Authors: K. D. McAdams
The Seamus Chronicles
K. D. McAdams
Copyright © 2015 by K. D. McAdams
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are figments of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is purely coincidental.
Interior design: K. D. McAdams
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The Seamus Chronicles
Confrontation – Book 4
The human race no longer needs me. While this has probably been true for most of my life, it’s a difficult adjustment from the last two years when I have been so important.
When the apocalypse hit I was important because we needed my dark energy reactor to generate enough electricity to keep the vaccine refrigerated. It was also my reactor and my brain that had my family enrolled in the vaccination program in the first place. An initial win for our family; a longer-term a victory for humankind.
Once our small group of survivors realized that Jane Crenshaw was hiding the truth behind the killer cold, I was important again. It was me who figured out that the sore loser virus had been released and our only chance for survival was to evacuate planet Earth.
I keep telling myself that I don’t think about the sore loser virus now because there is nothing we can do about it. The United States government created a virus with the intention of wiping out the human race. Apparently if the United States didn’t make the rules, no one should be allowed to play the game. I wouldn’t say that was the general thought process of most Americans, but those Americans weren’t the ones who were in charge.
Another plus in my favor is that I invented the space warp that allowed us to search for a habitable planet outside of our solar system and not simply drift in space for a few months. I had significant help with all of my creations and I am comfortable admitting that. Still,
provided the unique component that resulted in our being saved.
After we crashed here on Locus, at least three solar systems away from Earth, I was ready to help in any way the community needed me. Contributing manual labor to establish our little colony and keep the human race going felt right. The thin atmosphere and severe radiation bombarding this planet pressed my brain into service once more. By creating a protective dome, with the containment field developed as part of my reactor, I was able to establish an environment more hospitable to humans
capable of growing the food we need to survive.
Now we’ve been here for close to a full Earth year and there are children being born, though I am not set to become a father. Our dwellings have evolved from simple lean-tos and the central log cabin into somewhat sophisticated stone and alloy structures. While I contributed to these things, they are not keys to our survival.
Sofie is officially my girlfriend, and if there were a priest with us she would be my wife. Sadly, she sees the other girls getting pregnant and having children and wants to be a part of it. Back on Earth we would have been considered young to be having kids, but here on Locus we are trying to rebuild our species and age is only a factor if we wait too long.
Age is a funny concept; it is related to time, which is related to the speed at which the Earth rotates around its own axis as well as its orbit of the sun. We are no longer on Earth, so our sense of time is not accurate.
Interestingly, I have determined that a full rotation of Locus is approximately one-hundred-seventy hours or a little more than seven earth days. My gut tells me that my measurements are a little off. We don’t have a telescope, so I have been estimating our position relative to easily visible stars. I may never have an exact calculation, but sorting through the math is my definition of fun. My heart says it is important to figure this out, but my brain tells me that the connection I am emotionally searching for is impossible.
When I think that the babies being born now are the first human children born away from Earth in history, I have to correct myself. We only know about recorded history, from Earth. If humans had lived or still do live on another planet, there were no documented records of it in our history. Ancient aliens were never interesting to me before, but recently I have begun to believe that humans could have lived away from Earth before making that our home.
The Voyager spacecraft was sent into space with a record that contained a variety of information. It was the first craft to leave our solar system, but to our knowledge it never succeeded in connecting with other living creatures. There were also radio antennas on Earth broadcasting out into space and listening for return messages. We were doing our best to be visible to other creatures looking for us; maybe our messages just never went far enough. Should we start a similar project here on Locus in hopes of connecting with humans in this or other solar systems?
Suppose a species discovered Voyager and made their way to Earth tomorrow. How could we tell them that we had relocated, are okay, and are having children? Slightly more plausible is the possibility that some small band of humans survived the nuclear winter we induced on Earth before leaving. In a few generations, they could come out of hiding and repopulate the planet. Would their history recall the spread of the virus and the subsequent nuclear winter?
We left information about our departure and the reasons, but at the time we had no idea where we were going. If all three of our spacecrafts hadn’t been destroyed getting to this planet, I would say that we could warp back into a near-Earth orbit and send a stone tablet down. But how would you write the news so that whatever species discovered it in the future would understand? You couldn’t.
Some of the survivors from McMurdo have asked to investigate sending a radio signal toward Earth with a message about our survival. Those who no longer believe this is a hoax and have accepted that we are on another planet need the hope that there are still survivors on Earth. Regardless of what we experience, there is a small contingent that still believes this is some type of hoax, that we are still on Earth, holding them captive in a remote location. They’ve salvaged the radios and made terrestrial scanning for transmissions a pastime.
Because of the length of daylight on Locus, we have to sleep while it’s light out; we call those rest sessions instead of night. Conversely we have to be up while the sun is down, so we call those up sessions. It’s not elegant, but it seems to have eliminated confusion around ‘when’ things happen.
Sofie and I have developed a pretty comfortable routine. I wake up early—some rest sessions I don’t sleep at all—and sit there or lay there until she wakes up. When she wakes up, she asks me if I’m up already and I lie and say yeah, I just woke up. I’m not sure why I lie or why it matters, but I did it the first time and now I can’t stop.
It’s confusing to have trouble sleeping. We work hard during the day and physically I am exhausted. There are problems for my brain to solve, but they are not pressing and I’m not obsessing about them the way I have with previous challenges. Mostly I sit and wonder how we got here.
There is a running debate inside my head about what it means to be intelligent. I was always praised for being so smart. After all, it was my intellect and not my actual invention that got my family enrolled in the vaccination program that saved us from annihilation. If I had been a true genius, I would have seen that the people of Earth were driving us toward our own destruction.
Instead of working to develop a source of free and perpetual electricity, I could have been working on a way to bridge the gap between people. Technology and the things that smart people invented aren’t what destroyed our first planet. Relationships were the destructive force.
When people don’t communicate and act with consideration for others, even the smallest situations can get out of hand quickly. A truly intelligent person would have seen the conflict coming and circumvented it. I can come up with tests and experiments to segment dark energy with no problem; I can’t even imagine how one would get to the bottom of a conflict between two people.
Thinking about these problems only sends me deeper into sadness. I am aware of my own psyche enough to know that I am not thinking rationally; I am wallowing in self-pity. It creates a fascinating conundrum; it is too important of a problem to ignore, but trying to think about the problem only pushes me deeper into the problem.
My entire family is here with us. My sister Grace and her boyfriend Jake are pregnant with their first child, and have somewhat officially adopted Remmie. Liam, my brother, has a baby with Cassandra Crenshaw, and I have a feeling that she may already be pregnant again. Mom and Dad had the first baby in the group, my little sister Judith, and while I’m not sure if they’ll have another, I think they could.
Somehow I have survivors’ guilt. My loved ones who died were old. They had good lives, but still it doesn’t feel right that I got to live when they didn’t. Sofie lost everyone she ever knew, but exhibits no sadness or malaise; how does she manage that? If there are degrees of survival, she is more of a survivor than I am.
The people from McMurdo were all trained to deal with psychological stresses. Living and working in Antarctica was not easy and they had to be prepared for a variety of mental issues. Mom told me that they are having support sessions to deal with their grief and that one of them is even seeing people on an individual basis to talk things through.
Unfortunately we have separated ourselves from the McMurdo team a little too much. I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking with one of them, let alone showing them that I have a weakness. The us-versus-them mentality may be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, but it is still a real thing to deal with.
We’re not hostile toward one another. In fact, we are all working together on the garden and other projects in the village. It’s just during the downtime that we segregate and go our separate ways. There also tends to be a level of snickering that comes from both groups.
Of course the Robinsons got first access to the new building materials
, one of them muttered when we fabricated the first sheet of alloy.
Naturally the McMurdo gang gets the first fruit from the harvest
, Liam observed when the strawberries came in.
One of the things that we are all missing is refrigeration. Food spoils fast, and even though we jar a good deal, it’s not realistic to keep food in our individual houses. We all have to go to the central cabin to eat. Some days there is a great selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, while other days there are only leafy greens and other fast-growing plants.
To avoid problems, we have all agreed to eat together. This way no group has more food than the other. I believe that mom is trying to make the meals a social time so that we can all talk and maybe understand what the others are feeling and doing. The first meal after a rest session is usually pretty cordial, but the last meal of an up session can get pretty snippy.
The chicken flock is doing well, but we still ration eggs and meat. Every third day here is considered a weekend. We have a big social meal and share protein, a slaughtered chicken, and some people have taken to getting drunk on pollen water.
Today is not considered a weekend.
Sofie and I are walking to breakfast, the first meal after a rest session, and I can’t help but look at the sun. I have been marking the sun’s location from the central cabin, and while the difference isn’t really perceptible to the naked eye, I try and look for variations based on where I am at any given moment.
“Seamus, I’m under 170.” Henry meets me on the boulevard a little ways before the central cabin.
Dad and Henry have become friendly, and they may be our best bet for keeping things civil between the two groups. Henry is a former Naval Aviator who was working on a meteorological study in Antarctica when the killer cold hit. He was the pilot for our C-5 Galaxy and I am convinced that it’s his attention to detail that helped us to get on the ground safely.
Henry has been working with me on determining the length of a Locus day. He is precise and detail-oriented, but most of all he is positive and enthusiastic, two things that I need more of.
“Every second is going to be a grind at this point. Remember when we were shaving hours off the estimate?” My negative attitude comes out without thinking.
“I can’t believe how much time we wasted.” Henry winks at me and I get his joke but don’t laugh.
The three of us walk to the communal table. Sofie and Henry chat about why we may have more condensation inside the containment field than there is in the natural atmosphere. It is an interesting issue, but I can’t bring myself to engage.
Around the table are all the other humans in the known universe. In addition to my family, there are the women—Gretchen, Gwen, Marybeth, Sarah and Sonjia from McMurdo. There are also the McMurdo men—David, Francisco, Horst, Jake, Luke, Rich and Mike. They are having an animated conversation but it seems to be the McMurdo team carrying the dialogue.
“Henry thinks nights are almost seventy-eight hours long,” Luke says. “That’s more than three days. We can cover a ton of ground in three days.” He points between the sky and the ground.