Category Archives: One Way Ticket to Mars

Delusion

Jane sat in her bed, alone, trying not to care too much of what people had been so happy about, the news, about something, somewhere out there, far away.

Jane sat there because she understood. Her friends, her family members, some random strangers, they all were celebrating for something that didn’t matter, or will ever. While some were complaining, cursing the air.

Earlier in the morning, the news had broken out that the World’s Wealthiest Country Association had approved the use of EE24 to give their citizens a higher chance in surviving the coming global extinction phase.

EE24, shorts for Evolution Enhancer 24, was the 24th generation and the first “stable” version of the EE technologies developed by world top scientists in preparation of the predicted catastrophe triggered by the historical Global Earthquake that had turned the world upside down.

The Earthquake had moved the Earth so much from the original form. Mountains were broken into islands, new lands formed out of the sea, and most importantly, the Earthquake had broken some major Methane deposits on Earth, slowly releasing these Methanes to the air. The air was slowly thickened in Methane and Carbon Dioxide. It’s only a matter of time when the air become completed unbreathable.

However, the uses and development of EE had been always on controversial debates. Some believed that to be unethical to play God, and some believed that it was the reason God sent the Earthquake and will wipe out Human Race if we didn’t stop. Some believed that evolution shouldn’t be artificially interfered. But for those who believed it to be the only chance of surviving the next catastrophe continued in supporting the cause.

EE24 had been proven over and over again both on animal testing and human to be effective in transforming our biology to be able to survive in Methane concentrated environments.

Jane sat on her bed with her oxygen mask on, dreaming that she would be able to take it off. Her friends’ thought bubbles float around her overhead display projected from her mobile that was attached to her glasses. “Finally, we will survive” say her neighbour, few houses away from her, not rationalizing the fact the it was never legal in where they are residing, and never would be in the near future. “Shame on you people, God’s wrath is over your sins”, said another friend.

“So what, my friends? so what?” thought Jane to herself. “We are doomed to death and suffering”

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The Incomplete One

I am wishing that what I’m going to write now is going to be the truth of what is going to be created soon. If you’ve remembered that I’ve attempted to write a book called One Way Ticket to Mars. I have the idea, I have the start of the story, I have the end of the story, but I’ve never yet to figure out how to link the start to the end.

But if it were to be published one day, here will be the summary.

Julian knows what he wants. But not many people agree with his way of life. When he first saw the news about sending people on a mission to explore Mars, he applied straight away. But he then realised that getting accepted is the easier part of his journey.

The harder parts came after the acceptance letter. When he have to say goodbye to all the people close to him, being lectured and begged to stay, to walk the Earth for the last time, and counting the days that remains.

Yet, the hardest part is when someone right came into his life, someone he has been needing in his entire life. Will he change his mind? or will he go ahead and leave Earth for good?


London by the Sea

Fire cracking by the fireplace. I sat down with Sean on the floor next to an empty coffee table in the living room. Both of us were facing the fire. The wind was mellow, it wasn’t even winter yet. But the wind by the sea was cold. And the fire was soothing. It had that strange combination that made it unforgettable. The salty air on my skin. The hissing of the fire. The funeral.

I sat there watching Sean watching the fire. He was silent, peacefully. I wasn’t sure if I should comfort him or let him enjoy the silent. The feeling inside of me was messed up. Warmth by the fire, cooled by the sound of the waves, sadden by the misery, confused by the other side of him, the truer Sean.

I laid my back on the couch behind me, trying to enjoy the clicking of the burning woods. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the other thing that Sean had just told me. The trip to Mars. I wasn’t mad at him. I was confused. I wasn’t sure what to feel.

“I don’t feel like starting a conversation” came a soft voice of Sean “but this silence is not so enjoyable either.”

I sighed softly, didn’t move a muscle.

“I’ve never felt that I belong here. People around me care so much about me but I pushed them away, hurting them. Now that she’s gone, I felt even guiltier” continued Sean without looking away from the fire, head bowed lower “I’m always on the run, away from all this. And I’m tired. Even more than when I’m choked by all this. So tired that I don’t feel like moving anymore. Feels like I can sit here till Death call my name. Wouldn’t it be sweet?”

“Don’t say that, Sean” I started crying, I didn’t know why. I felt that my world is changing so fast that I am confused and scared. I couldn’t say any more word but cry.

Sean looked up to the ceiling, probably holding his tears, taking a deep breath.


Maybe it’s alright

It was another lonely Christmas night. I remembered how much I’d loved Christmas. The loving people, the many different Christmas services, caroling, cooking and wrapping gifts for the carolers. Maybe because of his cold attitudes that had stopped me from enjoying Christmas. Or maybe because all the people I cared and loved had died or left me. Even if they were alive, I am sure they would hate me for what I’d done. There was nothing I could do to be forgiven. Especially from him.

But that year was also the year I met Sean. I remembered how he had made me curious again, made me brave again to step outside and love. Made me try to forgive myself. Even though the memory of that horrible night was still crystal clear in my mind, for the first time after that night, I wanted to be loved again. So I gave Sean a call.

“Hi Sean, Merry Christmas” uttered me as soon as I saw Sean’s head projected on my mobile.

“Merry Christmas” replied Sean, looking busy like he’s walking on the street “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine, thanks” I quickly replied back. “How about you? Where are you now? how are things?” suddenly I was rushing to ask all sort of questions. I was really hoping to see him in person. And a little hoping that he will be not too far away so I could go meet him.

“I’m back in England. Getting some stuffs cleaned up over here” said Sean. His hologram head was still looking busy tilting busily and looking around cautiously.

“Well, I’m just calling to wish you a Merry Christmas” uttered I, not knowing how to tell him what I wanted to tell him.

“Thanks” he paused “yeah, it does looks like Christmas over here. All sorts of Christmas decoration everywhere”

“It must be really nice” suggested I.

“It is pretty cool” replied him.

“alright, you enjoy your Christmas there” said I after a short silent, trying to avoid being awkward.

“Thanks. You too” replied Sean.

“Ok bye”

“bye”

Then he hanged up. His hologram head disappeared leaving me there thinking what was I doing. Then I thought to my self that I would probably never see him again. But part of me was wishing that I would.


Bird over the sea

It was that strange feeling of being on a ship. It was even stranger when I was on a ship carrying such a sorrow on my shoulder. Though it had had nothing to do directly to me, it was that unexplained phenomenal that happen when something bad happened to your friend. Especially in the case of death.

I was not quite sure how was Sean feeling on that ship. He didn’t talk about his mom a lot though he occasionally display discomfort when we mentioned about his mother in our conversations. Being away from home most of the time and not liking to visit back, I was really not sure how he was taking the news of his mother passing.

I don’t like being on a ship. Any sea transportation in general. Hating the idea of floating unstably constantly, sometimes for hours. I’d heard stories from the oldies about being on a ship for months. I would have probably died from seasickness on the first week.

But probably I’m just overreacting. I look over the open window and feel the strong breeze over my face. It’s cold but feels great. Birds were flying around but none of them ever stop on the ship. I bet they didn’t know they can save some energy by riding on a moving object on the sea. Or maybe they were not going to the same destination.

I realized that I’ve been thinking to myself too much that I’ve forgotten about Sean. He had been quieter than usual. I looked at him and gave him a weak smile. He gave a weak smile back, looking tired.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“I’m alright” replied Sean, ending with a short sigh.

I was silent, wasn’t sure what to say. But he continued “I’ve been preparing my whole life for this moment. Caring less, loving less, knowing less, hoping that when she’s gone, it won’t hurt as much. But when it really happen” he paused “it still feels horrible”

I wrapped my left arm around his shoulder and gave him some small pats. He then lean his head on my shoulder. I didn’t look at his eyes but I bet they were red from holding the tears that are about to burst out.

A bird flew by and perched on the window. The wind was so strong that it had to keep adjusting to stay on board. I must be the bird that had switched on Sean’s tear glands because he’s now sobbing. I laid my hand on his head, stroking his head, calming him down a little. I couldn’t think of any word to say.


Part 2 ch. 3: Ajar

I dropped Sean off in front of the Fullhouse hostel and then drove back to my hotel room to clean up. The rain has slowed down to drizzling, but hadn’t completely stop yet. When I got to my room, the sky outside has turn into bright reddish blue, hinting the start of a sunset and the stopping of the rain. I immediately took off my now almost dried wet clothes and jumped into a hot shower.

I put on my relaxing outfit, a white plain t-shirt and a pair of shorts that I wear to sleep sometimes when I’m too lazy to change into a pajamas. And then I texted Sean checking if he’s ready.

“Are you ready?” I asked

“Still queuing for the bathroom. Will take a little longer” replied Sean.

“Come and use my bathroom”

“Nah, it’s OK. It’s almost my turn now. Give me 15 minutes”

I was thinking what to do in that 15 minutes of time that I had. And also I was trying to test how accurate is Sean’s 15 minutes. The perception of time of every individual is different. So I started the stopwatch on my mobile and see how long will it take for Sean to reply back. But I felt asleep almost immediately.

I was waken up by my mobile phone’s ringing. It was Sean sending me a message saying that he was ready. So I texted him back saying that I was not going to drive, and that we should meet halfway. I notice the stopwatch indicator on my mobile display and it’s been only 12 minutes. So I got my stuffs and set out to the street.

When I got to the hotel’s lobby, Sean was already there standing just next to the glass doors but on the out side.

“You walk fast” I said

“I’m well trained. You will be the same if you’ve traveled a lot. Spent a lot of time walking” replied Sean

So we started walking. The sky is still visibly bright, but it’s getting redder at one side, and dark bluish in another side. Sean wanted to take some pictures so we walked to the garden. It was my first time to that garden. The garden itself is big, but the lake is tiny. From the nearest entrance from the hotel, the first thing we saw was the lake. It was the size of a private swimming pool and it was filled with brown muddy water. I didn’t see any river stream coming in or out, so I guess it’s probably a dead pool.

But the surrounding was beautiful. It was filled with flowering plants and short trees in both sides of the narrow path. Nothing grows taller than my height. Looking away from the garden, I got the feeling of a mixed era, between the modernized skyscrapers with the silent field of green. The sun could be spotted shining red from the gaps between the buildings or from the reflections of the buildings from the other side. It was surprisingly beautiful. I have to admit that it was beautiful. But I wished that the buildings weren’t there. It would be a totally different scenery.

When we got out from the garden, the sky had turned gray. We decided to try out some famous local cuisines, but they are normally crowded with people. We ended up at the ripoff version of the famous spicy noodle shop which is just next to the original spicy noodle shop but with a lot less customers. It was “amazing” according to Sean, but it didn’t work for me. “I’ve tried a much better ones” complaint I.

It was still very early when we are done with our noodles. So we went to the night market. The night market was a relief for me. I didn’t enjoy the spicy noodle at all, but the night market was filled with delicious foods that just lit up my mood again. Now and then I told Sean a little background story about the food that we were eating.

“So, what is your story?” asked Sean, catching me out off guard.

“Wow, where is that coming from? I didn’t expect that question at all” complaint I.

Sean laughed a little and said “You are really frank. Most people I asked will hide their feeling of surprise even though I’m sure they freaked out”

“You always ask this kind of question this way?”

“I don’t want people to make up their story too much. The best stories are those that are spontaneous. I think you have a great story that you are hiding.” Sean finished his words with a wink with his left eye.

“Alright, I’m done with all the eating here. Let’s find a place where we can sit down and drink, and maybe I will tell you my true story when I’m drunk” I winked back with my left eye.

 


Part 2 Ch. 2: The mysteriously familiar man

The drive out from that little gem of Berelon was quiet. I was busy paying attention at the signboards for the direction back to the highway while Sean, the stranger that I just met on the way out, didn’t say much other than introducing himself. When I got out to the highway, my senses came back and suddenly I noticed the silent in the car.

“Oh shit, I almost forgot that you are in the car” joked I and gave out a little laugh that didn’t sound real at all. Then I remembered that I don’t know where he’s going, so I asked “By the way, where were you heading to?”

“Back to the hostel, actually” He answered

“Which one is it?”

“Fullhouse”

“Where exactly is that?”

“It’s a couple of blocks from the night market. The one next to the lake?” said Sean with certainty that everybody knows about the famous lake of Berelon.

“The mini man made lake?” I said that because it was really small and useless.

“Yes” He replied with a soft laugh of agreement.

“I actually stay nearby as well” actually it was just one block away from the hotel that I was staying. But, I really didn’t know much about the budget accommodations around here.

“Are you from around here?” asked Sean.

“No. I live quite far away actually. Three hours drive from here. I’m on a vacation, so I rented a hotel room for a couple of days. The hotel is just next to the lake. So, I can send you back to your hostel” and then I realized that I didn’t know the way back to that area. I slowed down the car so I can activate the car’s intelligent assistant  and then I called out “Terry”. I explained to Sean that it’s the name I gave to the machine to activate it. The machine gave a few beeps to tell me that he’s now listening. “Show me the way to Fullhouse hostel in Berelon”.

“Found one match, Fullhouse Guesthouse, Three Feet Park, Berelon. Navigation is ready for destination, Fullhouse Guesthouse.” The machine said slowly and word by word, which annoyed me.

“Start navigation” Said I and started driving at normal speed again. “So, are you traveling alone?” I asked, trying to kill the silent that started to grow.

“Yeah. Have been doing this for a while. It’s pretty amazing. I meet people along the way and it’s very challenging. Every people have their own unique story to tell. The unlimited uniqueness of new stories amazed me all the time. Aren’t you travelling alone as well?”

“Well, not all the time. I travel with my family most of the time.” I hesitated to continue “But I feel like I need a change once in a while.”

“Okay” said Sean without trying to drag the topic longer.

I’m so glad that he sensed my unwillingness to continue on the reasons I’m travelling alone this time. But at the same time, I’m expecting him to shoot me back with some other topics to talk about. But he was silent. “What are you doing tonight?” I asked, to suspend the silent that was building up again.

“Hmm, I don’t have any plan yet, actually. But the rain is kind of nice, so I think I will just read on my bed”

“How about dinner? or night market shopping, maybe?  I hope the rain is stopping soon.”

“Yeah, sure. Sounds great”

“We should Exchange” Said I while dismounting my mobile from the car computer, activated it, and handed over to Sean so we can exchange our mobile numbers. Sean took off his glasses and take off a small piece of his glasses. “Holy cow, is that your mobile?” I asked filled with surprises. His mobile was about one third of mine, and it was so small that it could fit into his eyeglasses frame. I thought the model that I have is very up to date, probably the smallest in the market. But Sean’s one is on another level of mobility.

Sean nodded, smiling proudly.

“You are really working for NASA, aren’t you?”

“No, not exactly. But yeah, you can say so”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well, hmm. I’m sponsored by NASA to do a mission. Technically NASA pays me. But I’m not really working for them directly” explained Sean.

“What exactly is your mission?” I was a little paranoid that I thought I’ve just picked up a cyborg or something like that.

“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you. It’s a secret” answered Sean “but I can assure you that I mean no harm.”

“Are you a robot? You do talk like a robot, do you know that?” joked I.

“Do you mean to say that robots talk like me?” replied Sean with the added robot accent like Terry has.

I was laughing and couldn’t really say a word, but managed to say out “Nice one” while trying to keep my eyes open so I don’t hit anybody on the road. His robot accent is really amazing and funny. Funny good.

After we are done laughing, or probably just me laughing, we were silent again for awhile. I thought I might take a break from the unexpected laugh attack that had almost taken my breath away.

“I’m so sorry I can’t tell you what I do” say Sean, “NASA is one thing, and the mission is another thing. I bet we won’t see each other anymore when I leave the country”

“Or maybe we become best friends” said I seriously, but continue playfully with “and I will squeeze the secret mission out of you” I did mean that when I said that we will become best friend. He’s one of the most interesting person that I’ve ever met. He’s working for NASA for God’s sake, what else could be more interesting than that?