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Tuesday, June 12th, 2018, 3:14 pm
After having washed, Keith and Carmen relaxed in the living room of Keith’s house. They were both wearing sweats. Neither of them had shoes on. Keith was barefoot, and Carmen wore a pair of thin white socks. They were too tired to watch something from the video library. They were mostly quiet, but it was a comfortable silence. They did not need to talk to entertain each other.
They both sat together on a couch, close enough so that Keith could put his arm around her, which he did. They were really tired, physically and emotionally, especially Carmen. Keith never seemed that bothered by the smell and the confined space, but it had stressed Carmen.
Carmen’s eyes felt heavy; her body wanted to sleep, but she was not ready. She refused to let sleep take her. Still, she kept starting to doze. Her eyes would close and she would think to herself, ‘I’ll open them in just a second.’ As she lost all sense of time, she would snap back up with her eyes open and alert. Keith didn’t seem to notice; he looked like he was about to fall asleep, too.
Just as her eyes closed, a knock came at the door. This time it was Keith who seemed startled, as he sat up and pulled her slightly towards him as if to protect her from an advancing foe.
“What was that?” he said.
“I think it was the door.”
“Are you going to get it?”
“I guess. I wasn’t expecting anybody,” he said with a little laugh.
“Maybe you have a fan club . . . or a stalker.”
“Cool, a stalker!” He got up as another knock sounded on the door. “So there is somebody at the door!”
He went to the door and opened it. After he opened it he said, “Oh, no, not you. I really can’t stand to take another shower today!”
Carmen got up, realizing that it must be Samuel and that he probably had bad news. She was right. When she got to the door, there he was. Samuel smiled at them and said, “It seems we have a bigger problem.”
“The rest of the pipes,” Carmen asked hesitantly.
“No, those are clear. It’s the recycling system. When we unclogged the pipes-”
“We overloaded the system,” she said, finishing his sentence.
Keith shook his head as if to say, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’
Carmen said, “Well, I guess we’d better change again.”
Samuel said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, guys. You both look exhausted.”
“We’re fine. Just give us a few minutes to get dressed, and we’ll meet you there.”
“Are you sure?” Samuel asked, looking at Keith.
Samuel said, “Thank you. You guys have really been great. I’ll see you there.”
Samuel waved, and Carmen smiled in reply. When Samuel was gone, Carmen shut the door and said, “You OK?”
Reluctantly Keith replied, “Yeah, let’s just get it over with.”
Carmen pulled him toward her and gave him a long kiss.
Keith smiled, “Well, that should get me through it.”
Carmen smiled back saying, “Here’s another just in case.”
They kissed again, longer. They did not want to stop, but they did anyway. They both composed themselves and Keith said, “OK, I’ll get changed and meet you there.”
“OK, see you there. I love you,” said Carmen.
Without hesitation, Keith said with a soft smile, “I love you, too.”
Carmen left and went to her house. She did not see Michelle, so she guessed she was with Spencer and Deirdre, probably all of them napping. Carmen went to the drier and got out the clothes she had just worn and washed. She thought to herself that maybe this would be a place they should start using builders. Washing and drying clothes was such a waste of time since builders could give you a perfect clean copy. Still, they needed to implement the builders slowly, especially since the colony was self-contained. It would be easy to screw up the air pressure of the entire colony.
She quickly changed and headed to the command center. Keith was already there. They walked down to the recycling system. It did not smell as much as she had expected. Samuel met them and gave them a brief tour. Samuel explained, “The system works by first drying out the waste in the evaporation tank. The evaporated liquid is collected, purified, then moved back into the water supply. The rest is transformed into fertilizer that I deliver to Tara.
Keith said, “I bet she gets really excited when you make a delivery!”
Samuel replied as if he missed Keith’s humor, “Well, she is glad because it helps the plants or whatever. So anyway, we have too much to be able to dry. The whole thing is overloaded and ready to burst. I’ve already found several leaks that made a huge mess of the whole system.”
Carmen asked, “Can we just remove the excess?”
“Well, no. It’s damaged; it’s going to take time to fix, if I can even fix it at all.”
“How much time do you need? Time enough so that we can just empty the evaporation tank?”
“Probably a week . . . at least, I’m really not sure it can be done at all. It was put together by the company we bought it from. We don’t have any spare parts and only a rudimentary trouble-shooting guide.”
Carmen wondered whose idea it had been to buy it in the first place. “OK, so that leaves us with replacing it with builders, which we planned in a way to do all along.”
“OK then, let’s get to it. Does the evaporation tank have sensors to determine if it’s full?”
“Yes, yes it does. They connect to the recycling system and into our LAN.”
“Excellent. I think we should use two stripped-down builders on the inside of the evaporation tank.”
“In the actual tank of the recycler, don’t you want to start with something new?”
“Would you replace a bath tub with a Jacuzzi?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, since you already have the tub, why not just install some jets; save yourself time and money.”
Samuel asked, “But will it last?”
“Better than something built from the ground up?”
“Probably. I don’t think we could build as perfect a containment unit as you have here. Even better, it has sensors connected to the LAN. If you want that from scratch you may as well try fixing this.”
“OK, so how do we build it?”
“Well, give me an hour or two, and I’ll get the builders ready. I’ll have to make some special code for this. Can you two clean up the mess and get it ready so they can be installed? I need your help for the hardware.”
Samuel said, “Yes, I think so.”
Keith said, “D’oh, I knew I should have been a programmer!”
“OK, I’ll see you later, then.”
“Yes, thank you,” said Samuel.
“Can you breathe some fresh air for me while you’re gone?”
She smiled and said, “I’ll try.”
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford