by Jon Batson
When astronomer Dana Wright thinks she has seen writing on Mars, she wants to take a look through a larger telescope. Senate aide Tom Matthews is willing to investigate it with her, but knows it is not writing. How does he know? He’s been there. Tom remembers every one of his past lives and all the people who shared them with him. That is, until he meets Doctor Wright, someone he’s never met before. His memory, whether Doctor Wright likes it or not, is the key to the new markings that have appeared on the Martian surface.
Midnight Whistler Publishers, LLC (August 29, 2013)
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When astronomer Dana Wright thinks she has seen writing on Mars, she wants to take a look through a larger telescope. Senate aide Tom Matthews is willing to investigate it with her, but knows it is not writing but buildings, structures made by intelligent beings. How does he know? He’s been there. Tom remembers every one of his past lives and all the people who shared them with him. That is, until he meets Doctor Wright, someone he’s never met before. Tom’s memory, whether Doctor Wright likes it or not, is the key to the new markings that have appeared on the Martian surface.
Dana Wright, Pocatello, ID
Dana Wright put on her fuzzy slippers and her favorite Sponge Bob PJs. She filled her over-sized “The Truth is Out There” mug with coffee and placed a croissant on her napkin. She planned to spend some time with her favorite planet.
Dana picked up her cane and hobbled out the door of her double-wide on the outskirts of Pocatello. At the shack on the other side of the yard, she balanced her cup and croissant, opened the door and slipped inside. She climbed into the jockey-chair and adjusted the telescope to focus on the planet Mars.
Dana had a PhD in Physics. She was the winner of the American Astronomical Society’s award for extraordinary service to astronomy, the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, and Newcomb Cleveland Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was an expert in Martian Studies and a noted advocate for women in science. She was also in line to be the mission manager for the Mars Rover Mission – before the accident, that is.
“Come on, god of war!” she said to herself as she brought the red planet into focus. The Earth and Mars orbits were in alignment. This was the closest she was going to get for a long time to come.
Her father had the fascination before her ever since the first flyby in 1965 with the Mariner 4. He monitored the orbits of the Odyssey and the Express Orbiters. He cried with the fall of the stricken Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Dana took over in 2004 after college, following the adventures of the rovers, Spirit and Opportunity and the lander, Phoenix. There were others: landers, rovers and orbiters. But nothing to produce what everyone hoped for – and against: proof of extraterrestrial life.
Then in 2008, as Dana was lying in a Pocatello hospital recovering from the effects of a drunk driver who mangled her left leg, Mars Phoenix shook enough soil through its fine mesh screen and into its oven to bake up samples in search of water.
Dana sued the driver. The settlement paid for a larger telescope with computerized auto-alignment. The enhanced hardware allowed her to keep a constant eye on the Red Planet.
“Valles Marineris,” sang Dana as she set her coffee cup down on the side table. She used both arms to adjust herself in the chair. The Noctis Labyrinthus on the western edge of the Mariner Valley was typical of the kind of ground found at the exit site of a flow of water. That is, water or ice or carbon-dioxide gas.
“Call me crazy,” muttered Dana to herself, squinting to get a bead on a wide spot on the surface that might have been caused by flooding. “But this looks just like…”
She watched throughout the night, until Eos and Ganges Chasmata came into view to the West. Mars authorities believed they were carved by flowing water. There stood the irrefutable proof.
It was early in the morning when a tremor went through the shack, causing her coffee to ripple. She remembered the scene from Jurassic Park, when a tremor caused ripples in the coffee.
“But this is not Jurassic Park, it’s Idaho!” she told herself. “There are no giant dinosaurs here, nor earthquakes – that’s California.”
The ground stopped shaking. Dana returned to her telescope, bringing a wide plane into focus.
The shaking was not only on her end, she could see that Mars also experienced some sort of event. There was a three minute lag for the light to get to Earth. She saw the ground shaking, redistributing the red dust. The Eos and Ganges disappeared as the dust rolled over the plains.
As the wrinkles of the Martian landscape smoothed out, other layers rose to create a new surface. She couldn’t get a clear image through the clouds of dust.
Mars was not supposed to be tectonic, yet here it was: a Mars-quake, and she was a witness.
Without removing her eye from the scope, Dana picked up the remote and turned on the television on the table.
“…located in the area just off the Eastern Florida coast. We have here pictures sent via cell phone from an unidentified vessel said to be in those waters…”
Dana changed the channel.
“…moments ago. We do have an expert on earthquakes here right now. What? Oh! OK. Ladies and gentlemen, as soon as possible we will bring you…”
She hit the channel button again.
“…of a possible tsunami hitting t
he Florida coast. There is no way to predict the damage…”
Dana turned off the television. Yes, there had been an event on Earth, but now there was an event on Mars. She couldn’t look away, though she couldn’t see much through the dust clouds. The trembling had stopped, but far away, car sirens and dogs were both howling at the moon. Then three minutes later, the trembling on Mars stopped. As the dust settled she was able to bring the new Martian landscape into focus.
Dana pressed her face against the eyepiece, first the right, then the left eye. She then sat back, pale and frightened.