Wednesday, 7 December 2011

90) Free on Moon

    “Luna 5, this is Beta Seven Construction, please respond, over.” I was late, but I didn’t think I was that late. I had finished emergency repairs to a large mirror array at the North end of Mare Frigoris and was looking forward to getting out of my suit, a warm shower, and some solid food.
    All that came back was static. That was fine, it’s a fairly hairy frontier country on the edge of space. Communication networks get overloaded, antenna get hit with micro meteorites, all sorts of things can go wrong which is why I didn’t worry until several hours later when Luna 5’s broken dome appeared over the horizon.
    My mind raced trying to figure out what had happened. It didn’t look like a meteor strike and we have several layers of defense and this kind of destruction shouldn’t be possible. Then I noticed a glimmer off to the East about a hundred yards away. I drove over to it and tried my radio, “Luna 4 this is Luna 5 come in, over.” I tried the other three bases, but got the same response. I stopped my cart, got out, and stood next to a black and twisted piece of the dome.
    “…” All that came back was hissing white static.
    Finally some sense kicked in and I swapped over my visor to infrared. The edges of the broken dome were hotter than the rest. I looked back at Luna 5 and I could see a huge plume of the lost air fading up into space like wind swept hair. My last meal rose in my throat with the cloyingly sweet taste of synthetic beef.
    I switched over to the emergency frequency. “S.O.S This is Frank Wu Seven at Luna 5, repeat this is Frank Wu Seven and Luna 5, come in, over.”
    “…” No response. Either all four of the other bases were down or our com system had been wasted. I didn’t like either possibility so I double checked my own systems. They were working fine.
    I was hungry, thirsty, tired and without supplies. My home was gone, tens of thousands of my friends and coworkers were gone. I was afraid to go in to see all the carnage, but I needed to go in to stay alive. I pumped some de-tension and go-within into my blood stream at heroic doses.
    The place was a horror show, but on the neuroleptics it felt cardboard thin. I don’t think I could have saved myself any other way. Everywhere there were blackened bodies curled up in pain, random limbs,  and the dried out and mummified. It seemed like a horror show you’d see at a festival or fair. I almost expected someone to pop out from a corner and come at me with a chainsaw spraying fake blood. Eventually I found some rations, bottles of water, and tanks of air. The com room was blasted away so I had to still rely on my suit’s radio which was still silent.
    I found a dark supply closet and fell asleep in that. I was shielded from radiation better than my suit alone, but when I woke up I had forgotten to drug myself. I thought everything was okay until I got up and opened the door and the previous day’s images came back at full force. And it wasn’t a crepe paper show to scare children, it was my loved ones. I had recognized three of my fellow Frank Wu clones, The Bio Chamber’s cat, and one of Lily’s clones, the pale blue number on her neck obliterated by burnt black char.
    I fell over with a soft clunk and cried and wailed for at least an hour. Tears and mucus in a suit is a serious no no, but I couldn’t help myself.
    Eventually I picked myself up and drugged myself, this time with some caffeine too so I could get a move on. I scavenged some more supplies and left the habitat.
    I drove down to Luna 4 and it was the same story, blasted out dome with a fading plume of air diffusing into space. Luna 3 was the same as well, but their com room was somehow intact. Behind my numb haze I was probably jumping for joy, but in the moment it was only another series of mechanical functions to perform.
    “S.O.S. This is Frank Wu Seven at Luna 3, please respond, over.”
    I repeated myself several times. When I was about to give up the radio hissed into action, “Luna 3, this is Terra 1, we hear you. What is your status? Over.”
    Instead of relief I felt nothing besides the changing gears in my head. “Terra 1, everyone is gone, the domes are destroyed. I think I’m the only one left, over.”
    “Luna 3, we are at war with hiss… crzzt… “
    “Terra 1, please repeat, over.”
    I stared at the equipment which had just been full of life and let me touch home for an all too brief second. I felt a rumble through the ground. I ran to the bulkhead wall. It’s a good thing I did as a red hot cloud of debris ripped through the corridor off to my left. The ground shook again and knocked me to the floor. A third explosion picked me up, threw me into a wall, and knocked me unconscious.
    The next thing I knew was the taste of blood in my mouth and a spinning headache. I tried to get up, but my leg was pinned beneath a large piece of debris. I pumped in pain killers until the limb turned icy then numb. I pulled and pulled but I couldn’t get free. I labored for hours denying that fact. Eventually I did the right thing, the only thing I could do to survive, and amputated.
    I took a while deliberating, it’s not something you want to get wrong. I eventually decided that right above my knee would be the optimal spot. I programmed the procedure into my suit and let it do its grisly business.
    A local anesthetic went in at the site then the suit pinched around the area and sealed it off. Then, like a shot, a super heated circular steel guillotine snapped into my flesh, cauterizing it, sealing it from airless space, and freeing me from several tons of steel and concrete.
    After spending a few minutes recovering from the shock of watching a bit of me be cut off I pulled myself out. The stump tingled, but that was it. I crawled to an open space and saw what had happened. My mind boggled. I wasn’t an investigator, I was just a third level technician. I couldn’t imagine who would want to destroy the moon bases. They were an international effort. We even had chapels of every religious stripe.
    I found a twisted bit of metal to use as a crutch, hobbled back to my cart, and headed out for Luna 2, guarded but hopeful.

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