Monday, February 13, 2012

Reefsong 1 - Carol Severance

""Spit on the lines," she muttered. The darkness wasn't part of any night sky. It was smoke! There was a fire in Sector Five.

She strode to the control console at the center of the tower and keyed a system-wide alarm sequence.

"Fire Control," she said into the opened mike, "this is Central Forest Preserve. We have a primary alert in Sector Five. Repeat. Serious burn in Sector Five. Please order a full fire crew to the site stat. Put secondary lines on standby. I'm transmitting fire coordinates now."

She keyed in her visual estimates of the fire's location and dimensions, then focused the lookout tower's cameras on the site and activated a continual-update order. Her own estimates remained a steady orange glow at the top of the monitoring screen, showing that the computer-assisted camera system had verified them as accurate.

"Central Forest," the control watchman's voice drawled through the tower speaker; he sounded irritated, as if he'd rather not be disturbed. "Double-check your sighting and coordinates."

"They've been double-checked and more, Central," she said, a little sharply; she paused to steady her voice. "Please enter an immediate scramble order before this gets out of hand." The smoke had become a billowing silhouette against the rising sun.

"Scrambling a full crew's pretty costly, lady," the watchman said. "I'll need an okay from Warden Dinsman before I can proceed." She could almost hear his slow grin. He would be up for a bonus if he could talk her out of the full crew. The forest preserve ranked low on the Company's list of priority expenditures. The only reason they supported it at all was because of pressure from the U.N., and even that was waning with the continued food shortage. The watchman probably had orders to stall or even deny all but the most serious fire calls from the preserve."

3.5 out of 5