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22nd June
2012
posted by amber

Mars 300

The boys would hike far out into the Martian country, carrying nothing beside light backpacks. The landscape was sere but in every sheltered hollow, air plants grew and a network of creeping vines skeined across the gritty dust, binding it against the wind and slowly converting it to soil, as they’d been designed to do.

“Look at this picture of my grandparents out on a walkabout,” Fox said, showing the other boys a projected image.

“Breathers!” they chuckled.

“Still use them over in Cimmerion,” Fox said.

“They’re Luddites there,” Bear scoffed.

“No, they just want to go back to Earth and be able to breathe the air and stand the heat.”

“So they’re not real Martians. They can’t go out from under the domes.”

“If you want to have a dog, you have to live under a dome,” Shark told them. He was obsessed with dogs.

“No, I heard there were some engineered dogs that escaped up in Bonestell and now they run wild up there. Maybe someday there’ll be enough that we’ll see them around here.”

“That would be neat!”

“Let’s camp now,” Fox said to his friends, each one of them named in the current fashion after extinct animals of Earth.

Bear and Shark shook their flimsy tents until the fabric hardened and switched on the solar heaters while Fox gathered meat bush twigs and water bladders and sweet coco-cherries for their dinner.

Three hundred years since Mars had been settled, the boys lay on sleeping pads beside the heaters and watched the sunset and early twinkling stars and the one steady point of light that few Martians considered to be home. It was minus 30 degrees and the atmosphere was 12 percent oxygen, yet they were perfectly comfortable. The planet had changed greatly, but the men – and boys – who lived there had changed much more.

The Story 365 project was a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  This was the final story of Bradbury week, in February 2012, and it’s taken us to the possible future of the settlement of Mars as I’ve imagined it. And it’s the final story in this group of Bradbury-inspired stories re-posted as a tribute to the late great SF writer.

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