Outland: Chapter 2
Bright light shone in the window, eventually moving into my eyes, stirring me awake. Sitting up, I looked out the porthole into the glaring light.
“Gulliver? What time is it?” I asked, shielding my face.
The fish carcass sat on the plate beside me, giving off a faint odor of sourness and the faint smell of the sea. The untouched head stared at me, agape, eyes cloudy.
“Good morning Andrew. It is just past noon.”
Rubbing my eyes, I pushed now foul plate away. The map on the desk before me lay mostly finished, the pen thrown down haphazardly.
“Dang.” I sighed. “I guess I fell asleep working last night; that big meal got to me. I didn’t set up the solar panels, did I?”
“The solar panels are down, and the batteries are currently at 44%. I cut power to your desk lamp this morning to save energy.”
“Thank you, Gulliver.” I said, standing up to stretch his back and arms, my joints popping in quick succession. “Looks like today we’re staying here.”
Sliding along the cold metal floor, I moved to mount the ladder, heading up to the cockpit. The window shades were up, sun shining bright, with the water still in plain view. Moving to the control panel, I flipped some switches, and the motors running the actuators whirred to life, moving the solar panels upwards.
“I guess I’ll do some maintenance while we’re here. What are your recommendations, Gulliver?” I said, tweaking some of the controls above the windshields.
“Left leg’s efficiency is dropping slightly below that of right leg. I recommend you check the lines and tighten the connections in the foot to improve rigidity in the joints.”
“Sounds good, I’ll get on that.” I made a mental note, nodding my head before jumping on the ladder and sliding down, passing all the way through to the bottom compartment.
A puddle had formed on the floor from the wetsuit dripping on the rack. Tiptoeing around in it, I grabbed my work coveralls. They were worn, patched thoroughly by myself. I would probably have to buy more fabric when I found someone who had extra.
Eyeing the toolbelt, I double checked that it was still stocked with what I would need; heading up and down the ladder with it on multiple times was a pain.
“Gulliver, open the bottom hatch for me, would you?”
The mechanical port in the middle of the room roared to life, opening the set of doors. I pulled the toolbelt off the wall and buckled it around my waste, adding a few good pounds. Carefully climbing down the slick rungs of the ladder on the side of the tube I found myself on the lower platform, staring down at the ground. I grabbed the rope ladder from the pile it sat in, throwing it down limply. It tumbled down, untangling itself under its own weight, thrashing back and forth. Waiting for the swaying to stop, I carefully turned myself around and inched myself down the first few rungs.
Finally, on the ground, I readjusted the belt and looked up at Gulliver, standing proudly like a silhouette in front of the water. Moving to the left leg, I reached the sealed hatch and quickly undid the big set of wingnuts holding it on. Inside was the big tool chest, still held neatly in place by the snap straps. It contained the heavy breaker bar and wrenches needed for whatever repairs one might need.
Feeling the heat of the midday sun, I unstrapped the box and dragged it through the stubby weeds and grass to the small shadow created by the solar panels raised up above me. They were propped up at the perfect angle to catch the sun’s rays, coincidentally casting a lot of shade.
Catching my breath, I sat down to look out at the water. Far off in the distance, the sun light reflected off the surface; probably close to the reef where I had caught the fish the other day.
Several years ago, this whole area was still probably inland quite a bit. That was before the shelf shifted, the Pacific plate buckling on itself in a catastrophic fashion. It’s hard to tell how much damage was done then; the body count and extent of destruction it caused was unfathomable.
The seas rose all around the world that day. Waves reaching in for miles inland all around the pacific rim. Whole communities now underwater permanently. Those who survived moved inland, as far as they could. Most people, I guess. Continue reading “Tsunami”