Author : Todd Keisling, featured writer

From: Mason, Ed

Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2154 8:02 AM

To: Mason, Brandy

Subject: RE: When are you coming home?

Dear Brandy,

I told them this was a bad idea.

After over a hundred years of planning, the eggheads in Houston finally sent us to Mars. We get there, set up a solid base, and conduct tests. Then some genius decides to go dig at one of the ice caps. You know, to see if they can find some kind of geological evidence of extraterrestrial life.

They expected to find some frozen microbes, bacteria, or even a frozen bipedal creature at best. What they did find, though, wasn’t in the guidebook.

When I was a kid I thought Mars looked like this giant ball of rust and dirt. And, to be honest, that’s what it is—rust and dirt. On the surface, anyway. Go about a mile below ground, and you’ll stumble upon an intricate network of metallic tunnels and tubes. You’ll find what looks to be an intricate propulsion system powered by an advanced form of fusion.

Or something like that. This was twenty years ago. I’m just one of the gearheads they shot out here to get it working.

Most things were up and running by the time I got here. The only thing they hadn’t figured out was how an advanced civilization had managed to construct—and move—a craft the size of a planet. Something so large it has its own moons. To be honest, I really don’t give a damn. I’m just here to do my job and get back home.

There’s a single chamber a few hundred clicks from the first entrance point. The eggheads have dubbed it the “control room” due to a large panel with several asymmetric shapes that glow in the presence of an EMP charge.

So when I took a look at the crude drawings and blueprints they’d provided and came to the conclusion that none of us had a single clue as to how to operate this thing, I told them that maybe we shouldn’t mess with it.

Maybe we should just let Mars be a planet. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.

They didn’t listen. Instead they told me to press the big oblong-shaped thing on the panel with an EMP emitter. Since these guys are signing my paychecks, I figure hey, what the hell, you know?

So I push the button.

That was four hours ago. Reports came in from several other outposts that some volcanoes spewed to life around the same time they made me push the button. That solved the exhaust enigma.

Now the eggheads are running around, barking orders and figures and trajectories and shit. Now they say planet-side effects of this sudden gain in momentum is going to screw with the gravity and cause surface-wide destruction.

They’re telling all surface-dwelling associates to head underground.

So all that rust and dirt, well, it kind of makes sense to me. Let’s say some advanced species built a big spaceship. They took it out for a joyride several billion years ago and ran out of gas. There sure as hell wasn’t any AAA back then.

Anyway, from the looks of things, these intergalactic geniuses didn’t understand the concept of brakes, because the eggheads can’t figure out a way to slow it down.

Looks like I’ll make it home in time for Jimmy’s birthday after all. I know he wanted a hovercar, but you tell him Dad’s bringing him something even better. He doesn’t even need keys to turn it on.

Love you,



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