Le chapitre 37
The idea of a day of work during the night time kept confusing Jean. His circadian rhythm was so strong that he felt compelled to say awake as long as the Sun shone even if it did so on the Moon for 14 Earth-days straight. Once it set however he felt like going into semi-hibernation as the Sun disappeared for another 14 Earth-days. Oddly enough, while he couldn’t see the Sun during the night time, he could see the reflection of the Sun against some other lunar peaks so it wasn’t completely dark. But without any atmosphere, there was no twilight on the Moon. So with the Sun rotated out of view, he was left in the complete darkness of space. It was no wonder that he wanted to high tail it back to the Hab and watch something comforting on their video screen. He sighed again as he stepped further into their safety shelter.
Xu chirped up, “Hey big fellah. Feeling OK out there?”.
“Nothing to worry about” replied Jean, “I’ve just got another feeling of isolation. As if I were the only one in the universe. I’m glad you’re there” he said.
“I know the feeling” Xu warmly responded with all her heart. “I’ve felt the same myself, especially when the Earth’s globe swings by my eyes. But I just remember the great friends that I’ve got with me here and my heart does a little smile.”
Jean smiled to himself. He knew that Xu didn’t always get her English correct but he also didn’t care. Her heart was always in the right place and she always said just the thing to keep him going.
“You’ll get warm by keeping in motion so step it up” she quipped “I think Desai got us a surprise for dinner tonight”.
Jean knew all about Desai’s surprises and they were usually both a visual and aromatic treat. His last was for each of them a bowlful of pudding that had four individual colours. No one knew how he had kept the colours separate in the bowl but he had! The brown was chocolate, the yellow banana and the green lime. Neither was anyone quite certain the flavour of the fourth, the orange. Xu thought a melon. Valentina thought of a lychee. While Jean’s mind came up with asparagus flavoured pumpkin. Desai had only laughed and refused to answer their questions no matter how imploring. Jean happily now had this image in his mind and he headed further in to the sub-surface of the safety shelter.
Their shelter layout was getting a little more particular. At the bottom of the stairs was an area for a portal. The portal would be a primary barrier to keep dust out and atmosphere inside. After the portal, a tube would direct people straight through to another portal. This second portal was a backup for the first and a security barrier to keep nearly everything unwanted out; including aliens! He laughed to himself. Stepping a bit further along, he came to the antechamber. The closest Earth-room that came to his mind was a mud room. In the antechamber, people could remove their spacesuits and external clothing and recover their inside clothing. Their measurements indicated a relatively constant heat of about -30C so he and the other colonist were designing interior spaces to accommodate this cold but quite livable temperature within the shelter.
He finally reached the very back of the shelter in the place he had nicknamed the Vault. It was to be the equipment room for the first level of chambers. It would contain power storage, general supplies and conduits for all the liquids and gases that would be needed throughout. Today it was little more than a shallow excavation and some collected material stored on hand carts. This was the colonists’ current emergency supply for when the Sun shown too brightly. As they practised a few times already, they could all get to the Vault from the Hab in less than two hours. Sadly, it only took eight minutes for the Sun’s photons to travel to the Moon. So far they had been lucky. He and his companions knew that one bad forecast from the Earth scientists and they’d be done; they knew that they just didn’t have the time to get to the Vault. He held his sigh so that Xu wouldn’t hear him and tell him not to worry. They all worried but it was just one of the many risks that they were continually trying to manage. This thought together with the blackness of the lunar night and the enclosing darkness of the Vault all put a strain on his soul.