Short Story – Mars Exploded on a Thursday
I banged this one out pretty quickly this afternoon. I’ve not posted a new short story in a few weeks and I decided I just needed to write and post something without worrying so much about how the final story turned out. I’m happy with the result, though.
The idea for this story began with the first sentence, “Mars exploded on a Thursday.” I like that opening. It provides a what the fuck kind of beginning. From there, the story gets pretty strange.
So for the few people who have been reading my stories, I’m sorry for the delay. I’ve had trouble getting off the horror theme I was working on in September and October. Thanks for bearing with me!
As always, feel free to share, comment, read, or ignore!
Mars exploded on a Thursday.
Most wouldn’t have noticed had it not been for a bright flash in the morning sky. Bored commuters simply lowered their sun shades without thinking about how odd it was to see something almost as bright as the sun when it wasn’t where the sun should be.
News stations were slow to report it because Mars wasn’t Earth. Had six colonies not been wiped out, it might have been days before anyone bothered to spend any time reporting. Conspiracy theorists spent more time discussing the phenomenon than politicians, who were too busy arguing about a new bill
Doctor Virginia Parks received a call that morning well before any of the news outlets had said anything. Mars was gone, she was told. Nobody knew why.
As she drove to work, she saw a few people who had pulled over to look in the sky where the fading but still visible debris field could be seen. Panic hadn’t set in because nobody had yet considered the fact some of that debris might be on it’s way to them.
Virginia strode into her lab where two dozen of her colleagues stood ready to assist. The President had assured her that she would be provided with every asset required to determine what had destroyed the red planet and what risks the Earth now faced.
“Good morning, everyone. I have your assignments. Someone needs to order some coffee and keep ordering it every four hours because we’re all going to need a lot.”
Mars exploded on a Friday.
Doctor Virginia Parks drove to work that day and looked at the debris field in the morning sky. An almost perfectly round field of shimmering purple expanded from spot where the red planet had last been known to be. The remains of hundreds of thousands of colonists were being propelled into space in every direction. Would any of them reach Earth?
On the radio, a government spokesperson was denying there was any danger and claiming that all resources were focused entirely on the crisis at hand.
Virginia was pleased that people seemed more concerned than they had been the previous day.
She strode into the lab and found two dozen colleagues who looked a bit confused.
“Good morning, everyone. As you can see, yesterday’s solution had some unintended consequences. I think we can all agree, however, that it was a good start.”
Mars exploded on a Saturday.
Conspiracy theorists were already starting to suggest that the entire affair was a hoax manufactured by the government to cover up an impending earthquake on the atlantic coast. News outlets carefully avoided use of the world “again” in their reports.
Doctor Virgina Parks strode into her lab to find several of her colleagues openly weeping.
“Now, now,” she reassured them, “We all knew this couldn’t be fixed in a single day.”
Mars exploded on a Sunday.
Millions of people who had never gone to church suddenly found their devotion. They prayed to a dozen different gods for deliverance from what they feared might be the end of all days.
Communication with the colonists prior to the explosion confirmed that they could remember what happened the last three days. They could remember being blown apart three times and waking up only to have it happen again. What caused the explosion wasn’t clear.
Virginia knew this was only the beginning. She usually slept in on Sundays and couldn’t help but express frustration that the President chose to call her every morning the red planet was destroyed. It was as if she hadn’t told him what was going to happen the previous evening.
She strode into the her lab. Half of her team had remained home out of despair. The other half looked morose and beaten.
“I know,” she sighed, “but think of how much worse they have it on Mars.”
They nodded and went to work.
Mars exploded on a Monday.
Virginia had been working in her lab at 3:28 in the morning and in her bed at 3:30. The President called her two hours later. She reminded him they had spoken every morning for the past several days.
When she arrived at the lab, the coffee shop had delivered everyone’s favorite because they were getting used to the order. The drive was much easier since most people were electing to stay home.
She had to call most of her team to convince them to come into work. She reminded them it had only been a few days and they were making progress. She reminded them that the despair wasn’t natural. It was a side effect. The coffee helped.
She reminded them they had until Thursday. If Jupiter exploded, the chances of success were considerably less.
Mars exploded on a Tuesday.
Virginia didn’t even answer the President’s call. She didn’t bother to waste time convincing missing team members to come to work. She simply worked with those who could still resist the crushing sense of despair that was gripping almost everyone on Earth.
She was immune. Somehow, she’d been inoculated against it when she discovered the rift a year ago. The first time Mars exploded.
No-one had noticed then. Nor did they noticed when it happened six months after that. Or three months after that.
She’d quietly been working on the solution for a year, aware that she was the only person who knew something needed to be solved. They had two days to close the rift. A rift what would devour the solar system over and over again.
All living, thinking beings would remember. Every time.
Mars exploded on a Wednesday.
Virginia was alone in her lab. The President hadn’t tried to call her. The coffee hadn’t arrived. It was all most could do to simply force themselves to breathe.
She placed the finishing touches on the device. Due to the complexity involved, she would have only one chance to test her theory.
At 3:28 AM, she stepped inside and turned it on.
At 3:28 AM, she stepped into the chamber of the Martian President. He sat at his desk awaiting the destruction he expected would happen every morning. He looked at her with surprise. This was a change from the other mornings. It jarred him loose from the malaise.
She smiled and collapsed. Teleportation was a new science. She had created it very nearly on her own in less than a week.
Successful Teleportation a living thing was a long way off. It would almost certainly be deadly to teleport a human. Virginia needed to survive for two more minutes.
At 3:30, the rift closed. The introduction of new living element jarred the temporal loop free because a reset to the original state was impossible.
At 3:31, Doctor Virginia Parks died.
On Thursday, Mars did not explode.
Almost no-one noticed.