Daily Prompt: Longing for Gravity
You are on a mission to Mars. Because of the length of of the journey, you will never be able to return to Earth. What about our blue planet will you miss the most?
(Thank you for the wonderful prompt suggestion, K. Renae P.!)
This is the beginning of a short story. It’s intended to be a speculative fiction piece, probably in the 7-10K range. I would love your feedback if you care to give it. This is just a draft based off of the above prompt from The Daily Post.
Journey to Earth
Day One: January 5, 2075
I can hear the jets increase, feel the landing gear extend, and grit my teeth. Landings are always the worst when I fly. My seat jerks and wobbles as we settle on the surface with a thud. I look out the window. My first thought is “What the hell was I thinking leaving Earth for this place?”
Six months ago, the head of NASA sat down in my cozy living room, full of bookshelves of books (many of which were written by me), knick-knacks and pictures of my children, and suggested I take the “trip of a lifetime”. I guess I should have read the fine print a little closer. They were looking for writers and journalists to document a trip to Mars. Since I am an award winning novelist and Pulitzer prize winning journalist, my name was somewhere at the top of the list. For all I know it was at the top of the list. I didn’t think to ask.
I knew flattery and my ego would be my downfall one day. It looks like that day has come.
The deal NASA offered was this. My family would be taken care of for as long as they lived, by the government, in exchange for my services. What I didn’t realize was the reason for the journey in the first place. That I found out about from the scientists on the mission. They did a good job of keeping us isolated from one another by using Secret Service handlers.
Resources on earth have reached a critical point. We have too much demand and not enough supply of all the essentials – food, water, minerals, oil. While the general population isn’t aware yet, it is only a matter of time before even the dimwitted begin to figure it out and start to panic.
In addition, super germs are decimating the population. The CDC is fighting multiple germs but they are mutating faster than scientists can come up with cures or even temporary remedies. One genius even predicted it wouldn’t be long before these germ mutations would start to change our DNA. All very hush-hush amongst the government bureaucrats.
The plan, as they told me, was to send four mega-shuttles to Mars with all the things necessary to recreate a “Big Bang” on Mars, in theory. Regular shipments by unmanned craft would continue as needed and as requested by the teams. The goal is to make the planet habitable by humans. My job is to document the program and send regular reports back to earth.
Then the lead scientist, Jonah, told me there were no plans for any of us to return to earth. Ever. All of this said very casually, while the autopilot steered us to our destination. Jonah sitting there, smugly staring out the window, arms behind his head as if everything was perfect in the world. That’s when I started screaming and punching him, which I’m sure didn’t win me any favors with the crew. They probably all think I’m psycho but I don’t care. Of course, all I was told was I would be documenting a trip to Mars. I didn’t think to ask when the trip would end.
So for now, I’ll do my duty for my country and my family, and document everything. First thing tomorrow, we have to start setting up short range communications equipment so we can communicate more easily with the other shuttles, which should have arrived at various carefully mapped points on the planet.
Day Two: January 6, 2075
Setting up the communication equipment on this planet was a pain in the ass. I imagine if it were this difficult on earth, we wouldn’t have had any of the modern day technology we enjoy, like cell phones and free wi-fi at every Starbucks. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a decent cup of coffee!
The rock on this planet seems very dense – the scientists struggled for a long time to drill just a few inches to put in anchors for the communications equipment. They’ve also begun construction of a few greenhouses, which have to be carefully constructed in order to survive the ferocious windstorms. Watching these scientists bounce around the low gravity like psychotic slow-motion bunnies has been quite amusing all day. Glad I don’t have to do that.
To Be Continued…