, , , , , ,

This will be my last entry.

My position on this expedition has always been a difficult one. I had no scientific or engineering skills with which to assist the colony. I was not trained to pilot the spaceship which brought us here. I have no command, leadership or medicinal skills. I was not even able to bear a child, to offer my contribution to the colony’s valuable genetic diversity.

My words were all I brought to Mars.

While the pilots navigated through the empty vastness of space, I recorded the preparations made on board, the excitement of the colonists, the early starts some of them made towards populating our destination.

When we landed, the scientists and engineers set to work creating a safe base, with the colonists providing the labour. It would have been hard labour, were it not for the fact that we are effectively so much stronger here than back on Earth. Everything seemed lightweight. I saw women effortlessly unloading crates that took two men to load at home, and throwing them down a human chain to where they were needed.

I remained on the ship, recording their efforts, until the bubble was complete, an atmosphere created, and a home built for all of us.

My home was set higher, and had more windows than any other. I could see the entire bubble from where I sat, and I sat there all day and all night. I recorded the efforts of the botanists, as they worked to create hybrids hardy enough to withstand the Martian soil. I recorded the efforts of the atmosphericists, as they worked on their strange machines which were intended, one day, to adjust the air of the planet so that we could walk outside our bubble. I recorded some births and too many deaths. Minor successes and major failures. Everything that might be considered important, and much that might not be, was reduced to words which were in turn reduced to binary data and transmitted, instantly, back towards that tiny dot in the sky that we once called “home”.

I saw it all, I wrote it down, but I was never part of it. I was a forgotten presence; my food was delivered daily, my needs were seen to, but my existence as a person was disregarded. I cannot remember when I last spoke to somebody – and it seems that even I did not regard that as important enough to record.

Then the sickness began. Our numbers had already dwindled due to accidents – a small mistake out here can be so lethal – and it spread quickly. It was obviously spread by contact – I say this with confidence as if it was airborne it would have been brought in here by our recycled air, if it were in the food I would have consumed it. I have had no contact with anyone, and thus I have been spared.

They faded. Each of them. Day by day, until there was nothing left. To be clear, I do not mean this in any metaphorical sense, this is no writer’s conceit, they literally became translucent and, eventually, invisible. I have wondered if they are still here, still wandering around unable to touch anything, wondering what has happened to them. I prefer to think that they are dead. That would be kinder.

And so I come to the end. My only duty here was to record the colony’s progress, to start a history for their descendants. Without them, my life is meaningless. I write this entry as a coda; a brief explanation for those without the time or inclination to read my entire life’s work. TL;DR, as they said when I was a child.

The colony is gone, and I am reminded of another colony; a long, long time ago, where all that was found was a single skeleton and a word carved into a tree. The loss of that long-ago colony directly led to my presence here today; my job now is to ensure that the same questions will not be asked when our colony is found deserted but for a single skeleton.

I wonder how long it will take to become that skeleton in this bubble under Martian skies?

Save entry. Access code: Croatoan.

© Kari Fay