Our ship finally docked after a two-year journey. We left our cryogenic pods, muscles sore after a nearly endless hibernation. An attendant took us from the ship to the station where we would be staying. Through the glass tube, they called this the red planet as everything that covered it was a shade of rust; the blood-iron soil joined the scarlet sky.
They brought me here to study the channels. A vast tunnel network on the surface of Mars a result of melting ice. I glanced at the landscape in the distance, towering triangular structures. Supposedly they were natural phenomena, but the channels fed to them.
He led me back to my corridor and gave me a prepared meal along with some purified water. It was simple and freeze-dried, but the most I had eaten in months. They would give me twenty-four hours to acclimate, but my first mission was tomorrow. I would study the channels near the network of pyramids.
Sick of sleep, I went to the gymnasium at the station. It feltgreat to exercise and move the stiffness out of my body, even if a freezing two-minute shower followed.
I left refreshed and mingled with the crew of the space station. The station held people from all nations. I had advanced knowledge of geology was preparing to take soil and mineral samples. Perhaps I would be lucky enough to find a source of water in this place.
When I told people I was going through the channels later that day, they fell silent. Some told me to be careful and warned me of hazards. One of the chief scientists pulled me aside and said the last geologist at the channels had met an untimely demise. He went into gruesome detail about how he removed his helmet and his eyes removed. The medical staff believed he had a mental break, that he couldn’t adjust to the new environment.
The chief said I could have an extra day to adjust and see a therapist if needed. I told him I had spent two years cramped on a shuttle and did not care to spend my time on a cramped Martian station. I told him I would let him know if anything unusual happened on the channels. I shirked this off; I felt perfectly fine and needed to get outside.
We left only a few hours later. The rover would take over an hour to reach the channels. I left with a fellow geologist in a passenger rover that steadily made its way toward the pyramids.
The sky gleamed overhead in shades of orange, vermillion, and scarlet, shot with millions of stars. Immense mountains loomed in the distance, shadows stretching for eternity. Despite the fiery colors, the air was freezing enough to sense through my spacesuit. I wiggled my fingers and toes, activating the thermal device that warmed them instantly.
After an hour, the rover stopped, and we got out and went to our work. I took small, glass vials and filled them with the red soil. I was so immersed in my work that I did not hear the panicked screams of my partner. I didn’t notice the massive dust storm until it was too late.
Lightning coursed through the dust as silt pelted me. I leaned against the howling wind until I came to the base of the pyramid. Hunkering down, I hoped I would have enough shelter to survive.
Something tapped my shoulder and turned around, thinking it was my partner. Instead, a pale creature with huge indigo eyes stood in front of me. It spoke to me and I listened to its words. They reverberated through me and I was at one with everything.
I understood the meaning of the universe and of God. Mars, Earth, the entire universe seemed so tiny. I understood greatness beyond measure spoken through the words of this being. It solved hunger, ended violence, greed, brought peace to all of humanity. I listened to its words. The storm ended, leaving a vast array of stars in a crimson sky, all aligned perfectly.
The creature walked away and stopped speaking, vanishing into the red earth. Sickly human flesh surrounded me, its animal smell filling my nose. I tried to remember the greatness that is bestowed on me, but it left my mind like water flowing out of a stream.
My body was slowly rotting, and I smelled nothing but death and decay, the weakness of humanity, and my own crippling ignorance. I wanted to tear off my helmet and gulp in the helium air until I no longer existed, to gouge my eyes out to not see the muted colors. Oh, how I wish I had listened.
But now I’m here in this room of white padded walls until the next ship comes to fetch me. They are no longer sending people to the channels as it causes mental instability I just wish I remembered what the being told me. I could fix us all if I remembered what it told me. The stars will come right and I will remember everything it showed me and I will be God.