A Martian Birthday

The planet Mars has been in the news a lot lately, what with:

  • The discovery of water;
  • the planet being at its closest perigee in 15 years;
  • the 6th birthday of the Curiosity rover;
  • The use of “Mars Awaits” in one of the proposed logo for Trump’s “Space Force”. (Still shaking my head at that whole thing)

So, here’s a bit of Mars-related sci-fi for you, a short story I wrote last fall. I hope you like it!

Earth-September 26, 2100

Today is my birthday, or would be if I were at home on Earth. But now that I’m living on Mars, time isn’t the same. If it were just me, I wouldn’t care, but when I left for space, I left my family behind, in particular my twin sister. I miss her so much, and this is the first birthday I haven’t been able to at least talk to her. But voice/voice transmissions are reserved for official business. Plus there’s the time lag that prevents any natural conversation.

A year ago, I was finishing my training for this mission, but the staff still arranged a visit for us. I’m under no illusions that it was for the PR. It’s been decades since the last set of “space twins”. The Kelly brothers were the first. And since Eri and I are also identical, the holo-op was too good for them to pass up.

Eri brought her partner and their twin girls. Those children are so smart. I don’t doubt that they’ll be coming to Mars too. It may even be on their way to Jupiter or even further, if we succeed here.

I look out of a porthole at the ruddy Martian landscape. It’ll be dark soon, and I’ll be able to see Earth.

Commander Sojo knows it’s my birthday back home, and while we try not to put too much weight on Earth celebrations, she’ll allowed me the chance to send a short holomail, no more than 500 characters and an image. I’m in no hurry to write it, trying to decide what is absolutely essential. While I’m searching for the words, I pose for the hologram that’ll go with my message. Eri won’t hear my voice, her computer will read it for her, but at least she’ll see me. Finally, I sit down at the keyboard and begin to type. I erase a few sentences and re-write others until it reads as follows:

Hap Earth/Birthday, twin!

Co-der gave go-head to send 500 char message w best wishes. No card, Mars2Earth holomail qual stinks. So, old tech. Sorry bout short.

Hard member Earth-age, always thinking in Mars-time. Age just number, right? Base nickname Fountain of Youth: long years, age slower.

Phob/Deim shining. Like stars. No moonlite. Night cold, saw snow! Not just story. Beaut.

Member old kiddie eBook bout Kelly bros? First Earth/Space twins. Us second. Yours third?

XOs all, enjoy cake, miss you.

I double-check it, and re-take my image, because the first one’s so serious looking, and then I hit send.

I wonder what time it will be when she gets it. Will she be asleep? Maybe at work? Will it even be our birthday still? Not that there’s anything I can do about it. The important thing is that I’ve sent it. Now all I can do is hope for a reply.

I’m called away for some “cake” with the rest of the crew. When I walk by the screen some time later, I see it’s blinking:

PRIVATE TRANSMISSION SENT

MESSAGE OPENED

REPLY RECEIVED, SUBJECT: HAP EARTH/BIRTHDAY SIS

READ REPLY?

Copyright Jessica Allyson 2018

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Author: JAllyson

Jessica Allyson is a pen name derived from a fictitious twin (the doctors were mistaken). During the day, I work for a national members association, at night, I unleash my trivia-loving choir-singing fangirl self. I live in Ottawa, with my husband and our cat, who is our most vocal critic.

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