A snippet of April #6

April slouched deep down in the oversized Hardoy chair. She’d bought two in this larger size thinking they would be more comfortable for Gunny and other big men. It turned out she preferred them. The back went up high enough for her to lean her head back and the extra width spread the heavy ballistic cloth flatter than a smaller chair with light rip-stop fabric. It supported her legs clear out to the rolled over padded edge under her knees.
In the half G apparent gravity that her apartment was kept at the chair was as comfortable as a hammock and almost as hard for her to lever herself from its depths. It was low enough she could safely sit her coffee mug on the floor beside her and plenty of room on each side to tuck snacks or reading material. She had her comp-pad laying screen down on her stomach at the moment paused on the newsfeed she was reading while she gazed out her view port.
The commonest size of apartment on Home wasn’t any bigger than a cheap motel room in North America and every square meter had to do double or triple duty. Kitchen tables and beds that folded up against the wall when not needed were common. They used the sort of appliances and fixtures common to travel trailers and motor homes on Earth. She had a huge apartment by local standards. So much so it embarrassed her on occasion as a visitor would freeze for an instant with surprise on their face when they stepped inside the door.
Her bodyguard Gunny had immediately rated it a four-car apartment upon stepping in the first time, since he had an annoying habit of comparing every place he saw in Home to the size of a garage you’d expect on a North American home. He was of the opinion what he called the half-car model might drive people crazy from confinement, but he had a skewed view of things having lived most of his life on Earth. April knew that some of the Japanese found the local accommodations compared very favorably to what they had lived in back home.
She’d been spoiled rotten growing up because her family was relatively well-to-do. Her grandfather had helped in the construction of Mitsubishi 3 and put all his money in both spun residential cubic and zero G industrial space. Also her father was the resident manager for Mitsubishi with a generous housing allowance.
As a child she had her own bedroom that was the size of a walk-in closet on Earth. Even more of a luxury was her own square meter all-in-one unit bath that became a shower stall with the door sealed. By orbital standards that was a palace. So she might have found the very smallest apartment oppressive herself. They were barely more than hot slots, but she’d never admit that to Gunny.
Behind her there were two sofas facing each other across a table on a rug that defined a formal living area. In smaller apartments they would be wall hung fold-downs from the wall. They were IKEA super light hide-a-beds in case she needed to put up guests. She had enough wall space for both a fairly large 32K video monitor and some big pieces of art. There was also room by the cooking area for a real table that could seat six which she left set up. It looked sturdy enough but the legs could be folded inside the drop apron and set to the side if the floor area was needed.
The kitchen against the inside bulkhead had a simple two burner stove and a microwave. April had the luxury of a small refrigerator too. A few folks didn’t bother with even that much, taking all their meals at the cafeteria. It was decent food too. Mitsubishi saw to that. If you had a stove that meant you needed dishes, pans, utensils and things like spices and volume to store them. It soon escalated to the status of a cooking hobby rather than any necessity. You easily could keep a few cans of self heating stuff like soup or stew for when you felt sick or were just too tired to trek down to the cafeteria. The cafeteria also would pack take away and there were cheap courier services to deliver it.
Further from the entry behind the kitchen and dining area the end of her space was divided into two small bedrooms with a bath between them. Each had a private section but a shared shower stall between them with lockout doors so only one side would open at a time. That was all framed off in temporary wall panels that jammed in place between overhead and deck with locking vertical seams.
If she let her body guard, Gunny, go it would be easy to remodel by removing the panels. Neither had brought idea up the idea of him leaving in some months now. His one month gig had turned into open ended employment, although less than full time. His status now was more ‘on call’, especially since Home was further from Earth and trouble now. He could take short security jobs with other associates.
The reason she pulled her chair over by the port was to enjoy the view. Right now the moon was in a thin crescent on the edge to her right. From this side there was no light reflected off the Earth so it was utterly dark on the left portion. You were made aware of it more by the absence of brighter stars than any illumination of the surface at all.
The sun was directly visible to the right of the moon and she had the port darkened until it was bearable. They were at that point in their orbit around the L2 point where the Earth disappeared behind the moon. In a couple hours the thin slice of moon would have the sun just barely shining past the edge of it and the blue marble of the Earth would rise from behind the opposite dark horizon of the moon to the left. It would display a crescent to the same side as the moon but a bigger section. They were much too far away to see the lights of cities in the dark section by eyeball.
Neither were there any lights to be seen from here on the dark portion of the moon. All the settlements of humankind were on the other face of the moon that stayed pointed to the Earth. The few places with any people or surface structures on this side were barely visible with a very good telescope when they were in sunlight. The headlamps of a rover or floods outside a habitat entry were insignificant.
April could still call her friend Heather at Central on the other side of the moon or anywhere on Earth for that matter. There were plenty of satellites in lunar orbit to relay the call. There were now several such systems so you couldn’t be cut off easily. It was on the one hand still conveniently close here. Hardly any further than Low Earth Orbit in terms of propellant cost. Being at L2 only cost about ten percent more it in freight costs over lifting from Earth to LEO. Unless you were in a hurry. On the other hand it was just distant enough from Earth to enhance their safety. The Earthies had never seemed able to resist the occasional pot shot at Home when they had been in LEO and the added distance was sufficient to give them warning of hostile approach.
That was all background however which all slowly turned every few minutes as the habitat rotated. Their current orientation kept the sun in view although it looped back and forth. Dominating the close view that stayed fixed was the nearby strut tapering from the ring in which April’s home was to the hub above. The same ring extended horizontally across the bottom of her view with another spoke extending to the far side of it a third of the way around. The view was dramatic with massive elements one rarely saw in Earth architecture. The only dynamic aspect of the close view was the slow dance of shadows back and forth as Home rotated.
The glass curved from knee level to almost straight overhead, and most of the new ring being built was visible by looking up. The spoke to the new ring were positioned at the same angles off the hub. April had wondered briefly if there was some reason for that but forgot to ask anyone.
There were only a few panels missing from the skin of the new ring and some gaps where ports like her own were not fitted yet. A few places scaffolding hung off the outside of the ring and two bright yellow lines and hand rails temporarily marked the inside limit on which suited workers could walk without danger of sliding down the curved surface. The ring wasn’t a perfectly circular cross section. There were center sections top and bottom that were flat before it started to curve.
Only a couple months ago there had been a lot more machinery, materials, and scooters floating two hundred meters or more back which was the closest safety zone in which material and equipment could be parked that would be used that shift. Construction was winding down.
Some items could be brought in by scooter by matching speed with the ring and side-slipping onto the inside surface. That was fun to watch. Her pilot friend Easy could do that as slick as catching an egg on a plate. Some were too massive and had to be lowered from the hub on a tensioned cable and slowly nudged up to matching rotational speed without over torquing the hub.
There was talk of extending the hub and putting a third ring on, but she’d read that would be the last as after that the calculations said a forth ring would be unstable in too many situations. It would make moving the habitat as they had from LEO an impractically slow operation to avoid over stressing a long thin hub. Nobody wanted to give up their mobility since it had proved so vital to their safety.
If they wanted to build a similar habitat it wouldn’t be difficult to park it in a slightly different halo orbit around L2 such that they both danced around the same point in space but never crossed over the center at the same time. A necessity that had made Gunny smile and explain to her the Earth custom of a figure eight race or demolition derby. She thought he was pulling her leg until she did a net search.
The area behind April had head room to stand but the glass overhead curved down until it met metal shell about knee high. Her chair was pulled forward close enough to the glass she had to be careful standing up. That low area helped make the room feel bigger but was rather limited in how you could use it. She had some storage cabinets made to fit up to the edge of the glass with castors so they could be pulled out of the low overhead. Heather’s mom had a similar lay-out and raised tomatoes and a few herbs in the narrow space along the port. April intended to do that too… someday. Now she just had a few green plants that helped keep the air pure. Most people had one or two even if they didn’t have exterior ports and needed to illuminate them. They were just nice to look at beside making the apartment smell better – something natural for the eye that wasn’t man made.
There was a pattern of light in the corner of the port she hadn’t noticed before, a little dappled splash of light from internal reflections in the port maybe… April squinted at it. But it looked odd. It wasn’t something her mind recognized as a familiar pattern. She levered herself out of the chair to investigate leaning over closer… and jumped back.
“Gunny!” she called out horrified. Gunny appeared from his room looking rattled from her tone with a pistol in hand. He scanned the empty apartment looking hard for something like a Ninja army hidden behind the sofas.
“Not there, here.” She said, pointing at the corner of the port.
He came over and leaned close as she had, but didn’t jump back. Then eased back a couple steps so he didn’t hit his head when he stood straight. He tried to look neutral but didn’t manage it to hide his irritation at alarming him.
“You want him shot? Most folks just pick a spider up in a tissue and flush him down the toilet.”
“I’ve never seen a spider on Home before. Aren’t they venomous?”
“A few. The really bad ones are big hunters and jumpers like tarantulas. Not little web weavers. None of them are deadly unless you have a sensitivity, but I have to admit some of the little house spiders can give you a nasty bite if you roll on them in your sleep. I’ve had a couple nip me but it didn’t even wake me. Down below nobody makes a house air tight to keep everything out. I’m just happy leave the mosquitoes behind on Earth. They really bother me. The filthy little things carry disease.”
“Just do the tissue thing would you? It doesn’t belong here.”
“OK,” Gunny agreed, but stopped after a few steps and pursed his lips, looking back thoughtfully.
“What?” April demanded.
“Nothing, I’ll get rid of him for you. I just have to ask. What has he been living on?”
That question didn’t make April happy at all.

5 Responses to A snippet of April #6

  1. DitN October 5, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Nice! Thanks.

    Any ETA on April 6 yet?

  2. Gary Roulston October 5, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Mackey please note my new email address. I just read this snippet and another question comes to mind. How did that spider get past all the air seals to get in Aprils cubic? How long has there been spiders on M3? I think these questions will come up soon!

    • Mac October 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

      You think? It might take a few pages.

  3. Stew November 3, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    Can’t wait for #6. Hope your writing is going well.

    • Mac November 4, 2014 at 4:35 am #

      Going better now that I’ve addressed some ‘have a life’ issues. Thanks.

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