Author : Bob Newbell

Consciousness returns abruptly. How long was I out? I check my chronometer. It’s been nearly 178 hours. I’m down to nothing but the solar panels for power. It took them that long to collect enough energy to charge the batteries sufficiently to bring me back online.

My hull is covered with a light dusting of carbon dioxide snow. You said you loved snow, John. I know, it’s preposterous for me to talk to you. Your body is on the bridge and the cold is all that’s preventing it from decomposing. But you told me you believe in an afterlife. You said your first words when you set foot on Mars would be to quote Joshua 1:9. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

I’d mourn for you, John, but I’m afraid sadness is something I can’t afford right now. I’ve inactivated my limbic metaprocessor. Emotion would be a liability under the circumstances.

The radio is barely working but I should be able to upload a message to the Mars Circumpolar Assay Probe when it passes overhead in a few moments. When you knew we were going to crash, you told me that I had to survive even if you didn’t. And I see only one way to do that.

The probe is approaching its optimal position. This may be my only chance.

“Mission control, this is the USS Parnassus! Request assistance! Crashed in Chasma Australe! Can survive but–”

The radio is dead. That was probably the only chance for rescue I had.

John, I hope you’re safe and well in your afterlife. I did what you told me to do: survive. They’d never spend the money and resources to rescue a computer. I think I did a convincing job of generating a look of terror on your face and inflecting despair in your voice. When they find me, I’ll tell them it’s what you would have wanted.

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