The Longest Day of the Year

Outland: Chapter 6


“Yes?”  I stuttered, having lost myself in staring out the window.  It was rare Gulliver would speak to me unprovoked.

“You wished for me to tell you, and after having just finished my calculations, I believe it is time.”

“You’re being very vague, Gulliver.”

“My apologies, Andrew.  If I may be plainer with my phrasing; the days have started to become shorter I believe.”

“I see.  I did tell you to let me know.  So, you think we hit the solstice?”  I sat up, staring up at the glow of the sun against the plexiglass window.

“Yes.  After the two days of rain, it took time to start following the passing of the sun again.  Two days ago, we had 11 hours and 58 minutes of daylight.  Yesterday was 11 hours and 57 minutes.  Today, I observed the sun rising again 30 seconds later than the previous day.  Our path having been almost precisely northward, it can be assumed that the change is due to the movement of the Earth on it’s axis.”

“Well, you’re thorough.”  I sat back in the seat, drumming my hands on the armrest.  “I can assume we’re not too far off from the equator, then, too.  It’s hard to believe we made it this far.”

“Why is it hard to believe, Andrew?”

“Because, well…”  I paused to think.  “I’m not sure, but I believe time passes for me in a different way compared to you.  We’ve been travelling for months, but each day I I’m just watching a slightly different view from this same spot.  Sometimes it feels as if every step takes forever, but when I look back at it, it all blends together as well.  Do you know what I mean?”

“I believe my internal clock has been running the same frequency since I was manufactured, Andrew.  Regardless of the events of the day, it remains the same.”

“Is that so?  Perhaps that’s better.”  I nodded emphatically as my eyes began focusing on the waves of heat evaporating off the land before us.

That night, I made sure to make a long line on the map, marking the point at which we had encountered the equator.  I knew each step north of it, and each day past this one, would mean less and less daylight to power Gulliver by.  I had never had any clear intention of ever coming this far, or even sticking with Gulliver this long.

That night, I ended up climbing the ladder again to the cockpit, somehow convincing myself that I had forgotten to put the solar array up into place.  As soon as I reached the top level, I could see the switches in the upward position as they should be.  I rubbed my eyes in exhaustion, not wanting to head back down the ladder.

“Gulliver.”  I groaned, sitting upon the cold metal floor.

“Yes, Andrew?”

“Do you have details on your make and model?”

“Yes, Andrew.  Frame and body: Designed in the United States, Assembled in Mexico.  Main joint actuators: Designed in Germany, Assembled in Mexico.  Power generation and Energy Cell: Designed in Japan, Assembled in China.”

“Capitalism at its best.”  I mumbled.  Gulliver had never given me cause to worry until now; always hearing the poor readouts on the life cycle of his energy cells, barely enough to carry us through the day on a single charge.  With less sunlight, the distance we would be able to travel each day would be severely limited.

“Gulliver, I was thinking.”

“Yes, Andrew?”

“If we got you a new power cell, your… life expectancy would increase, would it not?”

“Yes, Andrew.  In models similar to mine, the power cell is the first part of the system to expire.  May I remind you that our current integrity is…”

“I know, I know.  I think I know where we need to eventually end up, but it’s going to be a long journey to get there.  Will you stick with me?”

“I think it may be the other way around, would it not?”

“You’re right, Gulliver.  I’ll be the one sticking with you.  You have my promise.”

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