The Red Planets

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A Glimpse of a Short Story

In my great-grandparent’s time, it is said, the people of the earth could hardly see any of the planets at all with the naked eye. If you saw one, you might have thought it was a large star. If you really wanted to see the planets, you needed something they called a telescope or to be standing inside of an observatory with a massive telescope. It’s funny, thinking about the stories they tell, just how little knowledge they had about the galaxy back then.

I look up through the thick glass window panes thinking about just how lonely the galaxy would feel, standing on Earth, unable to see the rest of the planets. Our station is making it’s way around Jupiter now, and it is massive and brilliant and beautiful. How lonely it would have been not to see how beautiful Jupiter is. I can’t fathom it.

I am in my own bedroom in our station apartment, and it’s nothing like the ultra-sleek, minimalist “futuristic” capsules that I’ve seen in movies from the 2050s. The furniture isn’t baron, the bed doesn’t look like someone stuck a matress on a metal frame and called it a day. Nor do I ever wear a nylon, fire proof jumpsuit. My room is what you might call a neo-classical, parisian take of a midcentury modern palace. I’ve got floral comforters on my four poster bed, a very antique writing desk in the corner of the room and a chaise lounge next to one of large windows. I like it here. I like being one with the “sky” as my grandparents would have refered to it.

It’s been a quiet day of studying in my room today, as we are on break from our academic courses. It’s meant to be a time of self-study, and most of the kids are more than happy to keep learning through the break. It’s nice to have this self-study time, the solutide is wonderful when you live on a station of 1000 people almost like one massive multi-family house or a small town on Earth where everybody knew each other.

I look out the window once more, glancing up from my particle physics homework and sigh. Jupiter is magic. Then I have to do a double take. Something is wrong. Jupiter is red. It’s not just orangy like it can sometimes look when the storms roll through. It’s red, covered in a red fog that is engulfing the entire planet. I glance out another window, Mars is also red. It’s not the natural look. It’s, again, covered in a red fog, a haze. These planets feel sick. They feel wrong. The alarms blare in the station, and I’m scared. This is the first time this has happened in the two generations that have lived on the station. What are we going to do?

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