A vignette by Torn MacAlester. Someone looking for Nils stops by the Conrad Station Bar for a drink.
Here is a new short fiction vignette by yours truly. This scene involves two of the important characters appearing in Thunder Moon Tussle. This short fiction could be regarded as a prequel, but there are no spoilers. Enjoy!
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?”
“Stand by for inspection,” he heard Miller’s voice on the Station Communications line, giving him a thrill and a dreadful feeling at the same moment.
“Yup,” Nils mustered his best cheerful voice. “I’ve got the manifest already on my pad.”
Nils waited in silence, hoping she made this easy but fearing the truth. She never made it easy. The last time, she made him sit for about twenty minutes. He imagined her feigning to work up some report while she killed some time to ensure he got agitated. He went through a gambit of emotions while he waited.
Nils opened the crawler door to the airlock, waiting for Deputy Miller to enter and begin the inspection. He handed her the pad with the manifest documents, hoping she would find everything in order.
“Okay, Nils.” She said, setting down the manifest on the control panel. “What sort of restricted junk do you have hidden this week?”
“Nothing,” he answered, knowing Miller would not believe him. She looked as stunning as ever, he observed. Every curve worked to her benefit. Nils could not think of a woman that exuded both physical toughness and stunning sensuality as Deputy Miller. She wore her deputy uniform with her reddish brunette hair tied back. Her sunglasses tilted back on her head. His palms sweated as her eyes flashed seductively while scanning the interior of the crawler.
If you haven’t read the story Golf and Outgassing, you might want to look at it before checking out the article Science of Golf and Outgassing. I’ve provided a brief description of the science that inspired the story. This story also draws from my personal memories of watching the Apollo 14 Moon walk. EVA number two took place in the early morning hours. I stayed up all night for the very first time in my life. I waited, hoping to get a glimpse into Cone crater, only to be disappointed like everyone else at the time.