Disconnection

09/23/2313

I’ve realized what’s wrong with people. We’ve become disconnected.

“What the gork are you talking about?” you say. You’re more connected than ever; your whole generation’s been. Even if you were born before the worlds were all linked-in, comm service has still been common for a century around the whole system, you’ve lived with the ability to reach out and touch someone from where you live no matter where in the worlds they happen to be. Now ideas, information, images and media is shared instantaneously to everyone as the mere function of the programs and apps we use. And you can’t help but take it for granted.

Now you have your sphere at home that keeps you and everything in it constantly tethered your personal cloud and the rest of the nets. It keeps you updated with the news and entertains you with a flow of fresh content through your streamers. Every workstation, screen, slate and comm in the sphere can use it access the net and your cloud instantly and read the drive for media you already downloaded (which gets seeded back out to the nets). You carry a mobile comm—like you probably have since you were a child when you got your first texti—but now it’s integrated into an expensively fashioned advanced device like a Button or Droid. It’s always just at your finger tips, too; feeding you information non-stop about your friends through social network or international headlines that give you frighteningly dim snippets of events on far off worlds. We carry immensely powerful devices in our palms every day and only need to use a fraction of their abilities to link our lives together.

Your handheld super-comm also interfaces with every other device and environment around them to keep you and your most important belongings synced even when you’re not within the range of your sphere. They connect your skipper or crawler and provide navigation if your vehicle doesn’t come with it pre-installed. They tether to your blueye and blutooth to make sure you remain integrated even when your hands are busy and you need to make a vidcall. They feed your wristat a continuous ribbon of data; which then gives you another screen which allowing remote access if your device is ever out of reach or tucked safely in pocket or purse.

They assist you with your grocery list, helping locate ingredients for recipes and find you the best deals as you shop. And if you don’t have your Key on hand, a button or droid will access your shopping club account to make sure you get your reward points, and then open your wallet to complete your payment. They wordlessly access your transit account and pay your fare when you ride the maglev; or when you stroll through a spaceport before take-off they manage your spending at the vendors. They keep you entertained by streaming the most recent episodes of your current favorite series while you commute or travel.

They can serve a thousand purposes to you wherever you’re going, no matter what your occupation or destination. They connect with your workstation at the office and probably the equipment, machinery and instruments in your workspace. Most technology these days has an installed dock or antenna ready to sync it to your super-comm. This creates the opportunity for smoother operation of machines that start to age and grants additional functions to you as the user when newly released apps and software patches allow it.

Among giving you control of dozens of handy tools to be used daily, they act as personal navigators, augmented reality browsers, translators and checkbooks while you’re abroad. And no matter what world you’re on—as long as they receive service—they’ll keep the auxiliary devices on your wrists, eyes and ears cognizant and give you the power of any of these tools remotely. If you don’t have an imager with you, you’ll probably end up snapping the pic with your comm to share the sight on the nets. Now everyone in your circles is able to enjoy and feel like they’re there, too. Any images, videos, music or files that you have available on your drive or in your cloud is accessible and ready to open anywhere you go thanks to your droid or your button. Sometimes always being able to reach everything you have normally in your comfort zone gives you a sense of being complete.

You never miss a moment of your family or friends’ lives. You get consistent updates of their statuses, images, vids and anything else they wish to share with social networks. Your posts are reposted and your activity on the nets is followed by others so your thoughts are seen by the rest of a circle made up of others who are part of their own circles. You have hundreds of friends you can contact at a moment, and could keep in better touch with all your schoolmates and acquaintances than the previous generations. You can always make vidcalls with your relatives on the other side of the solar system and have a better relationship with them than your parents had with their off-world family. You are constantly in the know when it comes to major events on a local, global, and international scale.

You’re connected; wholly and utterly a part of the system of information. You’re empowered by the knowledge and wisdom of the collective conscience. You’re in touch with everyone on everyworld through a series of wires, antennae and small illuminated screens. Your generation’s motto is connectivity and no one after you will ever be less joined together in unison. But you’ve never been more disconnected on a whole.

In our synthetic world, we somehow forgot we’re all natural beings. As much as we’d all like to believe we came from something more than animals, we didn’t. You grew from nature the same as everything else native to your homeworld. You rely on the same basic needs and nutrients as every other living creature. And you’ve never been more apart from it than anyone before you.

Just because you invented complex technology, commerce and morals doesn’t mean you can forget you still have to be a part of nature. Remote communication, synthetic agriculture, entertainment and video game industries, instant-foods and machines that achieve day-long tasks in a matter of seconds might dominate your way of living and distract you from that very thing which we all have to be part of.

You probably live a life where the decision of what to wear is based on changing cultural trends; not changing seasons or daily weather predictions. Where the vehicle or comm you chose to buy wasn’t by consideration of what you intended to utilize it for; not as highly as what was the most advanced or powerful toy out or even what you thought would give you the most esteem amongst peers.

A life where the food you pick to eat isn’t determined to be the perfect nutritional makeup for your body and adequately portioned or prepared properly; it’s whatever’s open on the drive home after work that you haven’t been to yet this week. Where you consider yourself eating well when you don’t dine at the drive-thru and have a salad like once a week; you still eat a diet that consists of mostly sugar, corn syrup, carbs and fast-food meat. Where healthy snacking means eating half the candy bar now and the other half later so no one judges you.

Where you could live a block away from town and have a nice walk anytime you need to get something; and you choose to drive and spend five frustrated minutes searching for parking every time you leave the house. Where the closest form of recreation you get is closing the distance to your vehicle, or strolling through a shopping mall; not hiking up a mountain or swimming in a lake. Where relaxing and grounding yourself means turning to your trusty teli for an episode or two of your favorite show, or playing a couple hours of whatever 3D video game you’re working on completing, and catching up with your party and guild to show off with the other people on your friend list. Maybe you just like busting out a slate or comm to watch some utube vids while you lounge about the house; you don’t do yoga, or meditate or even just take a moment breathe.

You barely speak to thirty of the three thousand ‘friends’ you keep in your circles. You rarely ever get around to calling a relative or friend you keep meaning to ‘cause whenever you’re home you’re in the middle of ‘relaxing’, ‘eating’ or you don’t feel presentable enough to make a call. Half-a-dozen devices surrounding you right this very moment keep you linked but you never answer your calls or return your messages if you don’t have to.

And you call yourself connected. The reason you feel so unsatisfied, unfulfilled and restless is because in all your life you’ve never been further from what you’re supposed to be connected to. Every living plant and creature around you is part of an ancient network we’ve recently selected to ignore. It’s something that’s guided and nurtured us as a race for millennia that we’ve collectively turned a deaf ear to.

If we looked to nature for the answers or listened to ourselves and our bodies when trying to form our questions maybe we wouldn’t feel so helpless. Instead of searching for similar minded people in a chat room and the love of our life on a dating site, we could be part of our local community and out looking for our friends and lovers the old fashioned way. Instead of donating a little money anonymously to some aid or relief on another world, we could be contributing our hours and volunteering to help build for and feed the needy right where we live.

Instead of being fascinated and consuming every clip, vid and episode about our favorite styles of music and favorite forms of art we could be practicing to make it; keeping the craft alive and growing by creating it every single day. Instead of watching our favorite tale or adventure you could be reading it, or even better: living it. If it’s a tale worth telling you can share it the old fashioned way and write a book or film about it so others can experience it with you. Instead of spending thousands countless hard-earned dollars over the years on gadgets, fashions and fun nights we could turn to nature to provide most of the tools, clothes and entertainment we’ve needed to survive for most of our existence as a race.

Think about it. All the problems you face as a person that you blame on what society does may have something to do with all the technology that’s overtaken our lives, come between us and society as it used to be AND become the yardstick by which we measure our value in modern society. The more gadgets you own and the more of them you have connected together the better and the better your life will be.

But don’t forget what the cost of convenience really is. Not only is cheaply manufactured media, synthetic food and artificial social connection bad for the mind, body and soul but they could account for the stresses, cancers and depressions that plague us. Forgetting to be a part of the worlds we’re born of and take what they provide over the path of least resistance and the way of effortless ease we’ve made for ourselves could not only be making life less enjoyable, but shorter.

We need to disconnect ourselves from the nets and learn to not be so dependent upon interactions we get through a screen, remembering what it’s like to spend time with a friend or make new ones. We need to compare what we consume with what our ancestors ate to help think wisely about what we put into our bodies. We need to get off our asses, put down the snacks and entertainment device, and get some fresh air. A jog, a hike, a climb, a ride, a dip, a match or a game; just do something active outside before your bones turn to complete mush.

All this ranting is beginning to hurt my head. I’m going to give it a rest and spend sometime away from the screen…just..figure out some balance in yourselves, folks…I don’t know the answers, I just point out the problems I see.

disconnection

Published in: on 7 November, 2313 at 1:00 AM  Leave a Comment  

Just to Get By

09/03/2313

You have to buy that brand new wristat. And the ultimest slate. And an astro new droid that does…that thing…or the latest button—have you heard about the latest button?!

You have to drive a brand new skipper, no lesser vehicle will do. You have to buy this season’s trendy clothes and get an expensive haircut to match. You have to get overpriced hair and face and beauty products to keep yourself looking good, ‘cause it’s all about looking good.

Even though you somehow still have to pay for all of the following:

  • Rent, even if you call it a mortgage, it’s a monthly due to keep living in a place..I call that rent.
  • Electricity…and usually a lot of electricity; because what doesn’t run on it?
  • Comm service, and probably one with a high bandwidth and expensive data plan.
  • Net service for the home. After all, what sphere can properly exist without being linked into the net.
  • Satellite or Fiber TV service for home.
  • Video streaming service for the go.
  • Music streaming service for everywhere.
  • All the other utilities you might have to pay like water, gas, maid service, garbage collection and parking.
  • Fuel for the vehicle you park.
  • The maintenance subscription for that vehicle.
  • The insurance for that vehicle, which is a painfully expensive ticket to get caught without proof of on most planets.
  • Insurance for any other vehicles you own, because even if all its doing is sitting in a slip at the spaceport, who knows when someone is going to bump into you returning to their dock
  • The insurance for your home, even if it’s just an apartment.
  • The insurance for your comm, cause how often do you frag that shit.
  • And health insurance. You really have to come out of pocket for that stuff if your parents still don’t give it to you or the company or institution you work for can’t provide you with it..or your planet’s government doesn’t grant it to you. This actually should have been listed earlier because it’s kind of a big deal to surviving. Without health insurance, one on an already minimum income can’t muster the courage to visit the doctor for the care they may have been requiring for a long time, and too often it will become an emergency case instead of a preventative one.
  • Credit bills. If you have credit, you’re paying something off and whatever you needed that credit to afford probably makes you spend extra money in some way.
  • Taxes. That’s easy, you can choose to not even ever see that money fill your account, just have them take a decent fraction of your earnings every pay period and get a bit of it back in spring. Maybe.
  • You could own pets, which in themselves cost money, but all the vet bills they accrue, the cost of their medicine and they’re toys and their food and litter and also replacing everything they destroy. Pets are quite expensive, but an obligatory symbol of doing well enough to afford at least pretending to be able to take care of another living creature.
  • What if you your self have an expensive medical regime?

What it you have a lot of free time on your hands so you need extra things to keep you occupied and unbored?

  • Video games and the systems that play them take up a lot of money and most cost even more to play over the net with others..and those are the best ones of all, because they make you feel like you’re part of something.
  • If you’re older I guess you subscribe to ebook or movie clubs…or something monthly.
  • Theres good old Ezine and Vidzine subscriptions.
  • You have membership dues; whether you’re a professional in a guild or you just belong to online groups and networks that charge admittance for their services.
  • You have to have hobbies, too. Whether its collecting antiques or metalcrafting. You could be a fan of sports and spend time doing athletics, or fix up vintage hot rockets. You could be an amateur photographer or part-time massage artist. Whichever one you choose, something common to all of these hobbies is their expensive upkeep. But the pay off could be rewarding if your collecting or creating becomes profitable. Or keeps you sane.
  • Speaking of profitability, people spend fortunes believing they’ll make more money back. For example, you could invest real estate and storage space.
  • Cyber real estate and storage.
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds. The markets fluctuate violently sometimes with influence of armed strife and war between worlds and rapidly evolving technologies that flip the system upside down routinely, forcing not-so-old discoveries to adapt or become obsolete like so much before them.
  • You could donate into specific research, or towards the development of scientific or medical advancement…but rarely without getting something in return. There’s no such thing as altruistic philanthropy these days.
  • Or if you’re not such a big shot, you could take your money and put it into crowdsourcing campaigns and hope to get something out of it.
  • Make sure another big portion of your paycheck goes to your retirement funds. Create one of your own with extra earnings or inheritances if your company doesn’t provide you with the option. You can also set up auto-deposits of your own if you want to keep skimming a bit of cream off the top every month to save for later in life…if you survive long enough to use it, that is.

All this is necessary to survive. All this and you still have to eat. You still have to get by affording all the things you need to consume in a day to be well and happy.

It seems like some people forget what’s most important to invest their time or money on and get caught up in all these peripheral things that they think constitute living rich. But having money or possessing nice things doesn’t always make you wealthy.

I’d even dare to say most people on Earth and Mars and all of the other so-called advanced worlds of the system prioritize the all-too-important appearance of being well-off on the outside over wellness of the inside. In nations and territories flooded with signals from monstrous media machines and aggressive advertising avalanches, it’s pretty hard not to want to expect buying something trivial will suddenly make you more whole and connected to others like you. You believe it will fulfill a need all humans—no matter what planet you’re from. We’re social beings and we need to feel like we’re welcomed and fit in with others. We’re oriented for community or gathering together in groups of similarity like a pack or a flock.

I don’t think all these things I’ve listed are necessarily evil; most are downright helpful. I can’t get away with saying essential though; you could easily live without any or all of the aforementioned items. It’s pretty gorking useful to have reliable transportation, a good means of communication and health—whatever means you can afford that. I’m doing alright without them, though.

justtogetby

Published in: on 7 November, 2313 at 12:49 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Woes of Martian Transit

08/11/2313

The city smelled of sewage. Iron and sewage. It stung my nostrils worse than the dust on the wind stung my eyes. I’d forgotten my shades so I squinted to the searing silicate being whipped about. I had to remember to start bringing them everywhere now that I was back on Mars. Even if it doesn’t look like I’ll need them when I leave my unit, it’s a matter of protection more than anything, really. I should know better, too; usually the sun’s beating down by this hour.

For some reason, though, the daily gloom hadn’t lifted yet and the rose hue that the dense haze cast made everything seem exceptionally eerie this morning. The city felt more foreboding than usual; covered by a thick miasma you had to wade through on a blustery, sunless day. I gritted my teeth on a grain of sand and soldiered on towards my bus stop. I don’t like not having a crawler to drive to work.

The public transit system of Mars has long been a difficult beast to bridle. The uneven dispersal of magnetism throughout the crust (particularly in the northern hemisphere) has always posed a challenge for the maglev hovercars you might find more common on many of the other planets in our system.

It’s also believed that lobbyists from the petrol and fission fuel companies—with hands deep in the pockets of the Martian government—are responsible for the dissolution of the public rail and electric cable car system that used to ferry its citizens at the turn of the old century. This seemed to favor the construction of more autoways and sky lanes; the production of more crawlers and surface skippers; and the proliferation of filling stations on every red-dusted street corner. And of course it generated an enormous impact against an already destitute environment that begged on the edge of hazardous and inhospitable from the start.

I’m told by locals it really wasn’t until the past decade or so that public transit has made its reemergence with metro maglev trains and liftbus shuttle lines. With the addition of hematite and other common magnetic elements to surface-street paving cities saw use of more fuel economic vehicles that were also friendly to the ecosystem. At this point, I’d take anything I could get my hands as long as it was faster than waiting for someone else to convey me about this motor metropolis.

But in front of a filling station on a red-dusted street corner I stood, obediently staring at the red hand that prevented my crossing. I was anxious to get to the other side of the 5-lane blacktop to the liftbus pick-up. I could see other transiters stacking up across the street and knew the next Red 1005 would be arriving imminently. I impatiently checked my wristat, knowing well a minute couldn’t have even passed since the last time I glanced at the illuminated LCD panel on my right hand, and aware of how close it was getting until the start of my shift. I could hear a low rumbling in the distance.

I glanced backwards to where I heard it approaching from, the crimson paint barely distinguishable from within the haze in the sky beyond. Everyone waiting eagerly shifted and shuttered to life, clamoring into a pile from the edge of the curb that almost resembled a sort of line. They each fumbled with currency, transit passes and pay keys. Some removed their droids or buttons and briefly prepared an app to pay. All did so while fixing their eyes above on the source of the sound, anxious for the ambiguous blob to appear in better view. The gloom was too thick though, it was upon us before anyone could get a good look at it.

A light pressure wave blew a breeze past us, rustling hair and clothing suddenly. Everyone instinctively turned and looked upwards at the indication of airbrakes being activated. A cushion of air kicked up a dust cloud made of sand and grime from the roadside. I shielded my face with my sleeve and tried not to breathe too deeply. The smell of iron and engine grease reminded me of skinned knees on pavement and memories only slightly more irritating than being pelted by fine silicate and coarse road detritus. I held my mouth shut so I wouldn’t swallow any.

A collective groan was let out by the sidewalk. The heavy red hovervehicle had descended and immediately the thrusters blasted to cushion its bounce. The shockwave they emitted cleared away the rusty cloud it had been landing on instantly and everyone could see the familiar logo of a soda company. Instead of the public liftbus we had hoped for, our crimson carriage turned out to be a hovertrailer changing to a surface lane to make a delivery. It skipped into the level of traffic just above the street, the red thrusters stirring up another flurry of dust to cough and spit out just to spite us.

Everyone quickly deflated, rubbed red sand from their eyes and fell back into a comfortable position of waiting on the bench, against the sunawning, and covering every surrounding curb, waste receptacle, ledge and windowsill. I stayed standing where I was, pay key in one poised hand and e-grit in the other, nervously puffing and not trying to look at my wristat and know how much time I had left as I waited for a real Metro Rapid Liftbus.

The sights and smells on board one of these Martian shuttles are an exquisite wonder to behold. I wish I had the experience of riding public transportation on other planets to compare it to, but I always had wheels of my own back on Earth. I imagine the type of people that ride the bus are the same everywhere you go, but in a city where the disparity between the upper-class and the average working person is so expansive, the public liftbus takes on a unique blend of passengers.

On a typical day, the occupants of this Metro Rapid carryall often include the following:

  • A few individual Martian men that reside up here in Amazonia now, and an equal number of Martian families, the mother usually coddling a sleeping infant against her breast, a strolling cart tucked under a seat not too far away.
  • An assortment of Jovian tourists, sometimes with translators or travel guides in hand but always large, heavy-framed packs taking up a seat beside them.
  • A few immigrants from Saturn and/or the beltworlds that stood chatting away in their native tongues and adorned in anything from suit and tie to club attire; a pungent perfume or cologne accompanying either one if you were lucky.
  • A pair of Earthling-looking students with a text tablet in their laps, but probably unable to afford a vehicle with their student loans–unless they’re wearing hipster threads. Choosing not to drive a combustion vehicle could mean they believe in conservation or not creating environment harming exhaust and all of which indicate a desire to go green. Martian hippies.
  • At least one cyclist wearing a helmet and standing somewhere near the front of the carryall so he can quickly grab his bike off of the front rack when he gets to his destination.
  • A disabled person in a wheel or hover chair which is harnessed into hardpoints at a bay just inside the front entrance. Most likely sitting in sour temperment and resentful of the extending ramp that conveys him on and off this salty skybarge.
  • A peppering of homeless people, usually asleep, probably on top of the few possessions they’ve managed to hang on to after all this time, and always reeking of feces, urine, or both.
  • Me.

Quiet and unobtrusive, somewhere near an exit in the back of the liftbus, plugged into my earbuds and using my droid to read a book. Sometimes dressed in normal clothes; but more often than not wearing a tie and suit jacket or heavy wool coat for some reason. Occasionally glancing up to check what street we’re passing. Only half the time I’ll get a seat, though. Some days the route is busy and I don’t get one of my own. Or I’ve given mine up and attached myself to a railing or handhold. My new powerful droid, Zed, takes up my palm and entertains me, controlling my buds most of the time. And with my freehand I balance against the constantly shifting inertia of lift-off, banking and landing.

There are a few things in common with the buses on Mars, regardless of what combination of people ride. Everyone has a pair of earphones on while riding the liftbus, even some of the homeless people. Everyone on board who isn’t occupied by muttering to themselves has to occupy themselves with something… and that something typically has a pair of headphones attached in some way. And almost everyone has workstations or slates in their laps, or a droid or button in their palms to help them watch videos, or check messages, or read a book, or just surf the nets idly. Some people still rockin a texti press them to an ear with the other held covered to better hear over the din of the shuttle. Occasionally you’ll even spot some people still seated quietly with a hard copy in their hands, almost defiant to the technology bearing down on them from all around. They’re usually old and antiquated or rebellious, young neo-archaic types. In both cases, they probably smell odd.

But they’re doing the same thing, too. They’re ignoring the mess they’re sitting in. Refusing to make a connection with anything around them to acknowledge the condition or the experience they’re sharing together to get through it. Instead they opt to check out and escape through the means of some story, image, or song that displaces them from the misery of having reached this place. No one wants to recognize that they have to ride a bus.

And I’m no different. Whether I’m using Sigma to read a cybernovel or not, Zed is always playing music for me in my obligatory earbuds. It offers me a chance to zone out and ignore the world around me. Everyone hates this form of transportation so much we all seek solace in shutting ourselves out of it and trying to pay as little attention as possible to the condition we’re all sharing. We just look for the first welcome distraction to our surroundings.

Sometimes the shuttle running along my route is a two-segment carryall, with a flexing bridge between that makes the whole lifting vessel seem to slink around like a red caterpillar. Whenever I ride these I like to stand directly in the center where there’s the most shifting inertia and balance like I’m riding a board. Take off and landing had me bending my legs like I was preparing for a ramp or descending a steep slope on my iceboard. Long grading straight-aways when the frequency between stops stretched out on some routes had me tilting and equalizing like I was taking a hover board down a long hill on suburban streets. I always found some manner of making my ride more enjoyable.

I admit I could be better, though. Instead of tuning everyone out, I could actually interact with the people around me for once. I could remove the earbuds, slip the droid back into its pocket on my sling and connect with the person sitting of hanging on for dear life next to me. I could actually have a conversation about what book someone was reading, or what imager they had strapped around their neck, or the brand of shoes they’re wearing or even the weather. Then maybe by the time a cute girl that doesn’t look insane or too occupied with being preoccupied sits down near me I’ll have the balls to talk with her.

But not today. Today won’t be the day I start to be sociable. I’m too busy with important things I need to do. The first of which involves getting to work on time, which frustratingly doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. I tuck my wristat back under my sleeve with a sigh, and look forward. Past a Martian leaning into the isle trying to hear aconversation on an old comm; by the two giggling Japetian tourists and their open parasols; over the bag lady’s cart taking up the whole isle; and between two enormous backpacks with short legs standing to either side of walkway I can see through the front window. Red lights indicate a shift up ahead in the traffic. I bend my knees and lean back in anticipation of what from here seems like such a slight turn…

martiantransit

Published in: on 7 November, 2313 at 12:46 AM  Leave a Comment  

A Tale of Danger and the Good Davidian

07/08/2313

I love my kitten. He’s the most precious thing in my life and I can’t pretend to know what I’d do without his adorable precociousness keeping me on my toes. He follows me around everywhere like a duckling and never ceases to amaze me with how clever he is. I’m constantly having  to come up with ways to outsmart him, especially when it comes to food. One time I came home from work to find he’d gotten into a box of corn meal, it’s eviscerated remains and contents strewn across the floor of the basement. The cupboards aren’t even safe from his reach, cause he knows how to pry them open, so I began hiding things on top of the fridge, hoping he wouldn’t find it up there. When he discovered how to climb up to find his bag of cat food I then I had to hide everything I thought he’d enjoy inside the fridge.

One day I came home to find an unopened bag of tortillas I’d assumed were entirely unappealing to him unceremoniously dissected and spread across the floor, little sharp nibbles taken out of each piece before he moved on to the next. Odoriferous remains of meat and chicken bones were no match for him, even if they were in a trash bag or a lidded rubbish bin. Their crunchy dry bits were always underfoot by the time I’d wake up in the morning.

He also loves to get into trouble far too often. The first vacation I’d gone on after he adopted me was to visit my mother at her new home on the moon. I’d just gotten a new imager from my old job and was dying to try it out. We took a journey around some sights of historical renown in Earthling space exploration, some desolate attractions and ghost settlements and ended our trip with a tour of the new recently constructed spaceport in Hatch before it was in deemed ready for service. When I arrived home I found he had shattered half of the belongings in the kitchen and required emergency medical attention for his tail. After an expensive operation to have half of it amputated, he worthily gained the nickname Danger and I knew I could never leave out of my sight again without worrying what mischief he’d have gotten himself into by the time I got home.

When I moved back to Mars just over a month ago I had to bring him with me. I couldn’t trust him in the care of anyone I lived with, and the only other person I knew well enough to give him a good loving home I’m still not exactly on speaking terms with after certain recent events. He hated being cooped up in the carrier he surely out grew a year ago, but it was the largest container that the space liner’s regulations would allow me to bring as a carry-on aboard the rocket. He was awfully ticked off when we finally arrived on this red desert world, and when I released him from his captivity he wouldn’t come out from under the hotel bed to eat or use the bathroom for a day and a half.

I was hoping to find a permanent destination for the two of us within the weekend I had booked there but hadn’t had as much luck as I was expecting to in the hunt for a unit with an extra room that would take a rambunctious little critter like Danger. I had an old friend offer her couch to me for a couple evenings while I tried to lock down something less temporary, and she picked us up from the hotel when it came time to check out (The second hotel I ended up staying in, but that’s a story for another day). She had to go to work and was already late by the time she retrieved us and our belongings, so she parked for work and released us to the wild of Sanctus Monica.

I couldn’t leave Danger in the hot car with my suitcases, so without giving him a break from the carrier, it was off to the beach for us. He was not as thrilled with the oceanfront as I would have imagined he would be. I mean, come on, giant litter box and the chance to stretch his legs outside of the carrier on a leash? What could there not be to like? Apparently the sound of waves, the rushing wind and all the people surrounding us were disturbing the poor little guy. I actually had to force him to leave the crate, only to watch him scurry back into it voluntarily…which I could never have imagined witnessing in my life. It was a pretty fair indication the beach was not the right place for him, so I sealed him back in and returned to the park near where my friend had dropped us off to spend the next few hours while she still worked.

It was not an uneventful few hours though. When we got back to the artificially green park, he got out of his cage and made a break for it. I thought I could easily retrieve him because he still had his leash and harness attached, but he evaded me and bolted for the street. A heavy delivery carryall traveling at street level hit him without even stopping to see if he was alright. I watched his little body careen into the curb on the other side of the street, and he immediately took refuge underneath a parked crawler. I had to drag him by the leash out and found he was not in good shape. Already I could tell he wasn’t his normal self, he could have been severely injured but he was certainly terrified. I scooped him up and cradled him in my arms I feared for the last time, getting him back into his crate the frightened little cat scratched my hand, a scar that still hasn’t quite healed and often reminds me how terrified I was that day.

Blood began to drip from his mouth, which he was breathing heavily out of. I could hear shallow gasps struggling to fight through what I could tell was blood collecting in his lungs. I knew I didn’t have time to waste or they could be the last breaths he took. Conveniently, my droid decided it wouldn’t let me utilize its telephonic abilities at the same time she had her global positioning system activated and searching for the nearest animal care clinic. I cursed at Strata in Martian and started running downhill. I wasn’t sure if I was even headed in the right direction to reach the clinic but I didn’t care. Danger was bleeding heavily and heaving with each short pant and I couldn’t lose him. I couldn’t stand to betray this poor defenseless creature I swore to give a good home and protect and he was the only thing I could count on to love me on this forsaken planet. I didn’t want to be alone.

I arrived at a filling station on the corner. I cant even remember how far I’d run with him before I’d arrived there, but I burst in and immediately demanded I use their comm for an emergency call. I was entirely distraught, and the young disenfranchised Martian girl behind the counter could see I had a bleeding animal in my arms but still paid little sympathy to me as she handed over the handset. The operator was hardly a help at connecting me to the nearest taxi service, and at the mere mention that I had an animal and it was an emergency that I get to nearest clinic, the cab service gave me the run-around and eventually hung up on me before I could convince them to send a hammerhead to scoop me up. It was then a stranger getting gas stepped forward.

The tall man who looked about the same age as me but with sunned skin and slightly Midian features offered to give me a lift. He said his conscious couldn’t bare the idea of knowing there was something he could do to help us out and ignoring the urge of human decency. I regarded it as one of the kindest things someone in Novus Angelicas could have done, and when I saw the license tag on his white crawler was from the Einsteina province of northern Luna and it made a little more sense. He introduced himself as Ace, opened the door and away we drove.

Danger’s condition wasn’t improving. I could hear fluid in his lungs gurgling with each rapid heave of his chest and I knew his state could deteriorate in an instant. Sometimes being the son of a medical professional doesn’t help to ease the situation, especially when you hear horror stories about the lungs of humans and know this small animal only has a fraction of the power you posses in your chest. Street traffic aside, it was a very quick trip to the clinic, but it seemed forever to me because I was counting time by shallow, enfeebled breaths. I can’t imagine how much I would have been freaking the gork out if I had tried to make the whole trip on foot or if he’d have even survived the whole way. I leapt out of the crawler when we arrived but not hastily enough that I didn’t impart a contact card to Ace and beg him to get a hold of me, vowing to repay him any way that I could. I’d never received a message from him though, and thought I should count my brief meeting with this good Davidian a blessing and delivery from some sort of heavens if they exist.

I did get a message from her though while I was in the waiting room. She, whom I had hardly spoken to in the past 5 months, saw a status I posted on my Spacebook and had to know what happened. If I’d thought my ordeal had drained all tears I had, just having to explain the events of the past few hours over my comm with her dehydrated me. We talked for a long time before the conversation turned to how I was doing.

“I hate everything right now,” I shuddered as I spoke.

“Klay… You can’t hate the whole world just because of one person,” she pleaded, hoping still for some kind of forgiveness from me. I was silent for a long moment…contemplating if I could muster the courage to even go on living with how everything had been going for me, let alone possess the energy to keep up this masochistic exchange.

“I’m sorry, Kallista…I..I have to go now,” I barely squeaked out. I closed the call before I could hear a response and shut my droid off, burying it into my face with my cupped hands and bawled silently in the sterile room.
Three sleepless nights and 2,600 credits of emergency care later and Danger was in stable condition and back in my arms again. He recovered obnoxiously fast, too. I thought I’d at least get some peaceful days of drug assisted cuddling, but instead he was back to his normal, destructive and curious self in no time. My brother came to visit for a few days after he’d regained full health and helped me by taking him to my mother’s home in New Martia. It kills me to be apart from my baby, but at least I know he’s safe there, and it gave me the opportunity to find a place to live that wouldn’t immediately shun or deny me because I had a small pet in tow. I almost had a perfect place locked down in Rhea Town, but of course the ghosts of the past came back to haunt me, and a hit on my creditscore left from my terrible decision to live with Tohm prevented me from getting approved. My only option then became a sublet I could take immediately in Weststeel Village on UMNA campus. It wasn’t an ideal distance from my place of employment, but it would have to do.

I suddenly considered it a good thing that the unit back on Earth I’d been living in had become a complete drug den, for I could tell as I walked up the steps to the new place that the experience had certainly prepared me for a house that never ceased to party. Red plastic cups and empty aluminum cans littered the dead front lawn, which I could smell was soaked with light beer. I should only assume as much with a house on a university campus during summer break, so I really wasn’t fazed by it. I’d answered an ad on Peakslist, had no idea who the person I was replacing on the lease was, and wasn’t even going to meet them. He was already somewhere on the moon enjoying his break, so he had his parents drop by to deliver the codekey to me. I’d had a chance to make friends with the neighbors and borrow access onto the WiFi of their sphere, so I could at least pass the time on my large droid, Sigma, which helped shorten the wait for the Martian couple to arrive.

They showed me around the place, explaining as best as they could in broken Ganymedean all the features and amenities, while apologizing profusely for the condition of the place. I assured them I’d seen and lived in much worse and they had no need to make any excuses. When they took me around back to check the communal laundry and landing spaces, something struck me as familiar about one of the crawlers parked there, but I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was; the make or the license tag stuck out for some reason. I couldn’t focus on it though because I’d been waiting hours to use the bathroom. I kindly thanked the parents of the stranger who offered me the sublet, bid them a good day and immediately locked the door to go use the bathroom.

There was a knock at the door by the time I had finished relieving myself, so I hurriedly washed up and ran to open it for who I could only assume was a neighbor or a forgetful new roommate. When I opened it a small spark of recognition ran across both my face and that of the tall, tanned person on the other side. A moment of dumbfoundedness passed before it caught fire and he spoke.

“Klay Lane?” There was a familiar tone to his voice before the recognition began ablaze in my eyes.

“Ace?!”

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Published in: on 8 August, 2313 at 2:20 AM  Comments (1)  

The Kindness of Strangers

07/03/2313

The first month I’ve been back on Mars has taught me a few things.

1. Theres never as much money in your accounts as you expect there to be, so always make sure to have a few lines of credit open on your key.

Transportation fees, lodgings, battery chargers and food add up quickly while youre making the transition to a new planet. Making sure you have a back-up plan is important, because there won’t always be family on another world to bail you out when money starts to get tight. And of course, there are unforeseen expenditures and even emergencies you have to worry about and plan for. I learned this the incredibly hard way when tragedy I’ll tell you more about later took all the money I had saved to move into a unit that wasn’t in a shitty sector of the city, or that wasn’t a few shuttle-hops from where I work in one swift action…actually this brings us to my second bullet nicely.

2. Always make sure your credit is in good standing before you move.

Mine is not. I’ve always thought the entire idea of needing credit was ridiculous and unnatural…nowhere else in the animal kingdom have I seen the need for timely payments to prove your worth…but since when have humans on any planet tried to acknowledge they were in any part a member of the natural order? Ive never really tried to improve my credit in any fashion by opening lines that I could easily pay down, which of course only makes the fact that I have a collection on my name even worse. Its not my fault though…well OK, it is my fault for trusting someone addicted to spacecoke to be a man and step up to the debt he incurred in my name when he got us evicted from our second-story unit on Costa Mensa…but you already know all about that little tragedy well…to think if I had just kicked him out and found a sublet on peaklist, what kind of trouble I could have avoided. I was too afraid of people I didn’t know back then, though…which is a perfect segue into my next point.

3. If the people you know can’t help you, you could always depend on the kindness of strangers.

I have friends on this planet. People I came to know well when I lived here the last time and plenty of friends from school and childhood who came out to pursue their own Martian Dreams while I’ve been away….I haven’t gotten a bit of help from any of them…let alone even been able to raise many of them on their comms. I always thought Martians were terrible flakes when it came to being dependable as a result of their upbringing…but I think it’s just something this planet does to you even after a year or two of living here.

The three people who’ve helped me the most are people I’d never really known before I moved out here just over a month ago. I can’t actually imagine where I would be if it weren’t for their compassion when I needed it the most, but I know where I’ll be when they ever need even the smallest favor of me in the future. Right there for them, unconditionally.

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Published in: on 8 August, 2313 at 2:08 AM  Leave a Comment  

Unkind Universe

06/25/2313

Its been nearly 5 months and I’m still not over her.

I mean, I expect I shouldn’t be entirely over a girl even so quickly after what I considered to be such a meaningful relationship…but I at least expected to be able to speak to her by now with feeling like I was having a panic attack. Seriously…whats wrong with me?

Was it because I loved her that deeply? Was it because I thought she was so perfect for me? Was it because she was so beautiful? Could it have been because she was so real? Or is it because I know I’ll never find another like her in my life?

In all reality shes just a girl, theres plenty more out there, and I should be comforted to know that, like buses, another one will come along any minute now, I just have to be patient and not give up waiting. But I don’t feel that way. Deep down I know she was the one, and I’ll never find anyone that has a personality like hers, morals and values, such lavish dreams, such a beautiful body and mind or the ability for me to get along with…ah gork it, I’m done with this business, I can’t even take thearaputic value in talking about this yet… my heart isn’t ready to let her go still because I still cling on to some hope that the universe feels the same way about us needing to be together as I do…

…but when is the universe ever so kind.

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Published in: on 8 August, 2313 at 2:05 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Lonely Earthling

06/10/2313

Some would criticize this as the stupidest move of my life.

Instead of taking the money and running when I had the chance back in November—hell—August I even had my hands on enough money to comfortably furnish a move out to Mars and just simply rent any place that would accept my cash security deposit and then begin to make it all back. Instead I waited until it was all almost gone, and left at the end of the slowest season that took the longest and hardest draw on my accounts…

And then on top of that I was an idiot with the money I had left, wasting it to stay in hotels and to eat and drink fancily they way I had been—when I still wasn’t supposed to. This past year was easily the most lavish and richest year I’ve ever lived…and I hope I can take something from the experience, cause its not going to be wealth or any of the simple comforts I expected to have.

I can hope that unlike most people, the material things that I invested in will somehow bring some sort of return. Not all of them, of course. Anything I spent on people that aren’t part of my life any longer I’ll never see back again. But at least the camera equipment and droids will assist me in making a bit of money; they’ve already helped me just create photos and videos to make it look like I’m professional. And I was able to buy some fine clothes that make me appear a lot more sophisticated man receiving well paying work. I’m one that believes you have to dress for the job you want, and to impress, so I might as well look important as gork.

Seriously though, the hotel I checked into because I thought it would be cheaper to make an extended stay turns out to be just as much as any other hotel downtown, just fancier and larger so with an even more premium price. My personal assistant and I made an error upon booking the place and didn’t realize we were being quoted the rate for a month but charged by the week. The total estimation of costs for a month of occupancy here is equal to about 4x the monthly rent I was looking to pay anywhere else…

I would criticize his as one of the stupidest moves of my life…and I wouldn’t be the only one.

It also made a lot more sense when I wasn’t the only one moving to Mars. When there was someone to come with me and possibly move in and help split rent and pay utilities (a burden one person alone just shouldn’t have to handle) it didn’t seem so stupid. After that didn’t work I just wanted to be all alone with my kitten and waste all the money I had on a place for just him and I…but that dream started to crumble out from under my feet the second I started to step on this rocky red soil. I was a fool for thinking these recent lodgings would solve my problems and keep me safe until I had the money to look for another. I should never have left. I should have just stayed on Earth a penniless Earthling and lived out a meaningless Earthling existence with an Earthling wife and two little Earthling kids inside my white Earthling fence.

Now I’m broke–in fact, negative several hundred dollars–which I barely have owed to me by a couple people I’ll never be able to collect from before I start getting hit with overdraft charges. My only hope is that my constant surveillance of PeaksList will turn out some paying extras work or gigs and that the last 5 dollars in cash will buy me a winning lotto ticket. I hope my stomach doesn’t eat itself before my luck changes for the better…and my stomach really hopes that’s happening soon.

It can’t help I keep getting reminded of all the little things I bought while I still had money that I wish I could return or that I know I really just didn’t need to buy. Video game extras, movies and episodes downloaded to devices I may have to sell to make good on my bank account. Clothes and accessories I treated myself to for no reason. Gear and equipment I have to make profitable somehow, and soon. I wish I had the time to just launch into entirely freelance work, too. Or that I didn’t have to worry about where I was going to spend the night or what I was going to do with this here kitten of mine and how I was going to keep him safe and fed.

I remembered the rabbits today. What I did to them I still can’t excuse myself for. I made a promise on their lives that I wouldn’t take the responsibility of owning a pet again unless I was sure I could give it a happy home for the rest of its days…and I don’t want to have to go against my word for him because I couldn’t save a little money here and there. And I hate that I have to stress about his safety, and this whole move is making me worry my hair white. Reviewing the work on the reel I’m editing I can see them sticking out like little silver flags of malnourishment and depression and unfulfilled dreams. Its not at all a reassuring sensation to see crow’s feet and grays when you look in the mirror.

My central thesis bares no repeating, but for the sake of emphasis I’ll say it again…I can’t help but imagine it all having happened differently…or how differently I’d feel if y…no it really doesn’t bare repeating. Cause it really doesn’t warrant any pondering; It’s a dead dream. I’m only going to make myself more depressed contemplating the ifs and hows, and I’m better off never knowing how it could have played out, especially if this is to be my fate.

And it seems a poor Earthling alone on Mars is what I am.

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Published in: on 10 June, 2313 at 3:21 AM  Leave a Comment  

In love with a Martian

01/21/2312

     It’s strange to let yourself back in to love after so long. That’s all it ever was, too; you keeping yourself out of it. It wasn’t that you were undesirable or stank too much of the Earth, or that you didn’t fit in and couldn’t find someone who felt like you. It wasn’t that you weren’t active enough, or going to the right places to meet new people. And it definitely wasn’t like nobody loved you. You just didn’t let yourself be in love with anyone around you.

I often think back to my last days on Mars, and when it came time to leave, I’m filled with the most ungraspable sadness I’ve ever shouldered. I wasted what moments I had there, and I’ll never get them back. I don’t just mean the countless unproductive hours, or weeks of moping about this or that instead of getting outside and living the life I was complaining I never had. I don’t even mean the months I spent going nowhere but down. I mean the few moments I had to embrace love I let slip away, and I’ll never know where they could have taken me. All the potential energy of a dozen lives not lived feedback with nowhere to be released, so they burn as they emerge and stream down my cheeks.

Time isn’t fair. It feels like so long ago since I fled to Earth, but I know it hasn’t been much at all. Still, for as long as it’s felt like, it seems like so little has happened. Maybe it’s because my routine has entirely shifted, or the fact that I have a routine at all that’s making it hard for me to notice when the days are passing and when they’re not. I know it’s a long shot because it’s not like my correspondence was ever too regular, but maybe it’s just because I stopped keeping a record of my daily events or momentary moods for the people of my homeworld that I’ve lost my handle on time’s passing.

I guess I just never really found anyone to write for. I could always log these things for myself but…I mean, keeping track of how many sports cruisers it took to pass me before I started to drive angrily, or how the new billboard on Spaceport Blvd. makes me feel about the state of the world is stellar and all, but I’m totally not interested in reading about the events of my life, and knowing I’m the only person who’s ever going to makes me wonder why I should bother.

That was until very recently when I met someone who’s already very important to me. And, I know; you’re gonna freak out when you read these next words and you realize the reason why I became inspired to start writing again. I’m in love with a Martian girl and I’m going to move to Mars to be with her.

I know, I know, I know; you’re all like “whaaaaa?” and checking the time stamp to make sure this isn’t a repeat. Then you’re gonna skim the rest of this just so you can get to the comments and give leave your piece…something about past mistakes and history being a bit circular—believe me, I know. This is definitely the sort of thing I should normally be tying into some cosmic allegory, or fitting into some analogy about orbits, or listing actual historic cases of events repeating themselves..But I’ll take something actually being positive in my life for what it is without applying a lethal dose of my usual cynicism. Especially if it means I might be happy with a beautiful lady and not writing it off as something hormonal or wrought with ulterior motives.

You’re gonna need a minute to catch your breath, I’m sure. I know it’s a lot to take in at once, but I’m certain all the implications are beginning to become apparent. Klay Lane is lovestruck, overall unskeptical, and—most importantly—will be writing from Mars again sometime in the near future.

     Hmmm…you might literally need to catch up before I can continue..Really, before I can even start. Why don’t I let this simmer with you for a micro, and I’ll get back to you in a week with a lengthy summary for those of you who didn’t have the privilege of being there…this should be everyone. Don’t worry, it’s not gonna be one of those boring recaps where you’re like “I’ve seen this before but it was longer”. I’ll make sure to include all sorts of lasers and special effects, and I’ll throw in a death, too. Oooooo, you’ll have to tune in for that.

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Published in: on 21 January, 2312 at 4:46 PM  Leave a Comment  
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«Packing Up the Pod»

07-12-2310

I tried. I really did try to turn my dreams into reality. It didn’t quite work out, though.

I wanted to spend the rest of my life lounging in the radiance of the lap of luxury; sitting back in the sunlight without a care in the world–paradise and a perfect day never too far away. But you can’t just get that because you want it.

You have to deserve the peace of mind that comes with being a Martian, and so far I’ve hardly done a thing that obliges me to the way I’ve been living. I didn’t work my entire life, sacrificing my soul and personality so that I could retire early to these red sands. I’ve never been victim of a great tragedy or accident that landed me disabled or the recipient of generous quantities of worker’s compensation. I’ve never even bought a lotto ticket.

Also, should it not be apparent, I’ve never made any money acting on stage or screen. I haven’t been recognized for my artistic abilities in any contest or competition. I’ll probably never make it as a musician without a massive following or financial backing. And I never kept a good enough GPA to be eligible for any grants and scholarships that could help me stay on this planet.

So, two years too late, I’m folding my hand and cutting my losses. I always said I’d see the rest of Mars before I left it, but it doesn’t look like that’s even in the cards. I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll take a trip up the coast to see the more astro cities along the way to the cold north. It’s not likely that I could even scrounge up enough money to go on a trip south, across the boarder, even if I had time to brush up on my Martian. It doesn’t even look like I’ll get another chance to head into the city and see all the lights and sights downtown.

Perhaps, some day soon, I’ll have enough money saved, or enough credits to transfer, or have gained enough notoriety for my artistic endeavors to return. I hope that after I’ve helped my father to rebuild his company, my mother to relocate to a smaller house, and my little brother to get on the right track of school and work–by doing it myself to set a better example for him–that I can come back within a year or two and resume where I left off. Maybe I’ll just set out to travel the rest of the solar system from Earth when that time comes, and return to Mars in a decade or so when I’m ready to settle down. Who knows, I may never come back.

But for now, I’m bailing. Jumping ship. Quitting this place. Heading home. Throwing in the towel. Regrouping. Running away with my tail tucked firmly between my legs. Giving up the ghost. Fleetly fleeing. Submitting my two-weeks’ notice. Abandoning post. Letting the dream die. Buying my ticket.

I’m packing up the pod.

-K. Lane

 

Published in: on 24 July, 2310 at 8:05 AM  Comments (1)  
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«But Where to?»

07-08-2310

Fondgrid sat forward on Dannae’s bed, hunched over the glow of the large sized droid in his palms. He was engaged in a match of his favorite strategy game as I waited for the downloads of the new apps he suggested I acquire to finalize and install. A bowl of fire lay smoldering between us, not knowing for certain where it was going next.

“So this is it, huh?” the dark-haired, pale skinned Marsling asked, not really taking his eyes off the game but giving me full attention with his ears. “The last days of your life on Mars.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” I said remorsefully, setting down Nomi, my faithful robotic companion, and scooping up the bowl to reignite its aromatic contents. “I’ve gotta take advantage of everything this place has that Earth doesn’t,” I continued.

“You don’t really have much time in which to do that left, right?” Fondgrids blue eyes caught mine as he took a moment to set down his comm and receive the glass piece I was offering.

“Less than a week, then I take one last trip for a handful of days and I’m off this desolate, red world for at least a year…I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to come back as soon as possible,” I admitted, retrieving Nomi to double check something on my itinerary.

“There’s always some sort of last hurrah with you, Klay,” he chuckled, aware that I can’t just walk away from anything without leaving a lasting impression or going out with a bang. “But where to?”

“You know, I’m not really sure yet…though I really need to decide if I’m going to do anything, time is running out after all.” I consulted Nomi, bringing up notes I had been making over the past few weeks as I’d tried to determine just that. “What do you think about the wastes out towards Daedalia Planum and the Three Sisters?” I felt confidence in asking a native these sorts of things as opposed to automatically trusting the recommendations my droid makes.

Fondgrid almost choked on the air he was breathing and coughed out “Tharsis? That desert? What’s out there that you could possibly be interested in?”

“I don’t know” I muttered, glancing down at my droid to check what note I had made on the region. “Well, I don’t really know how this could be considered a redeeming quality to me, but isn’t a lot of silver supposed to come from there?”

“That was just a myth, I thought, propagated by prospectors, settlers, and probably the same people who came up with the idea of the Gold Rush,” my Marsling friend’s statements came charged with spite, probably because he hated that dried up, shriveled feeling one gets in arid climates.

“No, if I remember correctly,” he continued, realizing it would be more helpful for me not to have his appraisal clouded with cynicism, “the only things out there—besides the lizards—are a few scattered desert settlements existing from when a charter of settlers lost their bearings and crash landed far away from their intended coastal destination.

“Desperate desert-folk,” I estimated. “Ok, what about up in Cydonia?” I inquired about the next bullet on my list, “I heard there was some sort of life stemming from there.”

“Well you heard wrong, my friend. It’s quiet and very much asleep around those parts, and the same goes for all the territory of Arabia. Lot of green plant life, but not too much of the social life you’re looking for.” He paused a moment to strike a lighter and inhale, exhaling as he said “But you do like to stay home and smoke all day, so who knows, it might work out for you.”

“Well I’m not quite sure if I want to spend my vacation the same way I’ve spent the past 4 years of my life…that would sort of defeat the purpose of finding an exciting place to travel to, especially if it’s going halfway around the planet to get back to business as usual.” I sighed and looked back down at my droid. “What do you know about Knossos?”

“In Elysium? You know that’s the land of the dead, right? Nothing goes on up there,” Brick’s words were again charged with a noticeable bitterness.

“What about the visual and music scenes, aren’t a lot of really interesting artists from that area?” I replied, slightly dismayed by his reaction to this destination. “I always thought that it was even more astro than Novus Angelicas.”

“Well, you are sort of a hipster…and you do like to complain about it being too hot and sunny all the time here, but do you seriously think you could withstand nine months of down pour?” he asked genuinely.

“Well, as great of a contrast to the nine months of hot sunshine I’ve been getting living in southern Amazonia, you’re probably right, I’d get sick of the rain real quick. Anything that doesn’t change at least once over the course of a week tends to drive me insane,” I said, slightly defeated until I glanced back down at Nomi. “Ah, but its summer, now! It’s not going to be nearly as miserable as any other time of the year would be.”

“Yeah, but unless you can afford to go to shows or you know someone who can be your personal tour guide, I think you’re going to be bored to tears up there.”

“I really thought it was a popular, lovable place…” I whined, refusing to admit defeat, “…but maybe I’ve only heard that from people who were raised there.”

“Notice you never met any of them up there; they all moved to Earth or down here cause they think it’s better,” Brick stated.

“Meh…this place,” I muttered.

“What’s so wrong with this place? N.A. and OC are the most astro spots on this planet, and everyone in our solar system knows it,” I had the Marsling defending his hometown now.

“See, that’s just the thing. I don’t wanna offend, but I just don’t think it’s as cool as everyone thinks it is. There’s something terribly wrong with this place; it’s just too plastic and fabricated.”

Fondgrid chuckled to let me know he didn’t take it personally and said “Well, what do you expect? It’s the most modern location this side of the Main Asteroid Belt. In the whole solar system, I think Japeth is the only place that tops it, as far as publically available technology and conveniences go.”

“Or Fortuna,” I mentioned, reminding us again of how much more opulent that small rock of a world was than any moon or planet.

“Yeah, but you don’t wanna go trying to look for life in any of those places; it’s way too expensive to stay long enough to find any conclusive evidence or results…even more costly than it’s been for you here,” he reminded me again how much I’d lost in order to just exist here.

“Heh, you’re probably right…where do you suggest I go to find life? Down south?”

We both burst into laughter before I could finish those words. “Yeah right, you can’t call that life,” he eventually replied.

“I didn’t think so either…it seems like kind of the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve. I’m not looking for a rags-to-rags story here,” I snickered.

“Well, maybe it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to visit just Martia City…or maybe some of the safer, Earthlingized resort towns. Tiwan might be interesting if you’re looking for contrasts,” he halfheartedly advised, not really wanting me to head south of the boarder and disappear forever.

“Ugh… I don’t want to be just another Tiwaner…and I think I’m going to be in Copernicus in a week or two, so I’m going to have all the disgusting, drunk-party city experiences I’ll be able to stand, and then some.”

“Just a thought, I wouldn’t really wish that trip on anyone. I guess it’s just a convenient way to get out of the country if you live in southern Amazonia, but only if there’s nowhere else in the entire Solar System that you’d rather go,” he laughed. “Still, I don’t want you to end up dead or less any organs.”

Suddenly, the voice of Brick’s lovi came from behind me “Well I walked in at the wrong part of that conversation.”

“Hey, Dannae!” I set my droid down again and stood to greet her.

“Hi, Klay!” she said, her brunette hair still a little damp, but mostly dried after her shower. She offered a hug as she asked “How are you doing?”

“Great!” I yelled, squeezing her back, “how have you been?”

“So glad to finally be home,” she said with a sigh, sinking into her computer chair.

“Dannae just got back from a month long trip to Jupiter,” Brick interjected, stealing her thunder before she could tell her own story.

“Oh yeah? What parts did you visit?” I inquired, always interested to hear about different peoples and places.

“Well, she started off—” Brick began before his lovi shot him a glance, as if to say ‘I understand you’re excited to have taken a vicarious vacation through me, but may I please tell my story? Thanks.’

“Originally, I flew into Ilium, and my first stop after that was Omstel,” she started, clearly stoked to reminisce. “Then we traveled back to Io, landing at Gothalania. After that, we went through Breauma, Firenzia, and Quinti Terri. We hopped over to Urso on Ganymede…and then to the other side of Io for Nize, Aiks, and ended in Mazzalia,” she finished, grinning “I had a blast.”

“It sounds like it; I’m so gorkin’ jealous,” how I wished I could be traveling to such exotic places as the moons of Jupiter, the closest thing I feel I have to an ancestral homeland.

“I’ve been keeping up with your status, just cause we’re mutualed by Brick and you’ve been posting an awful damn lot recently; aren’t you about to take a trip of your own?” the light-eyed, native-looking, Marsling girl asked.

“Well,” I again sat down the digital assistant I held on the table, realizing it was probably the reason I’d appeared to make a surge of updates recently, but knowing it couldn’t help me demonstrate what I was going to say like a button could, “as I was just saying to your lovi, I don’t know where the gork I’m going. I mean, I know I should probably try to just hit all the big capitals and cultural hotbeds along the coast north and through Tempe, and journey all the way to Elysium and Antoniadi in Ganymedean Gaia.” She nodded, of course knowing the route I was drawing in my head. “I Just think it’s going to be a bit expensive to travel to and stay in all these places without going with a group.”

“Yeah, there were a whole bunch of us so things were discounted a bit. It’s also apparently cheaper to feed three or four people than it is to just get food for one, so watch out with that flying solo,” she cautioned. “Where after that?”

“Heading back in to Earth. I’ve already got arrangements for what I still own to be shipped back in a container, and I just have to end up at my old house in Vine in time to unload it; in about 2 weeks. But I think I’m going to be staying on Luna, for a few days of the trip at least. I’m not sure where yet, but I’ve never been to Copernicus, I liked Crater when Brick and I saw it, and I can’t help but hear great things about Waterloo; also I know people who will be in all of those places, and I should be able to couch surf the moon to make it cheaper,” I explained to them: Dannae attentive, obviously bitten by the travel bug, and Brick spending as much time looking up as staring down at his fancy machine.

“Maybe you should spend more time there than you do on Mars, if that’s the case,” a suggestion came surprisingly from Fondgrid, whom I’m sure was giving more focus to whatever game he had running. “You know you’ll be back here soon enough to keep reporting about this place, and not lose a beat on your correspondence or whatever it is that you write all the time…who reads that anyway?” he asked somewhat ambiguously.

“You guys, I thought,” suddenly concerned my linked-on friends on Mars weren’t even keeping up with my tlog.

“Oh, no; we do,” Dannae said, giving a confident nod to her lovi, “he meant who’s supposed to read it, I  just always wondered if there’s someone specific on Earth who you keep the netlog for, just by the assumptive tone of your rants.”

I chuckled, knowing they did read them well enough to notice that. “No, there’s no one in particular that I’m addressing them to at all..maybe myself, or my little brother, perhaps. They’re really for anyone to read, though. I mean, whether I’m a Writer or not, I am a tlogger, of course I want everyone in the whole Solar system to be unceremoniously forced to read it in somewhat real publication, but yeah anyone I can get to follow works for me.”

“Well, good luck with that, friend,” Fondgrid said with a forlorn smile.

“And best of luck with your travels, Klay. I hope you can get back to Mars and see us soon, but until then I’ll at least be getting updates on your whereabouts from your thingie,” Dannae assured, also expressing how sad she was to see me go.

“Don’t worry, you guys are probably right. I’ll be back in this forsaken place before I know it,” I agreed, and forced an optimistic smile as I added “it’ll be just like I never left.”

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