The warning indicators on my ship tell me a general “what” when it comes to problems, but no sensor has yet been developed that can pinpoint exactly where the source of the problem is, nor can they tell how to fix it. Some might call that a nuisance, but I call it job security. If the computer could diagnose and fix every issue that came up, the need for human operators would end, and rakes would all be automated. I hate extra vehicular activities, but if I plan to continue breathing, I need to figure out exactly what is going on.
Every time I put on my EVA suit, I’m thankful that there’s nobody around to see me, as I’ve never really mastered fine movements in zero gravity. There are some rakers that I know who can manoeuver themselves to within millimeters of where they want to be with controlled bursts of compressed gas, but I have the bad habit of using bursts that are either too long or too short, and it always takes a while to get where I want to be. Also, with the bulkiness of the suit, fine motor skills are practically useless. I feel a bit like a beached whale in a clown costume…I’m floundering about, and I’m sure I look ridiculous. Oh well, worrying about how I might look to my non-existent audience certainly isn’t going to save my life.
The nice thing about an oxygen leak is that it creates wind in a calm environment. I keep a large piece of material with me in my ship for just such emergencies. As I move it along the side of the ship, all I need to do is watch for it to begin fluttering, and I’ll have located the problem. This is why I search for the leak from outside. There is virtually no way of locating a leak from the inside. My ship is large…it needs to be to hold the metal dust I’m collecting, but I know that I can limit my search to specific areas as there’s no point in pressurizing the cargo holds. I move myself over to where the oxygen storage facility is and position my fabric, slowly moving it along the exterior wall of the ship. There! The moving fabric shows me what my eye could never see…if the hole were big enough to detect visually, my air would have escaped in minutes. Most likely, the hole was caused by a micrometeoroid travelling at some ridiculous velocity. Those things are tiny, but can do a lot of damage.
I can try to adhere something to the wound…a bit like a bandaid, but the positive pressure coming from the inside of the ship would likely force the leak open again. Welding is also out of the question…with using an electro-magnet, the exterior of my ship is made, out of necessity, out of a non-weldable polymer. This is something that I’ll have to fix from inside the ship. I glue a small beacon to the hull, just next to the hole. This will guide me to where the wound is when I get back inside. Hopefully once I get to the oxygen room, a microscopic hull breach is all that I find!
I based today’s chapter on the Inspiration Monday prompt: “Beached Clown”. I found the prompts at InMon were a bit tricky to weave into a sci-fi story this week. I could have written something else entirely, but I didn’t want to abandon this project. I hope that my use of the prompt didn’t seem to forced (I’m a bit worried that it was…sorry!). I have a few ideas of where I would like to take this, but how I get there really depends on what prompts I am given next week,