GROW UP, they told me, FAST!

Submitted into Contest #139 in response to: Format your story in the style of diary entries.... view prompt


Science Fiction

Recording found on Earth's surface, M768, first landing since the Event

9th Deimos, M38. (Earth calendar 2107)

Today dawned, as it always does, with a red sky.

Today I am eight years old, Martian years that is, which, for any earthlings, is about fourteen Earth years and this the first entry in a record that I promised my parents I would keep. They called it. They called it. Sorry, things have got a little emotional. You see. No, of course you don’t. I know what it is called. It’s a diary and they wanted me as, what they called me, a true Martian to tell the story of our colony or settlement. Damn it, I am supposed to be a big girl now, not a cry baby. But, oh, all I want to do is curl up and scream. Why me! But more than that why them! Why my mom and pop? Why not someone else’s? And before you say that’s selfish well I’m eight and I want my mom back. So there!

38th Deimos, M38. (No point in using the Earth calendar anymore. Earth isn’t there.)

Sorry, its been too long. Pop told me you should put an entry in a diary every day. Even when not a lot happens. Trouble is an awful lot has been happening and none of it good. I only started this barely 30 days ago. I don’t know, can you write about the past in a diary?

39th Deimos, M38.

I’ve been talking to people, everyone I could find who’d talk to me. Everyone is still in a state of shock. No one knows if we can even survive, let alone build a future but the older ones seem to think we may just manage it. It was always expected that the supply ships from Earth would boost our own developing food production. Now we only have ours to live on. I’m hungry just worrying about it.

41st Deimos, M38.

Missed another entry. So tired. I had to spend hours in the hydroponics dome yesterday. I’m not the only one, everyone is being pulled in. One of my teachers, yes we do have schooling, mostly by computer, told me we must triple our production if we are to avoid disaster and that means no escape.

The teacher also said I should write about the past. At least that bit which has led us to where we are.

Perhaps I should introduce myself. My name is Phoebe, Phoebe Larsen, born in the 27th year of the settlement which sits in the shadow of Mons Olympus, the year 2093 back on Earth. Wait, that’s the pressurisation alarm! Breathing mask, where the hell is it? Oh that’s it. Sorry that was a bit of a scrawl.

Memo to me : best not to try writing when dragging safety gear on.

44th Deimos, M38

Three days since I botched up. Turns out the alarm was a drill and I failed it. A dozen of us didn’t react quick enough to “live”. Should’ve chucked you aside diary! I won’t make that mistake again. Three days! Three days hard labour working in the sewage farm! That seems so unfair, I’m eight not eighteen and I’m on my own. Siobhan Pieters, the Mars commander told us straight. We can’t afford to lose anybody. The thousand or so humans on Mars are maybe the last unless we can find the Earth. Find the Earth? Is she joking? Anyway, example made of all twelve of us.

45th Deimos, M38

I know I keep saying that I need to write something about what has happened. Trouble is no-one really knows. It all seems to have started during the last conjunction. That’s when the sun is between Earth and Mars. It doesn’t last long but there is a period when we cannot communicate with each other. Damn it, I keep saying it like it’s any different to now. I mean it was. One minute comms worked then the sun got in the way and for a while nothing but then “bingo!” – I’m not sure why that word but it’s what I heard used – and comms would be back. Only this time, well, there wasn’t a “bingo!”. Just static, no links at all with Earth or Lunar.

At first the comm techs spent hours trying to find the fault. I mean it had to be a fault at our end didn’t it. Finally the adults agreed. Something was wrong on Earth. And then they dropped the bottle. They couldn’t even find Earth. Where Earth should have been was just, well, they didn’t say what exactly and that’s when us youngsters knew that our parents were in a panic and scared. I mean really scared. Scared shitless! Ooops! I’m not supposed to use words like that but no-one’s going to row me – not now anyway. And I mean that’s how they were. Me and mom and pop just hugged each other for what seemed hours.

Then they told me! Oh no. No! No! I thought I’d got over that bit back when I started this diary. Now you’re going to have to wait, can’t write on wet.

49th Deimos, M38

Told you you’d have to wait. Only we’ve been given different work to do. I know. I know. You probably thought child workers went away centuries ago. Yes. Well. When you are just looking to survive lots of things go by the book. I mean at least it’s not dangerous like going down chimneys (not sure what a chimney is or was) which wasn’t clever and I mean not dangerous as long as you follow the rules. Even us eight year olds have had the risks that Mars poses drummed into us until they are second nature, maybe even more so than for those who came from Earth.

Now look! That was on 28th Phobos (M37). There had been agreement. A ship had to be sent back to where Earth was, or is that should have been? and Mom and Pop were going to pilot it. And they weren’t going to take me! We rowed, I mean rowed. I threw the biggest tantrum I had in years but it was no use. They meant it when they said they had to go and no-one else was better qualified. And they wouldn’t buy it that someone less qualified would be better. They said they’d only be gone a few months. They said! They’d keep in touch, they said. I think I made Pop a bit mad because he told me then that I needed to GROW UP. I mean me! I’m eight - that’s fully grown up.

So, I watched their shuttle lift from the surface on the way to one of our craft in orbit. Once there they had to reboot - why boot? – the ship which like the others capable of carrying us had been mothballed – omg that’s another term I don’t know the origins of. It took forever, well several hours anyway, before the ship left orbit.

Most of the way we did talk each day for a few minutes but it got more depressing as time passed. At the halfway stage Mom admitted that they couldn’t find Earth. There was also no sign of Mercury. Then there was no Mom and Pop. Oh, no. I’m at it again. They told me it’d get easier. Liars!

3rd Europa, M38

Four days, sorry, I’ve been in a cold funk. I can’t see what happened. Last message said that they were wrong. There was something where Earth should have been – a swirling sphere of energy? No-one understands it. We can’t see anything from here. No telescopes, only what is on another of the ships like Mom and Pop’s. Oh and no-one even checked on me these last days. Or at least I don’t think so, could they be snooping? I’m mad if they have and I’m going to find out.

4th Europa, M38.

They did check on me and, now I’m red faced, I told them to go forth and multiply and leave me alone. I don’t think I used that many words! Someone told me to let it out, they knew I needed to grieve. It didn’t help but I’d somehow got a hangover. Don’t know where that came from. Ouch, my head hurts even now.

5th Europa, M38

I’ve been told to GROW UP – AGAIN! Seems my exploit with some alcohol – still don’t know where I got it – is common knowledge. The Commander warned me that she couldn’t let anything else go. “Fancy the sewage works again, do I?” Actually everyone has to do a shift there once a month but as a punishment exercise – you don’t want it, trust me.

Anyway, maybe I will have to, at least, make it look as if I have – GROWN UP that is.

There’s going to be a second attempt to find Earth. They know where the danger point is, they think, but not why. They know there is something there but not what. So I’m going on that trip whether they want me to or not. I can co-pilot, Pop taught me on my tablet. Heck, I could pilot it if I had to. I’m the best at science in my class group. Why wouldn’t they let me? And I’m still little – I won’t use as much oxygen or food. And if they don’t agree they might just have a stowaway!

14th Europa, M38

We launch today!!!!

Yes, I know. Another nine days with nothing in the diary. It seems that not everyone is in favour of this trip. They see it as a waste – another ship gone. Well Siobhan pointed out that there is at least another six ships in orbit and just when did anyone really think they would be needed? Then she looked for two volunteers. The meeting was part physical, part video-link and I’d decided to keep a low profile until I knew who would be going. I thought there would be dozens wanting to go and I waited, and waited, and waited, but no-one did anything.

After forever, I slowly put my hand up and said “I want to go.” I expected to be laughed at. All they’d see, I thought, is a little girl wanting to go on a trip she didn’t understand. I gritted my teeth. I’m NOT little. I’m EIGHT and I understand as much as anyone. But they didn’t. Laugh I mean.

A second voice came. “So we are put to shame by a young woman who has lost her family but still wants to help.” It was Jan, a friend of my Pop who knew me. “You still want to go, Phoebe? Then I’ll be your co-pilot.”

Siobhan didn’t look too happy but agreed to consider us as crew. Two days, two long days later she agreed to let us head out. When I think about it maybe me going was one less headache for her. So we’ve had seven days to prepare and now we go!

15th Europa, M38

I didn’t realise how boring space travel is. We left orbit yesterday. Mars is shrinking as we boost away. A day of boost and then we will coast.

16th Europa, M38.

Jan is making me practice all the drills over and over. He says you can’t get perfect but the closer the better. It does pass the time.

17th Europa, M38.

Nothing new.

32nd Europa, M38.

I know, I know. I have loads of time and could write for hours but….there’s nothing to write about. Actually, if you look closely at the past fifteen days each has a ditto sign – that’s 18th to 31st all the same as 17th.

But now we are closing on the danger point. We can see where Earth should be and its just as Mom and Pop said. All we can see is a ball of energy. There’s a trail of it that is linked to Lunar. But what it is or where it came from we don’t know. It looks scary but at the same time there is a beauty to it.

34th Europa, M38.

Yesterday was the worst day of my life. I was about to take over from Jan at the controls after a rest, not sure you could call it sleep. The flash left me blinded for a moment, afterimages everywhere. Jan wasn’t as lucky. Whatever it was, it left him blind and paralysed. He died in my arms hours later.

Today is today. I have told myself I have to go on. We have to know what has happened. The instruments recorded a flash that came, not from the energy ball around Earth if that is what it is, but from a point near Lunar. Somehow as the moon orbits it is attracting energy from the sphere and every so often this discharges in a single moment as a flash. It’s as if the two bodies are acting a bit like a pulsar just not as powerful. I mean a flash from a pulsar would simply have fried the entire ship but I can’t find any physical damage.

The guys on Mars are telling me that I should return and not take any more risks but I really don’t think that they are thinking it through. What is the source of this energy? If it increased then Mars might be at risk. I just realised that I am as stubborn as they used to call me.

35th Europa, M38

I have been watching the energy swirl. Am I being daft? I think it might be getting less violent. There was another flash. It wasn’t in this direction but the whole sphere seemed to dim – a little and for a moment at least.

36th Europa, M38

I shared my thoughts with the scientists, back home, monitoring the ship. Ouch! I just smacked my arm against the wall. Must have been another flash. Missed the ship but caused it to rock in the wake of the energy flux. Gosh, I didn’t know I knew so much. That sounded good didn’t it!

They were quite upbeat about it but we do wonder if there is anything left of the Earth. Lunar surface looks as smooth as a snooker ball. (Note: if survive this I must find out about snooker.)

38th Europa. M38

Decided that I will continue towards the Moon. See what has happened there. If, I don’t get fried, of course. Siobhan came on-line today. I think she was questioning my sanity. Something about being NUTS! But in the end she just said ”god speed” and there’s me trying take the approach slowly!

41st Europa, M38

Getting closer now but the flashes have been increasing. None have got too close but, believe me, I could do with some sleep.

46th Europa, M38

Flew past the Moon, funny the nearer I am the more I call it Moon instead of Lunar. It isn’t like the pictures – the craters have gone and it does look smooth like an eggshell and that’s a better description than a ball of any type. It has been distorted into an oval. Oh, shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What’s happening?????????????

47th Europa, M38

Sorry. Language, Phoebe, language. But I think it warranted it because now I’m going find out where the Earth is. What do you mean? Why have I changed course? Oh, I did miss that bit. As the ship rounded the narrow end of the oval Moon something hit, knocking us off course and now I’m falling towards the energy sphere. Oh and it killed the engines. I’ve got life support but nothing that will let me change where I’m going. I reckon I’ve a day before I reach there. A day before I probably get roasted.

Siobhan came on line via a secure beam, at least that is what she said it was. She told me about something in the meds cabinet. A quick end she said if it became too bad. When I said I wanted to see it through whatever she got quite emotional. She wished me well and then I think the tears became too much for her. I didn’t cry this time. After all I’ve had to GROW UP and big girls don’t cry.

48th Europa, M38

Only a few hours away now. Mom and Pop, don’t be mad but I think I am going to join you soon. My instruments suggest the energy flux has a temperature of over a thousand degrees. If it is as thick as it seems then I can expect melt down in about six or seven minutes.

Funny how calm I feel now I am committed. They said that. Body and mind see no point in wasting energy fighting the inevitable.

48th Europa, M38

Here we go. Guess we'll never know how or why. Goodbye everyone. Sizzling now……

49th Europa, M38

Oh my! The energy swirl was quite thin. It’s like it has just surrounded the Earth in a cocoon. Somehow I’m down on the surface. Trouble is the surface is like the Moon. Smooth as if it has been cleansed of everything. I hit water or perhaps steam which is why I’m still breathing – for the minute. But there isn’t anything else. All life has been extinguished. I don’t know how or why but the sky. Oh my god the sky. I’d read about the Northern Lights, the aurora borealis. But, wherever here is, the sky is lit by colours as different from the sky of my home as it could be.

50th Europa, M38

Goodbye again. My ship is slowly sinking and there’s no air to breathe. I’ve got Siobhan’s tablet. I think I will need it soon. It’s getting too hot. Mom, Pop is that you? I’m sorry my diary didn’t work out as you wanted……..

March 27, 2022 22:22

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.