by Torn MacAlester
Nils entered the habitat to see Deputy Miller wearing his coveralls, looking like a prospector herself. He wondered if she intended to make fun of him. He moved in and watched her fix the coffee, noticing she continued to struggle with it. Taking a seat, he watched without comment. She filled the two cups and sat down at the table, setting one in front of him.
“Thanks,” he said.
“I figured there will be a ton of work today,” she said. “I need to help the best I can.”
“Hence the coveralls?” And calling me prospector.
“Yeah,” She smiled. “I figured the best way to help you would be to embrace your ideals.”
He realized she listened to the tales he told the tourists in the Conrad Station bar. “You mean–”
“Yeah, that prospector code of independence you speak about in your stories.”
“Miller,” Nils questioned, “you know those are just made up stories. Don’t you?”
“Yeah,” she laughed. “It’s ridiculous that Morgan is an old prospector that was here twenty years before you got here. That timeline would put his arrival to before Yellowstone. I’m guessing your story is about something you and Milton did years ago. But, I’m sure the ice story is mostly nonsense.”
“I agree. It is a little ridiculous.”
“What was the prospector’s code?”
“That was from another story,” he corrected.
“I’m here.” Miller started, “I’m doing, uh–”
“I’m doing what I need to do. There is nobody else. If I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. If it doesn’t get done, it stays undone and kills me. If I need it, I have to do it. If I will stay here, it has to be me who does it all. If I survive, it will be my work that does it.” Nils finished. “Is that what you’re thinking of?”