Blushing Frontier

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             “Carmichael!” I hear the most delicate voice tampered by angst over my earpiece, and I smile. Alison, the watchtower meteorologist from Mali, has an accent that is a heartwarming bonus to my position. I could listen to her talk all day. “What are you still doing out there?” she continues.

             I respond with a snicker, “my job, darling,” because I know she hates when I call her darling.

             “Seriously?” she darts back, “how many times must I tell you to be professional?”

             “Sorry Ali! Won’t happen again,” I lie, and she knows this. Guess she knows that I tease to get her squirrelly. I chuckle, forgetting my microphone is still on.

             “I find nothing funny about you being out there,” she responds. “Satellite imaging displays an expanding storm cell, but this storm—”

             “No worries, darling,” again I snicker, cutting her off, “on my way back to the Biosphere now.”

             Before she begins her rant on my lack of professionalism, I switch off the headset and can no longer hear her.

             I breathe deeply, in and out, in and out. Slow and relaxing breathes that make my head feel light. I see the storm swelling miles behind the watchtower. Alison is paranoid and faithless.

             Hmph! I could make it back with time to spare.

             I turn on my atmospheric audio-enhancer, and return to my terrain research. The crew believes it is awkward that I installed speakers onto my cosmonaut suit in order to hear the planet around me. They do not understand why I would want to hear the sounds of our sister planet.

             They call it a dead planet ripe for plundering. I see a world of potential.

             The era for the father of my father’s father possessed countless dreams of extra-planetary colonization. In that early 21st century, those intellectual dreamers began the grueling push to accomplish the monumental task, as private corporations offered discounted tickets to the foolish brave in the hopes of colonizing the fourth planet of our system. The first two expeditions were utter failures: the vessels barely passed the moon before their disastrous issues arose.

             After all the years and countless failed attempts of even landing planet side, let alone setting up a closed ecological system, I am of the generation that achieved the implausible.

             I am helping colonize Mars.

             I look up to the horizon and the pale scarlet, intense oranges, vibrant ruby, and burnt crimsons flood my sensory arrays. Through the specialized speakers I listen to the dirt vigorously blow pass. I can almost feel the breeze in spite of my cosmonaut suit. Of course, I really cannot feel anything, but the sound booming inside my helmet provides that illusion.

             Picking away at these red rocks to learn more about the planet, was a dream of mine since I could think. Now, I get lost in the task each day.

             As I chip away at minerals I hear the growl of the storm grow. If I were spiritual I would say this world’s mother-spirit hates me, this one person of many otherworldly adventurers that have set foot on her. The storms, which were only experienced before via drone video footage, seem wilder now, and they are definitely more frequent. It is as if my presence has altered the natural order.

             Suddenly, whooshing all around me is the soil I have been investigating. Standing, I feel my weight shift from the gale forces creeping up behind. Clicking my headset back on in order to reach Alison, I hear only static. Turning, I see the claret monstrosity of a storm that should not exist.

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