A Quiet Moment….and RIP

Jules had asked the Historian to carve into the small white cross: Robert Bova Thompson  July 9, 2022 - 00:0003  RIP.  He had made two more with different names and dates.  One for Arte Clarke and one for Harlan Allison.  They stood in such a sad row.

Besides Jules and me, there were only four others attending the memorial service. Both Captains….  Travis and Larry Monroe (Monroe lost the coin toss to determine who was to stay on the ship), wanted to be there and so did Bill Bartlett who had gotten to know Clarke so well in that four years on the Mayflower. But the Historian said the work was too important and he would stand for them.  Thompson had no relatives amongst the rest of the colonists and in the short time available to him his quiet nature had made few friends. Jules spoke reverently of the men, he read Psalm 23, and then softly we sang a hymn. His Robot, appropriately named R. Digger, had prepared the grave at the foot of Windmill Hill, [U3], and assisted in lowering the wooden casket. 

As we left the gravesite I asked Histy who would register these first colony deaths.  “We need a statistician, I left all that data tracking behind when I retired” I said.  He agreed and said the robots needed to be included in the registry too.  According to the Historian, R. Digger would need to be reprogrammed soon or he would start functioning erratically, not dangerously, just erratically, and then cease to function at all.   
 
The ceremony was over and I turned and said, “Jules, what day is it today, dear, and when will it be Sunday?  I’ll feel so much better when we start having weekly worship services.  I think the Encyclopedia says the date on Earth is September 19, 2056.  But that doesn’t help.” 

Jules told me he had discussed that with Junior already and that JJ was going to make a list of holidays, religious feasts, family birthdays, and such and fit them into Alchibah time as soon as he could get around to it. 

As we walked back toward the daycare center I said, “There’s so much that needs to be done, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.” 

“Hanna, don’t worry.  It will all work itself out.  We’ve got lots of willing hands and the right spirit to make a success of this new world.”

“Jules, I worry about the future.  Our family.  Running the First Inn.  The daycare center.  Establishing government and an economic system for the colony.  I forsee lots of problems with this mixed population.”  Then with a mischievous twinkle I added, “We could use “bar”-tender!”
 
“Are you keeping track of how much time you’ve spent taking care of meals and other work for the colony, Hanna?” 

“No I haven’t, Jules.  Why would I, or anyone else?  For the mostpart, we’re all pitching in.  Besides, is the value of one hour’s work the same for all, and who gets to decide?  See what I mean:  lots of questions, but no answers!” 

“This communal style of living can’t go on forever.  I think what everyone is doing now, things that show a willingness to work or a pioneer spirit, will influence how responsibilities will be delegated.  The life of the colony will depend on it.  Can’t give the keys to just anyone!” 

“And, speaking of keys, what about the food pantry and liquor cabinet:  how good is the inventory and what are we short of?” 

“For starters, we’re running short of all alcoholic beverages.  At the current unrationed rate of consumption, we’ll be a dry county in a bit over a month.  And for some, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea in my mind.  I’m reluctant to bring it up, but unless the colony starts a no work, no colony-supplied drink policy, we’ll find that when we do run out the laziest 10% were responsible for 80% of consumption.  How quickly can we grow our own and distill it?”

“If we run the First  Inn, we’re going to need food, lots of it:  fish, meat ’n potatoes, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and even a bakery.  And ovens and grills.  The heat-and-eat bread is just about gone.  The portable stoves aren’t much good for anything but reheating.  We have flour for quite a while, but someone will have to try and grow grain, at least wheat and barley.  There’s a good living there but it will take a lot of work.  Then of course we’ll need a flour mill too.”

“The outhouses are another story!  They’re uncomfortable and inconvenient.   They need to be emptied all the time, and we need more of them….yesterday!  Who’s going to be stuck with that job?  Even the robots turned up their noses at that one.”

“As for refrigeration, there’s just one small unit on the whole planet.  We’ll have to protect the food staples from predators [both two-legged and multi-footed], and until more coolers/freezers can be built, maybe use caves, build smoke/drying houses?  We have enough dishes and silverware but need platters, large bowls, mixers, and other utensils; things that I saw in the Mayflower’s list of supplies but didn’t see after we landed.  Did they go with the Copernicus?  It’s not as if I can place an order for more supplies on the net.” 

Hanna muses… “What would R.J. think of all this?  Initially, I wonder if it’ll be similar to the Amish approach; if we’ll construct community buildings first, then provide a basic frame home, families first, then for couples – families could add on afterwards.  I wonder how Janie’s doing with ol’ Bart; haven’t seen Tim lately either.  What about those who don’t carry their own weight – will the Reyes?  To myself… “Stop thinking like that, Hanna.  Where is your Christian charity?” 

“And if all of my own concerns aren’t enough, I’m very worried about Emily… and not just about last night.”

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

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Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.