Eight months within the confines of a 21st century spaceship would try the most hardy of souls. Think of a trip of that duration in your family car, without being able to get out into the wide world and stretch your legs, smell the fresh air, or see a sunrise. Add to that an eerie feeling of driving your car at night without headlights.
One of the prerequisites for us, as astronauts, was a close to perfect mental and emotional stability. This was sorely tested, and, when we did arrive, there were more than a few who had had enough.
Yes, we did arrive, and, my friends, I want to tell you many things before I go on my work detail.
In the weeks that it took us to navigate the asteroid belt, I had a feeling of certainty that these spinning chunks of rock were once part of a single entity, a planet that had been destroyed in some calamity remote in time.
The most glorious thing that had ever happened to me in my life occurred after waking up one “morning” with a fellow crew member’s hand upon my shoulder turning me towards the window.
Through the layers of quartz glass, I saw the Red Planet in all of its magnificent splendour. This would be home for the rest of my life.
Our incarceration was coming to an end. As we grew slowly nearer, and I was able to see features, I could make out the canyon of Valles Marineris, our target landing site. A monstrous formation that stretches along the equator for nearly 2,500 miles, reaching depths of 5 miles. I fancied I could see plumes of smoke or steam concentrated in a small area, which could mark the location of our settlement.
Our atmospheric entry and landing was very tricky and difficult, but as close to perfection as we could have hoped for. We were safe, and within an hour, we saw signs of the Welcome Wagon. Our comrades, some of whom had been here since Day One, came out to greet us and bring us home.
They hadn’t yet invented skintight spacesuits, so it was a challenge to embrace our new neighbours. I recognized some of them as being children, and was struck with the realization that I was looking at the the first native Martians. I was in awe.
As we approached the settlement, I could see what had been accomplished in the forty years since the first robotic teams had arrived. It was built in a series of geodesic domes of different sizes, with some Quonset style structures that were likely the greenhouses. The main portion of the settlement covered, I would say, about a square kilometre. A mere dot on our approach, but truly impressive on arrival. A sense of security, of home, and of endless possibilities came to mind.
to be continued…..
© 2018 Lee Dunn
Lee Dunn has been writing since the age of 18, but found that work got in the way for the ensuing 48 years. In his home town of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he reveled in his independence at an early age, and spent as much time as he could exploring the city’s Arts scene. He was introduced to poetry and prose by the works of two literary giants, namely J.R.R. Tolkien and J.W. Lennon and thence fell in love with the written word. His work includes poetry, short fiction, and personal essays, and ranges in theme from the surreal to the horrific, nostalgic, and themes on the human condition. He has been published on Spillwords.com, The Dark Poets Club, Journal of Undiscovered Poets, Crepe & Penn Literary magazine, and the Shelburne Free Press.