812 words (3 minute read)


The roar of the machinery is deafening. Walking down the narrow passageways with the ship’s equipment on either side, I can feel the chill of sweat dripping down the small of my back as the heat beats down on me. It’s crazy to me how far we’ve come with nuclear power, but we couldn’t do anything to help keep the engineering department cooler?

It’s been nearly one hundred years since the USS Nautilus first went underway on nuclear power. On January 17, 1955, the captain sent the message, “Underway on nuclear power.” We’re still using nuclear power, but this time, we’re traveling through space. This isn’t a new idea, There were scientists in the 1960’s planning on using this nuclear power to travel around the solar system on a craft they called the Orion. Scientists Stanislaw Ulam and Cornelius Everet proposed this idea using nuclear blasts to propel a ship through space. There was another design that was pitched almost sixty years later where instead of using nuclear blasts, there were pulses of nuclear energy that heated the propellant in order to maintain the velocity of the exhaust and this exhaust is what pushed the ship through space.

If that sounds recited, it is. I read the welcome packet once or twice hoping to glean some information that could help me with the gals on this trip. I thought sounding smart would suffice, but I didn’t account for most of these people truly not caring about history and only looking at what is to come. We’re going to colonize Mars. Earth is not in danger and we are not escaping from a world war or anything that the sci-fi books predicted. Instead, the Confederation was just looking for some elbow room. We’re the third ship in an expeditionary force to see how probable sustaining life is on Mars. We’re still en route after the first two ships have landed so I guess it isn’t too bad.

Sometimes when I take this shortcut through engineering, I swear, I could put some ketchup on my arms and probably taste just as good as the hot dog in the galley.

Back on Earth, things were great. Occasionally. I would find work pretty easy since people always needed someone to do manual labor and I was lucky enough to be born into a family of tall, strong folks. But that’s the problem. There is no real way to get ahead if that is all I was ever doing. Every time I tried to make some progress for myself, I’d mess it up. This is my chance to escape all that and give it another go. They were kind of desperate for laborers on this trip because I guess most people didn’t want to uproot and move off the planet leaving their families behind them. The fools. Because of their reluctance, I was offered debt forgiveness and that is more than I could have hoped to get.

I guess I should have expected a lower caliper of passenger on this ship when I got here though. I only take this shortcut because the main halls feel like walking the yard in a prison. I’ve played sports, I’ve done martial arts, I’ve done a lot of things, but none of that prepared me to see someone stabbed for being a different color while we were waiting for food in the galley. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen back home.

It’s kind of a rule of mine to not kill people, and also a rule of mine to not put myself in situations where I think I can get killed. It’s worked for me so far. I wasn’t necessary enough to the survival or the settling of the planet to go on an earlier voyage so here, on this ship, I fight to survive. There are a lot of cool things that I’ve learned through my backways and shortcuts that I am sure these other low lifes haven’t figured out, though how it will ever benefit me, I don’t know for sure.

I’m not really sure of anything right now. I’ve been working for what feels like forty hours straight and I just need to hit my rack for some sleep. I look forward to dreaming of what I’ll find on Mars. They say you dream about the last thing you were thinking about and lately, since we are so close, landing is the thing that is on everyone’s minds. I’m anxious because it’ll essentially be a crash landing but somehow they engineered this ship so that it will absorb the impact and be able to take off again in two months after we’ve established ourselves off the ship. I’m just hoping that some of these thugs aren’t completely buckled in when we land.

Next Chapter: Auburn