The year was 3429. The world was at it’s end. The fresh water and air supplies were depleted and people had infected Mars with the same disease Earth had been cursed with. I was born on the red planet, accustomed to the thin and oxygenless environment. Today we would have a field trip.
The new government of Mars were cruel men. The sick, the disabled, the different were all sent back to Earth. It was their death sentence. Criminals were housed on Earth, enemies of the new government and misfits, rebels, and mutants. Today we were going to Earth.
No it wasn’t a punishment, but a warning. The graduating class was brought to Earth every year to bear witness to the horror we would have to face should we defy our present government. No one had dared to rebel. Not anymore.
I remember a time when my mother used to tell me stories of Earth, stories that had been passed down from generation to generation. What my mother saw on Earth on the day of her graduation was not merely a lesson, not a deterrent, but people, people who needed her help, people who didn’t deserve to be punished. When she returned she kept it all inside. She didn’t tell anyone how she felt, but when I was born, when I grew up, she began to get more vocal. She didn’t want me to be trapped in the life she had been forced to live. For that she was banished to Earth.
I hoped I would see her today. I wanted to let her know that I still loved her. That I had not abandoned her, but I was afraid. I didn’t want to be banished to Earth. Life on Mars was good. But I missed her. She was still my mother.
We landed on Earth and were set free to explore with a warning to return before sunset otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed to return to Mars. I headed off, hoping that I could ask someone, hopefully someone would know my mother.
I walked on for kilometer after kilometer but saw nothing and no one. Everything looked dead and the air was stifling. It felt like my lungs were constricting, closing upon themselves. I heard footsteps behind me and thought to myself, some classmates must be following me. I wondered who it was, but I kept walking. I wanted to find my mother before sunset.
The breathing behind me was laboured. I tried to ignore it but it sounded like someone was in pain. I turned and stared in horror at the thing in front of me. It bent over and leaned close to me. I tried hard to keep the disgust from my face but I could not. It made a rasping noise, as if trying to form words, but could not. I furrowed my brows as I tried to understand it.
“Callie,” it rasped.
“Mother?” I asked leaning in closer.
It nodded and reached to embrace me. Instinctively I recoiled and she looked at me sadly. This was my mother. How could I reject her so cruelly?
“No, please, mom, I’m sorry,” I apologized, reaching for her, “I’m just…I’m so scared.”
She nodded again.
“I don’t know what to do mom. I’m happy on Mars. I have everything I could ever ask for, but I miss you mom. Is this what Earth does to you?” I asked.
She shook her head, “Gov-er-n-ment.”
“The government did this to you?!” I asked in disbelief.
She nodded, her milk white eyes staring at me.
I clenched my fists, “Never again! I’ll set them straight.”
“Don’t,” she rasped.
“I want-want best for…Callie,” she managed.
I looked at her sadly, “Thanks mom, but…you’re right. People here need help and you and me…we can do that.”
She smiled, but it wasn’t the same beautiful smile she used to give me as she tucked me in at night. Her skin had rotted away, exposing her teeth so that the grin she gave me was eerie.
I took her hand, “Let’s make things better for everyone here. Let me take care of you.”
Image Credit: Sally-Jackson (deviantart)