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Houck 1

Jens Houck

Dr. Patrick Henry

226 Creative Writing

24 March 2019

Black Object

March: Sol 25, 2515 - Mars

A new sol or days in martian was approaching. They call them sols because Mars doesn’t

have standard days like Earth: 24 hours. Instead they have 24 hours… and 37 minutes. It may not

seem like much but after a week and you’re nearly off 4 hours. Imagine having to have a spring

leap forward day every day at 37 minutes. It would be pretty brutal. Only a few thousand humans

have endured these long days on the surface of Mars sealed inside what many think to be fancy

pop-up tents. Light began to creep up across the land, slowly piercing the translucent superplastic

panes of greenhouses planted on Mars. Each building began charging it’s battery packs from

each building on what seemed like one big gerbil contraption. All independent modules designed

to provide shelter for 100 people. Mars’ atmosphere is still in the process of being terraformed

but it is still unsafe for humans to walk about without a spacesuit. It has become a very

expensive operation for Humans to take on with almost all resources being diverted to this

mission due to the overpopulation of Earth. It has been slow work ever since the pioneer Elon

Musk, creator of SpaceX nearly 500 years ago began to research and development towards

expansion around Mars. Now there are no longer any space agencies for specific countries, it is

the United Nations or UN for short and SpaceX behind it. When on Mars, SpaceX was called

MarsX. The UN covered all the personelle carrying out missions while Spacex provided the

Scientists testing living conditions on Mars and what to do next.

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My name is Alex Holden. I’m a 1st Lieutenant in the UN Space Corps living on Mars. It

is my 7th sol here and it has been a pretty weird 1st week. You might call me crazy. So anyways

I made this journal to make sure what I saw and experienced is documented. My first week on

this big red planet seemed pretty straightforward until my 3rd sol. Sol 2, I was practicing walking

and operating our land vehicles on Mars’ barren landscape with my crew of 4: Corporal Amy

Weiss, Sergeant Eamus Drapper, and Captain Roberta Varr all made up our UN Martian Unit.

During this time, I came across what looked like a huge piece of obsidian. Shaped like an

arrowhead from Native Americans and sized as a standard suburban home from Earth it sat

perched behind a mound of sand about 20 clicks out (clicks being kilometers). I haven’t seen that

before, and it sure didn’t look like it belonged on Mars. I alerted my crewmembers

“Hey, guys are you seeing this over here?”

“What is it, Lieutenant Holden?” Captain Varr asked.

“Well, it looks like a black rock on Mars… look northeast, heading 030!”

“Weird… where? Sergeant Drapper asked.

“Just over that hill!” I said.

“I don’t see anything, Lt. Holden…” Captain Varr quietly said.

“No, I swear it is over there. Let’s check it out”

“No, our mission is to test these new vehicles. We’ll alert another crew” Captain Varr


“Ahhh come on, Captain. We can test our vehicles on the way over there” I stated.

“No Lieutenant, we are not investigating your mirage. That is not our job.” said Captain


“Yes ma’am” I responded. Corporal Weiss sat by idly yet intrigued.

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There was no such thing on Mars like the color of obsidian much less a rock that big in that

aerodynamic structure. We trudged on, I sat in the chair hoping for something interesting to


The exercise and testing were complete and we were to send the results back to Earth for

the manufacture of the new land vehicles. After the debrief of the mission, we alerted UN higher

ups that night to send a team to check out the location I saw for assurance. First thing in the

morning, they sent out a team and came back with nothing.

September: Sol 29, 2515- Mars

Six months later on this red rock and nothing really was important enough to share. I

wrote a few entries but for the purpose of this story, they don’t have much meaning. I’m one of a

thousand on Mars right now, but there isn’t much to it. Going “outside” is always an effort, and

rations are limited. I miss going out with friends or being able to crash a concert like on Earth.

There isn’t much to do here, and it really has taken a toll. It feels as though each day I find

myself to become a little bit crazier each day. It makes me wonder how people in extreme

weather can go about life. In extreme cold, you literally have to suit up to survive. The same

applies to us on Mars. There’s always alcohol to waste your time with, but that isn’t on Mars. I

remember visiting friends in the Midwest of the United States. It seems like half of the year it is

below 0 degrees Celsius. They don’t have too much to do for a good chunk of their year. And

people wonder why there are more binge drinkers in that area. It makes me think I would rather

be there than here sometimes. Being government funded and heavily regulated Mars is very

controlled remotely. Coming from a place like Earth to Mars you miss how easy it was. It makes

me think of the past and myself in my life adapting to Mars. I keep on thinking about that Black
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Object. I don’t have perfect eyes, but it weirded me out that no one else saw what I did. I’ve been

out to the site multiple times since but it wasn’t there just like that team had said. I sit on the side

of my sleeping pod staring through a window. Corporal Weiss walks up to my side,

“How are you doing, Holden?”

“Just fine, Weiss. Our time on Mars has got me thinking differently. I miss home.”

“I do as well Holden… I believe we all do”

“How are you?” I asked.

“Just another day, you know how it is. This place is getting repetitive”

“Oh yeah, I feel the same way.”

“Did you check out the new movie Earth sent over? 3001: A Space Odyssey?”

“No, I haven’t seen it yet. I’m assuming you have?”

“Yeah, it was pretty good. A total knock off from 2001’s original.”

“Dang I need to check that out. I haven’t seen a movie for a few weeks…”

“Let me know if you need anything, Holden,” Weiss said as she left the room.

I continue staring into the window outside. The Martian landscape looks the exact same

as the previous 7 months. There is a brick-colored boulder bigger than the rest to the right. And a

bunch of small stones. Had there not been any human gerbil tubes in my peripheral vision it

would seem very desolate. 4 months away from home with our current technology. Luckily, we

are on a contract to come back to Earth to see how we adapt back to Earth. Most people here are

to stay due to the program’s high cost. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a huge dust devil

churning a few kilometers out. A black shimmer rises through the top of it. I couldn’t believe my

eyes, it had to be that Black Object from before. It just sat there hovering. I thought to myself,

people need to see this.

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“ALEXA, ping Weiss and Varr my location and mark it urgent,” I exclaimed.

They made it 2 minutes later as I sat mesmerized from that dust devil.

“What is it, Lt.? Captain Varr asked.

“Look over there, do you see it? That’s the same object as before.”

“What are you pointing at? Weiss said.

“Over there! Look at the top of it!”

“The dust devil?” they both asked.

“Yes, that! Please tell me I’m not crazy.”

“You might be crazy, Holden” Weiss muttered.

The Black Object began to move straight towards us and with it the dust devil. It began to

get bigger in diameter.

“No I’m not- look it’s moving toward us.” My finger still pointed up.

Drapper walked in and asked, “What’s going on? I heard something was up?”

“Yes that’s what it is up, do you see it?” I closed one eye as if moving my finger another

centimeter would actually point it out.

“No, I don’t….” Drapper said confused.

“Look Lt. your vision of this ‘Black Object’ isn’t real you must be hallucinating,” Varr


“I swear it’s real guys, just look!”

Weiss put her hand on my shoulder “I think you need to talk to Doctor Reid about this.”

Doctor William Reid was one of 50 medical specialists living with us at Mars. He was

the go-to guy for therapy.

“No, I don’t need that!” I stammered.

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Captain Varr stepped in, “I’m putting in an appointment later today”

Meanwhile, the dust devil swirled up to an even bigger size hurtling towards our base. An

alarm sounded just the typical procedure for a dust storm, and the windows became reinforced

closing the view from outside. I caught a last glimpse of the Black Object.

Weiss reassured me “It was nothing, Harden. Everything’s going to be alright.”

Fast forward, I discussed what I’ve been seeing to Dr. Reid later that sol. He explained

seeing things can be symptoms of an isolation sickness particularly being so far away from

home. I flipped on him and broke part of the desk we were sitting at.

“I’m not crazy, Doctor. I swear.”

“Holden, I never said you were but, you need to calm down. We are on Mars. Not much

is going to happen this very moment.”

“Get me off this planet right now”

“Holden, you know it’s going to be awhile. You signed a contract.”

I went to bed that night thinking of what I got myself into. I came to Mars opening up a

new chapter in my life. This all seems so weird to me. What the Black Object could be, what it

was here for. What my purpose is here on Mars. Some alien race finally decided to take a visit to

the Milky Way in our Solar System.? Some special object sent from God? It didn’t make sense to

me but, I saw what I saw.

December: Sol 25, 2515

I can’t take Mars anymore. It is too boring, I feel trapped here. I miss my family from

home. Weiss has been very nice to me the last few months but it is not enough. This is not what I
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signed up for Dr. Reid has been in close contact for me, and nothing is changing. This is our

Christmas, and people are celebrating but not me. Heck, it’s not even lined up in the same day as

Earth’s Christmas.

July Sol 3, 2516

I took a break from writing in my journal. It no longer gave me satisfaction, but now I

feel like I need to update those reading about my life. Dr. Reid has officially relocated me to a

separate room away from others at the base. I’ve been such a nuisance that I’ve been able to take

over someone else’s contract and get out of here sooner than later. Only one more year. I still

haven’t seen that Black Object. I can’t stop thinking about it every day now.

July Sol 1, 2517

The ship finally arrived, and as I write this we are exiting Mars’ destroyed atmosphere.

Drapper, Weiss, and Varr all said they would miss me, but I don’t think I will miss them. I will

only think about Mars when that happens and I need to let it go.

July 7th, 2517 Earth time

Enroute back to Earth and I can’t seem to gather myself from my experiences on Mars

yet. I don’t feel a sense of resolution as I am hurtled toward Earth at 100,000 kph. I’ve got 3

more months of this until I get back to Earth. I look out to Space- the black blanket of despair

with shining stars sprinkled sporadically across my view. It’s so black I can only think of the

Black Object, I can just imagine a black silhouette suspended in space, matched to our velocity
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flying in formation throughout space. There it was, I saw it again only for a brief second. Maybe

I am crazy I thought to myself.