Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Russian Outpost "Vostok Station" Antarctica 2014
A cold wind blew off the Antarctic plateau, My ears burned in the bitter cold as the crew and I stood around a hole in the ice. Cracked ice fell off the cable as they reeled the last few feet out of the hole. Three workers in sterile suits leaned over to grab the object, a Stainless Steel cylinder the length of about 40 inches, hanging at the end of the cable. Using a hammer to knock away the ice and a heat gun to thaw parts of the assembly I was able to get a better look at it.
“Did it working properly Sam?” asked “Winger” the winch operator.
As I wiped the frost from my goggles I said “Yea it looks like it closed like it was suppose too”
I was a microbial ecologist from Idaho. Not much call for that degree so after being in the Navy Seals/Spec Ops and the roaming world for 15 years, it was nice to be a civilian again and put my degree to good use.
I was just getting over a loss of extra baggage as I liked to call it trying hard to hide the hurt of losing the only thing in life that had kept me from going insane on some of the missions we had been on.
Six months on the Ice did a lot to relationships and mine didn’t make it.
That news came in a Dear John email (”chinged” like in cha-ching) one afternoon after a long day of drilling holes in the ice, just trying to solve the mysteries of Antarctica’s frozen lakes “A Day On The Lake” as I liked to look at it.
That email was enough to me into a spiraling mess which only brought a frustrated down time that left me exhausted with nerve's as raw as an open wound.
So for months I had my “monk-on” a Antarctica Slang word for being in a pissed off mood..
Even if I knew in the back of my mind it was over before I had left the last time, it’s just something you still can’t get use to…Rejection.
I can’t forget the look on her face when I told her I was thinking about taking this job and I would be gone at least 6 months.
And than we fought and finally I was able to convince her this was a perfect way to jump start my microbial ecologist career again.
Her emails kept coming slower and slower until the day came that I got “that email” I’ve met someone else and we are in love.. Your stuff is in a storage unit.
Your Dad has the key and your Camaro
Oh and I’m taking L’Sammy
Shit! I’m now a member of the “Chinged Club” and Dog-less.. Yea naming our dog L’Sammy was her way of telling me I was always in the dog house…
Holding the cylinder, I could feel the slushing of the water- ice mix inside, it was evident that it had filled and closed as it was designed to do before its long journey to the surface.
In the science community what lay inside the cylinder was like pure gold.
The water and ice came from one of the most isolated bodies of water on Earth…Lake Vostok which laid 1200 meters at shallowest depth which laid directly under The Russian sub station “Vostok Station”.
At first, Lake Vostok was thought to have been deeper and maybe it was at it’s deepest but not at its edge which was only recently found by a Government research satellites that TETON QM Inc. Some how got okay’d to use for this project.
With the ice melting from the climate cycling it had made it more and more accessible than in the past.
Vostok Station mysteriously opened up to the western world with a invitation to work together to explore Vostok Lake which was a miracle in it’s self.
The largest sub-glacial Lake known and bigger than Lake Mead
With the way the Russians ran a tight security perimeter it only fueled more of the conspiracy theories.
So for the time being, I was grateful that I didn’t have to deal with the News Crews or other people.
After reading up on the Russian Scientist problems with contamination and equipment failure with the first samples from Vostok Lake it’s no wonder they have open the doors to the west, they should of done it sooner I thought.
We were under the direction of Washington DC and Dr. Jordan Era,who worked for Teton QM
Dr. Jordan Era had spent 15 years figuring out how to devise ways for safe sampling procedures so that they would not contaminate the fragile ecosystem of the sub-glacial lake and/or contaminate ours.
Dr. Era had been on several failed Antarctica Lake drilling's, and had been sure this was the lucky one.
After handing him the cylinder I thought, “we will soon know whether he was right or not”.
Dr. Era held the cylinder gently in his gloved hands like he was holding a baby. He looked at it for a moment before hefting it to his shoulder and headed back to the makeshift portable Bio-Lab they had built so it could be kept close to the drilling site.
Hopefully this would be the last sample, they were running out of time as in Antarctica Winter that was set to start in a couple of weeks with the “vernal equinox” because no one wants to be out on the Ice in minus seventy degrees Fahrenheit..
Touching my mic I said, “Let’s call it a day, wrap it up”
John Billings aka: “Bull” started bellowing orders to the team, not that he needed too, every man on the team knew his job inside out but John was always able to pry just a little more out of them.
John had served with me through Afghanistan and more and that is why I wanted him on my team, I trusted him.
He did his job, never complaining. Now with other men it was a different story..they had a name for John…”Bullshit” you never knew what they would call him next.. But in the end they all knew he was the one to stand behind in case of trouble and the respect showed.
Entering the mud room they shook off the crawlies as the locals called frozen snow that blew harder across Antarctica then down.
Dr. Francis James handing them hot cups of coffee after getting their Parkas off and had knocked off the last of the snow that was buried in every creaves.
“How was the fishing?” she asked
I liked how she called freezing your balls off standing around a hole in the ice all day “fishing”.
Like we were going to pull up a prehistoric Salmon or something.
“Yea I think we finally got a good sample, didn’t the Doc tell you?”
“Sam you know better than that, he has locked himself up in that Bio-Lab and won’t answer his phone”
“Ahh the old keep you in the dark routine” I said,
“No I think it’s like he doesn’t like to face people with bad news”
“Francis I think this is different this time, it’s a good sample”
Dr. James face turned red when she noticed Bull staring at them both
“Bull what are you staring at?”
Grinning he said “When did you two get on a first name bases”
Realizing my mistake, I felt my face flush.
“Bull it’s not how it looks” I said
“It never is” Bull turned and headed down the hall laughing.
“Funny guy” I said,
Dr. James turned giving me that big beautiful smile, “Sam it’s OK we didn’t break any rules, we are grown ups”
Breaking into a smile “Yea your right, why hide it?”
Taking a sip of my coffee I tried to hide a smile as her mouth dropped open "Well I didn't mean that we should just blurt it out over the intercom"
My phone rang saving me from losing his mouth full of coffee.
Holding up my hand, I listen intently for a moment, finally saying, "Yea we'll be right there"
"Dr. Era has just called a meeting, and it sounds urgent".
"Oh here we go Mister bad news will try to break it to us easy, there goes another Christmas in warm Florida"
"Your not from Florida Francis"
"Can't you let a girl dream"
Walking into the conference room, I was awestruck at who all was there..
Francis said “Florida here I come”
Searching for a couple of chairs, I noticed even the Russian Crew was here and everyone down to the mess hall cooks.
“Yea this must be good news”
Finding a couple of chairs in the back next to Bull, Francis and I sat down.
Bull leaned over to me and asked “Does this mean what I think it means?”
“I’m guessing it does, no other reason to call this big of a meeting with bad news”
Bull sighed with relief “Good I’m starting to run out of available women”
I shook my head “I bet, you slut”
Bull grinned at me “I am what I am”
My cell vibrated in my pocket, stopping my come back.
Reading the text I leaned into Francis “We have a private meeting with Dr. Era after this horse and pony show”.