Short Story: Far Away from Home
It had been a cold dark day, one of many in the recent past. I looked out of the window and watched the last remnants of daylight fade slowly away, dropping the already sub-zero temperature outside even lower. It has been over a week since I had last stepped out.
It didn't matter how many layers of clothing I wore, the cold outside still swept inside through the seams, bored through my skin and sucked out all the warmth from within. First the fingers go numb even through the thick insulative gloves, as the body tries frantically to keep the core body temperature up and gives up on the non-essential extremities. Then your toes feel as if they're in contact with ice and walking becomes harder and harder. Your breath vapors start condensing on your lenses and you try to wipe them clear with your frozen glove clad fingers. By now, you're aware of the audible chattering of your teeth as the insides of your mouth start becoming dry. You can feel your tongue grow cold and stiffen so that you only mumble when you try to speak. And finally, the shivering sets in. The cold has now completely penetrated through the layers of warm clothing and the muscle tissues begin to vibrate with increasing amplitude trying to generate heat by expending energy. If you don't find a warm shelter soon, your entire body will start aching. And even if you do enter a warm place, it'll take several minutes for the shivering to stop and the feeling to return in your limbs again as the body temperature rises slowly.
Which is why I haven't been out in over a week. Nothing much to see and do outside either. When I first arrived here not too long ago, everything was fantastic in its uniqueness. Every rock, every structure, every sight seemed ethereal. The other-worldly quality of this strange place seemed strange and wondrous. Now it just makes me homesick.
Home is far far away, worlds apart from this inhospitable place. It is a place with sunshine and laughter and cool breezes across open spaces. It's been a while since I've heard laughter.
Everyday for the past few weeks, I've stood right here pressed up against this window at right about this time looking out at the distant horizon. For as the sky slowly darkens, a thousand brilliant stars come into view and I almost feel how the planet beneath my feet glides through the dark immensity of space, silently and irresistibly in motion, going around the distant giant ball of exploding gas.
I watch familiar constellations come into view and finally, the moment I wait for, no, live for, everyday is here. Amongst the hundreds of twinkling stars in the distance, there rises from the horizon a steady light, brighter and truer than all the rest, with a faint blue tinge.
That is home, and I am the first man on Mars.