Antark

Antark: Chapter Nine

McGee was alone, standing just a few steps outside the main hatch from Valhalla Boulevard, out in the open with his parka sealed tight. He needed to not talk for awhile, just to feel that lashing wind and to hear the drone of those monster wind turbines.

He had spoken briefly to that one remaining person from earlier, a Roos van Rhijn. He liked her self-assured manner; that would help. He made her his new first-shift supervisor, and the other of those final two, Anthony Nweke, her assistant.

Holy Christ, there was so much work to do. They needed a full training plan, and quickly: CPR, AED, first aid, weapons maintenance, firearm safety, the lot. They’d make Matti Niekonnen the armorer for that shift, responsible for making sure those damned shotguns were cleaned, maintained, safely stored and every one accounted for. McGee smiled; that should make his ears burn.

He also recalled seeing lone individuals out on safety patrols. That ends now, he resolved. Conditions were dangerous out here on the best of days.

“Sir?”

McGee turned. It was Nweke.

“Sir, Roos asked me to come ask what to do about Albert Bell?”

“Bell?”

“He’s the Chief Medical Officer,” he said. “But he’s responsible to rotate through a patrol like everyone else. He’s been a no-show for seven shifts now. That’s three months.”

“Ouch. Three months? Has no one gone to speak to him?”

“A few times,” Anthony added. “Each time the messengers were… rebuked. Rather crudely, I’m told. There’s really no way we can force him to pitch in, unless we want to submit it to Ortiz for the Assembly agenda.”

McGee nodded and frowned, able to guess how well that would go over. “True. And what could they really do? Set him adrift on an ice floe?” They shared a laugh.

“I’ll handle Dr. Bell myself. You two get on that lesson plan, make sure all patrols are partnered, and for fuck’s sake put someone onto cleaning those shotguns. I’ll check on you in a few hours.”

McGee closed his eyes briefly. Just resting them, he said to himself.

“Sir?”

No, really. Just resting my eyes; they hurt a little bit.

“Major McGee?”

I’m fine, really. I’ll open them in a sec and go get some coffee or something. Coffee sounds good.

“Major, are you okay?”

Just another couple of seconds and I’ll open my eyes. I will. No need to panic.

I will.

McGee collapsed.

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