MarsA Chapter by Haunzwürthe
Mars, the red planet. The crimson rock of our childhood used to conjure images of barren desert and little green Martian men. It used to be the source of 20th century Hollywood flops and recipient of mindless experiments that poked holes in rocks with glorified RC cars. A millennia of mystery surrounded that rusted rock. The allure was there, sure. It gave many a wandering eye, like mine, a place to aim their telescope at night. It was the new Wild West after the Mojave was tamed and the moon got boring. That was then. Sadly, that little red planet is no more. A bright blue sphere, Earth's little brother, serves as the first step in humanity's solar manifest destiny. Though for all the bustling activity on its surface, the standardized shipping routes from Earth, and the welcoming aura of a new atmosphere, there was something strangely depressing. It was like a sad man, shackled to his cubicle, wishing for a return to his youth and adventure. Imagine Huckleberry Finn as an accountant or Captain Jack Sparrow as a receptionist. Or is that me?
My part here is merely observation at this point in some sort of reclined position watching the planet and its Moon Reclamation Project slowly churn through their rotations. The caveat is that I am currently in the middle of space. I'm not worried because I am wearing vintage Star Trek pajamas and drinking a Slurpee. What the hell kind of dream is this? I'm not that delusional. I must be tired or drunk. Probably both. Besides, I was just a kid when that brain freezing delicacy disappeared with the 7-Eleven bankruptcy.
I move through the black void and I'm not even sure if I'm breathing. I'm just as unsure whether that's an issue at this juncture. I think it's a safe assumption that I am still breathing in real life. I land on the moon, a conjoining of the two original rocks, Phobos and Deimos. Throw in some spare parts from the asteroid belt mining operations, loose mass to gravitational ratio calculations, and you've got another political cleanup job. I'm not a planetary expert but even I can tell you that when you get 30ft waves every time the tide comes in, a moon is either too big or too close to its planet. The Amazon Reclamation, the New Orleans Reclamation, all just a thinly veiled, "Oops, sorry boys. We screwed the pooch on this one. Our bad." Needless to say, Hilton Interplanetary did not immediately cash in their deposit on Martian beachfront property.
The cheap labor still works on though, through the risk of degenerative space suits, unmaintainable equipment, and supervisory corner cutting. With 7.5 billion people to choose from, the work force always remains freshly stocked. On cue, bad trajectory from the asteroid convoy bringing in material crashes in the wrong sector, sending another fifteen workers to meet their maker in the starry abyss. Thank you dreamscape. With companies such as Galactic Logistical Services cornering the global services industry with high prices, low pay, and cheap production, most of these practices will never make it back to Earth. This operation is after my time on the planet though. We were the beginning.
Continuing down to the surface, I pass through the thin atmosphere. Professor Nathaniel Straught discovered the key to bringing Mars to life. Once asteroid mining was deemed productive and practical, the good professor showed that nuclear fission could be used to power the miners. In the process, it also broke atomically broke down many key asteroids to gaseous elements capable of protecting the surface. The changes were instantaneous beyond any theoretical model. The liquid water season extended rapidly until water was present year round then that's when we were able to start planting.
I'm on the surface of the red planet back in its infancy of atmospheric conversion. Conveniently enough, with no re-entry burns. Winds whip sands across the broken land, the sky a dark sepia. Walking along a ridge line, I feel most at home in these austere environments. Unlivable, devoid of sustenance. I think it's a sense of potential, of what could be new discoveries and evolutionary paths of new organisms. The raw, untouched beauty along with the inherent danger calls to me.
One of the early atmospheric inductor complexes catches my eye and I watch it shoot white plumes, the early stabilization of the ionosphere. Like the smokestacks of the industrial age signaling the progression of American technology, these massive machines paved the way for all we know on planetary transformation. Just one inductor started the project and by the time the atmosphere was safe for human consumption over 75 were spread across the planet. It's nostalgic seeing these early days again but it does seem a bit off. There is no one here in my dream. Realistically each complex would hold about 200 or so workers and maintainers though my brain has decided that they aren't necessary for this adventure. Still, it feels like I am being watched, that my attention is begged for elsewhere. I turn around.
The Venusian capsule bursts out of the rusted landscape with an unusual brightness I would not miss anywhere. It glows in the valley below, an emerald amongst the rocks standing out as beacon in contrast to the vengeful environment. I take another slurp. It is what I have been looking for all this time. My subconscious answers its calling and it draws me near.
I am there. From the ridge to the valley floor in a blink, change scene, switch to camera 3. It is a magnificent organism. Self containing at such an early age and so deadly dangerous. It demands awe and wonder alongside extreme caution. There is much more to this seedling than the giant, green pine cone its exterior resembles. Much more indeed. It anchors itself with roots that serve no other purpose than stability and is topped with a flower blub the size of a pumpkin. Warm to the touch, I feel excited by the smoothness of the flesh, like a woman's inner thigh. That thought exudes a strangely erotic sensation. There are movements inside, graceful motions against the vessel. The unseen botanical ballet ceases and the flower unfurls. Large white petals streaked with blues and purples bloom in betrayal of the thrashing winds. The scales of the capsule open and hungering traps emerge on slender green stems. I amaze at the complexity of this life form and watch muscleless mouths open to reveal their pink, juicy innards. The pheromones become intoxicating and I no longer control my thoughts. I lean in close to the deliciously tempting wetness. Long, thin spikes emerge, hidden teeth around the outer rim of each mouth and the closest one wraps my face in darkness.
© 2012 Haunzwürthe
Added on May 16, 2012
Last Updated on May 16, 2012
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