CHAPTER – First Breakthrough into Paradise
February 10, 2108: The drillers broke through into the first of the new
caverns. The Talk Show host on Radio MARS interrupted all the music stations
“Guess What Folks, We have a breakthrough. Stay tuned to your talk radio
station for all the details.”
There was much fanfare in the community. Special meals were served
and there was a general celebration. That one thing was still lacking but they
managed to make a gala day of it anyway. The day of the breakthrough Thelma
declared a holiday and gave everyone the rest of the day off, except for the
cooks and a few other key people. It really wasn't all that great to have the rest
of the day off, it was almost quitting time anyway.
When cavern was opened the workers were taken aback by it's
awesome beauty, unlike the existing caverns it was populated by stalagmites,
stalactites and majestic columns. It must have been broad daylight on the
surface of the planet because the effect of the sunlight trickling through the
fissures was gorgeous.
Stalactites are formed by the deposition of calcium carbonate and other
minerals, which is precipitated from mineralized water solutions. The
corresponding formation on the floor underneath a stalactite is known as a
stalagmite. Given enough time, these formations can meet, resulting in a
formation known as a column.
Loud noises and voices created echo's that vibrated off the walls. There
were several flowing rivers and streams and magnificent little lakes dotted the
floor. The cavern was only one mile wide where they were crossing but faded
off into the horizon at both sides as far as their most powerful portable lights
could penetrate. Subsequent measurements indicated that this new cavern
covered 14 square miles at floor level. Tim, standing there awe struck, in his
space suit knew that this was to be a national park and first class recreation
area. It was as close as you could get on Mars to a forest. Later that day when
they were back in the Government cavern Tim described it to Carter, Thelma
and Walter. Tim then took the three of them on a guided tour of the cavern.
They took along a lighting crew with the best portable lights available in the
colony. Thelma remarked, ”This place looks like paradise.“ ”So it was that
Paradise Park got it's name.”
In their exploration of the cavern, up against one wall they came across a
small cave. In front of the cave they found the remnants of a fire pit. On further
examination of the site they found a dozen or more petroglyph's depicting a
hunt. The hunters all had two arms and two legs. The animal they hunted
looked like a cross between a bison and an elephant.
“This is fantastic, do you realize that we are looking at the first evidence
ever found that proves that manlike beings inhabited this planet at some ancient
Walter immediately tried to call someone on his cell phone but there was
no service available. They scurried back to the Government cavern and Walter
placed his call. The scientist who answered, upon hearing what they had found,
called six or seven other scientists and a photographer. Walter told the lighting
crew to take a break but remain where they were.
An hour or so went by before seven people in Mars suits approached
from the Government housing area. The entire party returned to the place
where they had found the artifacts. The scientists were ecstatic. You could just
sense that this was the reason that they had signed on to work on Mars in the
first place was the hope of finding something like this. They had the
photographer take dozens of pictures from every angle then they took samples
of material from the fire pit for carbon age dating. At that point Tim, Carter,
Thelma and Walter took their leave. “This place seems to be in good hands so
we are going to have dinner, Thelma informed them. The scientists hardly
noticed their departure.
After dinner Tim went over to MARS-TV and told Rusty about the find
and the cave. Rusty had already heard about the find but hadn't had time to go
inspect the site for himself before he had to go on the air with the local news.
He invited Tim to stick around and be his guest on the show. Tim was a little
uneasy being on camera but he stayed and described what they had found to
the entire community. “For the first time the news from here is going to
dominate the news on Earth for quite a while.” he told Tim after the show. “I am
now going to grab a photographer and get some pictures myself and then get
this on the internet. We are going to be famous, Tim.” Rusty sounded so
excited that Tim had to smile.
For the two days following the discovery all of the networks on Earth did
carry Tim's description of the find. After that they started carrying the opinions
of Scientists and Mars management people. After about a week an important
political assassination occurred in Germany and the media moved on to
In the months that followed they would seal and pressurize the remaining
caverns en route to Utopia . They had already chosen the name of Cavern City
as the name of the Capital City to be built in Utopia.
February 16, 2108: The crew started tunneling the next tunnel and it was
to be a whopper, 940 feet with an offset to the right. The work was miserable
because they were still working in their Mars suits. No one liked working in
those Mars suits. The temperature in the unpressurized cavern was just above
freezing but the suits were heated and well insulated. It was just that they were
so clumsy to move around in.
A week went by and the tunnel was in about one hundred feet when one
of the workers summoned the crew chief. “Joe here is acting funny, you better
get him back to the clinic and have the doc check him over. Two men lead and
then carried Joe back through the airlock then got him out of his suit. By this
time he was unconscious. They carried him to the clinic and the doctors
dropped what they were doing and went to work on him. Dr. Rivera
immediately took over the case. “Thanks, Guys we will give him a complete
examination and try and work up a diagnosis but in the meantime I suggest that
you have your crew chief get everyone out of that cavern and out of their Mars
Suits until we know just what we are dealing with here.
February 17, 2108: Tim heard about Joe's mysterious ailment on talk
radio. The next morning after breakfast Tim stopped by the clinic to see how
Joe was getting along and Juan told Tim that he had passed away shortly after
being brought in. Juan also said that another member of the community had
come down with the same ailment. The good news was that this person was
working on the surface in a Mars suit. Joe's autopsy showed that he had died
from inhaling Carbon Dioxide. Dr Rivera scanned the new patient for signs of
Carbon Dioxide poisoning and bingo he was suffering from the same thing.
They then tested the Mars Suits these two men were wearing and they tested
OK. “We think you have been inhaling Carbon Dioxide and that is why you are
sick” Dr. Rivera told his patient. “No honest Dr. I didn't breathe in and I had my
helmet off for less than a minute.” “Why, in God's name did you take it off in the
first place Mr Salva?” Because it was closing in on me, I just couldn't resist
taking it off for just a few seconds and I didn't breathe in while it was off.”
Mystery solved, he had his helmet off for less than a minute while he held his
breath then when he put it back on he had to take a deep breath before the suit
had a chance to clean the Carbon Dioxide out of the helmet. Tim put out a
memo to all personnel wearing Mars suits in unpressurized atmosphere, that if
you became overcome with claustrophobia while wearing your suit, no matter
how Inconvenient it was return immediately to the nearest pressurized
atmosphere before removing your helmet. He explained that they had recently
had one death and one serious illness from workers doing this. Once Tims
memo and the grapevine word of mouth got out then they had no more
problems with this mysterious affliction. Talk radio discussed little else that day.
February 25, 2108: The eighth day of tunneling. They ran a pressure
test and Paradise passed with flying colors. Late on February 26 Paradise had
been pressurized and atmosphere was introduced. Tomorrow the men could
work without suits. If there was a breach they would have plenty of time to
dawn their Mars suits before the atmosphere all escaped.
February 26, 2108: The crews assigned to enlarge tunnels went to work
on the first tunnel, the one that ran from the government cavern to Paradise.
Tunnel enlarging proved to be a more time consuming task than digging the
tunnel in the first place. Much of the work had to be done by hand and
wherever they found the walls or ceiling of the tunnel was of loose material it
had to be concrete reinforced. What worked best was having three crews at a
time working on enlarging and stabilizing the tunnels.
When the crews finished enlarging the tunnel it looked very professional.
It had a paved highway for a floor that allowed for two lanes of vehicular traffic.
Everything that needed reenforcement had been reinforced with concrete and
rebar. The surfaces were all smooth and the tunnel was lit with a bank of lights
that ran down the top. There was a pedestrian walking path on one side with
additional lights spaced four feet apart. The largest power equipment on Mars
could easily navigate the tunnel once it had been finished.
March 1, 2108: Tim, Carla, Juan and Lupe were becoming fond of Mars
sports and looked forward to a game of shuffle board every evening. The four
courts in the government cavern were adequate for the three hundred people
that were on the planet before Tims group had arrived but it seemed as though
recently they were always busy in the evenings. Tim and Juan finally gave up
waiting for a court after an hour. Tim checked around and found that the
croquet courts the situation was the same.
March 2, 2108: Tim discussed the matter with Carter before morning
muster. “Carter we need more croquet and shuffle board courts, the ones we
have are always busy, I was thinking that there is plenty of room in Paradise for
such facilities as well as an additional gymnasium. If you have any surplus
crews could some of them be assigned to constructing a new recreation
facility?” “Never volunteer Tim, you just found yourself a job. Once you have
the new facility functioning you can dismantle the old facilities in the
government cavern. I think we have some extra equipment for those sports in
the supply yard but you will probably have to order additional equipment from
After muster Carter and another man accompanied Tim to Paradise
cavern. “Carter, look at this hot pool and this warm river, if this water is safe
perhaps the people could use it for relaxing baths and if that stream is safe
maybe it would support fish. We could always breed the fish in enclosed ponds
then move them to this stream once they were too large to fit through the exit
mesh. That would give us two uses, we could go fishing when we were off duty
and we could harvest the fish for the mess hall. We could also raise fish in the
river and lake in The Company cavern now that it is heated.” “The fish for The
Company cavern are already halfway here from Earth.
Carter walked up. “Frank here and I were just coming to inspect the pool.
Frank has his water testing kit with him, any more great suggestions?”
“Yes this where I would like to put the new recreation center and gym,
that way we could incorporate the hot pool with the other recreational facilities.”
“Suits me Tim, we could end up with a first class facility here.”
At muster Carter asked for volunteers to move and enlarge the sports
center to Paradise. Fifteen people that were not working on anything else at
the moment volunteered. Carter then announced that until further notice
anyone who had run out of work should report to Tim in the Paradise cavern to
see if he needed any additional help.
Tim decided to put the new recreation area on the other side of the
parking lot by the spa. The new gym would be integrated into the recreation
area. Paradise was rapidly becoming a recreational facility.
At least once and sometimes as many as three times a day Tim would
get a phone call from Carter asking him to check on the progress of the
tunneling crew and find out if they needed anything or Carter might ask him to
check on the tables in the dining room, there had been some complaints of
benches that did not feel solid when you sat on them, or Tim would be asked to
check up on the cement block production on the surface. One thing after
another Carter was asking Tim to handle for him and Carter was seldom seen
out in the field. He could always be found in his office, knee deep in paper
On several occasions Carter had asked Tim to handle the morning
muster. He had a clever way of asking, he would start the phone conversation
after Tim answered by saying, “Here is what I need to have you do when you
call muster in the morning, Tim,” then Carter would start listing everything that
he wanted Tim to do.” Tim was becoming Carters assistant by default. Carter
just kept putting Tim in charge of projects.
The recreation center turned out to be a bigger job than Tim had
anticipated. At times Tim had as many as thirty five people working on the
project. Tim was constantly being called away to handle some pressing matter
for Carter. Tim divided the people working on the project in Paradise into two
groups then had the crews pick a crew chief for each crew. Tim delegated
responsibility to the crew chiefs to handle things when Carter had him out doing
May 15, 2008: “This is looking really great Tim, what do you want me to
work on today?” “I am sure that we will think of more things as we go along
Rob but for now we have about completed everything that I had on the plan that
Carter approved. Besides the spa and the warm river we now have a nine hole
chip and put golf course, ten shuffle board courts ten croquet courts and ten
horseshoe pits. There are even public bathrooms and a new gym. We need
more equipment but it's all on order.”
No longer did people say, “let's go over to the Paradise cavern,” now
they just said, “Let's go to the park.”
May 16, 2008: Abner was inspecting the Paradise cavern. All of the
improvements had been made in the large center and to the left of where the
tunnel entered. That was the beautiful part of the cavern. He noticed that
beyond the tunnel entrance and off to the right the ceiling dropped off sharply.
There was, at the far end, off to the right an area of approximately two square
miles where the ceiling ranged in height from forty to fifty feet off the cavern
floor. The floor was almost level. There were no stalagmites or stalactites at
this end of the cavern. There was a stream of cool clear water dividing the area
down the center. Abner got the picture instantly. Here was the future home of
the orchard. At the far end of the area, the approximately one square mile that
lay behind the stream the air temperature was noticeably warmer. Here, he
thought would be the place where he would raise tropical plants.
Abner got on the phone and asked Tim “Where are right now, good
buddy?” Tim said “I am over doing some finishing touches to the recreation
area.” “When you finish there would you mind skipping down to the small end
of the cavern, there is something I want to show you.”
“This is what I have in mind for this area, Tim.” Abner then went on to
explain his vision of the orchard and the tropical plant farm. “Here is what I
propose, Tim, lets build another farm right here in this two square mile area,
another farm house, barn and everything. The Yang's could move over here
and tend these plants. The job has gotten too big for the six of us at the old
farm already. I have been thinking of asking you to assign more permanent
people as farmers but I didn't know where to house them. It is important that
the people working full time on the farm live on the farm. What I would like to
see is four people to take the Yang's place at the old farm, that would give us a
crew of six full time permanent farmers. Then we will need four more people to
live here on this side with the Yang's and tend the orchards and the tropical
“Do you already have people in mind to fill these jobs, Abner?” “As a
matter of fact I do, I have kept a close eye on the people that you have detailed
to the farm since it opened and I could give you the list of names any time you
want them.” “You can give me the list today, right now if you like. Figure out
how many people you can keep busy for the next month, let me know the
number and the skills you need and I will assign them to you in the morning at
muster. You can keep them as long as you have work for them. Surplus labor
is my biggest problem right now. It goes without saying that I will need Walter,
Thelma, Carter and George to consent to the project and have a scientific crew
approve it for environmental impact but I know already that I will get approval
and the scientists are also looking for projects. I can get some of them on it
Tim was delighted to have this project. It gave him something for the
people to do. He put a call in right then for Carter, Walter, Thelma and George
to see if they were available. They were all available and said they would meet
Tim and Abner there in less than an hour.
While they were waiting Tim and Abner explored the area further and
made several more suggestions to each other.
Once they had all arrived, Tim and Abner showed them the area for the
proposed project and described the ideas that they had been kicking around.
Everyone seemed thrilled with the idea. George said “When the other scientists
and I were looking at the cave find we made a quick pass through here and one
of the other scientists had remarked, 'this is where we should have put the farm'
I am sure you will have no objection from the environmental establishment.“
Within two hours it was a done deal. There were quite a few items that
had to be ordered from the Company but they would arrive in December when
Mars Runner made it's first call on Mars.
May 17, 2008: At muster Tim called out the names of the eight people
that Abner had given him. They were four married couples. Tim knew they
were all anxious to work on the farm full time but he asked them anyway, just for
the record. Tim suggested that they work out the living arrangements with the
other farmers. Of course they could not move in until the new farm house was
Tim then asked for the 100 volunteers that Abner had said he could use
and assigned them to the task of building the new far for as long as they were
Abner told the group at muster that within less than four years Mars
would be producing most of the food consumed on Mars including bananas,
pine apple, coffee and coconuts. There was one more big food group to go,
grain. They would find the ideal spot but it would have to be in some yet