CH. 48 «The New Martian Dream»

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09-15-2309

The night’s air was crisp, the breeze warm and dry, breathing through my clothes instead of humidly pasting them to my skin. I struck the lighter I’d slipped past security and lit a cigi. I puffed it happily into the crystal clear evening as I stood on the arrival curb of the spaceport with my possessions.

I had just been anxiously awaiting them at the baggage claim, worried they’d never make it to the luggage carousel intact. I was afraid of losing the few belongings I could be sure I still owned, and even more nervous about checking the guitar, whether it was in a spaceworthy titanium case or not. Fortunately my luggage arrived without a scratch, the only marks were the one’s I’d made to personalize them; matching the symbol tattooed to my left wrist. Satisfied, I turned to wait for my ride.

Shayne Lynoir pulled up a few minutes later in the silver 2-hatched crawler she’d just driven to Mars in last week. In the few day’s she’d been here I could tell that she’d began to adapt well but still wasn’t used to all the little differences yet. She cautiously pulled out onto the closest freeway and headed us towards Olympus county, following directions from the navi fixed to her windshield.

“How are you liking living here so far?” I asked as I stared up at a sky filled with so much light, purely endemic to the Martian atmosphere.

“Oh it’s great. I’ve been smoking the best since I was in Omstel, way better than anything we found on Earth,” which I knew she’d say. “I’ve had a date with that girl I was looking forward to seeing. Uhm…I went to a strip club last night, Klay!”

“Wow, one week and Mars is already treating you right. You’re perfectly aware it’s all a trap, right?” I wouldn’t want her thinking the place was always this astro.

“Yeah, I know. It does seem too good to be true, so I won’t be surprised when the bottom falls out. But I’m not worried, I’ve got two fellowships to pay for school. And in half a year I’ll have my Martian residence…and you know what that means,” she said with a devilish grin.

“Of course, Shayne, it’s the reason that at least half the people that come here still haven’t left yet. It’s why I came back. This is the land of opportunity, the gorkin’ Martian Dream was made real again. Now it’s the New Martian Dream: come to Mars, become a resident, and get a license to possess and grow,” being back had obviously inspired me already.

“Uhm. Kinda sounds like the old one…just without the whole movie business and stardom thing,” she pointed out, facetiously.

“Ok, fine. And this one’s a lot more like the first dream..you know, that whole gold rush thing,” I admitted.

“I thought you once said the first dream was that the planet was inhabited by Amazons,” she would remember me mentioning a thing like Amazons.

“Haha, it was the Ionians who thought that before they ever made landfall. I don’t think the Martian Dream existed until after Earthlings settled here, it’s sort of an evolution on their dream…or bastardization if you would,” I was starting to spill my rhetoric on the subject. “Their dream—our dream; whatever. We’re still Earthlings, after all.”

“And we can never really be Martians, anyway,” she reminded. “But I am looking forward to being called an Amazonian,” she said with a wide grin, her imagination reeling on all the possibilities the future held for her. She snapped back into attention when the navi spout out the next direction in that robotic female voice.

I felt right at home when a lumbering garbage carrier made a blind merge and nearly smeared us into smudge in the pavement on The 5. The shock from the double-coiled repulsors knocked the ash off my cigi. Shayne pulled into the next lane with feline reflexes, making sure to flip off the trasher as she accelerated past. They kindly responded with a blinding strobe from their high-beams and a bark from their massive air-horns; both designed to carry across the vacuum of space. The sound of blaring horns was like music to throbbing ears.

Fortunate survivors of the freeway system, we pulled into Gerund’s complex, a cookie cutter community created by the Caspian Company. The large, bold letters and stylized directory maps at each of the entrances usually give it away, but if you were as familiar as I am to the area, you’d know to just assume they built it. It was identical to everything else constructed within a 20 mile radius.

Inside his mass produced housing unit, Gerund sat downstairs with Nymh and Rei, watching a movie on his brother’s wide screen workstation.

“Ahoy, hoy!”

“Klayed!” the half-Martian, half-Saturnian toddler shouted as I slipped in the airlock, leaving my suitcase, guitarcase and carry-on in the entrance way to give hugs.

“Hey, Rei. How have you been?” I asked, addressing her more as a peer than a 3-year-old. She turned away shyly, dumbstruck and speechless though she’d asked for me every single day of summer.

“Aww, Rei. Your lovi’s back,” Nymh joked, which made her daughter even more bashful, burying her face in my shoulder.

“What’s up, guys?” I asked as I set her back down and received hugs from my long lost friends.

“Not much, brutha! How are you doin?” Gerund inquired, excited to see his buddy again.

“Oh, it feels so good to be back,” I said patting his shoulder. “But, actually…there’s one thing…” I trailed off, turning my eyes to the airlock as if to initiate a crawler party.

“Back porch,” Gerund said, understanding my request, though his answer confused me.

“Really?” I couldn’t believe they’d ever think a spot was more comfortable than the cabin of Gerund’s vehicle.

“Yeah, go ahead, Lane, it’s already outside. I’ll be there to S-M-O-K-E with you in a nano,” Nymh spelled out so her daughter wouldn’t be able to understand.

“You sure you don’t want me to watch her for a little while,” Gerund asked his lovi in a saccharin voice.

“No, no. Go on, baby,” the Tethynese mother said, giving him a kiss before he joined me on the back porch.

“So what’s your plan?” he asked, wasting no time to get to business as I packed the glass full of fire.

“I have no idea yet, actually. It was such a struggle for me just to get back here…I really didn’t think any further ahead than this part,” I admitted, indicating to the pipe in my hand. He shrugged, seeming to expect as much. “Would it be alright if I crashed here for a little while?”

“Well it’s a little packed now. My sister never moved out, and my brother, Qwerty, came back from Eris and doesn’t even have a room anymore. Also, with Nymh and Rei spending the nights here often, and Rikka’s lovi sleeping over all the time, it’s a full unit,” he explained.

“I understand, well that’s ok. Shanye did say I could stay with her a little while if I wanted,” I didn’t want to mention it wasn’t too big of a deal because I’d probably be moving back to Earth before spring anyway.

“I’ll see what I can do though. If I find some room I’m sure my parent’s won’t mind you being here a few days, they did miss you too,” he said, lighting a cigi impatiently while I took my time to finish packing the bowl.

“Thanks, bro, I appreciate it,” I was genuinely relieved someone on this planet had a heart. Though it wasn’t even my weed, I offered him greens out of gratitude. He shook his head to turn it down.

“Go ahead,” he waved, though I was reluctant to take it. “Welcome back to Mars, Mr. Lane,” he announced, handing me a lighter. It pained him to do so, but I’d never notice.

I nodded in appreciation and struck the lighter, focusing it’s flame on the leafy green and purple material packed into the chamber as I inhaled it’s milky goodness deep into my lungs. I felt a tingle emerge instantly, fluttering through my chest and head and easing everything it touched before I exhaled a plume of smoke into the open Martian night, the divine flavor I’d longed for most of the summer lingering on my tongue and lips. I smiled and closed my eyes, relishing the moment.

This is it: The New Martian Dream. How sweet it tastes.

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PREV: CH.47 «Still Stuck on Earth»

PREV: CH.47 «Still Stuck on Earth»

NEXT: CH. 49 «Tumultuous Apathy»

NEXT: CH. 49 «Tumultuous Apathy»

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