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Rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies © Robert Sommers 2017

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lonely avenue

18:27 2037 - Ptolemy Gulch Station - Valles Marineris, Red Planet

It is a tempting cliché to say that mars rat tastes like chicken. Truth be told it has been so long since we have had any terran food stuffs that I don't exactly remember what chicken tastes like, or any other animal protein for that matter.


I know for sure that it beats the hell out of a tube of tang and a proto bar. Although they contain all the required nutrients to maintain human life, after six years on the red planet the atavistic urge directs us to hunt and consume flesh. Any flesh. Close your eyes and pretend and you're right back on Coney Island eating a Nathan's hot dog. Try it. And it goes without saying that the regular space food tastes like crap.


Courtesy - JPL
The first JPL shot of the rat shocked everybody back home. Somebody had spied it near some rocks, not too far from the skeleton of the old Phoenix lander. The creatures were very cagey and this one had slipped up and got its picture taken. Not really a rodent of course, who would assume that the evolutionary tree on our sister planet would mimic our own? No idea of the exact species, all I know is that it bled. Due to a combination of what ever the hell it fed on and Mar's particular atmosphere, it did have a horrible stench that one had to tiptoe around but in time you get used to things like that.


It was close enough for us and we were hungry. Flesh was a bit stringy, like the guinea pig that they serve you when you are in the highlands in Peru. You get a taste for it, like anything else. If I ever get a furlough, I will catch one and try to bring it home. Of course, that might be a while, I put in for a visit last april and heard the same song as always, you knew what you were getting into when you signed up, is that not your John Hancock on the contract?


Of course nobody could tell you about the loneliness of living a million miles from home, not seeing another creature besides a Chinese astronaut who won't talk, you don't figure the thing out until you start doing your time. They say that the moon is a harsh mistress - well the fourth planet is an entirely different kettle of fish altogether.


For a supposedly fiery planet the place is pretty damn cold most of the time. Up to two hundred below at the ice cap. Think North Dakota without all the pleasantries. It's the thin air, the rarified atmosphere just won't trap heat. So you spend your time trying not to think of the bitter chill, trying to reach back and hold some nice childhood memory, that is until all of your internal tapes just get too old and ragged to use anymore.


Oh shit, there's that beep. Have to walk the perimeter and survey the quadrant. Fill in the damn log. Not like anything ever changes. What the hell could they do to me if I didn't? But I will. It's a job, my job. Hydraulics on the aqua-urine tank need to be greased as well, that is if I plan on having a drink of water any time soon.


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Will write again soon.

© robert sommers 2013