Page 41 of The Martian

First I tried launching myself off one wall and slamming in to the other. The airlock slid a little, but that’s it.

Next, I tried doing a super-pushup to get airborne (0.4g yay!) then kicking the wall with both feet. Again, it just slid.

The third time, I got it right. The trick is to plant both my feet on the ground, near the wall. Then I launch myself to the top of the opposite wall and hit with my back. When I tried that just now, it was enough force and leverage to tip the airlock and roll it one face toward the Hab.

The airlock is a meter wide, so… sigh… I have to do it like 50 more times.

I’m gonna have a hell of a backache after this.

AUDIO LOG: SOL 120

RECORDING:

I have a hell of a backache.

The subtle and refined “hurl my body at the wall” technique had some flaws. It only worked one out of every 10 tries, and it hurt a lot. I had to take breaks, stretch out, and generally convince myself to body-slam the wall again and again.

It took all damn night, but I made it.

I’m 10 meters from the Hab now. I can’t get any closer, cause the debris from the decompression is all over the place. This isn’t an “all-terrain” airlock. I can’t roll over that shit.

It was morning when the Hab popped. Now it’s morning again. I’ve been in this damn box for an entire day. But I’m leaving soon.

I’m in the EVA suit now, and ready to roll.

All right… ok…. Once more through the plan: Use the manual valves to equalize the airlock. Get out and hurry to the Hab. Wander around under the collapsed canvas. Find Martinez’s suit (or Vogel’s if I run in to it first). Get to the rover. Then I’m safe.

If I run out of time before finding a suit, I’ll just run to the rover. I’d be in trouble, but I’d have time to think and materials to work with.

Deep breath… here we go!

LOG ENTRY: SOL 120

I’m alive! And I’m in the rover!

Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but I’m not dead, so it’s a win.

Equalizing the airlock went fine. I was out on the surface within 30 seconds. Skipping toward the Hab (the fastest way to move in this gravity) I passed through the field of debris. The rupture had really sent things flying, myself included.

It was hard to see; my faceplate was covered by the makeshift patch. Fortunately, my arm had a camera. NASA discovered that turning your whole EVA-suited body to look at something was a strenuous waste of time. So they mounted a small camera on the right arm. The feed is projected on the inner faceplate. This allows us to look at things just by pointing at them.

I had to look at a rippled, messed-up version of the outside world. The faceplate patch wasn’t exactly smooth or reflective. Still, it was enough to see what was going on. 

I bee-lined for where the airlock used to be. I knew there had to be a pretty big hole there, so I’d be able to get in. I found it easily. And boy is it a nasty rip! It’s going to be a pain in the ass to fix it.

That’s when the flaws in my plan started to reveal themselves. I only had one arm to work with. My left arm was pinned against my body, while the stumpy arm of the suit bounced freely. So as I moved around under the canvas, I had to use my one good arm to hold the canvas up. It slowed me down.

From what I could see, the interior of the Hab is chaos. Everything’s moved. Entire tables and bunks are meters away from where they started. Lighter objects are wildly jumbled, many of them out on the surface. Everything’s covered in soil and mangled potato plants.

Trudging onward, I got to where I’d left Martinez’s suit. To my shock, it was still there!

“Yay!” I naively thought. “Problem solved.”

Unfortunately, the suit was pinned under a table, which was held down by the collapsed canvas. If I’d had both arms, I could have pulled it free, but with only one I just couldn’t do it.

Running low on time, I detached the helmet. Setting it aside, I reached past the table to get Martinez’s patch kit. I found it with the help of the arm-camera. I dropped it in the helmet and hauled ass out of there.

Stumbling to the rover, I barely made it in time. My ears were popping from pressure loss just as the rover’s airlock filled with wonderful 1-atmosphere air.

Crawling in, I collapsed and panted for a moment.

So I’m back in the rover. Just like I was back on the Great Pathfinder Recovery Expedition. Ugh. At least this time it smells a little better.

NASA’s probably pretty worried about me by now. They probably saw the airlock move back to the Hab, so they know I’m alive, but they’ll want status. And as it happens, it’s the rover that communicates with Pathfinder.

I tried to send a message but Pathfinder isn’t responding. That’s not a big surprise. It’s powered directly from the Hab, and the Hab is offline. During my brief, panicked scramble outside, I saw Pathfinder was right where I left it, and the debris didn’t reach that far out. It should be fine once I get it some power. 

As for my current situation, the big gain is the helmet. They’re interchangeable, so I can replace my broken-ass one with Martinez’s. The stumpy arm is still an issue, but the faceplate was the main source of leaks. And with the fresh patch kit, I can seal the arm with more resin.

But that can wait. I’ve been awake for over 24 hours. I’m not in any immediate danger, so I’m going to sleep. 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 121

Got a good night’s sleep, and made real progress today.

First thing I did was re-seal the arm. Last time, I had to spread the resin pretty thin; I’d used most of it for the faceplate patch. But this time I had a whole patch kit just for the arm. I got a perfect seal.

I still only had a one-armed suit, but at least it didn’t leak.

I’d lost most of my air yesterday, but I had a half-hour of oxygen left. Like I said earlier, a human body doesn’t need much oxygen. Maintaining pressure was the problem.

With that much time, I was able to take advantage of the rover’s EVA tank-refill. Something I couldn’t do with the leaky suit.

The tank-refill is an emergency measure. The expected use of the rover is to start with full EVA suits and come back with air to spare. It wasn’t designed for long trips, or even overnighters. But, just in case of emergency, it has refill hoses mounted on the exterior. Inside space was limited already, and NASA concluded most air-related emergencies would be outdoors.

But refilling is slow, slower than my suit was leaking. So it wasn’t any use to me. Now, with a solid suit capable of holding pressure, refilling the tanks was a breeze.

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