Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.
ARES VALLIS, MARS--Oh, boy! What an adventure! As my fellow readers had noticed, I had been out on assignment to the most wackiest place you could be, Mars. Equipped with my trusty ol' pad and paper, and the Invincitron, I began my journey. I will tell you of my travels through my daily journals. My journey began on...
January 6, 1999
Wowee! I had waken up at 4 a.m. to prepare for a launch at Vandenburg Air Force Base, on the coast of California. It had been a tense few days awaiting the launch on a Saturn XI rocket. I mean, this was the biggest rocket in the world. Within a matter of hours, I would be strapped in tight to this 700 feet tall structure, feeling up to 4 G's. It's not usually in your everyday routine!
An ensign kindly asked me to board the rocket. It took about 5 minutes to go up the elevator to the flight deck of the craft. There, I met my flight companion, Nathan Lockwell, a US Air Force Lieutenant. He was a stout, strong man, with a pinch of a goatee. When I was all strapped in, the fact I was living a life of an astronaut finally sunk in. I became the people I envied all my life. For example, James A Lovell, one of the first astronauts. My, my, how did technology get so advanced?
5..4..3..2..1..BLAST OFF! The moment I've been waiting for had just come. As the rocket ascended, I felt like there was a ton of weights pressed on me, not just literally speaking! Just as I felt the rush of adrenaline coursing through my body, the million pound barbells were gone. Happy that artificial gravity was made, I also wished that I could have experienced weightlessness. I guess I'll never know.
It was only a day's journey to the Red Planet, but after the first few hours, I was bored out of my mind. Mr. Lockwell, you see, had decided to tell all about how he became a cadet. However, I kept myself awake by looking out at the window, see the red dot become more like a planet. Soon, I could even see the canals, full of water. Ahhh... it was soothing. By the end of the afternoon, I fell asleep, as if this was like any other day.
January 7, 1999
As I woke up, Nathan's beady eyes were staring at me. Fearing that this was an alien abductor, I shot out of my seat, and banged my head on the cockpit controls. This was not a good feeling. After realizing that it was only Nathan, I freshened up in what was so called a bathroom. I hooked on the Invincitron, so the Martians could not spot me, and I was on my way!
At first sight, Mars seemed to be paradise. The buildings were delicately structured like the Greek temples of Greece. The vast plains of Ares Vallis took my breath away. Ripples formed in the water canals, where I could smell salt in the air. It felt like being up on the east coast during a foggy morning. Of course, here, the weather might have been at around 85 degrees, quite hot for this 4th planet from the sun. Despite all these wonderful things, what really caught my eye were the Blue Mountains, which were not blue at all! It had the same rusty color as the rest of the land. That view was breathtaking, reminding me of the Rockies up in the west. Each slope carefully carved by the winds into these tranquilizing shapes.
Nathan and I went our separate ways. After an unappetizing breakfast of food rations and black coffee, I began on my trek on the new world. The first Martian-made object I encountered was a bridge over the canal. There I saw my first Martians. They seemed to be a couple, a man and a woman, who were holding hands while crossing the bridge. Their looks surprised me at first. These beings had a rich, brown skin color, that blended in with the landscape perfectly. The hair was a golden-brown that appeared to be slicked with the finest of oils. However, one thing shocked me the most: their eyes. Their eyes had no pupils as far as I could see. It was tinted a gold color, but there were no pupils! How could they see? The other thing which I noticed was that they were all about 7 feet tall. Just trying to see their heads gave a crink in my neck! That was the typical Martian. Otherwise, they would have looked like any other human.
Resuming my travels after lunch, I trodded on to the closest city to our rocket. In the first city, the entrance was marked by 2 poles that looked like an over-carved totem pole. As I entered, I saw a bustling city of all these Martians. Again, I was reminded of the similarities to Ancient Greece, but with more technology. All of them living in peace. I had not seen one of them bicker or start a fight. What a wonderful world!
The Town Hall
I seem to have accidentally bumped into the heart of the city. This pyramid-shaped structure, made with a material like granite and limestone, might have been the town hall. It was an amazing sight! Imagine one of the Great Pyramids with very small base. Inside, I watched in awe the phenomenal architecture of the building. Almost all the structure was made out of glass! Be it staircases or benches, the whole place was clear!
I climbed up the stairs to the highest room. There, I saw 2 Martians, both men, seemingly having a conversation. When I went closer, they were not talking their language anymore. I had noticed that there was little conversation between any of the Martians throughout the day. I thought they were a quiet race, but I soon realized that they were using telepathy. That was why that man was nodding when there was nothing being said. Cool.
January 8, 1999
Today, I woke up to the same situation that I had yesterday. Only today, Nathan's face wasn't as alarming, but I felt like a ton of bricks. That was when Nathan reminded me about the Martian atmosphere. There was little oxygen compared to what was on Earth. I guess, in all that hype, I never noticed the oxygen shortage. But today, the affects really put in.
I drank my black coffee at the foot of the rocket, wondering how this massive thing could be invisible. Oh yes...technology! While daydreaming, I felt a slight sting at the side of my foot. Right there beside by bleeding foot was a 8-legged hairy bug. It was large. I dropped my cup of coffee on the ground and hopped on one foot back into the rocket. Fretting about what that "thing" had shot into me, Nathan went outside. He came back saying, "it's just a Martian blue-fanged spider." Just a blue-fanged spider! That thing must've been the size of my hand! Well, after that incident, I was careful to watch where I put my feet.
I started off where I left off yesterday. Travelling through the bustling streets made me feel like I was on holidays. Most of the buildings were made of limestone material, so everything was light-colored. The ground was made of fine Martian dust, with redness that resembled clay. As I turned into the market square, I saw a child giving some coins to the market lady at her stand. She was buying a crystal apple to eat. At that I had wished I could talk to the child. I was there, but, wearing these invisible suits blocked me from experiencing the whole trip. I could take off the gear at anytime, but I knew back on Earth, the international treaty to not disturb alien life was still standing. The apple, it was like one of those crystal apples you hang on your Christmas tree. It wasn't fully round. The apple had flat sides, so it formed a multi-sided hedron. The brown stem had a leaf that had crystal dew drops on it. It was a sight to see! I wondered what it tasted like. Next, I followed the child down to a deserted corner, where she sat down and ate the apple. I then realized, that she must have been a poor orphan. She devoured the apple with such slowness, savoring every bite. This was probably her last meal. It was heartbreaking that I could not help her. All societies, despite all the good, must have some bad points too.
At the entertainment spot, there was a spectacular array of theatre. Marvelous masks were worn by the actor and actresses. The form of the show was like Greek tragedy. Across the road, were Martian women singers. Although I couldn't understand even one word, the tune was quite delightful. It had a light, soothing sound.
During the evening, I had my supper back at the rocket. Outside, it was raining CO2, and it coated the windows. This produced hot and humid conditions inside the rocket. Today was an insightful day.
January 9, 1999
On my last day on Mars, I decided to take a trip to the Blue Mountains. It was a long and strenuous hike up. Nathan also wanted to come along. The soil up here was a little more rocky than down below. After digging a little into the soil, I realized that the rock under was blue. I guess I solved the Blue Mountains problem now. We edged along a cliff to a cave, thinking that there might be some interesting wildlife there. Unfortunately, nothing was there, although with some close inspection, Nathan found some Martian hieroglyphics on the walls. They were similar to the ones in the city, so I knew Martians frequented these mountains.
The most significant part of my excursion was when we encountered some glowing blue spheres. They were not just globules of light, but they seemed to be real creatures. They did not talk, but they hovered around you, as if they were examining us. I had never thought of finding such beings before. The only description I can make is a glowing blue ball. That's all it is. It gives us a reminder that intelligent lifeforms do not always have to take a humanoid shape. We are not superior, but just unique in our own ways.
I sit writing to you up in the rocket watching Mars growing fainter into space. We had travelled millions of miles to a world inhabited by a civilized group of beings. It gives a perspective the wide, wide universe.
* * *
This was my wonderful journey to Mars. I still cannot believe the idealistic peacefulness that the Martians have gained. Perhaps we will learn some beneficial concepts from them someday. Someday...
STEPHANIE WONG is in the ninth grade at Louis St. Laurent JH/SH school, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.