I’ve just started podcasting a new story: MARTIAN CHRONICLES is a story I’m working on for Jonathan Strahan’s forthcoming LIFE ON MARS young adult anthology. It’s a story about the colonization of Mars by free-market absolutists and the video-games they play.
They say you can’t smell anything through a launch-hood, but I still smelled the pove in the next seat as the space-attendants strapped us into our acceleration couches and shone lights in our eyes and triple-checked the medical readouts on our wristlets to make sure our hearts wouldn’t explode when the rocket boosted us into orbit for transfer to the *Eagle* and the long, long trip to Mars.
He was skinny, but not normal-skinny, the kind of skinny you get from playing a lot of sports and taking the metabolism pills your parents got for you so you wouldn’t get teased at school. He was kind of pot-bellied with scrawny arms and sunken cheeks and he was brown-brown, like the brown Mom used to slather on after a day at the beach covered in factor-500 sunblock. Only he was the kind of all-over-even brown that you only got by being *born* brown.
He gave me a holy-crap-I’m-going-to-MARS smile and a brave thumbs-up and I couldn’t bring myself to snub him because he looked so damned happy about it. So I gave him the same thumbs up, rotating my wrist in the strap that held it onto the arm-rest so that I didn’t accidentally break my nose with my own hand when we “clawed our way out of the gravity well” (this was a phrase from the briefing seminars that they liked to repeat a lot. It had a lot of macho going for it).
The pove smelled like garbage. There, I said it. No nice way of saying it. Like the smell out of the trash-chute at the end of our property line. It had been my job to haul our monster-sized tie-and-toss bags to the curb every day and toss them down that chute and into the tunnel-system that took them out to the Spruce Sunset Meadows recycling center, which was actually *outside* the Spruce Sunset Meadows wall, all the way in Springville, where there was a gigantic mega-prison. The prisoners sorted all our trash for us, which was good for the environment, since they sorted it into about 400 different categories for recycling; and good for us because it meant we didn’t have to do all that separating in our kitchen. On the other hand, it did mean that we had to have a double cross-cut shredder for anything like a bill or a legal document so that some crim didn’t use it to steal our identities when he got out of jail. I always wondered how they handled the confetti that came out of the shredder, if they had to pick up each little dot of it with their fingernails and drop it into a big hopper labelled “paper.”