Earlan looked on in horror as the sun spat out its tendrilous rays, thrashing the Alsviðr. It bent, parts of it expanding, parts turning to blackness, parts of it dripping into the liquidy globules they’d remembered seeing gallium make in water back on Earth.
Their number two put a hand on Earlan’s shoulder, trying to pull them away.
“Captain, it’s been hours since it happened. There’s nothing we can do,” Kamya nudged, her dark lips attempting something like sympathy.
“You ever see anything like it?” Earlan managed after a few minutes pause.
“No, and I don’t want to ever again,” their number two shivered.
There was a knot in Earlan’s throat, the culmination of the twisting insides that defied all the laws of physics. They’d never see Pocovus again. The two of them had spent years baiting eachother and joking via communicators. He was Earlan’s closest friend – always separated by too much dark matter. When was the last time they’d even seen each other in person?
Earlan tried to push the thoughts aside. They closed their eyes and immediately regretted it. Forever imprinted, literally burned, into their vision was that sight of the Alsviðr: metal twisting and screaming and dripping and expanding.
People always talk about Rip Van Winkle losing his life to the fairies’ whims. But that’s just what space travel does to you, it sedates you and suddenly it’s years, decades, centuries later. Your family, if they’re not on the same pod, could very well be dead and long gone. It’s always possible that you are the sole surviving specimen of your kind.
Some people travel to go to new, exciting places, or because they’re filled with some form of greatness under it all.
And some people, like me, need to escape.
Some people are so weighted down with the world they once lived in. Some people are haunted by choices of their past. Some people just need a break.
It’s very possible the things that tangle my past could take my path and hunt me down, but until it happens, I don’t have to deal with it. I just hop on the shuttle, take a little nap, and I’m decades in the future. Nobody knows where I’m going. Nobody can stop me. And most importantly, nobody will know me. Not anymore.
No regrets, or at least none that mean enough to stop me, and it’s time to hop on the shuttle.
Great purpose. That’s all anyone ever really talked about anymore. That’s what Sarah had spent the last decade of her life working for. A great purpose. At first she was scared – isn’t everyone, with that amount of responsibility? To be one of the first people to live on Mars. It almost didn’t seem real. The world had changed so much and so little in the last ten years. Her sister just had a baby. Sarah would never hold it again, not likely. She would never hug another family member again (unless they decided on this hare-brained scheme to settle Mars as well). It is possible she would never fall in love, as she hadn’t yet. But that didn’t matter. She would be a first.
They were counting down for take-off, and Sarah wished she could turn her head to look at her cohorts – the people she would spend the rest of her life with. There would certainly be others, but for two years it would just be them. Their names would go down in history, every second of their lives would be recorded. In about a year, she would be on Mars, after an immense amount of time spent in transit.
The count of 1 came, and soon they were off. This was it. The worst that could happen is the ship never making it off the ground. It was always her biggest fear.
But time passed, people cheered, and the whole world was rooting them on. Baby steps were over, it was time for humankind’s biggest leap.
For information about Mars One, the inspiration for this short, go here: http://mars-one.com/en/about-mars-one/about-mars-one
In ten years, we WILL have settlers on Mars. How cool is that?