CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

ankh (1) new tattooophoto03-03-2308

My Earthling father always said tattoos stamp you for others to plainly see what you are; scurvy spacefolk. An ancient cultural practice unheard of by Earth until sailors and soldiers stationed on Saturn began to come back with warships and hula girls embossed across their chests. Traditions of native tribes all across Sol have included inking important images on each other’s flesh for millions of years. Versus our narrow-minded world where its only ever been decorated servicemen and low-life criminals that choose to mark themselves. But there’s no need to for tattoos to be so taboo anymore. Since everyone got linked-up to the nets, the practice has become better understood as an important ritual and more widely accepted.

On Mars, the tattoo is a rite of adulthood, because…you can’t have one unless you’re an adult. Or have an ID that says you’re 18. Or received your parent’s permission to be tattooed because they’re cool enough to let their teenager get inked. Anyone whos’ sleeves are covered to the wrist are probably a musician or some kind of artist that doesn’t have to make a living off corporate jobs. On a planet where being rich and famous is more important than being a productive member of society, a person that transforms their body into a living canvas is held with high esteem by Martians.

If I want to blend in with the locals I’d better get some ink done, I decided to myself one evening. I’ve always wanted to have tattoos but never thought I could get one. Up until recently I thought my life would revolve around working as an actor. I realize now being an artist and an individual is what’s important to me and I felt compelled to portray something about myself on my body instead of keeping it blank for some potential casting. As someone interested in the symbols of ancient cultures I had plenty of ideas for what I’d want to depict first on my body. Its merely a coincidence Leucosia just told me she was going to get a tattoo on her wrist soon, she simply reminded me that I wanted to make an appointment at the Fender Tattoo parlor that next morning.

I strode in at sunrise with my sketchbook in hand, ready to consult with whomever would become my tattoo artist. An enormous Martian man with faded gray lines all over his skin and earlobes stretched out by giant plugs greeted me from behind the counter. Introducing himself as Big Jim and shaking my hand with a fat sweaty palm, he took the paperpad I’d brought with his other.

This giant led me through the shop, past another artist painstakingly etching a long helix into the spine of a poor girl laid face-down. Big Jim’s short-walled cubicle was hardly private. Definitely not the office you’d hope to find yourself meeting with the person about make a permanent change to your physical form. It might have been something to do with the grinding electric buzz of a lazer needle zapping away and sound of thrashing heavy metal music blasting over the speakers. Maybe it was just part of the song, but I swear I heard a tortured scream distantly shouting from an unseen dungeon. I felt nervous about what I’d walked into.

The huge Martian thumbed through my private sketchbook to the page I’d bookmarked, probably scrutinizing all my art along the way. I’ve learned to tune out peoples’ thought processes as they’re looking at my work, mostly to prevent me from biting my fingernails down. I glanced around at the pictures tacked up to the bulletin boards panels dividing us from the mutilation scene beside us. Most were images of trashy pin-up girls from various planets, possibly Jim’s favorite area of interest. Some studies of skulls on fire and nautical stars assured me this was the not the artist I’d seek for his particular style. I just needed someone who could transfer an image I’d drawn for myself to my skin. Permanently. Could I trust this Big Jim?

This the one you want here, chief?” he asked, turning the damp sketchbook back to me and pointing with thick finger at the image I had circled. I nodded. He looked at it again, wincing a little. “And why do you want a tattoo of this…this..” the name he looked for to describe the shape escaped him.
“It’s an ancient Neptunian symbol but I believe it holds signifigance to humans across all of Sol. It’s thought to mean eternal life…and I want it to represent the beginning of my new life,” I spoke until he seemed satisfied I’d done my homework. I think the tattoo artist was mostly looking for assurance that I had enough intention to get this permamark to have performed a Zillion search. I could have gone on; about how the symbol was originally an image of the goddess of our star system or even how it was shaped after a mushroom, which I thought held incredible importance to our evolution and heritage. I wasn’t sure if Big Jim was ready to have his little mind blown.


“Cosmo, man! That sounds astro as slag if you ask me. I can make a transfer of this directly out of the book onto your skin, no prob. Hardly take any prep. I’ll pencil you in for next week and give you a heads up if any sessions open up before then,” he offered as he handed back the soaked sketchbook. I accepted, and with a dripping handshake bid the Martian giant a good day as I went home to begin preparing mentally.


I didn’t have long to get ready. The call came a day later, Big Jim had a client drop out of one of his evening slots. I was hoping I’d have time to scrounge up a few more creds to give my artist a nice tip. It meant going light on lunch to save a fresh 20 card in order to show my appreciation. With nothing more than a hot dog sitting on my stomach, I headed to the tattoo parlor to endure my ordeal.


I had Big Jim set a digitally drawn trace of my tattoo upon my left wrist; the feminine side. He had me lay with my arm extended straight out. I felt all the tendons and veins in my wrist pulled taught in this position, like strings of an acoustic instrument drawn tight all the way to the heart. Then he went to work with the humming strum of a lazer inscriber on the tender flesh of my wrist. I began to feel incredibly uneasy about what was about to begin.


And then it was suddenly too late. I was beginning to panic that this decision couldn’t be undone, and I was going to have to live with the results of this hastily conceived art project for the rest of my life. I started to think about how I might be received if I went back to earth, and what my parents would say when they’d seen what I’d done. If imagining that didn’t get my heart racing hard, the painful stab of the tattoo gun repeatedly inscribing into my flesh was hard to ignore. Especially when Big Jim drew the line of his needle across any of the raised tendons of my wrist. It literally felt like someone plucking a string tied to my core. I didn’t feel good.


I was drenched in perspiration from the panic and the pain. I was felt nauseated, then light headed and faint, like I’d stood up too fast though I remained seated still. Jim must have noticed something, possibly all color evacuating from my face. He asked if I was feeling alright or if I need him to take a break. I shook my head and breathed a heavy sigh when the buzzing ceased. He inquired into my state of being, if I slept well or if I ate well enough. I shook my head again and listed the things I’d eaten today on one hand.


Big Jim ran next door to the bagel bakery to grab me a doughnut and some orange juice. I was only able to get one bite down. It, and whatever remained of my light lunch, came right back up. I felt awkward to be the guy retching loudly over the needles buzzing away all around him. I’d purged anything good I had left in my system and felt absolutely depleted. Jim gave me a hard slap on the shoulder. “Glad to see your still with us! When you went pale I didn’t actually expect you to get sick like that. Most people straight pass out! You’re fortunate, we could keep going if you’d like?” He was actually serious.


I don’t now how he thought I wasn’t done already, but he continued to blast away. I was completely drained of nutrients and shaky as a bug; still soaking in sweat, too. The cool desert wind of the Martian evening began blowing in the front hatchway of the joint when the sun went down. I was shivering as my artist proceeded to finish the outline. Jim was having difficulty keeping the target of his lazer on track with all of my involuntary movement. Using his utmost concentration to time lazer bursts between my convulsions, the big guy closed the loop and completed the outline of my first tattoo.


Sizzling fresh from a layer skin beneath the surface that now bore a bold black line; raised and red hot around the edges. I watched a wisp of smoke escape from the newborn goddess and thought this doesn’t hurt so much as far as fresh laser wounds go.


I clenched my teeth in anguish when Big Jim slapped my wrist with his gloved hand. “I think that’s all we can do for today, little man. It looks like you’ve had enough of this ordeal for one night. We’ll get you another appointment in the upcoming week and you just pay half for this session,” he politely offered. Whether he was going to make more money in the long run was no matter, this sounded good for my well being.


I nodded in agreement, accepted whatever time slot and new tattoo instructional care sheet the girl at the desk provided then slithered out the airlock with a bandage wrapped around my sore wrist whilst muttering to myself. I looked back at the tattoo parlor with distaste. They’re all surely laughing at me right now. Ventchutes! Big Jim will probably be made fun of for weeks because of me. Heavens blast the mother gorkers!


As I returned home I realized this may not have been the wisest decision of my life.

ankh (1) copy

PREV: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

PREV: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

NEXT: CH. 06 «Letting Go»

NEXT: CH. 06 «Letting Go»

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