The wall clock’s glowing red numbers were the only real indicators that it was morning. Living on the moon made time a very mutable thing. The pioneers who made it their home felt far less constrained by the earthly conventions of time. Clocks and relationships measured time, not the position of the sun. Not everyone could handle it. The long-term residents got used to it or went mad. The three of them spent all night working, and it looked like Aldric’s idea may have borne some fruit.
Being a part of Aldric’s team could lead to all sorts of possibilities in the future. Aldric paid well, but his altruism led to limitations in pay. He and Margaret should be swimming in fat paychecks, but Aldric kept their pay at a level that most earth scientists would scoff at. It was not that he was cheap; it was that he had an overwhelming sense of fairness that went completely beyond Evan’s understanding. The lowest paid person in the company made nearly a third of what Aldric made, which was more than half of what Evan took home. He would have gone elsewhere, but no one was more cutting edge than Dark Side Experimental, so he stayed.
Evan walked toward the garage, unwilling to wait around while Margaret threw herself at Aldric once more. He would not mind being on the receiving end of her affections, but spending his morning listening to the two of them moan and groan in Aldric’s little “hidden” bedroom was not something he enjoyed. They thought they were slick, but they were a joke. Margaret was the joke. Aldric was the boss, and she was hardly his first dalliance, so people expected it from him, but Margaret thought she was special and that being Aldric’s lover provided her with special privileges. The rumor mill said that she was on her way out. Aldric slept with his employees, but they had to stay employees by doing the work and following the rules. Margaret was good at the first but was failing at the second.
The dimly lit garage was sparsely populated with hover-cars. Aldric’s flashy red sports model dominated the space with a spotlight shining down on his personal parking space. It made Evan’s metallic blue sedan seem sad and pathetic in its space. It was a good car, practical and safe. It was the kind of car Evan’s mother would approve of if she were still alive.
Once comfortably in the driver’s seat, Evan turned the car on and flinched at the sound of the sedan’s force field kicking in. It crackled and spit like a fallen power line until stabilizing and settling into a loud hum. It worked well and protected him from just about everything that fell out of the sky, but it was a very unsettling way to start any excursion outside the confines of a building. Satisfied that the force field would not fail him, Evan signaled the door to open and drove out through the shield that kept the building safe from meteors and the air from escaping into the vacuum of the moon’s barren wasteland.
The advent of hovercars made personal transportation on the moon’s dark side possible. Wheel-based vehicles did fine on the other side of the moon with the large, open, lunar seas but the crater pocked dark side made road building inefficient. Evan cruised along the road, which was little more than a lane designated by markers of red light, and wondered what Aldric’s latest invention might do for the people of the moon, and the people living on earth for that matter. If the power output projections were correct, it might be the key to getting humanity out of the solar system.
Faster than light travel had proven too expensive to be practical, but Aldric’s idea could make it feasible if they could improve stability and marry it to the existing jump drive technology. Evan turned on the autopilot and looked at the stars outside of his window. Even the faint shimmer of the force field could not diminish the fierce brilliance of the stars as seen without the interference of sun or atmosphere. He longed to be there, amongst the stars, but he would settle for the moon until something better came along. For the first time in years, Evan fell asleep dreaming of a trip to a far off world, and it did not feel impossible.