Chapter 11: Sol One, Rectum Comparable to a Howitzer
Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Tang Yue took about three hours to move all the solar panels into the garage. By the time he was done with the work and returned to the Kunlun Station, it was completely dark outside. Tang Yue was also exhausted.
He nearly had to crawl into the airlock before closing the hatch door. The sanitation system blasted high-temperature steam at his EVA suit, cleaning off the dust and sand from his clothes. This was a necessary procedure, both for hygiene and safety reasons. Astronauts were not to randomly bring contaminants from outside into the Hab. By the same logic, in order to prevent contamination, the waste produced by the astronauts couldn’t be randomly thrown onto Mars.
However, Tang Yue no longer needed to abide by the final rule. No one would care if he took off his pants and defecated on the peak of Olympus Mons—as long as Tang Yue didn’t care for the survival of his ass.
Tang Yue opened the airlock’s second door and flipped around to crawl into the hall before slumping over the ground, heaving for breath.
“F*ck. This job used to be done by four people at a time… I… I f*cking did a four-men job alone.” Tang Yue was so exhausted that he no longer had the strength to get out of his EVA suit. “I’m sure f*cking impressive!”
Tang Yue chuckled in a silly manner as he spoke.
Tomcat walked over and helped flip Tang Yue around. Then, it took off the life support system on his back, pulled the zipper, and pulled Tang Yue out of the Radiant Armor. Tang Yue was completely drenched, as though he had crawled out of a pool of water—his sweat had soaked his clothes. Tomcat handed him a cup of water, he downed it while propping himself up on a table.
“I’ve been revived… It f*cking killed me.” Tang Yue placed the empty cup on the table as he panted. “Where’s the water? Get me some water. I want water!”
“You have already expended 90% of your daily allocation of water,” Tomcat said coldly. “Are you certain you still wish to have more?”
Tang Yue was taken aback. “Then how much water do I have left?”
Tomcat took the cup and turned around to fill it. Minutes later, it returned with the cup and placed it in front of Tang Yue.
Tang Yue dropped his jaws onto the table as he stared at the thin layer of water in the cup. That bit of water was just enough to rinse his tongue. He had to say that this was the first time he found water more beautiful than diamonds. It was clear and crystalline, looked sacred and unadulterated… It was like liquid diamond.
No. Diamonds count for sh*t.
“Its mass will not increase no matter how much you stare at it,” Tomcat reminded him. “On the contrary, water will constantly evaporate. During the time you were staring at it in a daze, 2.7 × 10⁻⁶ grams of water evaporated. Therefore, if you wish to drink it, drink it as soon as possible.”
Tang Yue carefully held the cup of water as his voice trembled.
“Do I really only have that much left?”
Tang Yue tipped his head and downed it before smacking his lips, fully appreciating the phrase, “good to the last drop.”
“I almost forgot to tell you. This is all the water you have left for consumption, face-washing, feet-washing, showering, and for the toilet.” Tomcat patted Tang Yue on the shoulder. “Try to use it sparingly.”
While smacking the bottom of the plastic cup with his hand as he tried hard to extend his tongue, he fell into a daze as his hand stopped in midair.
“Holy sh*t, are you f*cking inhumane?”
“I’m not human.”
Tomcat split all the food into two sets according to weight. A portion was left inside Kunlun Station for Tang Yue’s consumption, while the other set was to be delivered to the United Space Station.
All the food in Kunlun Station weighed about 2,500 kilograms which was enough to feed Tang Yue for five Earth years, which meant about 1,800 days. But if half of it was given to Mai Dong, he would only have enough food for 900 days.
The Eagle’s loading capacity was more than three tonnes, so carrying a ton of food wasn’t a problem at all.
“Are we sending the beef?” Tomcat asked.
“Yes!” Tang Yue waved his hand, speaking decisively.
“Yes!” Tang Yue showed no hesitation.
“If you are giving everything, what are you eating?” Tomcat asked. “There’s a limit to being a nice person.”
“She’s a woman, and she’s all alone in the space station. We need to show some understanding and sympathy for her,” Tang Yue said. “All it takes is for the two of us men to suffer a little. On a huge planet like Mars, it’s not as though we don’t have food to eat. I’m sure we will find a solution.”
“What’s there to eat on Mars? Dirt? I’m telling you, Tang Yue,” Tomcat said sulkily, “setting yourself up on a path of unrequited love doesn’t end well. At the end of the day, you get nothing.”
“Where did you learn words that sound so sappy?”
“Commander Old Wang taught me.” Tomcat shrugged. “He was the most famous king of sappy phrases among the astronauts.”
Tomcat and Tang Yue segregated all the food parcels that were to be sent and placed them to the side of a hall before storing them in crates. However, it was impossible to finish all the work that night. It would take a few more days; therefore, Tomcat sent Tang Yue to bed.
As the scientific team had already embarked on their return trip, the six living quarters in the Hab were empty. The windowless quarters were extremely tiny and cramped, with only a single bed and an overhead cabinet. When lying in bed, Tang Yue had a feeling of staying in tiny partition rooms rented out by unscrupulous agents in Beijing. The only difference was that the surrounding walls were made from soft fabrics—after all, they were inflatable.
If all the air was drained, the internal frame could be dismantled, and the living quarters could be compressed into a luggage bag for ease of transportation.
Occasionally, Tang Yue would express his doubts over the rigidity and safety of the living quarters. After all, Old Wang had once said: “the walls are so frail that a fart could puncture them.” However, Tomcat assured him that the technology behind the inflatable living quarters was a rather mature one. The old ISS used such inflatable living quarters years ago.
“Don’t worry. It’s made of multi-layered, high-strength fiber materials and it’s six times stronger than steel wires. If Old Wang can puncture a wall of the living quarters with a fart, it will imply that his rectum is a 75 mm howitzer.” That was what Tomcat said.
Tang Yue pulled open the zipper to the living quarters and switched on the lamp above him.
It was about –80°C outside. It would take half a minute to freeze if exposed outside, but the living quarters were very warm. He even felt a little hot when pulling a blanket over himself.
Tang Yue snuggled into bed and reached out to switch the light off. Immediately, it became dark. Zipping up the door curtain made the interior silent. The fortified nylon had good noise isolation properties, so all the mechanical sounds from the hall were kept outside as they slowly hummed. The sounds of the ventilation fan made him feel as if he was lying in a mobile couchette.
The wall separated Tang Yue from a hell of a lot of wind and sand, and a lifeless, silent, desolate plain. He thought about how the heavens had been kind to him, with him surviving the vanishing of the Earth, and how he still had a tiny piece of peaceful land to himself spanning dozens of square meters on this cold and desolate world. It was warm and bright, cozy and silent.
“Good f*cking night, b*stard Mars.” Tang Yue closed his eyes.
12 August 2052 A.D.
Tang Yue passed the first sol on Mars alone since the disappearance of Earth.