As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Rubberman’s Exodus

by Joseph Picard

Rubberman's Exodus - Joseph Picard
Part of the Rubberman series:
Editions:Kindle - 1: $ 3.99
ISBN: B0B9V2ZY3M
Pages: 424
Hardcover - 1: $ 23.38
ISBN: 978-0981396088
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 294
Paperback - 1: $ 14.95
ISBN: 978-0981396057
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 294

133 years. Time is up.

Lead Engineer Tara and her partner Sasha face the coming end of the facility generator. For generations It has served thousands of people who have been hiding underground from the ravages of the war, and the lingering Enemy above.

Up and down the Grand Elevator, though the entire facility, every resident's life will be shaken when the generator sparks its last amp. The Great Actual, the anarchistic Citizens, and all of the regressed sub-societies in between will have to face the unknowns of the surface.

Old fears will pale against new circumstances beyond their imagination, and new attention brings judgment upon all.

This book is on:
  • 1 To Be Read list
Excerpt:

Of the thousands that lived here, deep underneath, hiding from the remains of war, only some knew about the Engineering levels. Some called it the heart of the complex, powering everything from its place down below – but a heart is not hungry in the same way that Engineering is.

An atomic generator has a very specific hunger.

Today, it asks to be fed.

READ MORE

Suited up in environmental suits, with her apprentice Sasha by her side, Tara pulled a canister of uranium out of the storage chute, and found it to be unexpectedly light. She held it in the tongs and jerked the canister up and down a little.

What?!” she said to herself, placing the canister on the ground.

What, what?” Sasha inquired. She was younger than Tara, and had not been an Engineer during the last refuelling. Sasha was here and suited up to learn about refuelling today, but the lesson was already diverging from expectations.

The next canister had already slipped into the base of the chute, to be taken for a future refuelling, but Tara took it right away. She was even less pleased with it than the last one. She let it fall to the floor and pulled out a third one. And let it drop to the floor as well.

What's going on?” Sasha nervously asked. Tara didn't reply, dropping to her knees to grab one of the canisters with her shielded suit's gloves. She opened the canister, finding nothing inside, and stared into it for a moment before snapping to Sasha.

Geiger!

What?”

Geiger reading!” Tara cried to Sasha.

Sasha fumbled with her belt, and brought a Geiger counter forward. The gloves made using the controls cumbersome, but she managed as quickly as she could.

The counter responded faintly; tick... tick... tick... tick...

Damn it,” Tara hissed, tossing the canister away, and opening another. She brought it closer to the counter for much the same result. “Damn it!” Only trace amounts of radiation. They had once carried uranium, but obviously, no longer.

Tara, what does it-”

Tara ignored Sasha, and grabbed the next canister in the chute with her gloved hands. It was too light as well. Also empty. She grabbed the next one. Empty. And the next one. Empty. And the next one.

While Sasha stood back and watched, Tara pulled can after can out of the storage chute. Dozens had piled around them, and Tara's panicked breathing had fallen to sobs as the last empty canister left the chute spent and empty.

Sasha looked at the Geiger counter. The room wasn't clean, but it wasn't a threat. She put the counter back on her belt, knelt beside Tara, and took off her headgear. With it off, her timid voice came clearer. “Tara... what does it mean?”

Tara turned to her and took off her own headgear. Tears on her face, she silently held Sasha close.

Hon?”

Tara sighed, composing herself a little. “Well. I guess I need to make a call.” Picking up her headgear, she and Sasha left the shielded storage room. They passed the coolant pool, and exited the dangerous materials section of Engineering through the contamination lock. They didn't have any significant lingering radiation on them, and were spared getting hosed down.

Tara and Sasha passed other Engineers as they headed back to Engineering's main control room. The Engineers could tell by their faces that something was wrong, but Tara's stride alone screamed, “out of my way, don't ask, not now.

She grabbed the handset of the radio built into a panel, checking the settings, then forcefully called out, “Messy!” Silence followed, and Tara impatiently squeezed the handpiece, staring at the overhead array of status readouts. “Messenger! Come in!

If Engineering was a heart, or stomach, or whatever, then the Central Elevator was the spine, going up about forty stories , through solid rock, habitat, farming, and various work levels, and up to the surface. And Messenger was the one who ran the Grand Elevator – and was the only one who had regular access to Actual.

Messy!” Tara hollered into the handset. 'Messy', or Messenger, had once been an Engineer like Tara, but had been chosen as the operator of the Grand Elevator, and sole person permitted to speak to Actual. You talked to when you wanted stuff.

Messy, we have a situation here. A bad one. We need you to get Actual to get us some uranium. At this time, we are running on fumes, soon to be running to backup capacitors. Repeat: we are out of uranium.

This was a situation Tara had never known, nor had been warned about. There had always been more uranium in the dispenser. And now it was issuing blanks.

Tara,” came Messenger's deep voice eventually, “stop calling me Messy, and did I hear you right? No uranium? Is the dispenser stuck?”

No. It feeds me empties.”

Soon enough, fully suited against radiation,the dark-skinned Messenger stood at the dispenser. He went through container after container just as Tara had done, until he felt convinced that all of them were empty. He then found himself standing among nearly a hundred containers.

He turned to Tara, and said through the headgear, “Well, I know where these empties came from.”

Tara shrugged, bidding Messenger to continue.

Messenger sighed. “I have taken at least four of these out of here, and up the Grand Elevator to recycling. I assumed they cleaned them and pressed them down into usable metal.”

But instead, they ended up back in my dispenser?” Tara asked.

Messenger shifted his weight back and forth a little. “There must have been other steps in between, and I can imagine some paths these containers might have taken, but... it would all rely on someone once making sloppy, stupid decisions, and their successors just following along.”

And that would never happen.”

Of course. I am going to have to perform an investigation and slap people upside the head whomever needs it. But here we stand, surrounded by empties, and the fact remains right now...”

We are out of uranium,” Tara flatly said.

Indeed.”

Can you get Actual to get us more?”

Of course,” Messenger said, “but the speed of the delivery is not always predictable. You have back-up power?”

Yes, Capacitors are nearly as full as they can get. We'll be okay for a while. Two weeks?”

Messenger motioned to stoke his chin, but the headgear and gloves made it impossible. “Is there any way you can... ration the power out? Cut non-critical systems? It might be possible to dim lighting, but that would require some new wiring to facilitate.”

Tara looked upwards through the ceiling. “I'd have to access some remote distribution nodes, and there'd be... I could limit disruptions to a section or two, but the end result would be lower light, and...”

Messenger nodded. “I'd have to warn people, which at best, would create … a certain unease.”

From mentally going through the different districts in the facility, and the varying ignorance of the people living in them, even a minor change in lighting could be problematic.

There were Subjects, most of whom had no idea about the world outside their four people and four rooms, and their Manager Rubbermen; then there were the Citizens, quarantined for their violent history, who worshipped Actual like a god; the Providers, who operate most upkeep, repairs and mid-technical minutia; and the Engineers, the most educated of them all who run the generator.

This could be messy, Messy,” Tara said.

Messenger grunted. “Well, I guess my first stop is asking Actual for more uranium, then telling Contact that everyone needs to be warned. You... look into rationing power.”

Tara sighed. “I don't envy you, Messy. Then again, I haven't tinkered with the distribution nodes nearly this deeply before. Crap, I don't envy me, either.”

COLLAPSE

The series is all in the same world, mainly in the same facility. Each book focuses on different characters, but many are in each of the books. Each is readable as individual stories, though some elements in the latter books may be more meaningful if one had read the earlier ones.

This will likely be my last novel, as newly diagnosed Multiple Sclerosis has become an obstacle for my concentration. I'm glad that I was able to finish the rubberman series, and I hope you enjoy it.

About the Author

Resident of the lower mainland in BC, I’ve lived all over Canada, but I’ve been in this area since ’94 or so, and am unlikely to leave.

I’ve always been a creative sort, composing music on the computer (tracking Mods and related formats) drawing and graphic design, but in the last couple of decades, writing has come to the forefront- going from the occasional short story for fun that I’ve done all my life, to full-fledged novels.

In 2001, I was cycling to work, and got into a fight with a car, and the car won. Since then I’m been a paraplegic. When I’m rich and famous, I’ll buy a model of the car that hit me, and give it a solid whack every day.

I’m father to two insane lil punks, Catilin in 2007, and Lachlan in 2011. I’ve been predominantly a stay at home dad since then, but volunteer work at a local seniors’ activity centre recently led to a job with the organization. It’s an amazingly positive environment.

My rate of pumping out novels isn’t so fast, but the ideas are waiting. If the next Rubberman book ties up the series (it may or may not) I have a series in mind that serves as a spin-off of sorts from the Lifehack series.