Here’s the challenge that I participated in from Chuck Wendig’s site at Terrible Minds:
I happened to be listening to the song ‘Embrace the Martian’ by Kid Cudi when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write about. So here’s a little Sci-Fi story for you.
Embrace the Martian
Xavier sat up in bed with a level grogginess that rivaled waking up after only four hours of sleep, on a lumpy mattress, while hungover. The thought of having the most extreme workout of his life in only a few hours seemed laughable. He rubbed at his eyes aboard the USS Maturin in the spring of 2043.
Stepping out of the chamber, he looked to his left. “Hey Kim. Kim—you still with me?” Xavier only received a gargling response in return. Of course Kim’s still with me…where else is she going to go? he thought. Satisfied, he focused on the daunting task of stepping out of bed and taking his first steps in five months. When his right foot hit the floor, he couldn’t feel it under him. It felt as numb as a foot that’s been sat on for an hour; however, it didn’t have the typical, uncomfortable tingly feeling.
“Yep, the first steps are always the hardest.”
Kim’s voice from behind him made Xavier jump to his unprepared feet. The numb limbs under him gave way, and he collapsed onto the floor. Kim smiled at this.
“Oh yeah—laugh at the guy who can’t feel his legs,” he said. “You must love going to nursing homes and laughing at the people in wheelchairs.” This only caused her to laugh harder. Xavier turned to see her standing in the small doorway with her toothbrush clutched in her right hand.
“Stop crying. It wears off in a few hours.”
Xavier squinted at her. “How long have you been up?”
“About twelve hours.” She shrugged. “I don’t know why I woke up before you, but oh well. We’re going to be there in about six hours, so you better be ready to help me land.”
“Ahhh the red planet,” Xavier mused. “I wish my first trip into space wasn’t to save some crazy asshole. Assuming he’s still alive to save that is.”
“If you were on Mars for two years, by yourself, you’d be crazy too,” Kim said. Her voice was cold, but that didn’t bother her.
“I bet he’s up there having a naked tea party with three rocks. There’s a reason he’s not answering any of our attempts at contact—he’s gone bat-shit crazy. Don’t you remember the last radio transmission?”
Kim did remember the last transmission. Walkins offered a riddle over the radio from millions of miles away. “What is tiny but big, has no hair but wears no wig, likes to crawl but doesn’t walk, clicks its mouth, but doesn’t talk? Embrace the Martian!” Kim had no idea what the answer of the riddle was, but its memory still made the hair on her arms stand up. The best answer that she could think of was a baby. She had many thoughts about Luke Walkin during their trip, and not many of them were good. She dreamed of her hero trapped on the red planet with his foot stuck beneath a rock. In her dreams, he screamed as if anyone would ever be able to hear him. She shook off the idea of her longtime hero’s death and turned her attention back to Xavier. “Get ready to go. I can’t land this thing by myself. From the looks of you, we’re going to be cutting it close, time wise.”
Xavier found a way to be ready in time for the landing. In fact, he was up and walking within the hour. The two of them landed the USS Maturin no problem. They touched down within two city blocks of the first Mars settlement named Plymouth. The two of them geared up with the latest NASA gear. Xavier always used to laugh at the old video’s of the first astronauts in space, with their giant, globe-looking helmets. His helmet fit over his head with only an inch of space in front of his face. The atmosphere fed through a self-filtering system that turned the harsh, Martian air into nitrogen and oxygen rich air. The suit itself was a somewhat tight fitting black garment. He didn’t know what the material was called, but it was lighter than anything that he wore on earth.
Xavier gestured toward the bubble of inhabitable of land. “Well, if we’re going to find the man, we better get moving.”
Kim nodded. “Be ready for anything. If he really is crazy, he may try to attack us. I expect to find him—” she trailed off. Kim didn’t like the thought of her dead hero—a man that she admired since being a teenager. Instead of finishing her sentence, she simply picked up her pace and walked ahead of Xavier.
Kim pushed the button to the door that opened the passage into the bubble. All in all, they had to walk through three sets of doors just be get into the inhabitable land.
Both Kim and Xavier stood in slack-jawed awe when they made it inside of the bubble. The air was warm and oxygenated. Trees poked out of the small grassland. The two of them took their helmets off and basked in the first stretch of nature that they’d seen in months.
“Now where to?”
Kim thought it over. “Well, if I were him, I’d proba—wait, what the hell was that? Did you see that?”
Xavier nodded, but couldn’t produce any audible sound that would get confused as an answer. The dark shape ran up a tree, thirty yards in front of them. It was brown, ran on four legs, looked like a dog in a lot of ways. Except it didn’t have hair, Xavier thought. And those eyes—they’re human.
“Walkins—you around?” Xavier asked.
The dog-like figure jumped down from the tree. It smiled at them while it stood up on its hind legs. “Embrace the Martian,” the creature squeaked.
Kim and Xavier looked at eachother, then drew their weapons.