Underwater Restorations - Part 2
by Jeffrey A. Ballard
. . . continued from issue 37 . . .
This is not my favorite part. I love the free-fall descent, and tolerate the unnatural
ascent. But bouncing between the two for the purposes of hovering -- not so
much. It's not even hovering, it's jerking me up and down, mixing the contents of
my stomach up like some Rube Goldberg blender.
We designed the suits to work in the ocean. The extra force from buoyancy helps
smooth out the motion. Buoyancy is negligible in air -- it makes for a bumpy
ride. There wasn't time to see if we could modify the subroutine. Even worse, the
reverse-gravity modules work on a closed system, which means I'm in the full
gravity suit, helmet included, jammed over my night vision goggles. My
peripheral vision's cut off and what I can see is distorted through a curved glass
plate. Plus, everything I hear sounds distant. I'm going in almost deaf with tunnel
vision. Maybe I should've shoved nose plugs up my nose to match the motif.
I oscillate outside a window that's been filled in with brick to match the rest of the
side of the three-story building. Pete's office is on the other side. I have no idea if
he's in there. For this to work, Pete can't have any clue something is amiss and
that means setting the laser cutter on the narrowest setting. So narrow, that I can't
even fit a scope-wire through to see if the office is occupied.
I have to time the laser cutter with my mini-ascents, as I cut through the mortar.
Thankfully, the brick in the window was added later so all the edges around the
window are straight. There's a slight dip in the cut along the left edge, where I
realized this would've been a perfect task for Winn's steady surgeon hands.
I put the laser cutter in my pack and take out handles, which I attach to the center
of the brick window. I push the brick forward into the office. It slides smoothly
but not easily. Two hundred pounds of brick isn't trivial to move. The moment of
truth is when the brick is halfway into the office. I need to push the brick in, get
into the office and reverse the gravity enough not to slam the brick on the floor. If
Pete's in there, I'm a sitting duck. If I drop it, without the additional weight I'll hit
The gravity subroutine will help with lowering the two-hundred pound block, but I
still have to hold it, it's still two hundred pounds. Holding a cannon ball
descending or ascending is still holding a cannon ball. I check my gravity
subroutine and get ready to push.
I pause to see if I can detect any clue about what's on the other side. I can't.
I push the block the rest of the way.