but in no circumstance is it safe to work outdoors in a Mars
suit for more than an hour at a time without coming in and removing the suit for
an hour before venturing out again. Twice a year there are winds that blow
across the surface at speeds ranging from two hundred fifty to four hundred
miles per hour. If you are caught in one of these winds you will be found dead if
you are ever found at all and it won't matter whether you are wearing a Mars
Suit or not. So no one is allowed on the surface to do any kind of work without
obtaining a slip from the project safety engineer. The average temperature on
the surface of the planet is -55 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperature
ever recorded on the surface of the planet was eighty degrees. Mice
introduced to the surface for even three seconds just explode. Don't think that
you can venture out through an air lock even for a second it would probably be
fatal. Surface conditions are constantly monitored by the project safety
engineer who has been thoroughly schooled in determining when outside work
can safely be performed ”
“You are each being given a vitamin box with the date on each
compartment. You will be given a new box a few days before the end of each
month. You absolutely must take that days vitamins every morning after
breakfast. It may be desirable to take vitamin supplements on Earth but on
Mars it can mean the difference between life and death. If you find that you
have missed a day then report immediately to sick bay for a shot. It is vitally
important on Mars that you properly maintain a human body that was never
intended to be there in the first place. We don't want you to feel any trepidation
over the things I have just told you. If you go by the rules you will be fine. You
will be able to return to Earth safe and sound.”
“Now for an interesting little demonstration of artificial gravity. My
assistant on the platform above me is going to drop a rubber ball at my feet. Go
ahead and drop the ball Fred.” The ball hit right in front of the speaker but
instead of bouncing back straight up to him it careened off into the audience,
coming down near the back of the room where a woman prepared to catch it.
Instead of her catching it the ball hit the man two seats down from her in the
chest. He picked it up and the speaker said, “great, now throw the ball back to
me.” When the man threw the ball he was off by about 20 feet. “What does this
demonstration tell us? We are in artificial gravity in a relatively small enclosure.
Even though this ship is as wide as a football field and four times as long it is
still relatively small as space objects go. Artificial gravity behaves differently
from planetary gravity. The larger the object the less difference there is
between artificial and planetary gravity. On Mars which is a planet that
generates it's own gravity the ball would behave more like it would on the Earth
but not exactly. You will eventually adapt to the differences without realizing it
but at first it will seem strange to you because by that time you will have
become accustomed to the way gravity behaves on this ship. This difference
could cause some nausea and equilibrium problems in some people but it is not
serious. It is a temporary condition, it will pass. It is caused by the inner ear
trying to adjust to the new environment. If it causes you too much distress go to
sick bay. They will issue you some medication that may help.”
“Are there any questions at this time?” “Yes,” a woman in the audience
asked. “I thought it took six months to reach Mars even when Mars was at it's
closest point to Earth, how is it that this voyage is going to take only two and a
half months?” “The six months and more voyages were based on launching a
vehicle into space and then shutting down the engines and allowing the space
vehicle to continue on to its destination at the speed that it had attained when
the engines were shut down. On this craft the engines are never shut down
because the ship is powered by nuclear energy. We will continue to accelerate
for about half the journey then will decelerate for the second half. That reduces
the travel time greatly. At the maximum that we will reach on this trip the ship
will be traveling at about one hundred sixty seven million miles per hour, about
one fourth the speed of light. Mars is much too close to Earth to go much faster
than that. We would run the risk of overshooting the planet entirely and leaving
the solar system. A far more sophisticated ship than this is presently under
construction that will exceed the speed of light but at the speed of light it would
still take approximately four and a half years to reach the next solar system
knows as Alpha Centauri.”
“(Alpha Centauri (R Cen / R Centauri) is the brightest star system in the
southern constellation of Centaurus. Although it appears as a single point to
the naked eye, Alpha Centauri is actually a system of three stars, one of which
is the fourth brightest star in the night sky. Alpha Centauri is famous in the
Southern Hemisphere as the outermost "pointer" to the Southern Cross, but it
is too far south to be visible in most of the northern hemisphere. The two
brightest components of the system are too close to be resolved as separate
stars by the naked eye and so are perceived as a single source of light with a
total visual magnitude of about S0.27 (brighter than the third brightest star in the
night sky, Arcturus).”
“Alpha Centauri is the closest star system outside our own solar system,
being 4.39 light-years distant, about 25.8 trillion miles . Proxima Centauri, often
regarded as part of the system, is 4.26 light-years distant. Alpha and Beta
Centauri are the second closest pair of first magnitude stars as seen from the
Earth, and due to the effects of proper motion, they will become the closest pair
around 2166, overtaking Acrux and Becrux”.
“There being no more questions this orientation is adjourned. Be sure to
pick up your vitamins on the way out, also be sure to visit the gym for your
workout, on the hour, at some point that fits your schedule during each 24 hour
The orientation lasted just over an hour. “Well said Carla I guess I
should take my vitamins for star date whatever it is.” “No, you are supposed to
take those after breakfast, remember, we should start tomorrow.” After their
workout and a lite dinner they returned to their room. By this time they had
forgotten all about needing a nap, besides they would have to go to bed early if
Carla was to be in the kitchen at 0400 to begin training.
“Training, that is a laugh, why don't they just call it what it is KP duty?”
“Oh, well, Carla I might luck out and they may teach me how to nail 2x4's
together.” They had intended to check out the coffee bar and day room but
opted to watch a movie on TV, then turn in for the night. They found that could
just select “Movie” on their remote control then a list of over three hundred
movies were available, Including the latest releases that were just now reaching
the box office. It didn't matter which movie they selected, they fell asleep
almost as soon as it started.
July 8, 2107: Carla was kind of amazed when she arrived at the kitchen
the next morning. She was directed to a classroom adjacent to the kitchen
where she could watch what was going on in the kitchen through a large
window. Within five minutes the room attracted twelve other students who
began to get acquainted with one another. This was important to her because
she knew that these were the people she would be working with for the next ten
years of her life. Carla introduced herself to a couple of the others but mostly
just listened as one after the other talked about their backgrounds in food
service and how they had come to be here. She caught a few names but didn't
concentrate on doing so because she would know each of them very well in due
About 0410 a man in cooks whites entered the room, he was a medium
built man of about 40 “Good Morning Students, my name is Don Morino. I am a
member of the ships crew not a member of the kitchen staff. My job is to
provide you with the necessary instruction to enable you to hit the ground
running when you arrive at your duty station.” The first thing he did was to
introduce one of the students as their new mess boss. The woman's name was
Hilda Gorman, she would be in charge of the kitchen operation for the
employees of Mars Colony, Inc. “Hilda will during this voyage select four of you
to be head cooks. She will also select three crews of three cooks each from the
rest of you. So Hilda would you like to address your crew before we get
started?” “I don't have much to say at this time but the other students should
know that for the last nine years I have been employed in the kitchen of a major
hospital. I am married. My husband has also been hired by The Company
because of his background as a hydrological engineer for mining operations
throughout the Northeast. We obviously have no children or we wouldn't be
here. I have a BA degree as a dietitian from Arver college. I went to work for
Central State Hospital in Trenton right out of college. I worked my way up from
the bottom. When I left to take this job, I was in charge of the entire food
service program of the hospital. I am pretty well qualified to have the position
that I hold and I hope that I can adapt to the conditions we find on Mars, I hope
we all can.”
When Hilda sat down Don continued “I guess I owe you an apology, you
are going to have some problems when you first arrive on station. Your kitchen
and dining room is in the hold of this ship, it will have to be installed after you
arrive. Until then you will be using an army field kitchen that is also in the hold
of this ship but can be set up quickly. I am having the field kitchen brought up
here one piece at a time so I can teach you how to use each item to feed three
hundred hungry people. Your refrigerator and freezer space will be shared with
the Government kitchen that is presently operating. Their mess officer has
agreed to accommodate you to the best of his ability but expect some problems
as they don't have that much refrigeration space to spare. You will have to
serve a lot of canned and dehydrated food until your facilities are functioning.”
“The on board food service crew is operating short handed because they will
expect you people to help them with serving and kitchen clean-up for every
meal until we arrive at Mars Station. With that Don lead them to an adjoining
locker room. Please give my assistant your size. She will issue you a set of
whites which you should put on as soon as you receive them. There are
dressing rooms in the rear of the locker room. Your lockers already have your
name on them. My assistant will provide you with the combination to your
locker. Once you are satisfied that the whites are the right size go up and draw
two more sets. Put them, along with your regular clothes, into your locker.
The whole crew shortly found themselves serving breakfast to the
passengers. Once everyone had been served they filled their own trays and
found a seat. Carla found Tim seated with Archibald Shrimp and two other men
she didn't know. They introduced themselves quickly because they were
already eating their breakfast. They had been served scrambled eggs, corned
beef hash, biscuits and gravy and some sliced fresh fruit. “Enjoy your fresh
fruit, once it is gone you probably won't see any fresh fruit for years to come,.”
said the man who had introduced himself as Jack Overmeyer.
The clean up didn't take long and by the time Carla returned to the class
room there was an assortment of cooking appliances at the front of the room.
Don Morino spent the rest of the morning until lunch explaining the proper use
of the equipment. It seemed to Carla that it wouldn't be half bad using this
equipment on a temporary basis as everything seemed pretty well thought out.
Lunch was pretty much a repeat of the breakfast scene. After the cleanup they
were given the afternoon off but told to show up to serve dinner and help with
the clean up again. For the rest of the journey Carla pretty much followed the
same routine. Classes covered all the basic kitchen and cooking skills, food
preservation, sanitation and everything else that most of them were already
quite familiar with. There were a few new things to be aware of, mostly those
concerned becoming accustomed to cooking in low gravity. They didn't seem
particularly complicated, just different, they were techniques that would come
naturally after a few days. Carla found for example that two women could
easily carry a 20 gallon pot of liquid that would weigh about 180 lbs on Earth but
on Mars would only weigh only thirty five percent of that much or about 56 lbs.
If you flipped eggs in a pan to turn them over they might soar to five feet before
they started their decent and then they probably wouldn't come down in the
pan. Until their kitchen was completed on Mars they would be getting their
water in five gallon jugs but not a problem she could lift one easily by herself, it
would weigh 40 lbs on Earth but only weighed 14 lbs on Mars. There were lots
of other things like that.
She chose the early afternoon to go to the gym. The exercises were
about what she had expected but they seemed a little easier to do. Gravity was
still at 85% on the ship.
Tim's training started after breakfast. Tim had an hour or so before he
had to report to start his training. He found the right room and arrived about five
minutes before 0730. There were over two hundred people in the room when
the instructor arrived promptly at 0730. He was dressed from head to foot in a
Mars Suit. There was a microphone in the helmet and a speaker that amplified
his words. There was also a speaker for each ear. His hearing was very
sensitive while wearing the suit. He told them that if turned his volume up to
max he could hear a pin drop one hundred yards away. He spent the next hour
explaining the features of the Mars suit as he removed parts of it from his
person. This suit is unlike a space suit in a number of ways, he told them
because a space suit was designed to wear in a weightless environment,
whereas the Mars suit was designed to protect the wearer from the cold, the UV
rays and from the atmosphere of Mars. The boots were different and the fabric
was much tougher and harder to penetrate because the wearer would be doing
hard physical labor while wearing the suit. The suit air sealed around the neck
so even if the suit were compromised the helmet would remain intact and the
wearer might have time to patch the hole.
Humans working on the surface of the planet always work in pairs. We
always send two people to do one persons job. The iron rule of survival on the
surface is NEVER GO OUTSIDE ALONE. not for any reason, under any
circumstance ever. There are no exceptions to that rule.
“My name is Ashton Thompson, I am the head instructor for the
Company. I will not be going to the planet with you but I was a Captain with the
Army Corps of Engineers that constructed the first habitat on Mars I have spent
more time on the surface of the planet than almost anyone else. The other
instructors were also there with the Corps. You should pay very close attention
to everything they teach you because it is your life that depends on it.”
“You will only be asked or allowed to work on the surface for an hour at a
time. That does not Include working in the caverns that have yet to be
pressurized where you can work up to four hours at a time while wearing the
Mars suit. The caverns on Mars are full of fissures that lead to the surface.
Until all of the fissures have been sealed and the cavern pressurized you must
work in a Mars suit. Once the cavern has been pressurized and heated and
atmosphere introduced you can work in an ordinary jump suit. “
“Most of the work you will be doing in addition to what I have just
described is leveling the floors and building the million and one things that
people need to carry on their lives. Your present priorities will be to finish
setting up The Company cavern to accommodate the three hundred people that
The Company is sending on this ship. The cavern has already been sealed and
pressurized and the floor leveled but your first two priorities must be to
complete the dining room and kitchen and to complete instillation of the
bathroom facilities. Installation of the thermo electric generator for power and
the reverse osmoses system for water purification are items that are also very
high on the list of priorities.”
The the thermo electric generator equipment for that project is on board
this ship. It is essential that we obtain our power and heat from some source
other than diesel generators.” The sooner accomplish these high priority
objectives the more comfortable you will be and the happier the Company will
“Once these things are completed then you will be sealing a large cavern
that we have found that is withing tunneling distance from the cavern that The
Company will be occupying. Once that cavern is completed and powered by
geothermal energy The Company will be sending in 3,000 more employees to
complete the main cavern which is about the size of the State of Rode Island.
Mars Colony, Inc and the Unites States Government are very aggressive in
pursuit of the goal of occupying the large cavern.
In anticipation of taming that large cavern the company figures they will
need three thousand more employees. Since we are only capable of
transporting about one thousand two hundred workers per year every flight from
now on will be loaded to capacity. Once the large cavern is completed and
settlers begin to arrive more and larger ships will be required to keep them
supplied. Two more space craft are presently under construction. One which
will be dubbed Mars Runner is twice as large and twice as fast as this ship. The
other ship, yet unnamed will be ten times the size of this ship. It will be capable
of speeds greater than the speed of light. It could be capable of journeys
beyond the solar system into deep space.
All of the work on Mars will never be done just as all the work on Earth
will never be done but once the large cavern is finished and populated you can
expect to see cities with business and shopping malls just as you see now on
Earth. Land will be bought and sold just as on Earth. There will be an
independent Government elected by the people. Mars will be a fully functioning
planet.” Since this is all being done by the United States the new settlements
will be a part of the United States.
“That in a nutshell is our plan and your mission.” Our goal beyond my
lifetime is to convert the atmosphere of Mars to be more Earth like which would
involve rotating the planet faster which would Increase the gravity and enable
the planet to retain an atmosphere which we could introduce. At that future time
we would have to figure out how to produce an ozone layer on Mars that would
shield the surface from deadly radiation. Perhaps a friendly atmosphere would
generate it's own ozone layer. We know that those things are possible but it will
probably be another hundred years or more before they are realized. One thing
for certain once this planet is colonized with the technology that we now have
the scientists will be working hard to solve those bigger problems.
“We have prepared sixty lessons and have allowed six to eight hours for
each lesson. You will be broken up into fifteen groups of eleven or twelve
students in each group and will take one lesson per day. The lessons all have
to do with using the equipment, how to do the necessary jobs, safety and the
like. We have 15 instructors so by the time you reach Mars you should pretty
much know what to do and how to do it no matter what your previous
background has been. Most of you have a few years experience in the building
trades and that will be a desirable background to build on. It is just that on Mars
you will be using different materials and different tools. We have posted your
names on the cork board at the back of the room. There are 20 copies for each
team so take a copy of the one for your team. It will tell you what room to report
to and what time to be there for the entire course.”
“You may have the rest of the day off to get acquainted with each other,
you will be working together for a long time, explore the part of the ship where
you have authorization and to set aside one hour for exercising in the gym.”
“Incidentally, if you didn't know there is a restaurant that serves a first
class dinner with two drinks or two glasses of wine. You can order anything you
want from the menu, they are open from 1700 to 2200 every evening. The food
and service are the very best. The restaurant is run by a contract vendor. The
price is a little steep by Earth standards, $200.00 per person but that covers
everything, even the gratuity. You will find the restaurant behind an unmarked
door in room 888. Reservations are required, just ask your room steward to set
them up for you. You will not be allowed to eat there more than once a week.
You may pay by sliding your ID card and the price will be deducted from your
next pay check. You might want to have one more meal in a top notch
restaurant before you disembark. This will probably be your last opportunity for
ten years.”
There was an extended question and answer period but the meeting let
out by 1000 hours. Tim found his name on the list for group 11. He was
pleased to see the name Archibald Shrimp on the same list. It was easy to find
Archy, then together they watched for others taking a copy of list 11. They coat
tailed five of them. Someone suggested they go to the coffee shop and get
acquainted. The coffee shop served all beverages for one dollar except the
special coffee's which were $5.00. Once again you could slide your ID card and
have the amount deducted from wages. As it turned out the coffee shop was
run by the same company that ran the restaurant.
There was one girl in the group but the other six were all guys. The girl
was black and that didn't make Archy unhappy at all. She turned out to be
Gladys Hayes and was a high rise construction worker from New York City, yes
a beam walker. Albert Gonzalez was a tile layer from Albuquerque, John
Prince, had worked for a paving contractor in Spokane, Alan Nagoyuk, had
worked as a construction foreman in Fairbanks. All but John took a dollar cup
of coffee, John opted for a cafe-lata for $5.00, “What the hell, I am going to be a
millionaire,” he said. They found a large round table and began to tell each
other their life stories.
Albert said that aside from his job laying tile his hobby had been cave
exploration, he had been a Speleological Society member for eight years and
had explored caves all over North America. “My friends of course refer to me
as the cave man.”
Alan said that he had been a member of the Alaska, National Guard and
had instructed survivalist training in the guard.
John Prince said “I started playing baseball in little league and have
played all my life, I even made a minor league roster for a year before I figured
out that I just did not have what it takes to make it in the majors so I just play
baseball now as a hobby.” Tim noted “You won't be playing any baseball on
Mars, I'm afraid because baseball won't work there, a pitcher could throw a
baseball hard enough to kill a man on Mars and a sharp line drive could also be
lethal, a man just can't handle a baseball coming at him three hundred miles per
hour. Also worthy of mention here is that football, basketball and soccer won't
work on Mars either. A quarterback could pass a ball two hundred yards and
could throw it hard enough to kill his receiver. Basketball might sort of work but
everyone in the game could shoot from anywhere on the court with ease but
probably could only make a slam dunk because the ball would go awry.
Dribbling wouldn't work very well either nor would passing. Soccer, hockey, all
Earth sports are out on Mars, tennis, that's out too, the projectile just moves too
fast and has lethal potential with every play. We are just going to have to invent
new sports, maybe using oversize Nerf balls.” “I never thought of it that way but
I guess you are right, we will just have to invent our own new sports and start
from scratch.” said Archy. “Cave exploration and arctic survival could be useful
skills though.”
After their chat they all showed up for their exercise class in the gym, it
wouldn't ordinarily have been conducted as a class but since they were all new
at it the instructor lead them all through the exercise routine for the first time
together. They learned that they had to move slow in low gravity and set the
machines for high resistance, if they moved fast they could hurt themselves. If
they set the machines for ordinary gravity they wouldn't feel any resistance at
all. Even doing calisthenics you have to move slowly the instructor told them.
Right now that doesn't a apply because we are presently at 82% gravity but on
Mars it will be very true.
July 11, 2107: Tim and the others had started their training, Carla had
continued her training and they sort of fell into a routine. After her first day of
starting at 0400 hours they had changed Carla's reporting hour to 0530 so she
would be there in time to help in getting the breakfast line set up to serve
breakfast. Her classes ran from 0700 to 1130 when she helped with lunch then
she was off until it was time to set up for dinner at 1630, she was all through for
the day at 2000 hours. Tim attended classes from 0800 to 1200 then from 1300
until they had finished with the lesson plan for the day. They began to make
new acquaintances and friends within the group that would remain on Mars with
for years to come. Everyone had taken a liking to Hilda, she was real people.
One couple that they spent a lot of time with were Juan and Lupe Rivera,
who were also recruited as a couple. Juan was an MD with a specialty Space
Medicine. Lupe was a Registered Nurse Practitioner, specializing in family
health care. Both of them had degrees from UCLA Medical School in Los
Angeles. They had both been working at L.A. County General when they were
selected for this job. Juan had made several journey's into space for NASA as
resident physician. “I'll bet that The Company paid dearly to get you two, “ Tim
remarked shortly after they had met. “Not as much as you might imagine,” Juan
responded, “I guess it was because we wanted this gig so badly, we were
willing to sell out cheap.” Juan told them that there were at least three other
physicians and half a dozen other nurses on this flight that The Company had
hired to care for their employees. “We have a whole clinic in the hold of this
ship. I am hoping that you construction boys give us a priority when it comes to
setting up our clinic.” “I don't have anything to say about priorities” said Tim “but
I will sure put in a good word for you, and on my day off I could help with some
of the setup, Just think Juan, if they put it to a vote most of these folks would
want the kitchen and dining room set up first. Only the sick ones would want
the clinic. Besides the Government already has their clinic set up and you
could work out of there until your clinic is up and running.” “I heard that they
don't even have a roof over their head at that clinic”, said Juan. “Nobody on
Mars has a roof over their head Juan, just walls, doors and windows, that's the
way buildings go up on Mars, they are all indoors, anyway, so who needs a
roof? I hear that most of the people there now just put up four walls and put
their air mattress and bedding inside. They each have a wire framed sheet
plastic set of drawers to keep their clothing and other belongings in. That is
about all they have for now. We have light weight furniture on board for each
person and couple and air mattresses for all the new employees but it is up to
them to make their own walls. This life style is going to take some getting used
to. I have no idea what you pictured as a clinic but it won't be anything like what
you imagine. I know that some of us in construction will be making Martian
cement blocks and putting up walls for people. We have some plastic sheeting
in the hold that folks will be able to use for windows but so far no one has
figured out how to make doors. So far the best idea has been to make the walls
so you have to enter then turn left and take about three steps before you can
turn right and actually enter the room. Remember there is no need for
protection from the weather which is always perfect and there are no personal
lamps to light a room. Most people just have reading lamps and flash lights to
see things after lights out in the caverns. They turn the lights out every night at
2200 and turn them back on at 0600. Public buildings like the kitchen and your
clinic will have auxiliary lighting that can be turned or off at any hour.” “Where
did you hear all this? Tim.” Classes, I have been going to class every day for
the last ten days. I have been learning a lot about the living conditions that we
will find there.”
July 20, 2107: About 1730 they heard a knock on their door, it was Juan
and Lupe, “You guys ready yet?” Tim and Carla were dressed in their best
civilian clothes, well actually their only civilian clothes, Tim had on his sports
coat, shirt tie and slacks and civilian shoes, Carla was wearing her dress.
These were the clothes they were wearing when they left Earth, was it just two
weeks ago, it seemed like months. Tim said, “You guys shouldn't be doing this,
buying our dinner at those prices.” “Don't give it a thought, Tim, you guys signed
up for this job for the chance to become millionaire's but I was born into money.
Those prices don't even seem high to me, we frequently spent that amount for a
dinner in a good restaurant in L.A..” Juan had made their reservations at the
restaurant and just informed Tim and Carla that they were going to dinner as his
guest the day before.
When they entered through the unmarked door it was like stepping into a
different world. There were waiters in tuxedos and white table cloths. The
head waiter seated them at a table for four to one side of the room. Their
steaks were grilled to perfection and came with all the trimmings. They ate and
talked and shared he two bottles of wine they were entitled to. “I wonder why
they are so tight with the booze on this ship”, asked Tim. “It is probably
because not enough is known about the effects of alcohol consumption in low
gravity. We have a hard enough time standing up and not falling down in
artificial gravity and alcohol could interact with your shots or some of those
potent vitamins we take every day. The alcohol could intensify some vitamins
that are already at maxim safe dosage levels and it could reduce the effects of
other vitamins. There is really so little known that The Company figures it would
be safe enough to have two drinks a week but they don't want to be held liable
in a law suit if anyone suffers ill effects from their shots or vitamins in
combination with the alcohol. I intend to look into the matter in depth in my
spare time once we are on Mars.” “In the meantime what do they have you
doing on this flight, Juan, while the rest of us are attending classes?” “Since I
am the only Dr. on board with a degree in space medicine and since I have
worked in space on several occasions I am teaching classes on low gravity
medicine to the other Dr's.” “I want you as our primary health care provider
when we get to Mars, Juan” said Carla. “Not to be, Carla, I will not have a
family practice on Mars, in fact I have never had a family practice anywhere, my
specialty is Space Medicine which I am now required to convert over to low
gravity medicine. Lupe is my primary and I suggest you make your deal with
her. What I will be doing is taking on cases that are related to our unique
environmental issues.” “OK, then Lupe would you consider being our primary
health care provider?” “I'd love to Carla, I'll sign you up as soon as we arrive
and I begin practice.” That evening Tim enjoyed an excellent USDA prime steak
and Carla opted for a Maine Lobster tail. It was not difficult for them to hit upon
interesting topics for conversation during the meal. They downed their last bit of
wine and called it an evening.
Juan continued to dine at the restaurant as often as he was allowed to
but had different dinner guests on each occasion. The couples would meet
periodically to shoot the breeze and update Juan on what was being taught in
the Mars construction classes. Tim, had learned how to make Mars cement
which was basically just mud made from a certain soil type found in the caverns
mixed with surface sand. They dried it on the surface of the planet, they
seemed to cure better and quicker when exposed to the UV rays on the
surface. The cement blocks were then carried back inside. They where as
hard as concrete and could be used in many ways. Some were used for
building walls to give people the feeling of privacy. Because a man could easily
lift heavier weights on Mars the standard size for cement blocks was the same
length as those made on Earth but twice the width. By using these larger
blocks steel reinforcement was unnecessary for walls up to eight foot. Cement
could be poured indoors but it took it several days to cure. When a floor was
leveled in a cavern it was first leveled with dirt then covered with the blocks, it
made for very attractive floors. It was a standard practice to add color to the
blocks when the cement was being mixed. Blocks were manufactured in eight
standard colors. The different colors served to break up the starkness of the
caverns, that way everyone's house did not look identical to everyone else's
house. They were even using the cement to make furniture. You could form a
chair out of the cement then put inflatable cushions on the seat and the back,it
could be quite comfortable and attractive when using contrasting or
harmonizing colors.. Juan was interested in hearing all the things that Tim was
learning in his daily classes.
Tim, Carla and the rest continued with their daily routine for the next two
months. Carla no longer had to attend classes but was doing some of the food
preparation in the kitchen and still serving and helping with the cleanup. Tim
had finished his course and knew all the people on list 11 pretty well. They all
seemed eager to learn all they could about each other and about the planet that
would be their home. The instructors all seemed friendly and competent. They
were speaking from first hand experience when they talked about living and
working on the planet surface and in the caverns. The instructors liked their
jobs because they earned excellent money and had lots of time off on the return
trips to Earth. Most of them were already too old to be allowed to work on Mars
again. Tim suggested to Carla that maybe they could be instructors on flights
out to Mars after they had finished their stint working there. Carla said “Yeah,
but they would have to hire both of us.”

Continue Chapter:


:)) ;)) ;;) :D ;) :p :(( :) :( :X =(( :-o :-/ :-* :| 8-} :)] ~x( :-t b-( :-L x( =))

Post a Comment

Your Ad Here