A place that smells of nothing, sounds like nothing, but looks absolutely mind- blowing. I leaned against the counter, looking over the white hull of the Space Station. My heart pounded uncontrollably, my fingers shaking in anxiety. 

Back at the place I grew up in.


I looked over at my crew, who were intently discussing the logistics of our mission to the Red Planet. I absentmindedly walked over, pretending to pay attention, but I had another plan in mind. A plan that I had been waiting to carry out since I was 10. A plan that would reunite me with my family. 

“Irriel, do you get it?”

My eyes snapped open, and I stared at Konnor with shock. He shook his head in disbelief.

“Um… could you repeat that?” I laughed sheepishly.

“When we tell you to, follow the protocol we went over to exit the ship and enter zero gravity. Latch yourself onto the shell of the charging station and direct Mais onto the landing pad. Just a few more minutes and we should be all set”.

They each went back to their stations, preparing for my departure. 

While I was preparing for a detour. 

In about ten minutes, I had exited the ship. The sound of my oxygen tank resinated in my helmet, bouncing in and out of my ears. I grasped the handles on the exterior of our ship, slowly inching towards the nose. My crew watched me through the small, circular windows, until I was out of sight. A constant chatter from the radio sounded in my communication device, asking me for reports and giving me direction. Not for long.

I brought my hands to the base of the helmet, my gloved fingers tracing the cold metal as I tried to look for the latch that secured my suit and helmet. I pressed down, a hiss of air escaping as I lifted the heavy glass bowl off of my head. I inhaled, sucking in hydrogen, excited to feel the tingling sensation behind my eyes. 

Unhooking my oxygen tank and watching it fall into the vast sea of black, I let go of the handles, floating in nothing, before getting a frustrated call from the communication device still lodged in my ear.

“Irriel! Hurry, we don’t have that much time!” followed by the annoyed murmur of the other scientists on board. I ripped it off, throwing it as far as I could. I shut my eyes, taking in the feeling of floating. The feeling of zero gravity. The happiness it came with. 

I screamed. Loud and sharp, long and hard, with the confidence that no one would hear me. Again and again until my throat quit. 

I looked around, using my hands to maneuver myself, until they suddenly fell limp at my sides.

Mars. The Red Planet. The undiscovered, mysterious world. The land of dust and rock. 

My home.

I floated closer and closer, kicking my way into the red clouds surrounding the dome of dust and debris. 

I pulled my gloves off of my sweaty hands, enabling my finger to move quickly around my thin neck. They stopped at the nape of my neck, feeling around my skin, reaching the metal chip embedded into my flesh.

A reminder of home. Jovial memories flooded into my head as I remembered my childhood. Before I was taken. Or some might say rescued. 

I carefully pressed the red tracking button, praying that it would work. It was embedded into me when I was born, serving as a way for me to return home if I ever got lost. It also supplied me with hydrogen if I were to ever go to a planet without it.  My crew had probably already noticed my disappearance, sending out search teams to find my unconscious body after seeing my helmet without my head. They couldn’t be more wrong. I waited, there was no going back.

I was born in the valley between Mountains Cerus and Rogg on Mars. My family was massive, with twenty brothers and sisters, along with hundreds of extensive family members. We were the highest, most successful family, running a construction business as well as starting an army to protect us from those horrible humans.

The ones who stole me from my family. They took everything from me.

On the day of my birthday, my father took me out to see the mesmerizing sunset that looms over the mountains.

However, that horrible day, the sunset was taken from me. It was blocked by a gargantuan trail of flames, and at the end was a horrible piece of the Earth. A spaceship the size of our biggest crater.

My father ran to the base camps that were holding the soldiers, screaming commands, demands, and orders.

I stood, glued to the ground, in shock and overcome with anger. 

My mother called my name, again and again, getting louder each time. I looked back at her, started to sprint to her warm hands, but that was taken from me too.

A huge chunk of the ship crashed in between my mother and I. I screamed, called her name. 

She was stuck under the debris. 

I was scared, panicky, and young. I tried to run past the space ship, but before I could, a heavy suited human emerged from the cold doors of the ship.

I backed away, my small heart violently pounding out of my chest. I wanted to go home. I wanted to see my  family. 

It reached out to me, scanning my appearance, probably wondering how I was still alive. It grabbed onto my flailing arms, and led me to the very ship that destroyed my world.

“Mother! Father!”

My screams were unanswered. I heard the faint call of the armies holding back the researchers from discovering our technological advancements and inventions. 

They took me to Earth and  I was trapped. They said I would be held in a small room, and they would help me get better. Of course I didn’t understand a world in their language. 

I ran away before they could figure anything out about my people. I found a way into an orphanage, learned the language, and I started a new life in a new country. I went to school, studied, and became an astronaut, with dreams of returning to my planet.

And here I am. 

The clouds cleared, showing a small square hole for an entrance. I maneuvered myself to the space, allowing myself to fall into the world I had called home. 

It was as if I had stepped through a time machine. 

Everything was intact.

It was definitely a pleasant surprise, but nervousness and anxiety took over all of my joy.

Was my family still here?

I wandered the barren Martian streets, watching parents hide their children, street vendors move their carts to other locations, and shop owners hide behind their counters. 

Once a citizen, now an unwanted, feared outsider. 

I finally found it. My childhood house, my entire life. My family. 

I knocked on the wooden door, eyes shut, fingers crossed. 

The door creaked open, and a burst of light came tumbling towards me.

There stood two figures, old and hunched over, as if life had been sucked out of their faces. 

“Irriel?” the lady cried.

She turned to the man, sobbing into his shoulder as he looked at me with shocked, yet relieved eyes.

“Darling, you finally came back! Let me call your siblings…” he exclaimed with a calm demeanor. 

I fell on the porch, my head buried into my knees. Years of pressure, fear, pain, were all washed away. I shook violently, emotions from sadness, relief, to happiness and joy all tumbling out of my red, exhausted eyes. 

My family.

I would not leave them again. 

July 23, 2020 22:01

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01:56 Aug 02, 2020

Hello from the Critique Circle! Unusual take on the prompt--yours is the only story I've read for this prompt that involves a Martian, and I liked it for being different. I thought the Martian might have to overcome more obstacles to return home, but I was glad the family was still there


02:16 Aug 02, 2020

Thank you for your feedback!


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