Author : Bob Newbell

“This is the day it all ends,” said Brosh.

“Why don’t you take one of the mood stabilizers the doctor prescribed?” asked Querna, Brosh’s wife. She often wondered why she’d married Brosh. If I’d married that engineer who had a crush on me, she thought to herself, I’d probably be enjoying a canal cruise right now.

Brosh ignored Querna’s suggestion and returned to his study. He was and had always been an odd sort of Martian. Even as a child he had thought there was something seriously wrong with the world, something both ineffable and inescapable. His parents had taken him to a string of psychiatrists who had given him various diagnoses and prescriptions. None of them helped. Part of Brosh’s ill-defined neurosis was that whatever was wrong with Mars was somehow related to Earth. As a result, he had devoted himself to the study of the lifeless, desiccated third planet from the Sun. He was Mars’ foremost expert on that world.

Brosh had been working in his study for about a quarter of an hour when he heard Querna yell from the living room.

He rushed in and saw his wife looking at the vid screen in disbelief. On the screen was a live feed from Elysium City. But the video looked strange. Both the people, running about in terror, and the buildings were all translucent.

“…have been unable to explain the phenomenon which started just over half an hour ago,” a newscaster was saying. “Weather stations in Elysium are reporting that barometric pressure is plummeting in the region. Just a moment. We’ve just received a report that radiation levels in Elysium are rising…”

Brosh rushed back to his study and interfaced his terminal with the observatory’s computer. He called up the latest telescopic image of Earth. “It’s…blue!” he said in astonishment. The spectrograph confirmed what he already suspected: The dead desert world of Earth was now mostly covered in water.

“It’s happening in Utopia Planitia now!” Querna screamed from the adjoining room.

Brosh didn’t respond. He just kept watching Earth. He saw something on the crescent of Earth’s nightside. Lights. Dozens, then hundreds. “Cities,” he said aloud. And somehow he knew that paradoxically the cities materializing before his eyes had been there for a very long time.

Somewhere along the line, Brosh thought to himself, a great mistake had been made. By whom or by what, he didn’t know. Mars with its thick atmosphere and butterscotch-colored sky and great canals and oceans and majestic cities piercing the clouds was not supposed to be. Likewise, Earth was never intended to be a barren rock, the subject of science fictional invasions and the target for the space agency’s unmanned probes.

“It’s happening here now!” Querna shrieked.

Brosh felt strangely calm and composed. This isn’t armageddon, he thought. This is a return to normality. He saw that his garden was now bereft of foliage. It looked like a desert. After a moment, he realized he was seeing his garden through his study’s wall, not its window.

“Brosh! We have to get away from here!” Querna was standing next to Brosh but her voice sounded like it came from far away.

Brosh suddenly felt cold. He had trouble breathing. He noticed something in his increasing insubstantial living room. A strange wheeled vehicle. It slowly moved toward him. The machine stopped and began taking a panoramic photograph. About 20 minutes later, the mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California received the image of the arid, sterile vista.

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