My name is Natasha and I’m eight years old; that’s about fifteen to you. Last name? I don’t know, we don’t use them on Mars. There are only sixty of us living there, under a dome that keeps the air in and cosmic rays out. I was born there, but my mother committed suicide while I was a baby. Maybe this “last name” thing is in your records, Earther.
How did I get here? Well, it was Saturday and I’d just finished cutting the grass. Of course we have grass! It’s part of the environment system; cut grass particles in the air help fertilize the food crops. Anyway, I’d just put the cutter away when I saw the Aperture.
Syke! Do you guys even read the reports we send back? An Aperture is a space-time rift; it looks like a glowing circle. Stepping in teleports you a few kilometers away and a few seconds back in time. We’re still working out the details; it’s on my hand comp. Which I would like back sometime soon.
Anyway, when an Aperture opens, we’re supposed to notify Central and then step through. The enviro-kit will keep us alive for about two hours under Martian conditions, which is enough for a rescue drop if needed. Last week Jayar did a hop so short he was able to walk back. So I notified control and stepped through.
Teleporting is usually instant; this time it took a while, like twenty or thirty seconds. I was just starting to calm down when I came out and got crushed. Earth’s gravity is about 2.7 times Mars standard; nothing can prepare you for that. Also your atmosphere is like soup even though most of it is filler, and I hate to break it to you but this planet reeks. It’s super-noisy too.
I was totally syked out and would have been in real trouble if I hadn’t landed on the field during that sport thing. They called it a track meet, I think. Anyway, one of the girls there saw me struggling and gasping and got me to their medical tech. That’s where you picked me up.
“So what happens now?”
“Now? We have to do some tests...”
“More tests? Well, can you at least contact Control and tell them where I am?”
“That will be difficult.”
“What, another solar storm?”
“No, we don’t have a Mars colony. Nobody does.”
“Nobody does? What the syke is the date?”
“July fourth, twenty-fourteen.”
“Twenty-fourteen? I won’t even be born for another eighteen years!”
“Don’t worry, with the information on your hand computer we should be able to get there in time, just barely.”
And then it sunk in. My mother had been the first human to reach Mars. During the year-long trip the computer had artificially inseminated her with her own DNA, producing me. That’s what tipped her over the edge to suicide.
So I’m my mother now. I’ve been given another chance, but to do what? I don’t know, but I have eighteen years to figure it out.