Saturday, 14 September 2013

Granny-sitting Chronicles. Week One: housebreaking.

That first week feels as if it was many years ago. Then again, each day in that week felt as if it lasted for years, too. I'll let these fragments of personal communications from that time tell the story.



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The [...] Frontier Expedition; Captain's Log. 



Day One. 

The off-world base construction, as well as the preparations for departure, are far from complete. The supporting crew grows restless, however. They are anxiously looking forward for the Launch Day in the full  Decisive Year mindset. I internally grin at their naïveté - for having spent substantial time with the Subject, I know full well this is not going to be just a Mountain Rescue type scenario, this is going to be Mountain Rescue on Rollerskates, with Amnesia. 

 Subject keeps inquiring about "real home" and musing on all the future works and chores. Lucidity varies; information processing fragmented; unable to grasp abstract future definitions like "soon but not right now" and "maybe Friday". I have done my best given the contrived timeframe and about to go into Full Expedition Mode. I have arranged my Big Bug Out Kit sent to the location in advance, along with secure water tank and some emergency rations.  I have also converted a small water pouch into a handy utility belt to be carried around at all times. 






Upon arrival, the Subject finds the base location interesting and acknowledges possibility of having spent some time there before. Then demands to be taken to the "real home". After engaging in some supposedly-familiar activities, the Subject is taken on a little detour; then brought to base via mythical route of "over the big water, down the hill and then to the right". Subject disembarks willingly, taking some personal belongings along. Inside the base some items of strategic value are unpacked, while exotic local plants provide distraction. 




As the Local Sun lazily descends, the Subject accepts that the crew would spend the night on location, but remains vigilant and repeatedly interferes with the base construction; attempts to foil the startup of Air Conditioning and Heating Unit. 

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Day Two. 

Subject awakens me at dawn. With base powerlines yet offline, I set up the Lesser Combustion Unit for coffeemaking purposes. It malfunctions almost immediately, emitting carbon residue all over the base; the primary goal is met with success, though. Subject keeps demanding a voyage to "real home", reminiscing on the layout and routines of Town Base. Expressing regrets that the botanical samples from Town Base have been unloaded to this unforgiving environment. 



More familiar activities and probing the local storage units help in establishing some rudimentary routines and trigger points of recognition. 



Primary powerlines installed by evening. Once again Subject reluctantly accepts the reality of spending the night on location 

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Day Three. 

Awakened in an ungodly hour, the breakfast goes fairly well. Subject keeps reminiscing about how she usually goes up three flights of stairs (fast) into The Upstairs to "eat some food". 



Spontaneous examination of packed-months-ago supply bundles. Among familiar objects, some foul-looking objects emerge - apparently botanical in nature. Subject performs a quick taste-test and determines that the objects are of no value. Taste-test on yet another curious substance reveals a quantity of valuable bee-excrement, stashed in an ornate "coffee cup" type container. 

 Exploring the outdoors mostly without incident. 



Transport Vessel manned by unit "Ancestry" docks to resupply and deliver Comms Centre components. The encounter gravely complicates the precarious base systems setup by introducing gooey foodstuffs into the grease-free, minimal-water-use lab environment. While works on secondary powerlines ensue, the Subject attempts pleading and bribery to gain a seat for the departure. Being firmly assured that a) the Vessel would be taking off to "country base 2" without her; and b) the Vessel would be regularly visiting, finally puts the subject at ease. Activating the Primitive Hygiene Unit even leads to some euphoria and display of “preattifying” tendencies. 

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Day Four.  

Subject forms a plan to walk over yonder and go "home". Since the precious packed bundles (minus the contraband butter) prove heavy, some rummaging is in order; a few random photographs chosen to be tucked into weather armour. Meanwhile I will have prepared the Mobile Caffeine DispenserThe Subject picks a direction and proceeds at full speed, providing me an ideal loitering-reconnoitering pace. 



An intersection with directions indication (distance to a known location: far) allows me to redirect the course towards base; taking notes of local industrial marvels during. 




 Running out of strength and breath has made Subject compliant to the extreme, only minor attempts to re-set course "towards home" remain. Safely returned to base, the Subject reflects on the completed/ failed experiment and the subsequent learning experience for the whole day. Come eventide, discussing the feeding routines, the Subject suddenly comes to accept the concept of the on-location practises and Town-base "breakfast" ritual being functionally and spiritually the same. 

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Day Five. 

Operation "breakfast" a success (despite the ungodly hour); subject enthusiastic to observe the landscape. Also enthusiastic to terraform (tools of choice: scythe, rake). 




While terraforming, a sudden decision to try introduce one of the botanic samples to the local ground. 



En-route, vocal contemplations about last day's unsuccessful flee attempt and how energies need to be used sparingly out here. Locals overwhelmingly friendly, overwhelmingly curious; attempts to pry information in exchange of fresh goodies secure us a substantial amount of the local fruit "cucumber". 

Approaching ion storm forcing us to base; the inquisitive explorations continue indoors (identified: life form "kitty" - 1), followed by nest-grooming frenzy. 



Retiring early, window of opportunity for tranquil stroll filled with suspicious constructions, some sort of infrastructure, more suspicious structures, and strange markings. 




I barely make it back and assemble the comms centre; in my last desperate waking moments, I feel a wave of solemn gratitude for having hammered the shitter upgrade in place the day before. 




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Day Six. 

Subject becomes more and more inquisitive about surroundings, appears to be displaying some rudimentary nest-building instinct. (Including helpful suggestions about which items should immediately be sawed in half and burned to ashes.) In the process, several useful artifacts discovered and more botanical samples settled. Managed to jury-rig a mosquito net out of tulle and duct tape. 



Heavy downpour. Retreated into the base, everything running in a precarious optimum, I dare to take a deep breath for the first time. Approaching the intended captain's quarters, the sound of dribble is unmistakable - outer hull breach, precipitation reaching the ground level; attempting to deploy counter-measure "bucket"... [notes sketchy here, mostly illegible gibberish and random expletives]

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Day Seven. 

More heavy downpour, fitting, calming. Must have slept through breakfast, no recollection. Attempting to use the quantum food processor for more advanced projects than the usual grain grub (success). 

After the hearty meal, a stroll further inland. Examining a bunker of ancient design from out ... 



... and in, nothing of apparent value discovered. 



Observing a wreck of unknown design nearby - a sort of hovercraft, perhaps? 



Nearing what appears to be a native dwelling, subject immediately breaches perimeter and attempts to break into the structure, remaining adamant that this is imperative ("I know a guy there!"); no response from the natives. 

The way back remains uneventful albeit pretty. 



Later, exotic beverages on the weather deck. The phase "housebreaking" appears to be working at last.








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