Saturday, June 03, 2006

Adventures on Mars!

I took a seat, hoping a more casual position would put her at ease.

Lorraine”, I began slowly, “you’re going to have to kill me”.

“What for?” she asked, showing a surprising amount of fear and concern. I had assumed that initial reactions to my request would be greeted with nervous, unbelieving laughter. Though I had the reputation of a practical joker, she was giving me more credence than I’d anticipated.

“Last night, I tried to get outside the airlock, out onto the surface”. No reaction from her. Perhaps she’d noticed? “I can’t take it in here, Lorraine, cooped up in this habitat for months. I should never have passed inspection.”

“Listen, Carson, you’re going to be okay”, she said. Lorraine didn’t often use my name. In fact, she and I rarely had dealings. As the only female on this mission, however, I felt compelled to open up to her. On the surface of Mars, 55 million kilometers from any other female, she was as close to a mother as I had. Curiously, she was also my only source for new “material”. It was a very awkward arrangement, let me tell you.

“No, I’m not. I appreciate it, but there’s no two ways about this. I am a danger to this mission – to its crew. If I am not taken care of, I could do something that will harm or kill you all”. She looked at me, unsure of how to proceed. I continued, “I can’t stay in here. There’s no air. There are no open spaces. I know they slaved for decades to come up with a habitat that maximized volume while cutting down on weight, but, for Christ’s sake, I can’t live here for two more fucking years!”

“Just… listen, let me get Chuck” she said nervously. Even she knew that Chuck could do shit all. To top it off, her tone indicated that my swearing had put her off. Damn it. Even if I survived this little crisis, I guess sex would be out of the question at this point.

“Fuck him. Chuck approved me for this mission, and look what good that’s done. Listen… I can’t breathe this recycled air in, day after day. It’s stale, and comes from a bottle. If you don’t kill me now, or soon, I will go psychotically insane, grab something big and heavy, bash the window out and kill all of us. Mark my fucking words, Lorraine.”

“We can… we can sedate you…” she suggested, her voice trailing off. I like the girl, but that was the stupidest idea I’d ever heard.

“We’re here for two more years, Lorraine. There isn’t enough gas to keep me under for half that long. Take the gun, turn me around, and shoot me in the back of the head.” NASA had designed special bullets that would pierce flesh and bone, but shatter into powdered dust if they hit anything as dense as the habitat bulkheads. “Why do you think they gave us the fucking thing to begin with?”

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