So there I was working at a military base in an undisclosed location that only my superiors knew the whereabouts. All I knew is that it was in the middle of a snowy plateau where below freezing temperatures were a daily occurrence. Though I was only sixteen; I was given the chance to help on a research project. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. I was allowed to be transported to this base and have all my expenses paid for living there. All I had to do in return was promise to spend all school vacation time working there and then join the company upon graduation. I eventually convinced my parents to sign me up. The firm I joined was trying to create a universal fuel that could power all combustion engines under all conditions. The project was top secret as its impact the world’s oil economy was unknown. On this particular afternoon; I was checking the pressure on the tanks by the light of my flashlight. The reason I needed a flashlight was that normal electrical lighting could have ignited this special blend of chemicals. Not only did I need a flashlight but an explosion proof flashlight. After checking the pressure on the fuel tanks; I began to analyze the chemical composition of the fuel. In the midst of doing so, the bulb in my flashlight began to flicker. I also noticed that the O-Rings had become eccentric. I refuse to disclose the brand of this flashlight as this was the only defective model of their’s I have come across. Regardless; I knew these defects could trigger an explosion which would result in the loss of lives and years of research. Quickly, I rushed out of the fuel bunker. Upon exiting; I walked to the supply room and presented my damaged light to the clerk. Pulling out my company issued bank card I asked her
“Do you have any replacements?”
The woman replied in a cut-and-dry voice. “The weather has been treacherous for the past few days and our supplies are cut off.” She paused and then continued “I don’t have that particular model here anymore. We have other models, but they are used and beat up.”
I asked “Are they still safety approved?”
She nodded then said sharply “Of course they are, what do you think? We just conducted inventory and they have all been inspected.”
She walked to the back. I could hear her moving boxes around and complaining. Finally she walked out. She handed me an orange flashlight with a black switch and black ends. I examined it and noticed it was full of dents and oil stains. Eveready No. 1259 was painted in black on the side. It also had the safety information and approvals stamped into the injection molding on the back.
I wondered to myself who could have used this light before it was issued to me, so I asked the clerk “Do you know any history of who used this light?”
She replied “Kid, what do you think I am, a librarian?”
“Jeez, sorry lady, I was just being curious.” I replied, then asked her “I need as many PR6 bulbs as you have.”
She stared at me sternly and then said “Look kid, our supplies are extremely limited. You’re not the only on who needs bulbs for your flashlight. I will give you four bulbs and you better make them last.”
“I also need some Industrial Alkaline batteries, D size.”
She grew even more irritated and said “Get it through you head kid, our supplies are limited. All of the Alkaline batteries have been sold. I only have Carbon Zinc batteries, take ’em or leave ‘m.”
“I guess I’ll have to take them, but I question their performance in the cold.”
She handed me the batteries and bulbs in addition to my flashlight.
I began to walk out when she said “You still have to pay for them. I’m not your momma.”
“You can say that again.” I replied then swiped my card.
She replied, angrily “Watch your attitude or I will report you the the superiors.”
I then left the supply room. It was beginning to get dark. I check the time on my watch, the hands indicated 3:49, 15:49 if I looked at the secondary numbers.” Hurriedly; I wrote down all the information for my reports on the chemicals and then turned them in. Being a minor, I was only allowed to work a certain amount of hours. After swiping my card at the time clock, I headed to my living space. Upon walking in; I pulled out my laptop, logged on and plugged it into the Ethernet jack near my bed. I wanted to do some research on the flashlight I just purchased. When I started the browser; there was an error message that stated the page could not be displayed. I cussed and then went for a walk.
When I found my friend and fellow student-worker; I asked him “Is the Internet connection was working?”
He replied “No, it isn’t. I haven’t been able to connect all day. It is really hindering our research. He pointed at the giant satellite antenna in the middle of the complex and said “The snow is falling so heavily and is collecting on the parabola of the dish. Because of that, it is blocking any signals from passing through.” I cussed again and walked over to the building on which the antenna was situated on. I swiped my card and walked in. The first floor housed the motor for turning and pointing the dish to the appropriate transponders. I walked to the second floor which housed the server mainframe. It was turned on, but indicated that there was no available connection. I cussed again, then walked out of the building, activated the lock code and then walked back to my living quarters, where I caught up on some reading. Soon it was time to eat and I sat by my friend. I pulled my flashlight from my pocket and showed it to him.
He examined it and said “It looks like it had some use.”
“Yes.” I replied, then continued “The lady in the supply room sold it to me. She sure was crabby today, more than usual.”
“So how are things in the tank and valve maintenance?” He asked.
“Interesting.” I replied, then continued “I plan to test all the instruments tomorrow and then calibrate them if need be. They are showing that the fuel is chemically stable as of now, but that is why I am testing the instruments for accuracy. I don’t want to get my hopes or the hopes of the whole firm too high just yet.” I then asked “How are things in R&D?”
He replied “They have me doing the mathematical calculations for the chemical formulas. It’s just to make sure everything can be proven to be scientifically true. It’s quite tedious and redundant, but I am used to it.” He paused and then said “We are on the brink of a breakthrough.” We chatted during the course of dinner and until it was pitch black outside with the exception of the glow from various windows in buildings. With nothing else to do; I went to bed.