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#1 2014-12-25 01:07:19

From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,526

Pessimist in Paradise

Hey guys.  This is a story I wrote for my fiction writing class, and I figured it was relevant to NewMars, so without further ado:

"We're not on Earth anymore, you know."
  "I know."
  "Why all the Terran news, then?"
  "No reason"
  "I mean it." As he said that, the tablet in front of him vibrated nad he immediately turned to look. After making some quick gestures at the screen and then poking it, Aydyn looked back at the woman standing opposite him. "Mars is in opposition right now, so it makes a difference how quickly I respond."
  "It's still a ten-minute communication delay"
  "Don't you have something better to do, Desa?"
  "Not right now, no" she replied
  "Well I think I'm gonna take a nap." After a pause, he added, "You're welcome to join me if you'd like."
  "Yeah, I'm pretty tired." They were standing on the porch, whose convex, glass north-facing wall had a spectacular view of the red landscape outside. Aydyn looked outside at the ancient ferrous slopes of Hebes Chasma, then back at Desa. Her hair was red with just a hint of brown, just a few shades darker than the terrain outside. In a room suffused with reds and oranges and browns, the bright green of her eyes stood out and drew the eye. Aydyn's short, neat hair was blond and his eyes sky blue. His quarters were on the southwestern side of their little Martian town and they set off in that direction through the network of tunnels that served as roads.
  "These tunnels are so dull. I wish we had more room or more light or something" he said.
  "I never really look at the tunnels. We're going to have to start running a shuttle soon if we keep building like we've been."
  "What's wrong?"
  "I'm fine."
  "You've been all bent out of shape for weeks now."
  "It's nothing."
  "It's not nothing. It's something. Why don't you tell me?"
  "You don't care."
  "Of course I care. We've been close for almost three years now, how could you say that?"\
  "Only three years?"
  "Three Martian years."
  "Martian years" Aydyn looked at her, as if confused. "You're a Martian already, really"
  "So are you. So are we all. This is our home, and it will be until the day we die." She turned her head to look into his eyes. Her russet hair flew wildly in the low gravity before settling down again.
  "Sometimes I feel like I'm half here and half back at home. Back in LA, where it's always warm and the Sun is bright and close, with the ocean and the traffic and the rain."
  "LA is in the desert"
  "It rains more than here"
  "Thi is your home now." They walked in silence for a few meters, then a few more. Mars' gravity favored a quick, large stride alternating between leaning forwards and backwards. As they reached the threshold to his quarters, Aydyn stumbled a bit while stopping. Desa looked at him with surprised. They climbed into bed, which was a thin foam mattress made more confortable by their lower weight.
  "Sometimes I feel like I don't belong here" Aydyn said.
  "Even still? We've been here for so long already"
  "It's not Earth that I miss. Not really. I know Earth has nothing for me."
  "What is it really?"
  "It's that I don't do anything here that matters. Look at you, you operate the Von Neumann Machines. Katey keeps everyone alive in the farms. Jose has been all over the planet. But me? I don't do anything worth doing. I'm just taking up space and resources that would be better to give to a colonist."
  "You're so important to the colony. How could you say that? The money we get from our Terran releases pays for every computer circuit on Mars."
  "It's true"
  "No it's not. It's just not. I'm not worth it."
  "Yes you are"
  "What would you know?"
  "A lot actually"
  "You're wrong. Everyone would be better off without me here, even you. It's okay, I won't hold it against you. If you want to go."
  "I'm not going anywhere."
  "Suit yourself." Desa didn't know how to respond to that. There they were, on Mars, with 2,000 people on their whole planet, building a society that historians would at with fascination thousands of years hence, and Aydyn seemed to have given up. How could she tell him this. How could she show him he was wrong?
  "What's wrong with you?"
  "I knew you couldn't understand." He rose and walked for the door. "I'll see you at the Greenhouses tomorrow, I guess."
  Because the Greenhouses were exposed directly to the light of the Sun and the surrounding landscape with just centimeters of glass for shielding, they were considered to be both a radiation hazard and the most desirable form of work. Fortunately, these demands were complementary and everyone was permitted to choose several hours per week of greenhouse time. The greenhouses were long, half-buried cylinders, about 6 meters in diameter and suffused everywhere with plants. Aydyn was working alone, moving around the wheat and the zucchini to give the former more light. Below the grated floor on which he stood, tilapia swam in a vaguely blue channel, feeding on fallen plant matter and algae in the water.
  "The yellow and the green and the blue and the red." He murmured to himself. "Such a colorful place." He moved the trays carefully and slowly, savoring the feeling of doing something real. The Sun was near the horizon, which was burning an even more spectacular red than usual. Drowned out by its bright light, Earth buzzed on, a mess of people and activity as always. By comparison, their frantic activity was serene, ordered, and stately. They were called heroes for their work.
  Von Neumann Machines in the distance churned out new greenhouses. He'd seen plans to build a skyscraper for the new colonists, here, on Mars, to be topped with a solar power tower. No person on Mars had ever been killed in war or in anger. Each person, through one day's communal work out of the week, had a place to live, food to eat, water to drink, and clean air to breathe. Around them lay a planet as large as all of Earth's continents put together, sure to be a great civilization one day. They were not heroes, but Gods, building something great from something desolate. He could be a god too; He could say "let there be light" and a solar power tower would be built. He could divide the water from the firmament, and there would a water extraction plant be, melting the ice from the permafrost.
  Mars was the love of his life, Mars and Desa. She beckoned him forward.



#2 2017-03-25 20:12:51

From: Thunder Bay
Registered: 2017-03-10
Posts: 77

Re: Pessimist in Paradise

That's quite atmospheric, the way you bring out two real people's moods and a bit of their personalities.  I was puzzled about Aydyn - is he actually depressed? The story title says it all. But he ends up going to the greenhouses as a kind of therapy. I can understand that. (not sure what his occupation is though)

-- Because it's there! --


#3 2020-02-14 13:20:27

Ancient Mars
From: Canada
Registered: 2020-02-01
Posts: 8

Re: Pessimist in Paradise

I found this a very enjoyable read! Thanks for sharing this with us. I hope to see more short stories from you in the future...


#4 2020-02-14 14:53:07

From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: Pessimist in Paradise

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, AM. It was definitely a good read.

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