Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta endurance. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta endurance. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, 27 de agosto de 2016

Ravaged coastline

   As he climbed the staircase towards the top, the storm outside raged even stronger than before. The lighthouse’s walls seemed to shake at the sound of thunder. When he reached the top, he realized the machine that operated the lighthouse was still working despite of their best effort. Fast as he could, he grabbed something from his backpack and stuck it against the control panel that was lit with a variety of colors.

 Outside, the storm seemed to be getting worse every second. The waves were hitting the coast hard, as if nature was intentionally trying to bring the lighthouse down. But working with erosion would take too long so that’s why Miller volunteered to go to the top of the lighthouse and plant a bomb to destroy it from inside it. On the ocean, there was a sound louder than the one of the thunder: two ships seemed to be attacking positions in the ground and they did it all thanks to the help of the lighthouse.

 Once the bomb was planted, Miller ran out of the building, into the storm. From a certain distance, he saw how the lighthouse collapsed into itself. The sound of the explosion wasn’t really that strong because of all the scandal the storm was causing but what mattered was that the mission had been accomplished. Miller ran down the hill towards the beach, were the forces of his country were supposed to be. He didn’t find them there and he was afraid something bad had happened.

 Fortunately, he found their camp still set up where it had been that morning. Only a few tents remain though, because of the storm. The soldiers there said the attack from the ocean had been way too strong and that, even with the lighthouse out of their way, the enemy had known where to attack and how. So most of the army had moved south and, apparently, so did the battle.

 Miller had an obligation with his people, to defend his land until his death but he was very tired from running from one place to the other so he decided to have some rest with those wounded soldiers and wait for good news from all the battalions fighting the enemy. There was no food there, which was a shame, but one of the soldiers had a small flask with a very strong alcohol. Although forbidden, it helped Miller be aware until he fell asleep just before sunrise.

 He only slept a few hours. The storm had finally stopped or almost stopped as it was still raining after all.  He decided to grab one of the transports that hadn’t been destroyed and follow the army down the path. The vehicle had four wheels but seemed like one of those cars you use at the beach or somewhere where war is not an issue. It had no doors, no real protection but it had to be enough.

 As he travelled south, Miller was not very happy about what he saw. Because he saw nothing. There weren’t any bodies on the beach, or coming form the sea. He tried to get to high ground but there was nothing to see on the ocean. No big ship destroyed or trying to attack anyone or anything. The ocean was deprived of any life forms, at least on the surface. And the beaches were the same. Even tracks of other vehicles were difficult to find. Miller would only find the occasional boot print every so often.

 The first day following his army was a waste. Miller only stopped driving at night, when he stumbled upon a former fisherman’s village that had been abandoned by its inhabitants. The most likely scenario was that they had left the town because of the impending attacks of the enemy on the coast. Those people that had lived of the ocean for so long, now had to move to the far away from it, leaving everything they had known and loved behind. It must have been very hard for them.

 Miller left his vehicle next to a house that had clearly been attacked but was still standing after it all. He walked around as clouds in the night sky moved and revealed the full moon. The white light from it helped Miller look for anything he could use such as a small tank of gasoline and some bullets for his handgun. There were also nets and fishing rods but he left them there, as he wouldn’t have time to do anything with them.

 He slept inside the abandoned house that night. Nature or man had removed part of the roof, so the light of the moon illuminated his room. It was filled with sand and smelled a lot like fish. However, he slept in an actual bed that he tried to clean up the best he could. It was very strange to feel such a soft matters and the sheets really smelled like fabric softener, after such a long time of having been abandoned there.

The next day, he charged the gasoline tank of his vehicle and moved on with his search. It was until the afternoon, several kilometers from the fisherman’s village, where finally found the bodies of some soldiers. Unfortunately, they were not only dead but they seemed to have been scorched alive. Their bones were practically pieces of coal, forming strange angles by the ocean.

 It looks as if they were two soldiers or maybe they weren’t even soldiers. It was difficult to tell as the clothes had burned too. Something bad had happened there anyway and even if it didn’t have anything to do with the fighting, it was worth taking note. Maybe the people were going crazier than anyone had anticipated.

 A huge explosion was then heard just beyond some sand dunes. Miller left the vehicle behind and run up the dunes in order to see what had happened. A column of smoke could be seen easily as his feet sunk into the sand, trying to run as fast as he could in a place were running was not very practical. When he got to the tip of the dunes, he saw something horrible. It was the army, his army. They were all dead. Their bodies covered the stretch of sand between the beach and the tree line. There didn’t seem to be a single spot without a dead body.

 The smoke was coming out of some sort of gun near the center of the agglomeration of bodies. It was artillery and was pointed towards the ocean. Miller tried to look for anything there to indicate what had killed all of those men and women but there was nothing. The weapon had maybe overloaded and that’s why it had exploded. It meant that Miller had missed his peers for a very short time, maybe even only hours.

 It was awful to see all of those familiar faces rotting under the soft rain and the pale sunlight that filtered through the very thick clouds. He didn’t know what to do with them. Leaving them there would not be according to their code but burning each corpse would take him forever. And then, there was the gun. He decided to walk among the bodies, towards the weapon, in order to check if any information could be saved from its intelligent software.

 He tried not to step on any hands or legs but it was very difficult. He tried to look forward instead of downwards. For a moment, tears began pouring out of his eyes. It was just too much for him. After all, he was just a young guy that no many months ago had ben trying to turn his life around after been a thief for all of his life. He had tried to learn a trade and be good at it and then the war happened and now he was stepping on bodies.

 When he reached the artillery post, he sat on the chair of the gun and clicked some letters. The machine was still working. The shooting capabilities were out of order but he could check what they were firing at moments ago. An image appeared on the small screen and he had to get closer to see it fully. When his eyes focused, he thought he was looking at the worn image or maybe he had done something wrong.


 But the image was not the wrong one. Understanding the danger he was in, he ran stepping on every body towards the dunes and reaching his vehicle fast. He had to leave for the inland, where the inhabited cities were, in order to tell them what he had seen. They wouldn’t believe him but he had to tell them that a monster was out there. Maybe it was the enemies, or maybe not, but it seemed to have come straight from hell. As he drove, he checked his mirrors every few seconds, afraid of the ocean.

domingo, 1 de marzo de 2015

Mars

   Although Mars had always appeared to be empty and lifeless, things were different now. For the last six months, people on Earth knew that if they stared up at the sky, some humans might be doing the same very far from them, on Global 1. That was the name of the fist Martian base in human History and was an object of pride and joy for many humans, specially those in the scientific community who had wanted this dream come true for a long time.

 Many governments had once and again postponed the so-called “colonization” of Mars namely because of budget problems and health issues. But they had never really tried to solve any of those problems. When scientists, the private sector and other countries decided it was time to pay a proper visit to the red planet, solutions were created for every single problem.

 The hardest trip was the one of the first group of people as they would never set a foot on Martian soil but they would organize everything for when others came to get them and replace them both up in the orbital station as in the new base on the ground. At first, only seven men and women orbited Mars for about two years. Occasionally, ships would come in from Earth carrying all kinds of supplies, mainly food and new equipment to help make the base and instruments to investigate the current state of the planet.

 They built everything by remote control, using last generation androids that could be controlled by computer, from the space station, and that could last for many years, even in the harsh conditions on Martian soil. It was fun to program the robots to do different things. Mainly, they acted as construction workers although these workers built their own tools and used them only when they were told to, in specific time frames and according to a long schedule that aimed for the opening of the first Martian module in a two-year time.

 The people on the station would often check that everything was properly done and proceeded with their on-site investigations as scheduled. After the first few months, they stopped automatically looking through the windows of their ship. Mars was beautiful but it was also visibly violent and the sandstorms proved difficult for the construction of their base. Many times a special robot had to be activated to “vacuum” all the sand and dirt that caused any problems to the other machines.

 Two years passes and those humans orbiting Mars were replaced by a new group, one of only five people, every single one from a different country. This was because the organization that was after the construction of the base, had to guarantee that every single contributing country had at least one representation on the base, for a short period of time. You see, they only had permit to stay a year. No astronaut could stay more than that on Mars. It wasn’t because they thought it was dangerous but because they needed to study them to see how their bodies had adapted to another planet.

 Everything was science and investigations and reports. That first group really didn’t have a lot of time to waste on having fun or merely looking at the planet they had come to visit. As they were the first group, they had to verify that everything was in good shape. The robots were great but there was nothing like two human eyes to verify everything was good for a group of people to actually live, permanently, down on the red planet.

 Half of their year, they spent it on the orbiting station and the other half on the newly inaugurated base. They transmitted to Earth the images of their celebration and every single human at that time saw their joy and their expectance for the future. One of the astronauts, a French woman, had been authorized to bring a bottle of the best wine she was able to get before leaving Earth. It was perfect for the occasion.

That day was special, not only for Humanity as a whole but for that little group because they suddenly didn’t feel like just scientist or people on a mission. They actually felt like they were home and were just celebrating someone anniversary or birthday. They had cake, a proper meal, the French wine and chatted for hours and hours. Of course, they did not spoke a word about work.

 After that, they rested nicely for the first time in a long time and the following week, even with the heavy load of work, was just the best they had on Mars. They shared observations about the planet, the messages they got from their families on Earth and the pictures of their old and new homes that a satellite, released by them, had taken recently. It was all perfect and the idea of having more and more people living there, on Mars, was just natural and almost mandatory.

 From then on groups of people would come and go and with the construction of new quarters on the Global 1, more and more people were able to stay there, for longer periods of time. Some of them weren’t even scientist or anything like that. They were just people who needed a fresh start or who had always dreamed of doing something like this. Mainly, they were adventure seekers, dying to get to know everything there was to see and do on Mars.

 With time, they were able to organize walks near the base and, years later, motorcycle rides to a near canyon and back. Of course, humans had to wear special suits but they had become much easier to wear and less constricting. When stable population passed one hundred individuals, investors from Earth decided to expand Global 1 to the first big town on Mars. Construction started ten years after the arrival of the first people on the planet and was expected to be fully completed in fifty years, making room for at least one thousand new Martians.

 Then, the first proper Martian was born. A woman and her husband had arrived a year ago to town and they had loved it so much that they had decided to stay. And apparently their eagerness for this new environment had also had other consequences, such as the birth of Juno, the first human to be a Martian. She was issued a special Martian passport and many journalists interviewed the family for the following years. She was an instant celebrity without even knowing.

 Juno was one of those who really loved to get around the city and loved even more the feel of the Martian dirt between her toes and fingers. Eventually, a suit had been designed that was only used on the face and around the waist. It would cover all of the body if the person wearing it decided to press a special button on the waist but the people that lived there for a long time had learned not to be a friend of nature. They actually felt Mars was no different than Earth and that nature had found other ways to do things there.

 The young girl grew up to be an environmentalist, opposed to the exploitation of various natural resources found on Mars such as nitrogen, lithium and titanium, all very important for future buildings on Mars and Earth. But Juno had learned the beauty of her homeland and fought the ruling committee of Mars on every turn. Even people on Earth were backing her organization, calling for someone to control what the private sector tried to do off world, due to the lack of clarity of the law.

 But the mining for many resources had already began, in remote areas, and it was fuelling the creation of a new space station around the planet, that would allow humans to take the next step in their cosmic journey: their arrival on the Jovian system. Jupiter was key to travel beyond their system, if that was ever to be attempted and many organizations on Earth were eager to do that and, of course, to get their hands on the massive resources of the Jovian moons.

 Suddenly, many people on Global 1, now called Bellona, were beginning to think about a new adventure, the worlds of possibilities that were about to be opened to them. It wasn’t a surprise that, on Juno’s elderly years, Bellona had seen a flux of emigration like none before. Some stayed and people kept coming from Earth but the new hotspot of their system was Assaracus, a city built for one million people and the new bright star made with the money won on Mars on Earth by the private sector.


 Every newspaper registered Juno’s death, but the news was relegated to the inner pages of every publication. After all, it wasn’t every day that humans discovered they were not quite alone.