They Can Dig It

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Digging up Mars is a job, what they found is something else.

Submitted: October 04, 2017

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Submitted: October 04, 2017



{First Half}

The spacecrafts had come and gone to the surface of the Red Planet, cargo containers had been delivered, structures assembled, tunnels dug, and at last, humanity was living on Mars.

In 24 earth years from the first touchdown it was done and then it was time to start doing some serious digging.

That was good too, because 24 years is too long for public opinion to remain positive toward a project so expensive.

Oh sure, government officials told the public that private funds were paying for everything. But private funds mean corporation funds and corporations are built on the sale of goods and services. And wouldn't you know that the prices of those goods and services have skyrocketed from the beginning of the Mars project; slowly at first, then they escalated with each passing year. The higher the price for stuff, the angrier the public became.

But not to worry, they didn't come here to explore, or to set up colonies for the reasons that they said that they were going to. No, they came here to dig! 

After all these years, costs on earth will begin to fall now. With no environmental laws on Mars to curtail profitability, and the perfection of solar sails, production and travel between the planets will be relatively cheap; so they dig, and they dig, and they dig.

Much of what they dig up is processed right there, near the digging site, and the end result is loaded aboard ships and sent back to earth.

Piles and piles of unusable material is left to blow away in any  wind storm that comes along. It is a miner's dream, dig all you want and don't sweat the clean-up, it will be gone with the wind.


In earth year 49 on Mars they ran into a slight problem though, one of their exploratory drills broke through bedrock and into a cavern of some sort. The greater percentage of the cavern was filled with oxygen, so said their sensors.

There were other trace gases and particulates, but nothing any human couldn't handle.

They had run into other cavities before, smaller and filled with various gasses, but never such a large amount of oxygen.

Because the mining companies can sell some of the more exotic gasses, at premium prices, they always backed up their drilling with Blow-out Preventers.

The Blow-out Preventers are a means of containing sudden rushes of gasses, or liquids, from a drilling site. When they work right they can allow the drillers to siphon the gas, or liquid, at a metered amount under a controlled environment; otherwise, it would just spews off into space.

This particular drilling company has salvaged $280,000,000 worth of exotic gasses just this earth year; and the year isn't over yet.

Their contract with the materials Mining Company says they get to do whatever they want with gas byproducts that they encounter while searching for mineral and metal deposits. So, counting labor and shipping the company will still make $16,000,000 profit from the gas alone; it is the ice-cream on their slice of this cake.

After much debate from the big boys upstairs, they eventually sent a pilotless drone to inspect the cavern and to send back digital images. When they finally got one outfitted and injected into the drill hole they found something that few believed that they would find on Mars, a gigantic replica of an island; and it was under a massive dome.

This dome was buried under the planet's surface and not accessible to sunlight; but the entire dome was as bright as if it were a sunny day on earth.


 {Call in the Expert}


"Ah, Mr. Hawk, we hope your flight was enjoyable.

I'm Crag Goldwyn of Drill-Right Enterprises; I'll be your site guide while you’re here.

I've arranged a full service executive apartment; and I had the (All Communication Platform) installed for your convenience.

During your stay we have placed you in a living environment where you will be within walking distance of restaurants and shopping venues, such that they are.

There is room-service provided at your apartment as well, and a simple retina scan authorizes any purchases you my make while you are here; it's all on the company's dime. Are there any questions?"

"Crag, you gotta call me Jorge, I'm from that part of the U.S.. where we are not big on formalities.

And yes, there are two questions that I can think of. When can I see the inside the dome and am I going to be able to be transported in there?"

Crag pointed to a monorail style transportation pod, indicating that they should enter, and replied, "I can take you to Control Central right now. They have all available digital images that we presently have. You can view them there, or take copies with you, if you'd like."

"Oh, I do like that idea!" Jorge replied.


The two men were zipped along, at furious clip, in their four-seat pod. It seemed as if they were flying, even though they were rolling on wheels along a sky-way of intersecting Monorail tracks, transferring from one track to another as they went.

Jorge looked out the Plexiglas dome of the transportation pod at the bleak terrain and remarked, "I'm surprised that the drilling and mining companies don't employ a more high-tech type of flying transportation on Mars."

Crag replied, "In this case high-tech costs big bucks, but low-tech is far less costly. The monorail platforms and the entire infrastructure for the cars to ride on are formed using Mars rock and Martian cement. And we do it right here, no transportation from earth needed.

These rail systems are operational even in adverse weather conditions too, like severe dust storms and high winds. But the big plus is that they run on easily replaceable electricity.

The company's costs and bottom-line is engineered into everything we do up here, Jorge. That is true with Drill-Right Enterprises as well as with the 46 other companies doing business on the Red Planet."

The pod slipped into hollow tube and stopped. The entry end of the tube closed and the unmistakable sound of a pressure chamber was herd, (sheeeee). Then the far end of the tube opened and the pod moved forward to a docking station.

"Welcome to CC, Control Central, Jorge," Crag said as he pointed towards a large set of double doors.


{Study Time}


After Jorge reviewed the images for some time Crag finally asked, "Well Jorge, what is your opinion so far?"

Jorge took his Texas Ranger baseball cap off and scratched the back of his head, just above his right ear. Then the cap was placed  right back in the exact same spot it previously rested.

Crag could tell by the band-line in Jorge's hair.

"Looking at these images, well I'd swear that I am looking at an island on earth, a very big island, complete with an ocean around it. The cavity is so big that I cannot see the edges if it.

I need probes sent to determine its shape. I need data telling me how big the island is, how deep the ocean is, and what kind of shape this cavity is; round, half domed, rectangle, square, or none of the above. 

And I'd like to take a little trip to the island itself, if possible. That might explain a lot of things, like where the hell did this come from."

Crag smiled and replied, "Do you think it could be inhabited on a permanent basis, you know, with some modifications by Drill-Right Enterprises?

Let's face it, it is a made to order habitat if it is adaptable to humans. This would be a great place for Mars workers to come for some R&R without traveling all the way back home. Or a tourist attraction for earthlings to vacation, build a few hotels, and Ta-Dah, Hawaii, Martian style."

Jorge laughed and replied, "Too soon to tell Buck-ah-rue. I gotta see the horse up close if I'm gonna look at its teeth. Get me down there, up close and personal and we shall see what we shall see."


{Last Half}


Jorge spent the next earth month pouring over data and examining small items that a mining probe managed to bring back from the island.

One item was of particular interest, and it was a sculpture. It was dated to be only 5,000 to 8,000 earth years old; and that is far newer than the island rocks that were sampled.


Crag knocked on Jorge's apartment door and he heard Jorge yell, "Come on in!"

As he let himself in the door he saw Jorge at the computer chomping on some apple chips and mulling over data.

Crag smiled and playfully said, "Well Jorge, are you ready to do some exploring today?"

Well you would have thought someone kicked Jorge in the backside, the way he came out of that chair!

Then he said, "You bet your Buttonholes I'm ready! When do we go?"

"Woo now, this is one trip I'm not up for, besides, there is only enough room in the craft for you and your equipment. And when I say equipment I mean the minimum. What fits in the Bullet-drone goes, if it won't fit then it stays behind."

"Hell, Crag, I don't know how to fly a drone!" Jorge replied.

"Not to worry Jorge, we've mapped the entire island and the drone's computer has all that information," Crag stated.

Then he continued, "This drone is just like a Uber driverless vehicle, you tell it where to stop, and it will stop, you tell it to land, and it will land in a suitable place. The only thing that it is pre-programmed to do is to get you onto the island and to get you back to the launch site when you say so. It's all good."

With that said Jorge packed what he needed and Crag ushered him to the launch site.

Jorge was shoe-horned into the bullet-drone and his gear was stowed just above his head, in separate compartment.

Breathing systems were checked and double checked on his emergency face mask, and then he was good to go.


The bullet-drone is well named because it moves through a drilling tube like a bullet through a gun barrel. But when Jorge's capsule left that shaft it started to tumble.

"Oh God, this craft is out of control," Jorge thought. "Talk about twists of fate, to die already in a casket; how convenient."

About that moment Jorge heard a voice, "Activating Gyros, stabilization protocols enabled, switching to programmed maps and locating co-ordination points. Free-fall ends in Three, Two, One, engine engaged.

Hello Jorge, I'm Shula your Pilot. How are you feeling?"

"OK, I guess," Jorge replied.

Shula continued by asking, "Would you like to see out, our air speed is 22.6 mph and your breathing system is still in place and sealed."

"Sure, I guess, "Jorge replied.

Suddenly the hatch door slid to one side and Jorge's back support changed shape; something a-kin to a patio lounge chair in the 45 degree upright position.

As Jorge's eyesight scanned the earth blue sky he couldn't help but notice that there was what looked like, a sun overhead. There were clouds too; he was even flying through some at the moment.

The temperature was a mild, 78 degrees and the humidity leaned to the tropical side. If he didn't know better Jorge would have thought that he was on earth.

As he drew near the island a flock of birds flew passed him, at first he thought that they were Pelican and they may have been, but there were marked differences.

Next came a Albatross, some sea-gulls, along with various other sea birds, some of which Jorge had never seen before.

Jorge looked down at the almost transparent greenish water and saw fish in abundance.

Jorge said aloud, "This must be what earth looked like thousands of years ago."

"My reference library indicates many thousands of years ago," Shula stated. "The island itself does not match any geographic references to actual places on earth. Yet, it loosely matches descriptions of a mythological island, one that supposedly exploded and sank into the sea."

Jorge chuckled and asked, "Shula, do you mean Atlantis?"

Shula's attention was distracted from that question as a more pressing matter became apparent.

Shula said, "You have arrived, Jorge. Were you expecting a greeting party?"

Jorge tried to look below the drone but was unable to see the ground at that angle. So he replied, what greeting party? I don't see anyone."

There is a group of humans waiting to greet you, they are smiling and some have flowers. Would you like me to land?"


{The Bullet Returns}


Crag was pacing the floor at the Bullet-drone retrieval site, and then he said, "Where the hell is he? Jorge should have been back here days ago!"

"Calm down, the drone has entered the tube and will dock shortly.

Hmm, that's strange?!?"

Crag looked worried and asked, "What is strange?"

"The tube has been sealed at the domes surface; it is just as if we never drilled through it.

Ah, the drone has arrived!"


As the drone opened it was soon apparent that Jorge was not aboard, his gear was there, but Jorge was not.

However, there was a note and it said, "Move all personnel away from the center of the drilling site, a 600 mile diameter is needed for your safety; you have 48 earth hours to evacuate. A seismic event is imminent! I repeat, a seismic event is imminent!"

Crag talked to people higher up the corporate ladder and in a few hours they gave the OK to move the 30 or so people from the Drill-Right drilling site. But they were not totally convinced so they said not to move the drilling rig or anything else.

At hour 48 a sudden trimmer began, slowly at first, and then the surface of the planet opened up. The sphere rose to the surface like a giant bubble coming to the surface of liquid, and as it lifted it left a hell of a hole behind.

The sphere kept floating higher and higher into the atmosphere, until, poof, it darted off into space like a star-ship engaging Warp-drive.

As Crag stood watching the event he just said, "I don't know who is flying that thing, but it sure isn't Jorge.


D. Thurmond / JEFalcon


© Copyright 2019 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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