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Tuesday, June 12th, 2018, 5:12 pm
When Carmen finished her coding and the work on the builders, she met Samuel and Keith at the waste recycling system. When she arrived, she was happy to see, and smell, their success.
Keith greeted her, “Hey, we just finished.”
She asked, “Really?”
Samuel shook his head, “Actually, we’ve been done for about twenty minutes.”
“Hey,” Keith whined to Samuel.
“It’s OK, you guys deserve the break,” she said. “OK, here are the two builders. We just need to attach them to opposite ceiling corners inside the evaporation tank. If we point them both downward toward the opposing floor corners we should be all set.”
Samuel said, “OK, let me get some tools and parts. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Samuel left the couple alone so he could get the equipment. They both sat down on the stairs that led into the room.
“It smells better,” said Carmen.
“Yeah, it was pretty bad. I’ll be so glad when this thing is done.”
“Yeah, maybe we’ll get an actual hour or two of peace to spend with each other. I don’t really mind the work; it keeps me from worrying about the team.”
“They’ll be fine. My parents have told me about some of the dangerous situations they’ve survived. With the builders the whole thing will be easy as pie.”
She asked “3.14159?”
“You know, pi!”
“Oh, wow, you’re such an uber geek. I think Jared’s sense of humor is rubbing off on you.”
“Scary, isn’t it!”
“Very! I’m afraid for our children!”
“Our children,” she asked a little shocked at the thought. They had not talked much about having children.
Before he could reply, Samuel came tromping back in with his hands full of metal pieces and a tool belt on his waist. Keith and Carmen walked down the stairs with Samuel. Samuel laid the metal pieces out in front of them. There were two mounts that looked like they could clamp down on the builders to hold them in place. At the top, or bottom (depending on your viewpoint), the mounts had holes for nails or screws. Besides the mounts, there were several brass screws.
“I think this will work,” said Samuel.
“Great, let’s do it,” replied Carmen.
Samuel pulled two electric drills equipped with metal bits out of his belt. He gave one to Keith. Carmen picked up one of the mounts and a set of screws. Samuel grabbed the remaining parts.
Samuel said, “After you drill a hole you should be able to get the screws through.”
Keith and Carmen worked on one side while Samuel worked on the other. Inside the tank, the ceiling was almost six feet high. The tank was four feet wide and eight feet long. It was a little tricky to get into, but once inside it was almost comfortable to work. Carmen held the mount to determine where to place the holes. When she got the right spot, she removed it, and Keith quickly drilled the two holes. Despite the ceiling being made of metal, the drill cut through it as easily as a sharp knife cuts through warm butter. She put the mount back up, and he used the drill to make a small knick in the place where the next hole would go. When she removed the mount, he drilled the second hole. Carmen put the mount back in place, and they quickly screwed it to the ceiling.
Samuel, who naturally finished before them, tightened the screws with his drill, which was now equipped with a screwdriver bit. With the mounts in place, it was easy to attach the builders. After the mounts were clamped onto the builders, Carmen turned them on.
After they crawled out of the tank Samuel asked, “Should we give it a test drive?”
“Yes,” said Carmen.
Keith said, “Cool, how will we test it?”
Samuel said, “I can flood it with water. We have a water valve to flush the system,” he said, pointing to a knob on a pipe that led into the tank.
“Go for it,” Carmen said.
Samuel turned the knob, and water began to flow into the tank. The water came out quickly, but it seemed like it would take hours to fill the tank.
When the water level in the tank was about a foot high Carmen said, “Let’s try it now.”
“Don’t you need it full?” asked Samuel.
“Nah, this will do. Hold on.”
She found a computer on the wall and signed in. She then brought up the system she had built and set the purge parameter to 1 foot. The purge parameter defined at what level to remove the waste.
“There, now we just need it to get out of sleep mode. Give it a minute or two.”
They waited, and then the builders inside the tank came on, quickly replacing the water with a fog that disappeared. Keith clapped, and Samuel joined in. Carmen made a fake curtsy with a smile.
Carmen set the parameter higher and then logged off the computer. “All set,” she said.
“Great, thank you so much,” said Samuel enthusiastically.
She just smiled in reply.
After a slightly awkward pause, Samuel said, “Well, I guess I’ve wasted enough of your time. I’ll see you both tomorrow when the team returns.”
Carmen almost said ‘if they return,’ but bit her tongue. “OK, we’ll see you then.”
“Later,” said Keith, who was already halfway up the stairs.
Samuel stayed in the command center to put away the tools while Keith and Carmen headed back to Keith’s home. “I’m so tired,” he said.
“Well, I hope you’re not too tired to take another shower.”
“Ugh, I’m starting to hate showers.”
They were quiet as they walked back. Carmen thought he seemed nervous but passed it off as sleepiness.
When they walked in Keith said, “Carmen, can I . . . can I ask you something?”
“Of course,” she said.
“You know how I mentioned kids earlier?”
“Well . . .” he stopped himself and bent down on one knee. “Carmen, I’ve never known anybody like you. My life didn’t really begin until the day I met you. You make life worth living; you make this colony worth living in. If Jared had never invented builders or time machines and you asked me to leave behind everybody I knew to live in a colony like this, I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. Carmen, I’d follow you to the ends of the earth just to hear your voice once a day. I’d fly to Mars just to see your beautiful face. Carmen, I love you. When I enter a room that you’re not in, I’m disappointed because at that instant I’m truly alone even if the room is filled with all my friends and family. I can’t imagine growing old with anybody but you, and I’d never want anybody but you to have my children. Carmen, will you marry me?”
Carmen had not expected this, not now. She was sure he would propose sooner or later, but not now, when they were both dirty from working in the tank. She felt like crying. A warmth filled her chest and she got butterflies in her stomach.
“Yes, I’ll marry you. I love you, too, and I want you to be the father of my children. I want you to be the one I wake up to every morning. I want you to be the one I grow old with.”
Carmen pulled him up, and they hugged for a long time despite their mutual smell.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2007 Forest J. Handford