Chapter 13

Victor left the bar and had crossed the street once again, this time together with a colleague and in the opposite direction. Across the street, he entered the building and said with an ironic smile: “Good morning” to whom, behind his back, he was mentioning as the “goalkeeper”. In response, the security guard returned something like a grin.
Having headed down to the level minus one, the engineers switched on the lighting and air-conditioner. They did dress in white, sterile overalls, gauze caps and the masks of the same fabric but don’t place them on their faces yet. Finished preparation, they headed to the equipment in the section of the lab partitioned off from the rest of the room by the transparent plexiglass wall. In the ultimate second, Victor stopped, turned to freezer stood by the wall opposite to partition, and took from there the bottle of aerated mineral water.
“What are you doing?” Ole asked. “You want to take it inside? Let’s put aside it’s forbidden, you drank such a lot of beer, why you want more water in addition to it?”
“Through habit or maybe I have such an organism…” Victor explained reluctantly. “No matter in what form I drank alcohol, it always makes me thirsting.”
“But it’s really don’t allowed to bring water in,” the colleague reminded him again, suspiciously looking at the plexiglass wall.
“You don’t say so!” Victor told with slight annoyance. “Are you saying it’s permitted what we’re going to do now and the bottle isn’t? Don’t you remember where from you brought me here?”
Ole hesitated several moments but then, seeing the impatience on mate’s face, he said apologetically: “When dinking move away from the equipment.”
“Teach me, teach me,” Victor grumbled sarcastically, “I’m the first time here.”
“OK,” now Ole made a grimace. “Damn it, as if we’re doing actually something unprecedented, not the gear which people are assembling the last half a century.”
With these words, he opened the transparent door and resolutely stepped into the fenced territory. Victor followed his mate and before approaching to test bench, he walked left, to shelving with tools and materials stand in tasting compartment’s corner. Here he put there his bottle.
Ole put out the general light, switched on the imitator of a starry sky, sat by the table and prepared to check the computer, optical channel and radio, been assembled into the single box. That final adjustment and testing should be performed in a vacuum camera – transparent plastic chamber with a length of two, a width of one and a height of one and a half meter. The unit intended to check has taken up a small part of its volume.
It stood on a twenty-centimeters pedestal and at left side relatively to Victor, near the very bottom, it had a hermetic socket. Thru it, the tested equipment was connected to the screen on Ole’s table, where the values of the parameters to be measured were depicting.
“I’m about to start,” Victor said to a colleague, who was already invisible too because was sitting behind the display. Victor’s responsibility, as the engineers had agreed while coming here, was only auxiliary work. First of all, he had hermetically to seal the chamber, or, simply to say, to screw down its lid to the hull’s flange. Then he should turn the vacuum pump on and become watcher to the pressure. When the first row of tests will be finished, Victor ought to open the corresponding valve and run the inert gas, namely Argon into this plastic box.
Air-conditioner yet didn’t defeat the heat nestled in the lab and Victor was feeling the droplets of liquid running along with his head and body as if he just now left the shower. The sweat was absorbing by gauze cap and mask but all in all their duty wasn’t to give relief for Victor, they were intended to save the machines from polluting. So, very soon, in spite of he drank a lot of liquid, Victor was thirsty again.
An engineer looked back at the shelving where he left the bottle with aerated water. He hesitated a few moments, cast glance there, where over the partition made from gadgets Ole was sitting and finally rushed to accessories rack.
Having arrived there the man turned his head to colleague again and at the same time rose up his hand to vessel. Since he wasn’t seeing his own movement, during this groping, instead to grab the plastic bottle, he pushed it and dropped from the shelf. As he comprehended his own blunder, Victor tried to catch the vessel immediately in the air but he didn’t. The liter and half of the beer had reduced his quickness and accuracy of his motions. He only managed awkwardly to shove the bottle and it, reflected from his fingers, tumbled on the parquet. Victor saw air bubbles, gurgled in the liquid.
“What happened?” Ole has rolled out with his chair from behind the devices and seeing the trouble of his pal, said with a reluctant joke: “We’re assembling the apparatus, not destroying the lab.”
“It’s OK, it’s not from the glass, there’re no shambles and casualties,” Victor tried to hide his confusion with the same kind of quip.
The colleague sighed, shook his head and returned to his job. Victor pulled the mask from his face, hoisted the bottle from the floor and grabbed its capsule. As he unscrewed it the gas erupted from the vessel like a volcano. An engineer hastily closed the bottle with its cover but it was too late. Aerated water had time to splash him.
“Damn it,” Victor grumbled and looked with annoyance at the bottle in his hand. Then, after slightly calmed down, he started the second effort. This time he way carefully, gradually unscrewed the capsule and slowly released the gas.
“Still are refreshing yourself?” Ole’s voice was heard.
“I did finish. I’m locking the chamber, fastening the lid, get ready,” Victor answered after he drank several loudly gulps.
He put the bottle again on the shelf and took up his duties. He closed the transparent cover of the module, sealed it and bent down, as was his habit, to check visually the computer message telling that the air exhaust valve is open.
His vision slipped down along the would be checking apparatus and at the very same moment, he noticed some kind of glitter on the body of the device, as if the subdued light of artificial night sky was faintly reflected from a shining thing. At first, he didn’t pay attention to that weak glimpse among the dusk dominating in the lab. But a second later, when he was watching at the valve, the suspicion arose in his mind. He pondered for a while, then squatted, then rose up, bent several more times, looked at that place from different angles, but found nothing suspicious.
What could glitter here? The chips, their coolers, the frame… they all are lusterless and grey-colored, nothing polished. Maybe the lens? Victor one more time carefully examined this glass component. Its surface was absolutely clear and transparent. After that Victor finally decided that something has dreamt to him. He was doubted maybe the beer made shining his eyes themselves?
He chuckled on his own joke.
“What made you so cheerful? What a humor you found in this apparatus?” His mate wondered hearing this chuckling.
“Nothing. Foretasting the travel to the stars, the apparatus became shining like they, he-he-he!” Victor responded light-heartedly.
Ole looked out. He chewed his lower lip and pensively peered at the colleague, who was peering at the apparatus. But almost right away, don’t notice anything unusual, he returned to his monitor.
Next day, got enough sleep, Victor recalled that case and this time didn’t regard it with yesterday’s insouciance. He even wanted to talk with Ole about it, though, when he remembered where at this moment is his friend, he changed his mind.
Also, he remembered that after he noticed that strange glimpse, he and Ole performed many tests in different modes. The experiments lasted four hours and during them, the instruments didn’t register any deviation. In the end, he and Ole filled the corresponding protocols and without doubts confirmed every result with their signatures.
And what it would be to call now? To throw away everything they did yesterday? While Ole is spending his time with his bride? Because of what a reason, then? Indubitably the colleague will laugh at him.
Later on, those apparatus were verified both on Earth and then at the circumterrestrial orbit; again without any deviation and malfunction. Such stark, one hundred percent reliability helped Victor to convince himself that during those lab tests really just something appeared in his dreams.