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Jens Houck

ENGL 226

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. Weird first week, you may call me crazy. 4 months of simply getting to Mars,

can take a toll itself. 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


“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. They were looking in the right direction.

“Just over that hill!” I said pointing.

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

“No, I swear it is over there. Let’s check it out” The black object didn’t move at all.

“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.
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“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.

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 back in the passenger’s seat hoping for something

interesting to happen.

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’ve taken

them out for this reason. 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
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good chunk of their year. 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 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 a bench in a common area staring through a

window. Corporal Weiss walks up to my side,

“How are you doing, Holden?” Weiss smiles wryly at me.

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

sits down next to me

“I do as well Holden… I believe we all do” she sighs.

“How are you?” I asked faceless.

“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…Hey, have you

seen that black rock from before?”

“No… I haven’t Holden. But let me know if you need anything, Holden,” Weiss said as

she left the room.

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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 red stones.The different shades of orange and red litter the barren landscape. Had

there not been any human gerbil tubes in my peripheral vision it would seem very desolate. I feel

so alone on this compound millions of miles away. I can’t stop thinking we are 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 but that isn’t for a few years. We knew there were risks going in

but it felt justified for our pride of going to another planet. Most people are here to stay for long

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. “Alex? Are you sure that’s real?” I think to myself. It

just sat there hovering. I thought to myself, “it has to be” people need to see this.

“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.” I sat staring.

“What are you pointing at? Weiss said.

“Over there! Look at the top of it!” I’m pointing towards the top.

“The dust devil?” they both asked.

“Yes, that! Please tell me I’m not crazy.” I looked to them for validation.

“You might be crazy, Holden” Weiss muttered. They just saw a bigger than average dust

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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.

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.
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“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

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
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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 kilometres per

hour. 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 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.

December: 25th, 2517 Earth time

Finally back home, I’ve talked to multiple doctors about my sightings. It’s been nice

being back home but I still get dreams about the black object. It is always on my mind. These

journals have helped me put my thoughts on paper. It is in the past now, and is documented in

the databases for our Mars missions. We haven’t had any other Black Object sightings, but there
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have been other weird hallucinations reported by other crew members. It might be a human

limitation, but we have to study it more. Thank god I’m back on Earth.