Author Topic: Winter Hologram  (Read 1260 times)

Offline 510bhan

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Winter Hologram
« on: December 22, 2012, 09:55:38 PM »
Winter Hologram

Under the LED glare, Lumina’s face appeared bleached in contrast to the exotic flora being cultivated the CELSS hydroponics centre. Despite cooler temperatures, sweat beaded on her upper lip while she attended to the Controlled Ecological Life Support System nutrient-enhanced specimens.   Last-minute doubts regarding Lumina’s chosen project presented difficulties with its once-a-year opportunity. It had to take place in real time. No mistakes.  Lumina shrugged, diffident at the report transmitted to her visor. A detailed scan returned an ideal locale - well, ideal for capturing a solstice sunset. She re-entered the capsule determined to complete the last exercise before departure to the outlands. The monitor recognised her iris scan and proceeded to call up the last request when Lumina chose the option. “Retrieving winter reality. Program 6524.”

After three weeks of simulations, she felt equipped to cope with conditions on the surface. Current oxygen prices limited the time she could spend outside the craft but forsaking a few luxuries like rejuvenation procedures gave her enough credit from her regular job as a hydroponics technician.

Rekindled interest in seasonal nostalgia gave her project economic potential. 21st century backdrops offered a novelty that Terca3 citizens devoured. If she could sell it on and be recognised as a commercial artist she might be able to afford a single residential pod instead of having share with co-workers.

Her earpiece bleeped. “Sunset at 1539, 1549, 1559 and 1609 hours. Moonrise and moonset occurrences have completed.”

Good, no solar flares predicted. She reckoned war correspondents encountered fewer hazards. Snow crunched underfoot as she disembarked her transporter. The real sound excited her. It rekindled synthetic childhood memories but faded when icy temperatures penetrated her heated bio-suit. Lumina shivered. Better be worth the damned price of thirty minutes’ precious oxygen. She leant against a fence, a quaint relic, and pointed the holographic camera at the last remaining orb. The other three had slipped below the horizon.

Now she prepared to take what she’d come for, an authentic old-fashioned image complete with a lone sun. She waited, tweaking the reference beam. Well-timed shutter-speed combined with retro techniques should transform her fieldwork back in the lab.

The scene transfixed her. A sweeping curve of peninsular banks, a flange shadowed on three sides by skeletal woodland, impeded the river today. A flame-orange sunset relieved the monochrome appearance. Through branch gaps its dwindling, soft-focus glow struggled to bathe a miniature ice-floe, pricked with bird tracks.  Combined, they formed a template in two large dance-hopped apostrophes.  Lumina smiled and tried to evaluate them. Yin and yang? Balance on the shortest day? She pondered the curious evidence.

Alarmed at how quickly the shadows lengthened, she rattled off a burst of pictures, hoping she’d at least one good shot. Dammit. Her suit’s fail-safe warned of the dropping temperature. 

Lumina sighed behind her mask, awestruck. Her research had underestimated the outlands’ experience in situ. She couldn’t help thinking the woods resembled an exaggerated catwalk designed to showcase the winter solstice. White is the new black. Leaf-naked trees stood draped in the season’s latest garb. Although permanently bare at this time of the year they could be mistaken for dormant specimens. She knew Spring wouldn’t show any burgeoning greenery, but for now the trees didn’t look like remnants of nature – a life, long ago. Beneath snow canopies, outstretched limbs struck an attitude over lacy frost petticoats. Spangled mannequins accessorised with silver marcasite and diamante lined the ancient towpath. If these turn out as I expect, then winter ceremonies on the holo-deck will be spectacular. Wind blew and a snow flurry deposited flakes on the lens, interrupting the beam splitter. Shit.

She packed her gear and stopped abruptly. Birds? Lumina gazed out over the snowy riverbanks but the tracks had gone. Birds? Is life still out there?

“Oxygen levels are expected to deplete in five minutes at normal breathing rate.”

Lumina tilted her head skyward but saw no birds in flight. Nothing roosted in the deadwood. Her pulse quickened. Panic turned to elation. She patted her camera and grinned as she returned to the craft. You’re in there. Evidence of life, caught by me. It’ll be a Galactic Discovery Award, not a modest Hologram of the Year. She prayed to the old gods who promised renewal and rebirth.

Offline bob68

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Re: Winter Hologram
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2013, 10:47:03 PM »
Nice. Excellent descriptions. It resonates well when read.