Another Ten Seconds
Chapter 3: Chapter 7, Subchapter 31 Revisited
by Jeff Rand
Shortly after the bakery snack, Charles and Christopher joined the other newcomers for the tour. There were six present to take the tour, as Jack Conroy was still in the hospital. Adam Pezet and Mick Belmont presented themselves as the tour guides.
The group left the main dining room of the Beaver Creek Building for the communications and control center. The dining room had expanded over the years to include most of the first floor. The remaining space held a large kitchen and two sleeping rooms. During Winter Camp these sleeping rooms were used for other purposes, specifically, communications and control in the one and the Winter Camp Museum and library in the other. Those wanting to sleep in the BC Building were forced to choose from among twenty-four bunks on the second floor.
As the six newcomers and two tour guides assembled in the communications room, Adam began a brief presentation on the history of the Beaver Creek Building. "The BC Building," explained the fifty-two year old man, "has been the hub of Winter Camp activities as long as I have been alive. For whatever reason it was renovated every few years until the second story was added three years ago. It was because of Winter Camp that this was needed. Thankfully, some years ago the Winter Camp Future Society adopted the building and established a trust to take care of future maintenance and renovation."
Adam approached the alert group, "Now that you have spent a few hours at Winter Camp and doubtless have studied its tradition, I am to impart some of its most important secrets. But before I do so, I must have your solemn pledge of secrecy. If you should not wish to proceed, please say so now."
No one moved as Adam looked each in the eye in order to determine the willingness of the group.
Mick stepped forward and said, "Good. I would ask each of you to pull your hair back and expose your forehead."
Mick grabbed an electronic device that resembled a bar code reader. It was, in fact, just the opposite as he approached Doug Horn. "Doug," he said, "this will apply a special mark to your forehead. It will be invisible, except to very high-energy ultraviolet light. You have been assigned a specific number, which when read by a special scanner, will allow you access to the restricted areas of Winter Camp. Indeed it will permit you to function as a full-fledged member of the Winter Camp economic community."
After Mick punched a code, he placed the apparatus against Doug's forehead and squeezed the trigger. Doug winced a bit, although he hardly felt the brief pulse of energy as it made its mark.
The others quickly presented their foreheads, as all were eager to proceed with the tour.
After the last forehead had been marked, Adam led the group to the hall separating the communications center and museum from the main room. Tucked on the opposite wall from the doors to these two rooms was a square alcove of about three feet on a side. The alcove contained a floor drain and served the purpose of mop and broom storage. It had a small lip on the open side, such that it formed a shallow sink. Three brooms and two mops lay against the wall, while a partially filled bucket sat on the floor.
Adam walked inside the alcove and stood beside the bucket. "CHR lives!" he said.
The newcomers gasped as the floor of the alcove lowered Adam to depths below. Momentarily the floor returned without Adam and it appeared as if nothing had happened.
Mick pointed towards Charles and Christopher, who eagerly entered this secret elevator. "There is a special scanner that will read the code on your forehead and allow you to enter. Let's see if it now works for you," he said.
"CHR lives!" said Charles, as they were whisked to the chamber below.
As the group gathered in the chamber, they were astonished at the magnitude of the secret place. The room was quite large and held a bank of computers and communications equipment that dwarfed the so-called communications center above. The first-year Winter Campers walked around the room and examined its contents. The room, roughly a square of thirty-five feet on a side, had two open exits on opposite walls. Each of the other walls had a very wide glass door in the middle. In the center of the room was the barrier which controlled access to the elevator.
Adam explained, "This is the true Winter Camp control center. Here we have all of the records from years past, as well as the technological equipment to provide for our needs. This room and others, which we shall soon visit, were constructed two years ago. Much of the engineering credit goes to Alan Wilson, who wanted to make a point with the Winter Camp veterans. The project is not exactly complete, but I think you will be pleased with what you see."
"How far down did we go?" inquired Doug Horn.
"The top of this room is about 25 feet below the surface," said Adam, "such that we are protected from any disturbance that might occur above."
Almost before Adam finished, a loud Klaxon sounded and a red light flashed on the wall. "Ranger Alert!" sounded a mechanical voice.
"D-A Scout Ranch Assistant Ranger Benjamin Osvath has entered Beaver Creek Subcamp coming from the north at sixteen miles per hour," said the voice, pronouncing Ooswah in the correct Hungarian fashion.
Suddenly two large screens lit up on opposite walls showing an image of a truck as it made its way to the BC Building. The campers watched a man in his mid thirties leave the truck and enter the cabin. He was not well dressed for the weather, but had left the engine running. Assistant Ranger Ben Osvath encountered Dave Milon and Steve Clark, Sr. in the main room, as Doug Wilson had just left to make sure the mops were in order.
While Osvath had actually attended a couple of Winter Camps as a youth, he was not aware of recent developments and Dave and Steve would be happy to keep it that way. Likewise, he did not know about the sensor that had been placed in his truck to monitor his whereabouts. Previously the Winter Campers had debated at much length, methods of monitoring the camp rangers, finally reasoning that the rangers would never be very far from their vehicles.
"Hi boys," said Ben as he faced the two older men. "We just wanted to let you know about the trading post hours. It will be open from 1 until 5 tomorrow and 9 until noon on Sunday."
"Oh thanks," said Dave, realizing that Osvath probably did not know that no Winter Camper had used the D-A Trading Post in 54 years. "I think we'll stop by after horseback riding."
On hearing the mention of "Trading Post" the sensors on the soda pop machine in the corner of the room determined the identity of the man who had just entered the cabin and calculated that he might be a candidate for the purchase of a cold pop. This machine creation of Dave Woods, with its latest technology, sprang into action. Besides varying its price based on weather conditions, it determines the preference of its customers based on the previous purchases. Osvath's profile indicated that he preferred 24 ounces of Pepsi chilled with 8 ounces of ice.
"How about Pepsi, the taste that beats the others cold?" declared the machine.
Osvath turned to see a fully lit Pepsi sign on the top of the soda pop machine, thinking that it was a Coke machine when he entered the cabin. "Sure, I could use one about now," he said.
He walked over to the machine, inserted a two-dollar coin and received a sealed cup of Pepsi and ice. He flipped the straw up to enjoy his well-timed beverage.
"I think I go check on the mop sink," said Osvath. "I had to fix the drain last week."
Ben walked into the hall towards the alcove containing mops and brooms. He was a bit surprised to see Doug Wilson standing next to it.
"Oh hi, Mr. Wilson. We had a bit of problem here last week."
Ben then proceeded to grab the partially filled bucket and dump it in the drain. "It looks like it works now," he said. "I had to use a snake to unclog it before."
The subterranean Winter Campers watched the screen as Osvath left the cabin and got into his truck. He drove away somewhat more energetic after having received his Pepsi.
"I think you can see the need for the alarm system. We don't want to be caught entering our little crawlspace," said Adam. "Now, we have a few more places to visit.
The tour group proceeded through one of the exits and followed a short hall to another room. This next room was much more crowded with display cases.
"If I might introduce you to the Winter Camp Archives," spoke Mick.
Mick Belmont was attending his third Winter Camp. Although properly titled doctor, he tended to be casual about his advanced degrees. Besides holding a doctorate in biology, he was an accomplished chemist and had earned a law degree from Harvard. When he first came to Winter Camp two years ago, he found his interests fit well with this forward-looking group. Currently, he serves as a research chemist for the OFA Institute, and does not offer much detail into the nature of his work. Belmont spends most of his Winter Camp time working on a special project.
"Here we have all of treasures of Winter Camp. If you examine the above ground museum and library closely, you will note that many of the items are duplicates or facsimiles. Here we have the originals protected for future generations. You may note the walls of this room are finely crystallized marble and its subterranean location assures even temperature and humidity."
"I would direct you attention to the far wall. Notice the mausoleum-like appearance. Each of the marble cabinet doors stores a time capsule. We have transferred a forty-plus year tradition of maintaining time capsules from simple burying to using these sealed chambers."
Mick walked to corner of the room and opened a door, ushering the group into the next room. This room was much more compact and seamed to have a dimmer light source, as if it were lacking a few wavelengths. The room was sealed, and except for the door appeared to be hollowed out of a block of solid marble.
Mick spoke again, "This is the fourth millennium chamber. Here we will seal our treasures for a thousand years. This time capsule has been the project of the Winter Camp Future Society for many years and I am happy that I may now formally join the society."
"My contribution to this preservation cause is a bit specific. My technical expertise allows me to work on a very exciting project."
He walked over to a counter on which sat a cage. Inside was a pretty normal looking lab rat.
"This little fellow is named Rip and he took a little nap this past year. In fact, I don't think he remembers anything at all from the first 360 days of 2030. If you examine him closely, you might also note that he appears younger than his actual age."
Pointing at what looked like an incubator, Belmont continued, "You see this is a cryonic chamber, which kept Rip out of harm's way this past year. This experiment will help us conduct future projects on a much grander scale."
The campers milled about the room, awestruck by its implications. Plainly, there were other experiments in place, but no one wanted to ask a stupid question.
Finally Doug Horn spoke up, "You mean some day I could be older than my grandfather?"
Adam interrupted, having known the elder Horn for nearly forty years, "I think there are some social questions we have to answer first. I don't think we would want place old Roger here with all his property deeds and rare coins for a thousand years. We don't want to destroy the future world economy."
Pezet was eager to get the group to the next attraction and soon moved them back through the archives into the control room.
Directing attention towards one of the large glass doors, Adam spoke, "This is the southwest line and it will take us to our next destination."
As Adam finished, the glass door opened to reveal a cylindrically shaped vehicle. It held four seats, which looked like swivel easy chairs, and two storage compartments. The vehicle was normally completely sealed, but half of a glass top had opened to allow access.
Although Adam did not elaborate on many details, this was his favorite part of Winter Camp. Regularly, he performed the mechanical work to keep the fleet of Subterranean Winter Camp Service Vehicles in good working order. The SWCSV's operated in a series of tunnels using cushions of air to protect them from the friction associated with any direct contact. Adam now maintained two dozen vehicles and was very proud of their dependable performance.
The method of propulsion for the SWCV'S was truly unique. No vehicle had a motor. Nor did the air play any role in their movement. As Alan Wilson would say "All we have is a big induction coil and each of the vehicles is like the armature in an electric motor." The tunnels were made up millions of coils of wire, which when induced with electric current, created a great magnetic pull on the vehicles. Thus the vehicles were indeed like the armature in a motor, with the tunnels themselves serving as the stator. Proceeding through a section of tunnel, the wire windings will switch direction half way through. This enables the vehicle to accelerate for the first half of the trip and decelerate for the second part.
Adam asked three newcomers to join him in the open vehicle. He told them that they would be accelerating at about 2 gees for a few seconds before their seat would swivel. Then they would be decelerating at the same rate, but because they now faced the rear of the vehicle it would feel the same as the acceleration. When the passengers were in place the glass doors closed and the vehicle quickly departed.
Mick and the three others were soon greeted by a new vehicle, which they boarded for the next station.
After all passengers had disembarked the vehicles, the newcomers where surprised at the difference in the room they had just entered. On the wall opposite the vehicle station was a large glass window, which looked into what appeared to be a dark aquarium. Next to the window was a metal door, much like the hatch on a submarine or ship.
Adam flipped a switch to light the scene behind the window, "This, my brothers, is Beaver Lake. From this vantage point we now have access to a variety of underwater adventures."
Placed in the room were numerous pieces of scuba equipment, including compact air tanks and dry suits for frigid underwater swimming. Two dozen underwater motor scooters hung neatly from the wall. Several oddly colored balls and miscellaneous sporting equipment were stored in the corner. Adam joked that blind underwater backwards baseball was a favorite Winter Camp pastime. He also pointed out a barrel of rubber fish, which had been used to harass a couple of ice fishermen.
Across the room from the underwater viewing window, a new vehicle pulled up to the gate. Its sole passenger, John Howey, opened the glass enclosure and door to enter the room with the others.
"I'm glad that we now have an express line to Fishcorn Subcamp," he said. "I could never see the point in having to stop at The Big Pine."
John glanced at the window looking into Beaver Lake. A large stingray gracefully swam by as it spread its body across the glass. It was nearly as large as a human.
"We call him Tommy," said Adam. "He's just a big show off. Hey John, I hope you're all right now."
"I'm quite fine," said John, but he was not being fully truthful. Something about the stingray bothered him. He could feel the onset of a headache, which due to his exceptionally good health, had not occurred in years.
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