Kelby heard screams and what sounded like someone moving furniture. It had been like that all night. Or what counted for night in the perpetual twilight of Armstrong base on the Moon.
After the announcement, Everyone had broken up into small groups to deal with the fact that they had been abandoned by Earth and would have to figure out how to make it without any resupply.
A few groups had gone off to party, reasoning that alcohol would all have to be homemade so there was no reason to conserve the good stuff. Others started planning sessions right away on how best to recycle what was irreplaceable and mine refine and make what wasn’t.
Kelby had heard some fights broke out and even a rumor of a suicide. It would be the first of many. Armstrong was populated with reasonable and intelligent people drawn from science and business. Some of them reasoned that the base could only support a limited number of people and felt they were old enough or lacked enough value that rather than drain the resources they should politely kill themselves.
So Kelby had broke up from his group of engineers who had spent some time half-heatedly discussing tweaks to the ventilation system that might make it even more air and resource tight, then went back to his room.
He had a shift in 10 hours, and figured other people would have figured things out by then. He wasn’t essential to that equation. But he couldn’t sleep. He doubted anyone could. His mind kept racing back to t he announcement. He kept wondering if there was some way to get back to Earth.
His group had briefly discussed the idea of a catapult.
“Heinlein wrote about it centuries ago,” said Ken the ventilation chief. “In Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.” It was a cargo delivery system that was then turned into a weapon and finally used for transport”
The engineers had combed over the idea until the agreed that centuries old fiction made a bad template of rather engineering and resource realities of the real Moon.
But his mind wouldn’t give up on the idea. Or some other alternative. It just couldn’t be the end, from the shrieks and laughs and noises in the hallways, he barely thought the Armstrong staff would last through the night much less on their own for decades.
Someone rang his door chime. He thought about ignoring it but noticed without moving that it was Telfer, his QA crewmate. He dragged himself from the catatonic position he’d been in for hours on his side and punched open the door.
“Ken killed himself,” Telfer said by way of a greeting. “I guess the Moon really is a harsh mistress.”
Kelby grunted. “Beer?”
“Crazily no. Too many already. With Ken. He started getting maudlin then said some weird stuff and headed out. I got it into my head to follow him. Caught up with him at the airlock. Think he saw me but he never acknowledge. Just trotted outside without a suit and froze quick. Shitty way to go if you ask me. But he didn’t.”
Kelby sat down with two beers in his hand. “Guess I’ll drink both.”
“Nah. Give me one.” No use saving them. You aren’t thinking about offing yourself are you? Heard about 20 or so have already. That have been reported anyway. Kay told me that when I reported Ken.”
“Too curious how it turns out,” said Kelby. “You?”
“Nah. Too chickenshit,” He took a big swig of beer. “Have a good idea for QA on the ventilators too. I’d like to see if it works.”
“Let’s hear it.”
Telfer began lining out his ventilator system. It was a good system. It also likely saved them oth from following in Ken’s footsteps.