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You Cannot Run From Yourself
Brian W. Porter
Book Copyright (c) 2009 by Brian W. Porter All rights reserved. ISBN: 978-0-557-16478-3
Darryl Whitherspoon This city is huge! Imagine the area of Manhattan in the City of New York, with all the buildin's, businesses, and people that area contains. Now add a bit to the length and width, and then rotate it on its long axis so it's as deep as it is wide. Inside this fifteen mile long and six mile diameter area is a volume of over four hundred twenty-five cubic miles filled with walls and floors to make large and small areas, and even with a quarter mile wall between us and the outside we have more than enough room. I needed the escort that first mornin'. The main warehouse, one of a series of holds each a quarter mile square and about forty feet high, three quarters or more filled with empty shelves and pallet racks, opened onto
the shuttle bay, a good sized cavern by itself. The bay connected to the outside through a tunnel protected by a series of large composite, double doors along the access tunnel. While the shuttle bay was open to space, the doors were closed and the air inside was stored in a nearby cavern. After the shuttles had traveled through the quarter mile long tunnel, the doors closed, the shuttle bay was pressurized, and the warehouse doors opened. We could then quickly unload the cargo and pass it into the main warehouse, freein' the shuttle to leave as we stored the freight or moved it elsewhere if necessary. I inspected everythin', thinkin' I needed some form of transportation just for the inside the main warehouse. I had so much room; spare electronics filled only half of one area and I didn't know where to start. I watched as the crew that had worked the holds for the past three months unloaded and checked more supplies. One corner held forklifts and electric trucks used to move stock around and deliver goods to various parts of the ship. One electric tractor had five small trailers attached to it. I could still play at truckin', makin' deliveries of small items and personal goods. Salina, who had come up only hours after I did, joined me as I inspected the clamps and doors of the storage units after lunch, askin' so many questions I was surprised I knew the answers. After the mornin's tour, durin' which I pointed out several problems, and the afternoon wander with that gorgeous creature walkin' next to me, I retreated to my office and began by assignin' each department an area, or sometimes a whole hold. School storage was first, and close to the office. I definitely wanted to get to know Salina much better. Over the next couple of weeks, we began to receive monster pieces of equipment, parts of huge machines used to make anythin' we needed. I wouldn't need as much storage area as I thought for specialty items, so I enlarged the open areas at each warehouse entrance. Lifters that worked against the artificial gravity made movin' large objects much easier than I had imagined, and as long as you kept your speed down a finger would move most items, however large they were. You just had to remember that all that mass you had when the item sat on the floor was still there to turn and stop--or to crush things like fingers and toes and
bodies. I kept up with what arrived, the job provin' easier than I imagined. After dinner, I'd ride the electric tractor back to my quarters trailin' a train of personal goods that I delivered to the cabins, or apartments as most people called them. I felt as if I was in truckin' again, visitin' the different receivers, but without the constant pressure, a good end to the day. After a few weeks, the dinin' area and corridors filled with people and the constant hum of conversation, mostly about technical problems if you focused hard enough to distinguish between the individual voices. I managed to sit with Salina several times durin' meals, but I enjoyed the time in the warehouse most. One morning Salina ran into my office late, unusual for her, yellin', "Finally! Data streams!" She'd been stackin' paper and computer optical storage for the past three weeks, organizin' and reorganizin' the area as much as possible, but mostly just keepin' busy. She called to me, "Now we're starting to get information so we can teach. I have to go to the school area and start burning the data onto the permanent storage. It's about time." I asked, "Families are due next week, right, at least for those here already?" "That's when they start, and we should have almost everyone by the time next year starts. Serge and the rest of the teachers will be here in three weeks after the school year ends, and that'll take a load off me. You'll like Serge." "I hope. You'd better get busy or you'll never catch up." +++ Andrew Lientary For more than a month I studied how to operate a space suit, how to use tools designed for weightless conditions, weightless environment safety, and the ins and outs of all the specialized machinery used in our new city. The six weeks of intensive training I had to endure was pure hell, but when compared to the trip up, those six weeks were a vacation.
Two buses took us to the launch pad at Orseno Point where we slipped into acceleration suits. The powers-that-be, in their infinite wisdom, had assigned us to one of the new shuttles on its first run, the shakedown cruise. Of course they kept finding things wrong, I mean that's what a shakedown is for, and why you don't have passengers. Three trips back to the prep room, then back on board after the engineers had fixed the problem, proved it. When they found a problem, we'd elevator from the cabin to the ground and board buses for the trip back to the ready room. There we'd undress, wait a time playing cards or watching some idiot show, dress again when they declared it safe, and go back to the shuttle to take our seats again. We did that three times before we finally flew! The shaking at launch was atrocious, and I swore that if no one else did I was going to find a better way of moving the thing around before we used it to explore planets. When we finally arrived at the city, three of the clamps didn't line up properly. Since I was the only maintenance supervisor on that run, I went forward and made a drawing of the problem before anyone moved or the hatch opened. A cute tech, young and fresh and very male, and unfortunately leaving in a week, led us along a long corridor from personnel dock 'L', the closest point to the residential area, to our rooms, or apartments as he called them. The family section, which we passed first, was a large neighborhood of corridors colored a faded sort of red, sort of a large apartment building, with three parks for recreation included in the building, and several common dining rooms that should feel like restaurants. Two childless families had come up, plus one partial family who was joining those already here. They were the first full families to arrive, and proud of it. I couldn't see why that would make them any more special than anyone else, but it must be the same reason why being the first to push the aborigines out makes some Americans feel special. Seven single men, all older and self contained, found their way to family quarters, the rest of their family to follow when groundside school finished. Several of us walked on to the single's area, designated by yellow corridors. This also had a park inside the apartment building, but not as
open as the family parks. There were more hidden areas where people could meet and feel private. One of the other guys in the single's area hadn't made the trip well. Possibly he hadn't taken the pills handed out by the medics, or maybe he had and they hadn't worked. He was good looking, and I hoped we'd meet more privately than on the shuttle in a few days, and that he'd be interested. Maybe tonight at dinner I'd get lucky, find a guy and get rid of my hornies. Then when Salina came up I'd be able to tell her I'd found a friend. Then I remembered, she was already here. I'd have to find her. I dumped my travel bags on the floor and looked around the room. The galley was on one of the long walls, a compact area that included a small fridge, a radar and infrared oven, a sink, and several cabinets that I found well stocked with cups and glasses and plates and bowls and utensils. On the other long wall the large flat screen built into the wall showed a picture of what was outside, plus several smaller screens were hanging like pictures. One narrow area had my bed screened off from the rest of the room. The other wall had a desk against it, larger than anything I would need. On the desk were several printouts and the computer, already loaded with city maps and other friendly programs. I had studied as much of the ship as possible while I was on the ground, but I had to learn how to reach maintenance by the fastest route. Who knew when an emergency would arrive? After all, I was in the running for Shift Super. "Andrew Lientary? Communications," a voice announced. There wasn't supposed to be anyone here. I had used my palm print to unlock the door, so the room should be empty, right? But I hadn't. Anyone could have come in through the unlocked door, but I could see everywhere except the bathroom, and I knew that was empty. So where did the voice come from? The summons repeated and I answered, "Who's here? Where are you?" "It's the communicator. I'm Seth McGonical, Construction Manager. Glad you're finally here. I would like to see you as soon as possible." It was the phone system, what passed for the phone system. Somebody had watched Science Fiction and decided some of the ideas, including this one, were good.
"Communications? I'll get used to it. Might as well get started. How can I find you?" "Just say the name of the person you want to contact and the system will find them, usually. For this, I'll have an escort at your door in five minutes. We don't want you lost on your first day." I chuckled at the thought. It had happened several times in school. "Nice of you. I'll be ready." +++ Manuel Rodrigus When we started advertising for unskilled labor two years into the project, lumpers seemed to come out of the woodwork like roaches, or maybe rats. It seemed the never-ending list of applicants continued to grow faster than I could weed out the scumbags. I had to search not only for violent behavior and dishonesty, but for those filing false reports to hide their faults. Hardest of all were the pathological liars, who had lied for so long the records looked like truth. Many times on the road the data line was dial-up, which meant molasses moved faster than the ferrets from my computer. It was worse than police work since there were too many prospectives scattered around for me to meet anyone other than supervisors face to face. At least when I was a detective, and when I was vetting the supervisors, I could look people in the eye. I could tell who I was dealing with, and I didn't bother the good folk. Here and now, if the pathos weren't too smart, I could ferret out the conflicting areas of their stories. Some of them were good, though, and I really had to dig to find the inconsistencies. No way did I want con-men, and thieves, and sadists, and rapists, and addicts, and stalkers going for a free ride on my city. Slowly, after more than three years of hard work, a list of young, strong men and women, with and without families, began to form, and during the last few months of personnel exchange they were all shipped to the city. When I finally finished my personnel officer duties five months after the first people went aboard, I celebrated for a night. I hired an
exclusive and very expensive prostitute, commercial company as Darryl called it, and got totally drunk. My hangover didn't help on the trip up to the city. I was miserable, space sick during the weightlessness and ready to die, along with one hundred fifty others on one of the new space planes. I felt as sick as Darryl had said he felt, and I've developed a strong stomach over the years looking at the product of the scum of the earth. A feeling of relief from leaving the rat race helped me recover quickly, though, once I hit gravity again. I felt pretty good when I stepped aboard my new home. A cute young lady I estimated to be fifteen years old, about five six, thin, with purple hair cut in a shag, and wearing painted-on jeans and a too small halter, met us at the door, obviously make work for a bored kid. "Hi! I'm Amanda," she told us with the typical teenager's overabundance of enthusiasm. "You all will just love this place. It's just the dream! If you'll follow me, I'll get you to your proper apartments. Come on." We followed Amanda through long tan corridors wide enough for fifteen people to walk abreast, with towering ceilings and surfaces that reflected the shapes moving past. We passed huge doors spaced far apart interspersed with people sized doors almost like the industrial section of some cities. Eventually we reached a place of gold where the doors were closer together and all were people sized, much like a motel or apartment building. When we reached yellow walls, Amanda stopped. “The areas are all color coded so they’re easy to find. Every corner has a map and communicator in case you get lost. This is the Single’s digs.“ She deposited a few single persons along the three yellow corridors, counting off different doors as she read from a list. We moved on past another gold area of two long corridors, which she explained held public areas like eateries and parks, to an area of muted, almost transparent red. When they were told, families moved down the corridors visibly counting their way to their new apartments. Finally, I was the only person left from the group. Amanda asked, "Who are you?”
"Manuel Rodrigus.” “I already told all the single people where they lived." She was obviously puzzled. No one else should be on her list and she should be free, possibly forever. I took her statement at face value, and, as she ran her finger along the list of names, I answered, "No, there are still about one hundred single people yet to arrive, and still a lot of families, but soon everyone will be onboard." She muttered my name as she looked at her list. "Oh, you're the Cop." She made cop sound disgusting, an attitude that many young people shared no matter where they came from, an attitude that would change over the next few years, I hoped. She groused, "Come on. You're over in the blue section." She led me along a side corridor until the color of the walls changed to a light, almost a powder blue. "This is where the bigwigs live. Here's you. Dinner is served in three hours at the cafeteria one corridor over in the gold section. I'm sure you'll meet people then. Instructions and a map are in your apartment." She showed me where to place my hand to open the door, just a faint outline on the wall to the right of the opening. A wide area with a small electric car something like a golf cart was less than a meter away, parked there for easy access. I placed my hand on the almost invisible form and watched as the door slid into the wall. Now the apartment was keyed to my hand print from what I remembered and, I learned later, the electric car, also. I could add other persons, but for now I could work and sleep in peace. I watched Amanda run off along the corridor toward the yellow area happy to get away from authority. Hopefully, in time, we would change from "cops" to "our cops" in the public's view, but that was something that wouldn't change overnight. Inside I found a beige room with no windows, some artwork mounted on the walls, a small table and chairs to my left, and possibly a radar oven, sink, and refrigerator built into one wall. Several brochures, printed on glossy paper and neatly folded, lay on the table. Ahead of me was a living area with a couple of chairs and a love seat, and a
something like a monitor that mounted flat onto the wall. Closer inspection revealed the screen was mounted into the wall, a detail I didn't expect. None of the spaceships I remembered from stories and movies had that much extra room. Possibly the sound insulation would be adequate. One door led to a bedroom, and another led to a shower and facilities area, a bathroom without the bath. It was all brand spanking new and unused. Not bad for a single cop, especially on a spaceship. Inside the fridge was bottled water, and room for other items. I opened a bottled water and studied the map. My office, and closer to my apartment a pool, a recreation center, a gym, and a large park were circled. The farming and manufacturing areas, the hospital, and the local cafeteria were shown on different levels. A small paper lying next to the map said that to use the communications system all I had to do was speak "communications," say who I wanted, and I'd be connected. When I was finished, I'd say "Out." These highly original orders lead me to believe that someone had watched a lot of early Science Fiction movies. I decided to give the communications system a shot, and called, "Communications." "Communications. How may I direct you?" That was definitely a female voice, a hot female voice, and I experimented further. "Officer of the Day, please." "Ship's Officer or Security?" "Security." "Connecting." Within five seconds a bored male voice droned, "Security." "This is Rodrigus. Who's on duty?" The same voice alertly answered, "Just a moment, Sir." I definitely woke him up and let him know the boss had arrived. A different voice said, "Nancy McCracken. How may I help you?" I remembered Nancy from interviewing her. She was good looking, medium build, hard body, brunette, smart, healthy, and well versed in several types of personal combat. Her experience with police work and security was exceptional. She just had trouble staying at one precinct for
more than a few months, and at a department for more than a year. Her problem was not her work performance; she always got high praise. She just liked to have sex at any time and at any place that anyone else was willing, whether public or not. That would not be a problem here. In fact, I planned to make use of her unnatural libido. But for now it was time to kick ass. I ordered, "Wake up the person answering the phone." Apparently she didn't recognize my voice, or appreciate my tone of voice. "Excuse me? Your name doesn't appear on my ID board. You are?" "Manuel Rodrigus, and you had better know that name. I just arrived and I want someone here now to show me around and explain what goes on. Not you; you have more important duties, like reprimanding those who are not awake on the job." "Yes, Sir," came crisply through the speaker, wherever that was. She knew who I was now, that was for sure. Her earlier statement raised a question about security on board. If my people didn't know who arrived as they came in, then how would we keep out stowaways, or the saboteurs and extremists? Checking clearances groundside was fine, but those people would take bribes. I had to know the system, who did what, and make any necessary changes quickly. I asked, "How long does it take for you to learn who's here?" "Oh, we don't keep track of arrivals. The ground screens them. Communications gives us an ID and location when people call. That yours didn't show is an unusual occurrence." It dawned on me that my ID was blocked to those I called, which is the true reason she hadn't known who was calling. That could work in my favor, but right now I had a problem, and one easily fixed right now. "Those on the ground can be bribed, or screw up. I want every person already aboard checked to make sure they belong here. And I want all those coming in to be double-checked before they leave the shuttle. I don't want no stowaways or subversives on board my city, got it?" "Yes, Sir!"
"Good. Dispatch someone to show me around, now. Out." I smiled. The word would spread quickly that the boss had arrived and was in the mood for rolling heads. I studied the map while I waited for my tour guide, wondering what should be first on my list, and thinking I should talk to maintenance. I could feel a vibration, very faint, so faint it didn't even cause ripples in my water, but it was there. I decided to wait until later since I needed a quick trip to the head before my guide showed. While I was in the bathroom, I checked out the shower. A three by six area with a shower-head next to the access, and nothing to close it off from the rest of the room. We'd have to see how that worked later. I could hear the vibration now, too quick to call a throbbing, but really too slow for a true vibration. Whatever it was, it was getting on my nerves. I'd definitely have to talk to maintenance.
*** Link to the full book at http://www.scribd.com/doc/21568586/You-Cannot-RunFrom-Yourself *** Other short stories, essays, and poetry from this author are available at http://www.scribd.com/Brian%20W%20Porter. *** Copyright 2010 Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs You may share this work with anyone in any way with the following provisions. You must share the complete work, including the title and this notice. You may not make any changes. You may not use this work commercially or accept payment without the written permission of the Author. Any and all rights and credit are held by Brian W. Porter.
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