• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 12
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The First Girl on Mars

All systems go. She feels the old chair wrap around her, securing her for the journey.

“Are you OK?” He asks. His voice is distant as if it has travelled a million miles to reach her; perforated by digital belches. She forms a circle with her index finger and thumb. Mission control winks and drops what’s left of his cigarette into an empty beer bottle.

When the thrusters kick in, the noise seems loud enough to wake the whole town. Vibrations run through her spine and dance around her teeth. She feels the ground fall away; first slowly, then so fast she knows turning back is no longer an option.The view from her within her eyelids turns blue, violet, then black.

Gravity reaches out for her but she slips through its fingers. She floats, disconnected from everything around her. At this sensation, she stretches out her arms and legs and, for a moment, she joins the infinite number of stars that prick at the darkness. If this were death, she thinks, there’s nothing left to fear.

Before she can let go and join the universe, physics kicks in. The ground rushes up to meet her. The curve of the horizon straightens out and the blur of colours transforms into a montage: a terrain of rubble; rays of dirty light; the face of a child she never knew. Splashdown.

He arrives on the scene as fast as he can. Her legs are weak and he helps her lurch towards to the empty chair beside him.

Without touching her, he traces the fresh tattoo on her neck with his index finger. He welcomes her to his planet.


The First Girl on Mars

“How was the trip?” He asks.

“Cosmic.” She says.

It's something she'd like to do it again. She wants to ask him for one more go, but she knows space exploration is a dangerous and costly business.