Beyond the Darkside, Chapter Two


Beyond the Darkside

The glowing red numbers of the clock on the wall were the only real indicators that it was morning. Living on the moon made time a very mutable thing. A lunar day was little less than a month long, and at least half of that was spent in total darkness. The pioneers who made it their home felt far less constrained by the earthly conventions of time. Clocks and relationships measured time, not the position of the sun. Not everyone could handle it, but the long-term residents got used to it or went mad. Evan considered the possibility that he was joining the ranks of the insane. They spent more than twelve hours working and it looked like Aldric’s idea would bear some fruit.

Being part of Aldric’s team could lead to all sorts of possibilities in the future. Aldric paid well, but his altruism led to limitations in pay. He and Margaret should be swimming in fat paychecks, but Aldric kept their pay at a level that most earth scientists would scoff at. It was not that he was cheap; it was that he had an overwhelming sense of fairness that was completely beyond Evan’s understanding. The lowest paid person in the company made nearly a third of what Aldric made, which was more than half of what Evan took home. He could have gone elsewhere, but no one was more cutting edge than Dark Side Experimental, so he stayed.

Evan walked to the garage, unwilling to wait around while Margaret threw herself at Aldric once more. He wouldn’t mind being on the receiving end of her affections, but he was not going to spend his morning listening to the two of them moan and groan in Aldric’s little “hidden” bedroom. They thought they were so slick, but they were a joke. Really it was Margaret who was the joke. Aldric was the boss, and she was hardly his first dalliance, so people were unsurprised by his behavior, but Margaret seemed to think she was special and that her position as Aldric’s lover provided her with special privileges. There were rumors that she was on her way out though. Aldric would sleep with his employees, but they had to stay his employees by doing the work and following the rules. Margaret was good at the first, but was failing at the second.

The dimly lit garage contained a scant number of hover-cars. Aldric’s flashy red sport model dominated the space with a spotlight shining down on his personal parking space. It made Evan’s metallic blue sedan seem sad and pathetic in its space. It was a good car, practical and safe. It was the kind of car Evan’s mother would have approved of if she were still alive. She had worried and fretted over his move to the moon and made him promise to be safe. She had always been cautious and bought everything with safety in mind. Evan did not think she would have appreciated the irony of her home security system keeping her locked in the house as it burned down around her. The investigator said that it was a one in a million glitch that kept the doors sealed shut. It was a sad day, but it was far removed from Evan’s everyday life, so there were few tears.

Once in the driver’s seat, Evan turned the car on and flinched at the sound of the sedan’s force field kicking in. It crackled and spit like a fallen power line until it stabilized and settled into a loud hum. It worked well, and protected him from just about everything that fell out of the sky, but it was a very unsettling way to start any excursion outside the confines of a building. Satisfied that the force field would not fail him, he signaled the door to open and drove out through the shield that kept the building safe from meteors while preventing the air from escaping into the vacuum of the moon’s barren wasteland.

The advent of hover cars made personal transportation on the dark side possible. Wheel based vehicles did fine one the other side of the moon where meteor activity was generally sparse, but the regular barrage of space debris on the dark side ruined paved and graded surfaces with terrible efficiency. Evan cruised along the road, which was little more than a lane designated by markers of red light, and wondered what Aldric’s latest invention might do for the people of the moon and the people living on earth itself. It might be the key to getting humanity out of the solar system if the power output projections were correct.

Faster than light travel had proven too expensive to be practical, but Aldric’s idea could make it feasible if they could improve stability and marry it to the existing jump drive technology. Evan turned on the autopilot and looked at the stars outside his window. Even the faint shimmer of the force field could not diminish the fierce brilliance of the stars as seen without the interference of the sun or an atmosphere. He longed to be there, amongst the stars, but he would settle for the moon until something better came along. For the first time in years, Evan fell asleep dreaming of a trip to a far off world, and it did not feel like an impossibility.

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