The Tunnels of Martin by Ron J. Heath

(A just for fun sci-fi short story) - Chapter 3

As a train approached the door that had been cut into the tunnel, a spring loaded device patiently waited.

While the train was passing by, the device was released and propelled by the spring so that it contacted the steel underside of the moving train. The device was attached to a powerful magnet and this stuck to one of the wheel mountings on the train. The device began careful monitoring of the acceleration and logged these changes into it's memory. A few days later, when the train again passed by the door that had been cut, the device transmitted all of it's readings to the waiting receiver, and a number was sent to Martin's pager.

"There is one station under Santa Cruz and another that is about ten miles out to sea." stated Martin while spearing a small tomato with his fork.

"Interesting. Is the under water base also under ground, or is it just built on the ocean floor ?" asked Fred as he poured Alfredo sauce over the noodles on the two plates.

"Can't tell. The telemetry data is really good, but I don't have a map that is good enough to say the depth at that spot of the ocean. My best map is only accurate within fifty feet or so." explained Martin.

"I wonder why they built it under water instead of just hollowing out the Santa Cruz mountains ?" mused Fred.

"It would have been cheaper. Maybe it is some kind of mail drop for submarines. It is kind of large for that though."

"How do you know how big it is ?" asked Fred.

"I intercepted a conversation between two supply officers, one at the under water base and one at moffet field. The one at the under water base was trying to get the other one to send him some flour. He said that he had 200 mouths to feed and that it was not easy to get flour under the ocean. I really didn't know that he was serious about the ocean part until the telemetry came in from the data taker that I stuck on the train." said Martin.

"Wow. So you have uncovered a secret military base with two hundred people in it that is under the ocean about ten miles off shore. People have been killed for knowing stuff like this." warned Fred as he brought the plates over to the table.

"Yea, I know. It probably would be a good idea not to tell anyone." agreed Martin, as he ate his dinner.

Martin gave a large pile of repeaters to Jeff for installation along the tunnel and then puttered away at his Silicon Graphics Indigo computer with it's massive computer aided drafting and machining programs. This he did for a week and then turned his work over to his machinist and also gave instructions to one of his electronics engineers.

One of the things that kept Martin sane was his occasional trips to Amsterdam, and it was time for one of these trips. Martin boarded a plane for the 12 hour flight that arrived at Heathrow. He then took the train to Amsterdam where he rented a room and retired to his favorite 60s style bar. Martin was not married and had plenty of money, so these trips would usually last two or three weeks. After a few beers he headed off to his favorite brothel. He entered his normal party routine of sleeping until noon, wandering through the art museums until four or five, a little TV back at the hotel, then the night life. The night life alternated between bar hopping one night, a movie or a night club for one or two nights, then the brothels for the next night. During the forth week a call came in from his electronics engineer who left a message that the new device was complete.

Martin made reservations and got on a plane from Heathrow through Chicago and back to San Jose.

The new robot was lowered through the door that was cut into the tunnel and Martin sat at his control console. He walked the new robot over to the rail and positioned it's wheels so that it could ride on the rail while balancing and drawing power from the third rail. Once it was stable, he sent some power to it's motors and gradually increased speed to about 50mph. The robot traveled smoothly through the tunnel under the mountains and to the station under Santa Cruz.

Once the lights of the station were in view, Martin stopped the drive motors and extended the walking legs. He walked the robot to a position that was below the overhang where people boarded the trains. When the robot was at a place near the flat cement wall, Martin transferred control to the tiny spider-like robot that was on top of the wheeled robot. The small spider walked over to the concrete wall and used it's pneumatic suction feet to walk along the wall and up onto the platform of the train station. Martin guided the spider along the hallway and into the station. The time was 2:30 in the morning so Martin did not expect many people to be walking around. The small foot long spider robot with its tiny video camera had been painted light green, the same color as the station walls. The spider had a non-reflective plastic cover that extended past the legs and created a blurring effect so that if someone was not looking directly at it, the person would probably not notice the spider.

Martin continued driving the spider along the wall of the hallway while listening for any footstep sounds. The spider came to a doorway. This doorway was propped open and Martin aimed the camera so that the interior could be seen. This room was an office space with metal desks painted military gray. Martin continued down the hallway past another few doors and then came to one that looked like a class room.

There were sixteen folding tables that each had a personal computer and a strange board with two hand prints imbedded in it. The board looked as if a person had pressed their hands into a three inch thick layer of wet concrete and then let it harden.

The time was now about 4:30 in the morning and there would probably be some people walking around soon if Martin knew the military's habit of waking up at terribly early hours. Martin drove the spider under the middle legs between two adjoining tables. He plugged a thin cord into an outlet strip on the floor, then controlled the spider so that it climbed up the table leg to the bottom of the table, under the part where the support was, so that a person's leg would be unlikely to bump into it.

The spider made itself as flat as possible and then drilled two tiny self tapping screws into the table so that it could turn off the small vacuum pump that had allowed it to climb to it's present position. Martin aimed the video camera so that he had a view of the podium at the front of the class, then put a fresh tape into the video recorder at his console.

Martin turned up the console volume and shut down all of the active motion controls. He then sat back in the comfortable chair and drifted off to sleep. At 5:50 he was awakened by footsteps and an instructor wearing a Navy first class uniform walked up to the podium and began shuffling some papers. Soon all of the seats were filled, and the class began precisely at 6:00.

"Good morning. Today we will be covering some more of the basic motion controls and by the time that you turn on your machines for the lab, you should be able to fly in a basic circle and do a stationary hover." began the instructor.

Martin listened and watched intently for the entire length of the class. At lab time, the students placed their hands onto the strange board and a holographic image appeared in front of each student. The students were able to control the images by small movements of their hands. Their hands stayed just above the boards as if they were held there somehow. Even a slight movement of a finger had a noticeable affect on the holographic image.

Martin viewed the class each day. He also installed more spiders in other places throughout the base, but none provided as much information as the first one. It would be eight months before enough repeaters were installed to make it to the under water base. Each repeater had to be assembled by a board house and then tested by one of Martin's technicians before final assembly into a complete unit. The housing was made by hand on the milling machine under Martin's garage. All of this required some time and there had to be one repeater every quarter mile accept on curves, where more repeaters were used. By the time that the repeaters were completed and installed, Martin had sat through the entire class three times and was confident that he could easily operate one of the boards.

The station at the under water base looked the same as the other stations but there were stair ways where the hallways were in the Santa Cruz station. The stairways were topped by water tight doors and Martin had a bit of a struggle guiding his spider over the lip of the door. After the door, all of the walls were made of steel and the doors along the narrow hallway were the same water tight doors that were used on board Navy ships. There were also many cables along the top of the hallway, this was perfect for the spider because it could loose itself and the repeaters among the cables where no one could see them. The big problem was the doors themselves. There was no way for the spider to pull the large lever that held the door shut. Also, a repeater had to be placed right at the door or communications would be lost if the door was closed. At some doors, Martin or Jeff had to wait for an hour or so before someone left it open so that the spider could be guided through.

On one of his days of controlling the spider robot, Martin came to a large double sized door . There was a guard stationed at a podium near the door and there was no small round glass window, like most of the other doors had. Martin waited for a couple of hours at this door and then transferred control to Jeff, who had been helping out with much of the exploration of the under water base.

Martin slept for five or six hours, grabbed a quick breakfast that Fred had made for him and returned to his console.

"You have got to see this" said Jeff.

"What is it ?" asked Martin.

"There was some alert or something and people ran back and forth through the door, then the guy at the podium was facing away, talking to someone. I decided to risk it. Any way, I went through the door and up above to a light that is mounted above the door. The space is really huge and I don't want to risk running over to the nearest girder. The thing is that this is a hanger." explained Jeff.

"Yea, right. A hanger under water ?" asked Martin, skeptically.

"Yea, and you will never guess what is in the hanger." said Jeff, flipping on the auxiliary monitor.

When the monitor had warmed up, an image of the hanger was displayed. There were 30 saucer shaped craft neatly arranged into rows along both sides of the hanger.

"Incredible. I suspected something like one or two craft, but I guess there had to be more because of the number of pilots being trained. This is awesome though. Look at that one, they are taking out the engine or something." said Martin, staring dumbfounded at the screen.