May 20th 2128
The evening before my grandmother's 79th birthday.
Every year I visit her on her birthday, but not this year. This year I'm in the middle of the desert getting ready to launch in the morning for my 4 year mission to mars.
So I have no choice but to stay on site.
Sitting in the empty boardroom, phone on speaker waiting for my grandmother to answer. Hoping didn't call to late. She picks up on the fifth ring saying hello in her quite raspy voice.
She sounds tired more tired then she sounded last week.
"Hi grandma. It's me Sara. I just wanted to call and say happy birthday!"
I hear her gasp "oh Sara! I'm so glad you called."
She begins to tell me about her day. How the retirement home threw her a surprise birthday party, with a huge red velvet birthday cake. Listening to her makes me feel a little bit sad and lonely.
"I wish I could have been there with you on you birthday grandma."
She pause before saying "but you are sweetheart." She sounds so sure. "I can see you right now standing in my room smiling you sweet smile."
I smile to myself "if only grandma"
Looking at the clock "I'm sorry grandma. It's getting late and I have to be up early tomorrow. "I don't want to hang up "good night, I love you."
She tells me she loves me too and wishes me good luck on my mission.
I launch the next morning not knowing my grandmother passed away that night just a little after I called her. I don't find out until a few days later on board the ship leaving earth.
April 16th 2130
On the surface of mars.
The whirring noise of my laptop fan kicking on stirs me from my sleep. Looking up at my laptop screen the water analyse is taking longer to process then usual.
The samples came from a small cave 2.5 miles north of here. A discovery we made this morning after our captain fell through the top of the cave we didn't know was there.
Feeling guilty because it was my mission I should have lead the team instead of captain Polly.
Captain Polly is a tough old guy the nearly twelve foot drop didn't damage him or his suit when he hit the waters surface.
Looking back at my laptop I close it and lead back on my desk chair. Glancing outside my window. I see them off in the distance.
Tall thin figures standing on top of the cliffs a little west of my window. A dark contrasts against the afternoon sky.
Ignore them. That's what they tolled us to do. There harmless they said, but there's nothing harmless about being watched all the time.
They keep there distance never more then mile or two away from our base, It's been like that since the first colonizers years before my team arrived on mars.
They disappear before anyone could get close to them to study, to learn more about them.
I wonder if my friend Jara got close. She liked to observe them on her down time. Driving out for miles to try and catch up to them. In the late evening she'd breaking curfew and leave base.
The com system in my room clicks on. Captain Pollys voice is heard through out calling the crew to meet him in the common room. I take one last look at Jara's empty bed and leave the room.
Captain Polly briefs us on our duties for the day. My sister and I are tasked with gathering soil samples west of HQ. It's all pretty routine.
We got our plans for the afternoon and we were about to be dismissed when we all heard it.
A loud knocking on the outer wall.
Everyone froze looking at one another as if someone were pranking us. The whole crew was there, no one was missing. Everyone silently filed out of the common room
after the captain dismissed us.
Ten of us are suiting up to go outside to do our work for the afternoon. The lunch before we headed out was tense. We all sat silently and listened. Waiting anxiously for another knock.
With our suits on my sister opened the airlock. The door opened with a loud hiss as the air escaped entrance. I gasped eyes widening.
There it was standing a few feet from the doorway.
A tall shade.
My sister didn't flinch. She instructs us to ignore it it'll go away eventually. We all filed out
our teams went our separate ways. It followed my sister and me as we headed west.
I can see it in the reflection of my helmet. Tall and skinny with thin long limbs and a head shaped like the feathers of a chiefs headdress.
It was a very uncomfortable two hours having it follow us around. It didn't do anything but stand a few feet away almost like it was waiting.
I'm glad to be back inside my room away from that thing. I set my alarm and try to get some sleep.
This must be a dream I thought.
How else would I be outside without a suit. Standing in the field a half mile west of the base. Looking up between the opening in the cliffs.
I see my grandmother In her wheelchair with the chief shade standing beside her. I step forward my body felt heavy. The sand at my
feet rushes past me pushing me in there direction.
A loud knock jolts me awake and I scream.
Looking towards my desk window I see the chief shade looking in. It lifts it's thin hand and motions me to come forward and it's gone.
Standing up quickly and running to my window, I look out and see the chief standing between the cliffs.
What does it want from me?
Looking at Jara's empty bed. I decided I have to find out what it wants. Sneaking across the base to the ground door. Putting my suit on as quickly as I could.
Opening the air lock I step outside and head towards the vehicles. There designed to travel for ten hours at a time fully charged. I take the last one in
line so no one would notice a missing vehicle right away.
I'm not authorised to be out here and I'm defiantly not allowed to acknowledge the shades, let alone
April 17th 2130
The drive was long and I've barely slept last night. Driving for four hours I don't know if my team mates noticed me missing yet.
Looking out my window the shades are lined up one after another as if guiding me in one direction. Driving past them I notice they come in all different shapes and sizes.
The line begins to bend east around the next cliff face. To busy looking at the shades lined up on top of the cliff I didn't notice the rock around the bend. I hit it dead on.
My left tire bends outward and l swerve to a stop. Getting out to look at the damage I think to myself I can't fix this. So I start walking. The shades follow me on foot.
I was almost relived seeing the chief shade standing between two smooth pillar like objects not to far from where my car broke down. I see a vehicle like mine parked nearby buried by sand.
Was Jara here?
The pillars look man made. Buried by centuries of sand and rubble, not noticeable at first.
Turning on my helmets flash light I look down the pile of rubble and see smooth floors with intricate geometrical patterns. The chief descends down into the darkness and disappears.
The other shades follow.
Carefully climbing down I think to myself I should have went back to report this to captain Polly,
but it's to late my vehicle is busted and I'm also not sure if my radio signal can be picked up this far out.
The cave looks more like a temple on level ground. The walls are covered ceiling to floor in carved murals. They look ancient. Taking the time to study the walls.
They tell a story of an ancient alien race coming to mars to do the same thing as us. Colonize mars. They only had time to build this temple and a small village near by.
They built this temple to hide something. Something deeper inside. There's a small hall that descends downward. So I start walking.
It feels like I've been walking for hours. The wall tell there story this time about there people going missing because of what's in this temple.
There people eventually abandoning this planet and going home. I can't tell if the shades are still with me. There's no light except the one on my helmet and a little flicker I the distance.
So I push forward.
The hall eventually opened up to a inner chamber the doors have crumbled away due to time. I crawl push through a small opening. In the room is a large bright sphere like object.
The light cut through the shades standing in the room. It feels like a doorway an opening to somewhere. The shades walk through one by one. I hesitate to follow.
Should I enter? Should I turn back? The sphere pull is strong. It pulls at my body like a black hole. The chief stands beside me and walks forward and I follow.
I can't tell where this is taking me but I know where I want to be.
I'm standing in my grandmother's room. She's on the phone. She say "but sweetheart. I can see you right now standing in my room smiling you sweet smile"
I wave and smile, she waves back. Was I really here? I look at the calendar May 20th 2128. My
grandmother hangs up the phone after saying goodbye. She takes my hand and asks me why l look so sad.
I can't answer because at that moment I'm ripped away from her room and thrown through time or space.
I don't know anymore. All I know is I'm pulled in so many directions I don't feel like myself.
I feel like a shade of my former self.