Monday, October 14, 2013

To the Moon - Part 3

Crawford's head swam as he walked up to Cheryl at her desk and asked for a first-day packet.  She had two aces up and one long string of cards going, but she had locked up her four of clubs and frowned as she glanced up.

"Oh, rats, a spade...  I suppose you'll want your things now, and we'll find you a desk, too."  She brightened back to her cheerily secretarial demeanor.  "Come this way!"  She flounced out of her chair and over to a small door, opened it, and gestured for Crawford to follow.  He did.

The room they entered was wide, but constructed radially, like a small Quonset hut.  It had no windows in the walls, but on the far end Crawford could see two round black portals flanking the exit door.  Stuffed into the low corners where the roof became the wall and met the floor were crates, most labeled with surnames, some with blank white index cards.  On one of these Cheryl wrote "CRAWFORD" with a thick marker.  She tugged it out and looked at Crawford.  When he didn't notice, she huffed loudly.

"Sorry."  Crawford picked it up as Cheryl smiled saccharine at him.  They walked to the door at the other end of the room, and Cheryl prattled on about keeping track of his things and never forgetting to put his crate away where it belonged and of course to keep the pressure suit handy and the rebreather, too, and the nearest exits were a long way away and the alarm sounded just like a fire engine but they hadn't had it go off for a few months and the doors were all like this one with the inswing on the high pressure side and they wouldn't open all the way so the outrushing air was supposed to shut them if a breach happened and you never propped the door and then they walked out of the Quonset room.

Crawford was shown to an office without windows, which was just as well as he would have spent all his time staring out of them.  He supposed it was a corner office, but that seemed less a mark of distinction here than on earth.  His ceiling sloped down on two axes, maxing a sort of inverse-double-barrel-arch which would have made the Romans jealous.  He had a small desk, a sleek computer, and several potted plants.

"Free air," said Cheryl when she saw his puzzled glance at them.  "Oh, and now that the elevator is in, you can probably even go home tonight!"  With this pronouncement she spun on her heel and tripped back to her office on her too-high heels.

The desk was bare, except for the computer.  No drawers, no features.  The computer also appeared to be molded into the top of the desk.  When Crawford pulled the chair out, it slid on a track.  He surmised that these precautions were all in the event of sudden loss of pressure.  He noted ruefully that his door swung in towards his office.  He prayed against meteorites.

The first message in his inbox was a welcome from Delvins.  The second was a task from Delvins.  The third was from Cheryl; there were bagels in the breakroom.  Back to Delvins, asking how far he had come on his task.  Crawford sighed.  He was inclined to doubt if Delvins had done him a favor.

No comments: