The Geologist

Shelly moved towards the outcrop. She would have to climb, and that was always the tricky part. A faint clanking and whirring noise came from her with the occational clunk. The rock face loomed and she took a deep breath; of course she didn’t have to climb… Many would not, but to get a proper data set she really did need to. And she wanted this to be the most thorough of expiditions. It had to be, really. Otherwise all the hard work would be for nothing.

She ran her fingers over the slick little groves ground into the slab of rock and nodded to herself. It had to the missing fault. She buckled herself into a harness; something she knew others would often not bother with, but for her, there was no choice. Rummaging in her coat of many pockets, she produced an instrument that looked alarmingly like a gun. She put a rock eyelet cartraige in it and shrugged off her rucksack.

‘She clicked the button on her radio set, ‘Shelly calling Ti, over’

‘Ti Receiving, over’

‘I’m going for a climb, over’

A pause, she frowned at the rock face, ‘Be careful and take your phone and make sure it is switched on, over’

‘Ok love, I will, I’m not a baby, out’

She ground her teeth but knew her husband was only being protective. He was worried the kit he’d made wouldn’t work, or the rock wouldn’t hold, plus a number of other things. Mechanical engineers could be like that. But her adventourous streak and gung-ho-ness had caused two decades of pain and heartbreak for both of them; she could never be that way again. She was 42, and trying to complete the mapping project she should have done as a 20 year old undergraduate. Lab work had never really been her thing.

She mounted the rock gun on her shoulder and placed a squeeze trigger in her arm pit. She shedded the water proof, too. Her phone with its geolocator was strapped to one muscly arm. Her tight black vest top made her look like an aged Lara Croft; baggy combats hid the bulky frame that was her legs. Two metal stirrups were visible around her £200 stained-leather hiking boots. She slung a camera in a padded case around her shoulder and neck so that it hung down her back. Taking a deep breath, she began to climb.

She pulled herself up by finger tips alone, a technique learned from an extreme French climber. Her legs dangled uselessly below her. She would have laughed at the sight of herself except the precision climbing took too much effort and concentration. She beaded in sweat, though the climate was cool and temperate. She did a weird sort of chin up in order to shoot the first ring into the rock. She swayed slightly with the back force, and then anchored herself to it. Not that she planned on having to rely on them, but it was a safety precaution. She moved on, pulling herself higher and feeling the strain in her arms. She reached the end of the overhang, and the climbing was easier now that her body was not hanging out over the open drop. She moved upwards and across until she found a fissure in the rock. Weathering along the fault! Exactly what she wanted to find. She scrabbled up and a whirring noise followed as she kneeled on a ledge, breaking a climbing golden rule – no knees. But hers were padded. No risk of a broken knee cap for her.

She shifted, and sat, and then using her arms moved her legs into the crevice. She squirmed in and relaxed, panting.

‘Shelly to Ti, over’

‘Ti here! Over!’ She could hear the relief in his voice, though in truth she was no more than forty feet above the ground.

‘I’ve made it up and am wedged in a crevice about to take readings and samples and photos et al, over’

‘Received! Let me know when you get back down, out’

‘Will do, out.’

She began to hum happily as she craned her neck to look at her compass clinometer. The little thin red line shifting to give an angle that she duly noted. She could see parasitic folding. There were several stages of deformation here and she would have to unravel them all to get a good picture of the area.

She hooked the hammer out of her belt loop and extracted a sample.

And then it was the bit she’d been dreading, she had to get down again. She hit an anchor pin into the rock and sorted her ropes out. She paused but decided to radio in anyway. ‘Shelly to Ti, over.’

‘Ti receiving, over’

‘I am about to descend, over’

‘Have you anchored two pins? over’

‘No, one will do! over’

‘Shelly you promised to do things belt and braces, over’

She sighed.

‘Adding the extra mount, out’

Grinding her teeth she added the extra pin and sorted out her ropes. She had spied a slightly easier descent path and so was going for that. Her breath was catching with nerves, she might even be able to use her legs in abseil for the first bit. The strange sound accompanied her as she moved out slowley over the edge, using a rope jammer in lieu of another human on the ropes. She swayed from side to side but with some effort spread her legs enough to become stable. She inched her way down, bunny hopping was definitely out. She switched to a Prusik loop for the overhang and let herself drop in increments. She felt overwhelmed, and like she was in a dream – this was her dream, had been her dream for decades.

She made an inelgant landing but did not fall over. She whooped with joy.

‘Well done!’ came Ti’s voice from the scrubby bush.

‘You spying bastard! I was supposed to show I could do this on my own!’ She shouted but with no real anger. After all, this was all his hard work.

‘Mum! You did it!’ came a second voice and a strong string bean of a girl came hurtling out of the undergrowth to hug her. A camera click caught her attention as she hugged her daughter – the child that had finished off the spinal injury during labour. The spinal injury she’d gotten climbing up dangerous rock faces to collect samples during her year in industry. They hadn’t let her do her mapping project; she’d been stuck in the lab – labs were indoors.

Ti came over too her and hugged her too. A whole crowd had sprung up from nowhere.

‘They would like to see the brace, Shelly – I hope you don’t mind?’

Feeling hot with a mix of emotions she nodded and released her waist cord. Her daughter, now almost a grown up herself, helped her out of them. A fine metal frame covered her legs with a padded hoop round her pelvis, another thing that had been mangled in the accident and then made worse with the stresses of childbirth.

She hadn’t wanted all this exposure, though. What could Ti be thinking? It was just supposed to be an exercise to prove she could manage a fieldwork based PhD.

‘The medical implications of the exo-suit are staggering. I thought they would have better stuff but apparently not – someone saw yours at the University and tracked us down they want to develop it further,’ he said and she nodded mutely; smiling, a little perplexed, at the journalist.

‘Yeah Mummy was always sad she wasn’t in the field so Daddy has spent years and years – well basically my whole life on building this and Mummy went and trained with athletes and things and I turned out to be good at programming so I helped with all that side of thing..’ babbled her daughter to a happily scribbling reporter.

In the group she noted the PHD supervisor – he gave her the thumbs up. She smiled and hugged her family.

Posted: Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 @ 10:06 am
Categories: Uncategorized.
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2 Responses to “The Geologist”

  1. QuHarrison Terry Says:

    Impressive story I love how determined she was.

  2. admin Says:

    Thankyou :)

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