The pigeon flutters its wings. Its red eyes stare at me, metal body shines in the sun. It’s the only type of bird on this planet. The bird flies off, and it squawks like a monster. I’ve gotten sick of it - the same damn recorded sound that comes out of every pigeon. I asked my mom why they’re like robots…she said they weren’t. She said they were real. If they’re real, then I’m sure not.
The water isn’t water; it chokes you. If you look it at closely, it’s orange, and there’s dust and chemicals and lots of other crap swimming in it. They say it’s water, but it sure isn’t. Real water doesn’t choke you.
And life sure doesn’t feel real – it feels like a dessert in which I’ve gone crazy. They hide everything; I remember my first day on 7q, a group of moving hazmat suits were painting the ground green. They told me it was grass. They painted the walls gray and it told me it was stone; it wasn’t. It crumpled from my glove, and pieces broke off like sand. So did the grass.
Mom comes into my room- she says I need to get some sleep, she says it’s been a hard day. I don’t tell her that every day has been a hard day on this planet. She’s cried enough without that.
But she kisses me and I say goodnight. The sound of pressure bursts through my ears as she takes out my old oxygen tank and puts in a new one.
And I go to sleep with only one thought in my head; will tomorrow be a blazer?
The next day comes, and surely it’s a blazer. That’s what we call the days when it’s so scorching outside that the ground starts to blaze. Those are the days when the sun orbits too close to 7q. It’s gotten so close it’s started to burn other planets. That’s why they crushed our homes on Earth and told us it would be much better here. And that’s how the whole world found themselves stranded on planet 7q.
It’s all fake, the civilization they’ve tried to build up on this planet. It’s all robots and lies and painting over the truth. Paint the ground and call it grass as much as you want, but you can’t paint over that orange sky. The sky gives it away.
I go outside. The sky is a stark orange, and it has been, ever since I first looked up and noticed there wasn’t a single cloud. It’s all absolute dryland, like Tatooine. Except this world is real.
The small stubs on my shoes hit the ground, and with each step, the stubs sink into the sand. It’s like walking in snow, but it isn’t like walking in snow. You get real snow if you have real water.
“Nice weather we have here today, huh?” Eric, the local gardener says. He’s an old man, and he spends his last days on his porch, looking at nothing. His chin has grown bushy, and his thick, wiry hair makes him look like a sailor.
“Let’s bring out the deckchairs then.”
I smirk; that’s a joke we Martians have. The joke’s not funny, but in an isolated wasteland like 7q, we laugh, cause it’s the only choice we have.
“Where you goin’?” he asks.
“Just, just… far.”
And he leaves it at that. Eric knows that I’ve taken this path every day for the last 419 days, but yet he asks. I’m glad he does.
I trudge over to the hill, 9.u, and don’t give it a second thought like I first did when I came here. Why does everything have a number? Why’s it so fake? I never heard an answer.
And so I climb.
My boots stick into the side of the hill, and I make my way up the slope of 9.u, when the fierce winds pick up. Just ‘cause it’s a blazer doesn’t mean it’s calm.
I can feel the sand falling down and the rest of my body follows. I slip.
My face comes inches away from the dusty ground, the only support from my elbows, dug deep in the soil. I mutter something too unchained for words, and slowly, as I get up, the red cloud forms around me. Mom will be mad – the dust has a way of forming on suits and never washing out.
I slip down 9.u and head back home. The sun is in full blaze, the 14th orbit of every month, and it hits 7q like a storm. I wish it was a storm.
But my boots keep hitting the ground and my body keeps moving, and before I know it, I’m covered in sweat.
When I first came, it was the only real water I knew. Salty, but still water. And it was truly something; the boy with the real water. But now it’s the same old crap we have to drink that I sweat. Filmy, orange silt squeezing out from my pores. Like it or not, everyone becomes part of planet 7q at some point.
Slowly night comes, and we watch our planet’s moon, 7Q, twirl around the planet like a horse on a carousel. No one really cares but the guys in the hazmat suits.
I go to my room. Sometimes I do that; I just sit there, stupid, and try to forget all of it. It’s like meditation, cause after a while it helps.
Mom’s shoes tap slightly on the ground, and I hear her coming to my room. I climb in the chamber.
She comes into my room, says I need to get some sleep, says it’s been a hard day. She takes out the oxygen tank and puts in a new one.
“Good night” I say.
“Good night” she says.
As she rounds the corner past my room I can hear her burst into tears, trying with every bit she has to keep it silent, but she can’t. No one can on 7q.
And I go to sleep with only one thought in my head; if tomorrow will be another blazer. And if I’ll still be in this horrible dream that is planet 7q.
Earth if you’re reading this, please bring us back home.