School: Penicuik High School, Midlothian
By David Harrier
This blog is the story of my life on Mars, and the interesting things that happened to my mind during that time. It contains me getting to Mars, staying at Mars, and being brought home.
It was the year 2037, and NASA had just announced a mission to test the effects of long-term living on Mars alone. As I had been amazed about space since I was seven years old, I felt an urge to sign up (I also had no real family). I was a little nervous at first because I’m not exactly young, (52 now, 47 then) and I presumed someone with a younger and healthier body would be their ideal choice, but I signed up and a few weeks later it turned out I was chosen. I was told the foreseen dangers and hours of gruelling training, but I wasn’t really paying much attention then. I was more focused then on imagining the sorts of wonderful things I’d get to see and do. I’d fly to Mars, seeing Earth fly past me as I was plunged into a land that had only been explored by a handful of people. I’d wake up every morning to see the wide landscapes of red sand all around me, and I’d be helping contribute to the survival of the human race.
Next, to the training.
Training was really interesting to me, seeing how many ways things can go wrong, and covering all of them over and over so we (a team of trainee astronauts were also doing training) knew what to do if that situation were to arise. We also got to try on the suits, an experience that freed my inner seven-year-old child with excitement. We did simulations of launches, got used to 0G, all in six months. Whilst I was doing this I was completely oblivious of the fact that I’d be alone on Mars, with no one to talk or even interact with. I think that was one of my greatest mistakes.
The launch was amazing, adrenaline pumping through my veins as I controlled my shuttle’s thrust, angling myself towards Mars and going at full blast. I was being given information by ground team, in case anything unprecedented happened, and as I had hardly become an expert by that point. To my surprise, it was pretty smooth sailing, with nothing big going wrong at all. I was a little too focused on getting to Mars, so I didn’t get to admire space as much as I wished I could.
I touched down, but it wasn’t too smooth a landing, and I damaged the communications block, but I wasn’t too worried. I’d fixed one hundreds of times over, just in case. I checked everything, then I walked out to the red ground, grinning until my face hurt. I had made it! I was alone, but that didn’t affect me at that point. I built my home, activated the artificial gravity, engaged the oxygen filter, and chilled for a bit. I took some time to soak in the fact that I was living on a new planet, then got to work fixing the communications block.
I didn’t have much of a problem fixing it, and got the ground team back, giving them a report of what had happened while they were gone.
I was quite excited about what Mars had to offer, so I got exploring. As I expected, it was mostly red desert, but I found the remains of an ancient rover called ‘CURIOSITY’ and collected the parts, hoping they would be useful. I also found some meteorite fragments which would be useful to ground team for research, so I took them as well. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t that fun, and I think this was the first subconscious red flag that led to some problems.
I reported back to ground team, then I had a sleep. A problem with being on a different planet is that you don’t know what the time is, and neither does your body. Your sleeping pattern goes insane, going to bed late, getting 2 hours of sleep max, then not being able to get to sleep was my life for a solid 2 months. As the days went on, I got less and less enthusiastic about the whole living on Mars thing, and I thought the communication team were feeling the same. They rarely said anything, and what they did say was all very emotionless and dull. I had come to hate it so much that in a fit of rage I broke the communications box to an unfixable state. Soon after I realised that I had made a horrible mistake. I was now on my own.
I learned the hard way that trying to just keep going when you’re alone on a foreign planet is the wrong thing to do. Though I tried my hardest to stop it, I started falling into an insanity that, from what I can recall, no one else had experienced. I created my own fictional crew members that I talked to, I saw a rock that was weirdly shaped, and I hid in my home for a week because I was terrified. Just before I was about to kill myself, I remembered that there’s an emergency shuttle in my spaceship that can get me back to Earth. My training was foggy at this point, but I knew I had to try. I abandoned all my things and hopped into the shuttle, filled with hope that I could see another human being.
I had some near-death situations in that shuttle, but after 3 days of travelling, I made it back to Earth. I called for help, as I hadn’t properly adjusted to the natural gravity. No reply. I was there until I could walk, and found an old TV with the news on saying that all of Earth’s residents had died from a horrible debilitating lung disease. I was alone.