I passed the ball to my partner from my chair. He caught it quickly and passed it from one hand to another before throwing it back. A way for us to pass time in our boring situation. We worked for a meteorological company in the northern part of Canada and our job involved staying in the same room for long periods of time each day for six months of a year.
Believe it or not, this our second year. The pay was too good to pass up and we both had stagnant social lifes. Unlike the first time we were here we bought many things to occupy our time. One, a ball to pass around. We brought several puzzles, board games and even a karaoke set. Safe to say the puzzles and board games did nothing but gather dust in the first few months.
“You know, I’ve been thinking about the readings lately,” Mark told me throwing the ball back a little too vigorously.
“And what did you figure out?” I asked as I struggled to catch the ball. Luckily, I caught it without falling out my chair, which in itself was a challenge when my legs were up on the desk. “Notice anything out of the ordinary?”
“No, everything is as it was last year and all within predictable ranges,” Mark replied. “But, that being said, I find it kind of strange for Canada to have such high temperatures in one of the coldest areas. I mean, you walked here, did it feel like it twenty-eight degrees?”
“Uh, no, it was much colder than that,” I replied. “But they never said all the readings would be for where we are. Any other numbers out of place?”
“Well, I don’t know,” Mark replied honestly. “We aren’t professionals, we’re just here to watch the numbers and see if they reach danger zones.”
“Don’t let them hear you say that, they might replace us with simple programs,” I told him juggling the ball with another.
“I won’t do that, but...yeah, I just found it strange.”
The two of us continued in silence, passing one minute after another until curiosity began biting at me as well. There was something about what he said that intrigued me, so I caught the ball and held it, bringing up my software and reading the numbers.
“I’m gonna check something out,” I told him.
I began checking temperatures that matched the one were constantly reading. Indeed, there wasn’t an area anywhere in northern Canada with those exact readings and comparing them to reports on countries in other sectors none of them matcher. No temperature was remotely high enough and we certainly weren’t reading these numbers from somewhere else in the world.
“Do you think it might be a fault in the system?” I asked. “If so we need to report it for repairs.”
“Not at all, it fits the range perfectly,” Mark told me. “But what I think is it is the temperature of somewhere we can’t go in Canada, you know?”
“I know? What do I know?” I asked him. “It’s only a year later and I wouldn’t have noticed this unless you pointed it out.”
“Well, maybe that’s why they didn’t hire professionals,” Mark replied with a shrug. “Maybe they would be able to decipher these numbers.”
Personally, I can be a very lazy person, but I do enjoy learning. What is more, there were shelves of books related to the subject. A company policy I suppose, but more for decoration than purpose. That being said, I was about to change that fact and do a little research. Walking over to the shelf I collected the first book and began paging through it in search of finding some graphs or numbers similar to ours.
Mark watched curiously for a moment, but grew bored and started playing solitaire. Flicking through the pages I found a graph, but not with the range of our numbers. However, it did hint that numbers higher than fifteen meant subterranean chamber. In other words, we were reading figures from an underground cave or room.
I told Mark this and once more he just shrugged.
“So, we’re checking chemical levels and temperature of a cave,” he told me. “It’s cool that we know that now, I was wondering, but there isn’t anything we can do with that information.”
Mark’s curiosity was sated, but mine wasn’t. I began looking through the book more to find information and when none came I began staring at the adjustments bars and graphs on my monitor. The longer I looked at it and compared them to a subterranean graph the more similar they became, but there was one subtle difference. One graph kept bouncing when it should have been stable.
More than that, it was bouncing with a strange pattern. Two jumps then pause, two jumps then pause. I looked over at Mark who was too preoccupied with his game to pay attention.
I began tapping out the sound and that is when it hit me. It had the same rhythm of a resting heart beat. With that thought I leaned back into my chair. Could it be a heartbeat? I mean, the temperature didn’t fit, it's too cold for an animal.
Upon further thought, it could be a reptile. That is when I recalled something I learnt in school about hibernation, a sleeping state that animals enter for winter. Nothing that I was an expert in, but for a wild moment I believed that is what I was looking at. The chemical readings weren’t anything that I could read with understanding, but I knew that there were many chemicals within the body that kept it going.
Looking over at Mark I thought about his curiosity and it seemed he wasn’t interested anymore in what we were observing. I on the other hand was concerned with keeping this job. We both remained silent and I, with the most information now, decided it would be best to never go further than thinking about the idea.