Author : John Arcadian
The lag has made us patient. Not humanity, just Marie and I, and maybe a few others. You see, I’m on the lunar launch station on the farthest part of the moon that is viably habitable. It’s a spider-webbed grid of interconnected, but autonomous, pods that contain living space, communal areas, bureaucratic offices, and all those other little fiddly bits that make launching deep space rockets feasible. I took a 1 year contract up here for the paycheck. While I walk through the tunnels to visit other workers and friends, my real contact comes when I talk to Marie by satellite relay. It’s cheap, reliable, and almost everyone up here uses the relays to video chat with their left-behinds on that big blue-green marble that we all want to get back to.
We’re just far enough for there to be a bit of continuous lag, maybe 20 or 30 seconds, even if you are just sending bytes of text. So we’re used to periods of silence and stillness while waiting for a response. You get very zen about it because there’s no other option.
When the explosion knocked me off my chair, the emergency lights flooded my pod with their yellow glare and the alarm klaxons started blaring. Marie was still telling me about the movers transferring her desk out of her office. I was busy locking down the airlocks and ensuring my seals were tight, so I didn’t get a good look at her reaction as my pod started to float away, but I could tell she was freaked out.
My living pod, including the relay dish, is powered by high-efficiency solar panels. The algae tanks are intact and will pump out enough oxygen and protein mass for me to “live” indefinitely. Command sent a message explaining about the exploding rocket and the pod eject procedures that saved most of us. Rescue ships are on their way. Most of the other pods are in stable, so the risk of death before rescue is minimal. It’s a very smartly designed system. Just have to sit back and wait for rescue. At least I’ve still got contact with Marie.
The first days were the worst. You could watch the lag getting worse the farther out you drifted. I’ve got a notepad with the calculated lag times for the first 4 days. After a few hours of drifting it took roughly 4 or 5 minutes between replies. By the second day it was at 13 minutes. The third day had it out to 49 minutes. We’re on week 3 now. It takes about 65 hours or so for a reply. Most of the pods are floating in a steady pattern, emergency beacons and maneuvering jets keeping us bunched together.
The rescue ships are still a week or so out. The trajectories from the earth launch pads take a lot longer to line up. I think we’re all talking to loved ones back home. I can see patient faces illuminated by the screens of monitors when I have my external camera zoomed out and pointed at one of those thick pressure restraining windows. Yeah, we’ll get rescued eventually. We’re not worried. The lag has made us patient. Marie has moved back in front of her screen and is telling me about her day, or a day she had a week or so ago. Apparently, the movers broke her desk when they switched her office again, but she’s not angry. The lag has made us patient.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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