Small Worlds Part 12

The door appeared, and Ryan glanced at Crystal. “Wait. Every other time we’ve gone somewhere, we’ve appeared in the door of some other structure. What are we about to walk out of on Mars? Don’t we need a door?”

Crystal shrugged, changing her shoes to work boots as she did. “Two things. First of all, no, we don’t. We can just make one out of thin air. But I like using an actual existing door – it’s a bit less bending of reality, and I just like the drama of walking out of an actual doorway as opposed to a magical door in the air, yeah?”

“Makes sense,” Ryan said after a moment. “And the second thing?”

“We’re on Mars, love. We can just use one of the doors already here. You ready?”

She didn’t wait for an answer, walking over to the door and opening it. Outside was the red dust of the Martian soil. He’d expected it to be whipping abound in a massive sandstorm – that’s how it always looked in movies – but in reality the air looked still. He followed, nearly running to leap out into the red dust that covered this world.

It wasn’t much to look at, if he was being honest, but that didn’t matter. Christmas had come early, and Santa had brought him a Nintendo, a Puppy that his parents would take care of but would still love him more, every Lego set ever made, and a heaping pile of chocolate. I am on Mars. That thought sent an electric thrill through him. When he was a kid, he’d dreamed of being an astronaut like three-quarters of little boys in America, and of being the first person to step foot on Mars. Now, he was here!

And didn’t have a spacesuit, or enough air. The thin air on Earth’s celestial neighbor made him feel like every breath was being sucked through a straw. He gasped a few times but wasn’t feeling lightheaded or faint.

“Ryan,” Crystal said, her voice slightly tinny in the thin air. “Stop. You don’t need it, remember?”

For thirty years, Ryan had been in the habit of breathing in and out. Stopping – in a way that wasn’t holding his breath – was as easy as blinking your ears. Crystal watched with amusement as he practiced. He noticed that her chest was completely still, undisturbed by the usual rush of air.

Finally, after nearly fifteen minutes of gasping and holding his breath, he was able to overcome the idea he needed to inhale. Another ten get him used to not thinking he needed to exhale. Finally, he stood back on his feet. “Gonna take awhile to get used to this.” He muttered. Crystal nodded in sympathy.

“I spent a month on the moon to finally overcome the feeling that I needed air. It’s a tough one – it’ll feel weird for awhile.”

“Wait, if we aren’t breathing, how are we talking?” He saw Crystal’s face and raised his hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay, rolling with it. But a question that doesn’t require special god-brain to understand, I hope. Why isn’t Mars windy? I thought it was always windy, but I’m just feeling a gentle breeze”

She did grin at that one. “Oh, that’s easy. Air up here is super thin, so that ‘gentle breeze’ is going at almost a hundred kilometers an hour. If it picks up much more, it’ll start whipping up the dust since that’s so light, but we aren’t going to get blown around.”

“Nice to get an answer, at least,” Ryan said. “So…” he turned around and saw what the doorway was built into. It was the side of a cliff, but the entrance was square, and dozens of other square holes dotted the cliff-face. “What the hell?”

Crystal smiled. “Remnants of the Martians, a couple cycles ago. Most of what they built has completely eroded long ago, but these cliffs are pretty resilient.”

“There was life on Mars?”

“Oh, yeah. Tons of it, actually. Definitely ran a lot colder than life on Earth, but they were some beautiful creatures, from what I’ve heard. Before my time of course, but from what I got told, there were two different species of Martians back then.”

“What happened?”

She shrugged. “The Eschaton before me didn’t like life on Mars and Venus, so turned Mars into a barren wasteland, and ran temperatures on Venus to a few degrees above ‘the ninth circle of hell.’ And when it was my turn at it, I was kinda in a rush. Had to make sure the sun didn’t explode, yeah? So no time to make it possible again.”


She smiled then. “If we get done with this whole Enki business, love, and time allows, we could totally get the ball rolling on that. Let there be life on three of the worlds in our little corner of the universe, maybe even Titan and Europa.”

He felt a bit overwhelmed at that, and had to sit back down in the dust of Mars. “But…is there other life, out there?”

“Of course, love.” She gave him a big smile. “Why do you think the other stars haven’t gone supernova? Only time it happens is when some Eschaton doesn’t do their job right. Shame that most of the time the Eschaton happens before contact between stars could be made, though.”

He had to laugh a that, although his laugh was completely unamused. “Too much, Crystal. I’m overloading.”

“Not surprised. You’ll keep learning, but for now, love. Let’s get some practice. Let’s see if you can start a rainstorm on Mars.”

It wasn’t easy. He had to find the traces of water in the atmosphere, then begin copying it by splitting apart other molecules. The equations that danced in front of his vision were complicated beyond belief, but instinct told him which variables to change, and after a bit…

After a bit, for the first time in two and a half million years, water fell on Mars.

Crystal laughed in delight, clapping her hands in the rain. “That’s it, love, that’s it. Have you ever seen anything like this?!”

He had to laugh with her. The Martian rain reflected the dimmer sun oddly, catching dust particles so every ray was turned into a stream of shimmering rubies.

They spent the next few hours playing with the storm, creating tornados of thin but wet air, watching the dust turn to mud. Crystal began to use that soup to begin to teach him how to shape stone and dirt. It wasn’t long before a mudball fight broke out, each of them launching the globs back and forth with divine power as opposed to their hands.

For a moment, Ryan was able to forget about the impending doom that awaited. For now, he just had fun.

On Earth, at this moment, every space agency that was currently watching Mars exploded into activity to try to understand how rain had started to fall on an almost completely dry planet. They’d come up with theories and new models to explain the event. Theories of climatology that would have revolutionized the world, even if they were based on divine interference.

Sadly, by the time they were ready to release to the press, the world had ended, and no one ever got to read the research. But, at least, they got to be happy in the waning days of this age.

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