The Macedonian Hazard – Snippet 03
214 12th Street, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad
March 12, 320BCE
The kiln design was mostly out of Wikipedia, but Donald had helped. It turned out that plumbing helps with preheating air to make the fire hotter. Something called reverse flow. The air came in right next to where the burned air went out, so the flue preheated the air. Stella was the one who wrote up the variance request that let them put the kiln behind the house in the fifty foot field that went between the houses and the town wall. Stella had never in her worst nightmare imagined that she would be living in a walled fort. The wall was going to be eighteen feet tall when it was finished. Now it was a bunch of logs in the fifty foot field.
April 14, 320 BCE
Stella helped Donald up the stairs to the second floor, then out onto the balcony, so they could watch the Queen of the Sea sail out. The second floor was fourteen feet above the ground after adding the four foot crawl space below the first floor. That put Donald and her eyes a touch above the wall, so out in the bay she could see the Queen clearly.
She looked over at Donald and saw a tear leaking onto his cheek, and Stella wanted to cry too. Because she knew as well as Donald did that he would probably not live to see the Queen of the Sea return to Fort Plymouth.
She helped him back inside and they sat for a while as she waited for him to get enough energy to make it down the stairs. The stairs were sort of actual stairs, though they were like the stairs on a warship. They had flat rungs, but the angle was closer to a ladder than what Stella thought of as stairs. They did have extra steps so Donald didn’t need to lift his feet that far to reach the next step.
Once Stella got Donald situated, she went out to the “hardware” store near the center of town to buy tar. The “hardware” store did indeed have hardware. It had hammers, though it had more wooden hammers than steel hammers, and the wooden mallets were quite a bit cheaper. It had brushes and buckets, mostly handmade. The tar she was here to buy came in chunks. It was a waste product of the “oil refinery,” a still located near the oil well a few miles out of town. The tar was the crud that collected on the bottom of the still, and was mucked out by hand.
It was also the best sealant for cracks in the roof, floor, and walls in the “townhouses” of Fort Plymouth. And Stella and Donald’s townhouses had a lot of cracks to be filled.
One good thing was that Stella was losing weight. She was doing quite a bit of hard manual labor every day, between emptying the chamber pots, sweeping the floors, building the kiln, and, today, using a pot stove on the balcony to melt the tar. It stank, and would stink even after it cooled for days. It was a tar paper shack, without the paper. Once she had the tar melted, it went up onto the roof by buckets as local tribesmen painted the roof with it, to give her and Donald, for the first time since they moved in, roofs that didn’t leak.
The back of Stella’s townhouse was up against the fifty foot field, a fifty foot stretch of open ground between the town and the town’s wall. The field was designed to let defenders move from one point on the wall to another easily, but Stella got a ten foot variance to build her kiln out back. The kiln was brick two layers thick, and it had a pre-heating chamber and was oil powered. Why not? She lived only a few miles from an oil well. It was also, after months of her work and the occasional labor of the locals, not quite completed yet.
Community Center, Fort Plymouth, Trinidad
April 19, 320 BCE
The Community Center was a combination restaurant, general grocery, half open air gaming area, and live theater. There was even a big screen TV from the Queen in one room that played movies from back in the world. At the moment, Stella was sitting at a table, eating cornbread and chili beans with enough super turkey meat to make it almost real chili. The peppers were as local as the super turkey. They grew all over this part of South America and the Tupky were selling them to the colony by the canoe load. Everything from fresh to smoked and dried. Chili was almost like home. Well, except for the people who insisted that chili wasn’t supposed to have beans in it.
Next to Stella on the bench was Carol Knight Harvell. Carol was forty-five and worked as a domestic before The Event. The trip on the Queen was her second honeymoon, and her husband John Harvell was a truck driver in Chicago. They had three adult kids who had not made the trip, and were committed Christians before The Event. They were both working at other businesses now. John was working on one of the steam generators. His job was to watch the dials, control the crude oil that the steam engine burned for fuel, and make sure the steam engine ran at a consistent speed. The sole function of his steam engine generator was to charge a bank of lead acid batteries that were then used to power electrical devices. That system was in use because here in New America they lacked the control systems to avoid power spikes.
Carol, on the other hand, worked in the condom factory. “You have nothing to complain about,” Carol told Stella. “I spend my whole day with a wooden dildo in my hand, dipping it into a pot of hot latex, then sticking it under a blow dryer, then dipping it again until the condom is thick enough not to rip. Then I turn it over to Tess Panay while I grab another dildo and do it all again. I’ve handled more woodies since we got here than in my whole family for generations back.”
Stella didn’t want to talk about the utter and complete lack of woodies of any sort in her life since The Event, so she changed the subject and they talked about some of the new industries that were starting up in Fort Plymouth. They were all kitchen industries, wood shops and leather workers, manufacturers of latex water bottles and some guy trying to make a sewing machine. Another guy was trying to get a jacquard loom built, and someone actually had a pedal-powered carding machine up and running.
After lunch, Stella went back to the counter and got a salad to go for Donald, which she carried back.
Donald Carnegie was sitting on the wooden sidewalk in front of his “townhouse.” His head was lolling to the side and his mouth was open. There was some drool leaking and Stella tried to wake him. He wouldn’t wake up. She checked his heartbeat. It was still beating, but he was barely breathing at all. She shouted to William McIan, their next door neighbor on the other side. “Donald is unconscious! Run get the medics.”
The medics arrived about fifteen minutes later, and took him away in a two-wheeled cart pulled by two men.
Fort Plymouth Hospital, Trinidad
April 21, 320 BCE
President Allen Wiley stepped into the ward and looked around. This was the experimental ward. There were twelve cots, six on each side of the room and about half the beds were filled. These patients were the ones with terminal illnesses that would have been merely chronic back in the world. The beds emptied and were refilled on a regular basis as the healers tried to do what they could, and in the process did human experiments.
Al went over to the doctor, Ronald Kemper, who had been a registered nurse back before The Event.
Ronald looked up from the patient he was injecting. “It’s fish-derived insulin, Mr. President, and not nearly as pure as I would like. But this guy is in a diabetic coma and headed to the grave if we don’t do something.”
“Did you have his permission?” Al asked.
Ronald nodded. “It’s on the chart. We can try anything we want.” It was a standard question that all the citizens of New America were asked to fill out even before they moved off the ship.
Donald’s eyes flickered. The insulin was working.