Day 35, around Noon
“It’s just a badly strained muscle, Histy.” Nurse LeGuin said as she applied a self-adhesive heating pad to his lower back. “You’re not a young man anymore and you need to take it easy.”
“Given the situation,” Histy said, sitting up on the cot in the hospital room, “none of us can afford to take it easy.”
“Yes, but trying to help the others, shoveling mud out of the way on the landing field, is a darn fast way to throw out an elderly back.”
Kurt Kellerman stopped by, took a look, and said, “You’ll be fine. Just let Rocco do the heavy lifting from now on.”
“Thanks a lot!” Rocco said, standing nearby.
Kurt Kellerman said, “Has communication been re-established with the Mayflower?”
“Not yet,” Histy said, “The guys have finally got the local network here in Liberty limping back to a weak functioning state — I think the solar storm must still be active. There’s nothing from the Mayflower. I wish Travis was here.”
On cue, from the entrance, Captain Travis and Glenda Cumberland came striding in.
Travis said, “You rang? And what the hell happened to you folks? I had to land the shuttle in the field to the west of the landing field.”
Histy, Kellerman, and Rocco filled them in on the gory details of the storm, the tidal wave, and all else that had happened.
Kellerman then asked, “Any idea when direct communications will be restored, Captain?”
“The electromagnetic storms are still going strong, Doc. Until they die down, the three com-sats are useless and the dish on the Mayflower surface had it’s electronics fried. Hibbes is working on that now, when he and Chandler aren’t going out on joy rides in one of the shuttles. It could still be a week before the solar flares quiet down.”
“Any ideas about that wave we described?” Histy asked.
“No,” Travis said, “Bart might but he and his crew are off somewhere and communication with them is out, too, as long as the com-sats are down. They probably don’t even realize what’s happened here in Liberty.
“One thing, though,” he continued, “Darren Calver has noticed a lot of atmospheric dust just recently. It’s possible that a volcano erupted, although we haven’t seen it, or that a good sized meteor has struck the planet. Either way, that could mean things will be a couple degrees cooler around here for a month or two.”
Nurse LeGuin had been listening to all of this and finally spoke, “Captain, Histy, I don’t mean to sound like a voice of doom but. . . Maybe this whole thing is a mistake. Hurricanes, floods, raging monsters! Maybe we’re not meant to live on this planet. Captain, could the Mayflower return us to Earth? We’ll just face whatever music the authorities mete out.”
Historian gave her, and any other doubters present, a serious look and sternly said, “Now look. I know things seem bad and I’ve thought about this myself. We don’t know where the tidal wave came from but it can’t be a common thing or we’d have seen signs of previous ones. The same goes for the hurricane. You’ve seen all the trees that came down from the storm. Before the storm, we’d all taken strolls through the woods and there was no evidence of fallen limbs, rotting logs, or anything like that. If hurricanes were hitting this area frequently, we’d have seen all of that. My best guess is simply that a couple bad things happened to us the past two days but that they are rare events.
“We’ll rebuild, bigger and better than ever. As for monsters like the rumblers, others are dealing with them as we speak and further, are they really any different than the — the phrase ‘lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!’ comes to mind, — that early settlers on Earth’s continents faced? We’ll be fine. This is our world, now, and we as a people just need to get to know it a little better to understand it and live in harmony with and on it.”
Rocco said, “I sure wish we had some heavy earth-moving equipment to make things easier and speed construction up.”
“Unfortunately,” Travis said, “that’s all laying somewhere at the bottom of the ocean.”
Histy said, “We’ll be fine. Sweat-equity builds pride and when Liberty City is back on it’s feet, all of us can feel that we contributed to it’s rise and glory.”
Rocco said, “You should have been a politician.”
Historian said, “What makes you think I’m not?”