The Red Planet

Excerpt from “Above A Whisper” (Nanowrimo 2016)

Wandering out through the automatic door once again, Cecil looked out again at the darkness beyond the glass. The tiny dots of light gave it a distinguishable form, which seemed to linger outside. Cecil watched as the planet crept into view, larger than ever before.

The red surface was haunting and desolate. Unlike Earth, there were no shapes that conjured up thoughts or memories. No continents divided by oceans, each holding their own particular type of macroorganism. No lights pinpointing areas where life exist. No green and no blue, each bursting with life, thriving.

“It’s not very pretty, is it?” Cecil jumped as Nikomedes snuck up behind him.
“No, I guess not.” Cecil mumbled halfheartedly.

“Not that I mean to rain on your parade, if that makes sense. Something about how you speak of it tells me you have some sort of intimate connection with this planet. Atrea says something to that effect as well.” Nikomedes leaned his arm on the frame beside the window.

“It’s not the planet itself, but the feeling of it, and the feeling of me being there, doing my thing. I’ve had many interactions with- on the planet; maybe too many.”

“I felt the same way after being on the ISS for several months. Space isn’t something you can easily give up; it’s like a drug. Being able to wake up every day to face the Earth in full form is something very, very few people are able to experience. Going back to Earth was a bit of a heart break. Rather; the withdrawal from that drug is what hits you hard.” Nikomedes chuckled.

“I’ve only seen the pictures you guys take of Earth, never done it myself.” Cecil looked over at Nikomedes. His face seemed to be scrunched up, squinting at and examining the red planet.

Nik licked his lips before he spoke. “I would like to say you’re missing out, but I really can’t’. You’re young, you may see it one day, as an experienced astronaut as you are.” He finished, looking over at Cecil with a warm smile on his face. Cecil dodged the glance and looked down at his feet.

“After we’re done here, do you think we’ll go straight home, or do you think we’ll end up staying?” Nik mused.

“I think that depends on how long this all takes.” Cecil rested his forehead against the cold steel below the window, hands hanging off the window frame.

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