Saturday, 28 March 2009

A Colony On Mars : Chapter 4

. Saturday, 28 March 2009

CHAPTER - The early days
Carla had to report to the kitchen at 0430 to fix breakfast but Tim had six
days off to build his house and get things set up for temporary living. “Only one
blanket and we don't know how cold it gets here at night Carla said, I wonder if
we are going to get cold.?” “There is a question that I can answer, said Tim and
the answer is no. These caverns are maintained at a constant 73 degrees, year
round, you will never be cold and you will never need a coat. Carla took her
bag of toiletries and headed for the public rest room. The place was busy but
she had little trouble in finding an open shower stall. Surprise it worked just like
the showers on the ship. After her shower she found an open wash basin with
a large mirror where she finished her toiletries and returned to her camp. She
returned about the same time as Tim. They donned their night clothes, inflated
their mattress by pulling the well marked tabs and crawled in to bed to spend
their first night on Mars. March 28, had been a very busy day, indeed. The
lights in the Cavern went out promptly at 2200 everything quieted down and
they both fell asleep almost immediately.

September 29, 2107: Carla's phone rang at 0400, Carla located her
phone and fumbled with her watch before she located the button. She notice
that the button was back lit and blinking so she pushed it. Hi Carla, this is
Hilda, I am just calling the members of my crew that are assigned to prepare
breakfast. I didn't know whether you had an alarm clock working yet or not.
You need to report to the kitchen in 30, minutes to help prepare breakfast.” “Oh,
thanks Hilda, and you were right, I didn't have my alarm clock working yet. I'll
see you then.” She then pushed the button that had started blinking again when
Hilda hung up. And crawled out of bed. Tim just groaned. After a visit to the
public wash room Carla got dressed and went over to the kitchen.
Hilda was there there to set her to her tasks. By 0600 people began to
pour in and breakfast came off smoothly. This morning the kitchen was serving
oatmeal and toast with canned fruit. Tim received a call just as he was finishing
his breakfast at 0645, asking him to report to The Company cavern at 0700 or
as soon thereafter as he could make it. Carla couldn't help but notice how
many people had their ear pieces in and were moving to one kind of music or
another. After a while you will even learn how to tell which station they are
listening to by just watching them,” one of the other kitchen workers said, “If
they are really grooving then that means they are listening to pop. If they have
a serene expression on their face they are listening to the elevator music, If
they look sad it's C&W, and if they look as though they are listening to a
conversation then they got the talk station on. I make a game of trying to
guess. Most often they are listening to talk radio, that's the most popular.”
Tim arrived at work at 0650 and struck up a conversation with Jack
Overmeye. “Did you notice that it is warmer in this cavern than in the
Government cavern, Tim?” “Nope, I haven't been in here enough to pay it much
attention.” “I spent the night in here last night and had to throw my blanket off,
when I got up to go to the bathroom I noticed that it felt chilly in the other
cavern, so this morning I went around feeling all the walls and in the far back
and off to your right there is a hot spot that you can't hold your hand of for long.
I then checked the floor beneath the hot spot and found that to be even hotter.”
Just then Carter Fredrick, facilities superintendent joined them and Jack
related what he had observed to him.”Show me that spot Jack.” The three men
skipped to the back of the cavern and Jack said, “OK, now put your hand right
there.” Sure enough Carter didn't leave it there for long. “Now check the floor
right here below the hot spot,” Carter put his hand on the floor for an instant
then removed quickly and began to check it for damage. “All right after I get all
the crews busy I will consult the scientists about drilling right here.” The three of
them skipped back to where the other construction workers were gathered.
Carter had work assignments based on the crew lists from the ship. “I am
assigning you people to the same crews that you had on the ship for now but
feel free to change crews if you see another crew doing a job that you have
some expertise in. The tools and supplies that you will need can be picked up
in the supply area of the Government cavern. At that point he handed out a list
of assignments for each group. “My name is Carter, I have been heading up
the one crew that has been working here for over two years. I have assigned
one of my people to each crew because they know how to find stuff, they are
not the crew foremen but each of them has a lot of good information that he can
share. Since each of the crews have been together for the last couple months I
imagine that you have a pretty good idea of who you would like to see as your
crew chief, so I would like for each crew to informally pick one of your own and
give me the name so I can make a note of who to call on if I need to contact
your crew. We will figure out a better system later on.”
In addition to working on your crew we have a work order board in the
Government cavern, it is posted in front of the supply room. You should check
the board every morning or evening when you are off duty. If there is a work
request posted that you believe that you have the necessary skills for you
should remove the thumb tack and remove the request. Notify your crew chief
before starting work for the day that you have the work request then handle that
first before catching up with your crew. In that way all requests for repairs or
improvements needed by the members of the community will be handled
promptly. If there are still any requests on the board when I come over to hold
muster I will bring them in with me and assign the job to a volunteer.
With that the crews all had a little meeting to pick their crew chief. Crew
six actually held an election and elected the guy who had been on Mars before
they arrived yesterday. Each of the crew chief's came up to Carter and gave
him the name of the person selected. Then they all went right to work,
assembling the tools and supplies they would need.
The people on Crew eleven assembled and all eyes turned to Tim. One
of the men said “You are the one with the engineering degree Tim, I can say
that you helped me a lot during training, explaining the technical stuff behind
what the instructor had told us. I nominate Tim Erkin to be our foreman, any
seconds,” everybody seconded the motion so they didn't need an election, Tim
was elected. Tim went over to where Carter was standing and told him “Crew
eleven selected Tim Erkin.” Carter just circled the name on the list and said
Some crews were working topside making cement blocks, some were
picking up blocks that were already cured and started building public rooms like
the dining room, kitchen and public bath rooms. Some went to work laying in a
water line, to the kitchen, while another crew installed the reverse osmosis
system, where the water from the river entered the cavern above the falls.
Some were running temporary wiring in from the diesel generator that was
situated in the Government cavern. The remaining crews had equally important
tasks. As the morning progressed some of the workers traded places with
workers on the other crews based on previous experience, knowledge, skills
and abilities. I have a lot of experience in installing electrical wiring and would
be of more benefit to the job if one of you guys has plumbing experience and
wants to change jobs. Sure enough some person would say yeah I have some
plumbing experience but I don't know squat about electricity, so they would
switch jobs. Some of the crews had surplus men because the job was being
done by just three or four people that seemed to know what they were doing so
the surplus workers would find a crew that needed more help and go to work
Carter watched the progress in awe. The field kitchen was planned to be
adjacent to the Government kitchen but the men themselves had elected to set
it up in The Company cavern and had it all set up in a couple hours. One of the
crews had located the new walk in refrigerator which was packaged on five
separate pallets, got hold of a forklift and started assembling it with the door
opening into the kitchen. After the lunch break they quickly had it all
assembled, wired in and running. Thelma entered and watched along with
Carter as the crews transformed the Company cavern before their eyes.
Tim saw Carter take Thelma back and show her the hot spot. It was
located at the back wall, near the right side of the Company cavern as you
entered from the Government cavern. The Company cavern was 1.2 miles from
front to back, it was a little over half a mile wide at its widest point but tapered to
only about a quarter mile wide where the tunnel entered. It was about three
eights of a mile wide at the back wall. Of course none of the walls ran in a
straight line. The hot spot was just over a mile from the tunnel entrance. The
floor space in The Company cavern was equal to about 930 football fields at
floor level.
Thelma and Carter examined the hot spot then left the cavern, returning
a few minutes with a couple of the Government scientific types. They pounded,
prodded, drilled out a few core samples from the wall and the floor. They left
the cavern, only to return a short while later with some other scientists. They
talked some more, made some notes. A short time later woman with a camera
came in and took several pictures of the blank wall and the floor. Then they all
left. About 1130 Carter returned and told Jack that he had done every one a big
favor. It is fewer than one hundred feet down at that spot on the floor to where
it is over one thousand degrees Fahrenheit. It would be the ideal spot to mount
the geothermal generator. That spot could even be blocked off from the rest of
the cavern. There is a good water supply in the creek here so it looks like we
have found the spot for our generator, one of them anyhow.
The workers broke for lunch 1200 but most of them were back working
even before 1300. “I have never seen people this industrious but I guess this is
what you get when you only take the cream of the crop.” Carter remarked to
Thelma. “I'll have to admit that I had my doubts yesterday when I discovered
that about half the construction workers were women but I am proud to say that
they seem to be doing just fine.” The crews knocked off for the day at 16:30 to
get cleaned up for dinner. A few of them still stuck around to finish what they
were working on.
That evening The Company cavern was a lot better lit and four hundred
new houses had one level of blocks laid. The crews had not made the walls
higher because they had run out of blocks. The block makers had more than
one thousand new blocks curing on the surface, near the elevator. A few of the
workers had already had a chance to try out their Mars suits on the surface.
Tim walked by the supply area and was amazed to see the amount of material
that had already been unloaded from Mars Supply Two. There was an acre or
more of Supplies now available. Eventually the supplies brought in by the ship
would cover more than five acres. All of the pallets and crates had been
carefully dismantled a and the lumber stacked just like any other supplies.
Once all the wood had been stacked the new people would each receive their
fair share for their personal use.
Tim went to the public bathroom and cleaned up. His crew had been
laying cement blocks and required little advise or supervision from him. He had
spent the day working as a gopher for the other crews because he knew better
than most, how to find things at supply. By the end of the day he had a pretty
good idea where to locate tools and materials that the various installers needed.
Carter spotted Tim in the chow line, and came up to him. “Tim I see that you
have had some well drilling experience. How would you like to be on our drilling
team starting tomorrow morning?” Walter and Thelma Potts were right behind
Tim in line and they invited Carter to step in front. Nobody minded much when
a friend joined someone in line because the line moved pretty fast anyway. “I
would love to do some drilling Carter, I have spent a lot more time drilling than
in construction and that is what my degree is in.” “Good then tomorrow morning
you can pick your team, but you have to take Freddy as your first choice
because he has had a little experience drilling on Mars. Freddy is not a leader,
he's a follower but a good worker and he knows a lot about Mars.” “How many
men would you think that I need?” “I don't know I haven't had any well drilling
experience, in fact you seem to be the only construction guy that I could find
with any.” “Lets start with about eight then. Ordinarily I would say that we need
timbers but since wood is scarce we can settle for a ladder and a superstructure
built from pipe, and a platform at the top made of lumber to hang the drill from.
By the way, do we have well drilling equipment?” “I don't know you might have
to improvise something.” Tim had stumbled across some equipment earlier that
day when he was looking for something else. That evening, after dinner he
enlisted Archy and a couple people that he knew and they constructed a ladder
the superstructure for the rig and a platform.

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