Another Ten Seconds
Chapter 4: Mill Street Location
by Jeff Rand
John departed from the Beaver Lake viewpoint by way of a Jeffrey's tube. His decision to walk was one more of need for a moment of solitude rather than any desire to test his bipedal mobility.
The Jeffrey's tubes were actually pedestrian tunnels running alongside the SWCSV network, offering Winter Campers the ability to walk to any location within the network. Although most thought them totally unnecessary, Jeff Rand prevailed with his desire to travel the old fashioned way, even if it was underground. At least they were more practical than the "jeffries tubes" fictionalized on the Star Trek television and movie series, where the only way to travel in them required crawling and opening electromechanical security doors with muscle power and suction cups.
John's headache had not diminished when he entered the energy storage unit, as he was beginning to doubt his own sanity. "Why shouldn't I just enjoy Winter Camp like the others? In the end it seems to be everything I expect," he thought.
The energy storage unit was the work of Douglas Ronald Wilson. Although son Alan provided much of the engineering expertise for the underground system, the elder Wilson would not allow himself to be deemed "over the hill" and demanded some role in the project. His special interest and expertise in energy provided the opportunity. In the usual Winter Camp fashion, there had been extensive debate on the best energy source for the SWCSV's and underground network. Ultimately, conventional wisdom dictated that the primary source be hydrogen fuel cells, the predominant fuel used in contemporary automobiles. However, debate continued with regards to the secondary source. Suggestions ranged from a crane battery to a large windmill. Eventually, Doug developed a plan to tap the Beaver Creek electric grid, collecting excess energy throughout the year for use at Winter Camp. He did not want the electric meter readings on December 31 to show unusual activity.
His method for energy storage was simple and, of course, mechanical. He connected an electric motor/generator to a large flywheel. During most of the year the motor draws current from the BC Building and increases the kinetic energy of the flywheel. When Winter Camp convenes the process is reversed and the flywheel powers the generator.
In this underground chamber beneath the camp road, John examined the flywheel through an observation port. It was immense at eight hundred eighty megagrams, and would spin at eight thousand six hundred eleven revolutions per minute at its peak during the night of December 25. Wilson crafted the flywheel as a molybdenum disk spinning inside a vacuum chamber. However, most of its mass consisted of a mercury core, which helped maintain its energy and spin. John's headache intensified as he tried to mentally calculate the kilowatt-hours stored in this powerful spinning disk. "Undoubtedly, some multiple of thirty-six thousand five hundred eighty-four," he thought.
Upon departing the flywheel John hiked another three thousand three hundred twenty-one centimeters to the Basement Game Palace. This nickname for Clearwater Cabin now had truer meaning in reference to the massive subterranean chamber beneath the building and surrounding grounds. Indeed it was a palace in the sense that it contained the largest enclosed space in the network. The roughly spherically-shaped room was actually a hollow six thousand three hundred seventy-two sided die. Each interlocking edge was fractalized, such that, in theory, any length along it would be of infinite dimension. In reality, the entire room fit into a sphere with a radius of three point zero three seven two tads.
An immense fully crafted relief map, the brainchild of Steve Donohue, served as the central element in the room. The map included all of the features of D-A in full three-dimensional detail, constructed on a scale of four hundred one to one. It was usually referred to as the game table.
John observed five teams stationed at the control centers along the edges of the table. Each team controlled a section of territory, which corresponded to one of the D-A subcamps. Around the game table, at various levels in the room, were observation platforms, each offering its own style of entertainment. Five chambers beneath the table provided the teams with access to the underside of the play area.
"It's about time you joined us," barked Steve Donohue, as John approached. "We're just getting set up for the game."
"What game have you chosen tonight?" said John.
"Oh just thermonuclear war. We can play cowboys and native Americans tomorrow," said Steve. "You can help the Cub World team."
John knew that Cub World would be hard to defend. Three or four direct strikes would annihilate this small territory. On the other hand, Steve had chosen Trout Lake, not a likely winner either. Veteran players favored Beaver Creek, with its vast territory and resources.
Two dozen players sat around the game table. Four youth joined Dave Woods in defending Jack Lord. Lou Pezet controlled Fishcorn, with Ken Horn and two young players. Seven members of the extended Hunt family held Beaver Creek. In an unusual partnership, Alan Wilson and Steve Clark, Sr. joined Steve Donohue and Dickson Mann III to control Trout Lake. John joined three others in Cub World, including Tom Ray.
The remarkable game table quickly transformed itself into the five nuclear territories. Steve issued each team a complement of nuclear weapons and fighting forces to place in its territory. The teams used the underground access to place their missile silos, with the hope of evading detection from the others. Surface movements were handled using computer consoles in the control centers at the edges of the table. A sophisticated network of four million one hundred sixty-nine thousand seven hundred sixty-four miniature electromagnets provided the means to move objects on the table. The computers used the electromagnets to attract the objects, moving them through the mock roads, forests and fields. In addition, each object held a tiny microchip, which transmitted a unique electronic signature. This enabled the computers to track them and provide for realistic movement. Vehicles, for example, could move along the roads and in open areas, but typically would find the forested areas impassable. Each of the water bodies on the table was filled with dihydrogen monoxide, where objects that exceeded their displacement mass of water would sink. In total, nineteen thousand nine moveable objects were available for play.
Steve announced that the teams would have one thousand two hundred eight seconds to set-up their territories. The players went to work from their consoles and under-the-table chambers. A buzz of activity ensued in the game area as thousands of miniature men, vehicles, weapons, and other objects moved along the table to their starting points.
John's team had some advantages, but they were limited. It had superior technical knowledge, but this was governed by a scarce supply of uranium. The other advantage of having superior troop strength was diminished by the lack of experience among the troops. His three thousand three hundred eleven fighting Cub Scouts, although less capable fighters, numbered more than double any opponent. At least he would be able to use them to sneak through the woods to establish secret bases in other territories.
Soon after the game began negotiations commenced. No one wanted an all out nuclear war, at least not yet. John knew that Steve Donohue would be willing to establish an early union, and a pact was quickly established between Fishcorn, Trout Lake, and Cub World. Their combined efforts would be directed at Beaver Creek, ultimately through a limited nuclear strike. With this strategy, any nuclear fallout would tend to drift towards Jack Lord, a rather pleasing thought for the North.
In similar fashion the Southerners formed a confederation and sought to direct their initial attack at Fishcorn, which they reasoned would be easily defeated. Additionally, Jack Lord would pretend to be supportive of Cub World and Beaver Creek would give Trout Lake the impression they wanted to be allies.
The Cub World team had an additional strategy, which was not discussed with any potential ally. They would move troops to establish primitive outposts hidden deep within Beaver Creek. The most skilled of their soldiers would be used in this secret invasion. This strategy held that the Northern Union would destroy most of the Southern territory, but not all of it, and that the alliance with Jack Lord was phony. However, Cub World would encourage Jack Lord to attack Fishcorn. Through this process, they believed that Fishcorn would be totally destroyed and Beaver Creek and Jack Lord severely damaged. Armageddon would occur in an all out battle with Trout Lake, with total annihilation of both territories. In the end, their contingent of troops hidden in the south would take over what remained and a reborn Cub World would be established in the panhandle.
John's headache had abated when Dave Oakley entered the room. At one thousand eight hundred sixty-nine seconds into the game, Dave brought a temporary break to the tension in the room.
"I just tried out the new Clearwater latrine," said Dave. Of course, he was referring to the new underground chamber, which now made this privy a double-decker. Thankfully, many years earlier Steve Donohue had purchased, as a gift, the book The Vanishing American Outhouse, to provide a suitable floor plan. A fully operational three-seater was now available at both levels.
Suddenly John lost his sense of the game and his thoughts drifted. "How absurd," he said. "Why do we need another latrine? Seldom does anyone defecate any more. Perhaps it happens more at Winter Camp, but you'd think we would have a flush toilet down here. Aside from Winter Camp, I don't think I've taken a dump in months."
"Oh, it's tradition!" blurted Tom Ray. "At least you don't need to type in a computer code to gain access."
John's headache returned and he had trouble concentrating on the game. Unfortunately, the war was escalating and two nuclear missile silos opened near the Last Ceremony Site. Two miniature missiles flew across the game table and struck their targets in Cub World. Suddenly, the major structures were engulfed in flames. An outsider would have marveled at the engineering of the diorama, as tiny jets of flame, puffs of noxious smoke, and a new blackened pigment contributed to the realism. Indeed, it was a devastating blow to Cub World.
"Wow!" said a female voice.
All eyes turned to see Rene. She had just come from Trout Lake where the women held their annual encampment. At 45 years of age, she maintained a very attractive figure and tended to draw attention when she visited Winter Camp.
"You know it is already past 1:00 a.m.," she said, speaking to Dave Woods.
Dave toiled with decision for a moment. His team had a real shot at winning the game, yet he knew he had to leave with Rene.
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