On Mars

Document 1.docx

Dear John,

I know I haven’t been the best of sons. And for this, I’m sorry.

But I don’t think it has always been this way. Long ago, when I still called you father-


Roadblock. Fuck. Two days.

I guess I still have last year’s. I could always rehash. Do a little facelifting. When nothing is coming I guess you sort of have to respect that. Could I stretch the deadline? Well, Thompson did say he’d be in all week..but fuck, Pinkman is gone on Saturday. And Thompson is as useful as a piece of shit without Pinkman there to feed his thoughts into his brain.

more after the break


Document 2.docx

In the end, not many thoughts make their way out from the minds of the accursed. When you’re condemned, you begin to realize that if you do speak, no one will listen– or worse, they’ll make a point not to discredit what you say.

Many things change over time, but there will always be the condemned — in Ancient Rome, there were slaves and gladiators; in the French Revolution, there were political dissenters; in China’s Cultural Revolution, there were unsteady elements; in the Third Great War, there were the Compatriots; and in the Great Mars Lead Mine Revolution, there was me.


Holy shit man, that’s what you fucking came up with? You need a chapter of something good and you went for an unintelligible Science Fiction set-up? Holy fuck, writing about what you know is the first rule of fiction. Yeah, you’re a real fucking expert on being a condemned prisoner, on Mars, in 23fucking09. Nice shit, my man.

Last year’s wasn’t too bad, was it? It couldn’t have been terrible. Plus, a piece of writing is always at its worst when you first write it. Give it a little time to simmer and marinate and maybe we overlooked a masterpiece there. What was it called? Something The Age of Meaning or something. Penguin hated the title, but that’s easy to change.

Here we go, found it.


Memories from an Age of Reckoning.docx

It had been in the summer: birds, hot sun, dark grass, that smell of the fields that was elusive and could never be quite described. A mixture of sod and sweat and small particles of grass floating through the air; when everything was in motion, everything had a scent.

It had been in the summer, that much I knew. The cottage was cool, shielded from the midday sun by a large poplar; I didn’t remember why my parents had left that morning, but I am sure I was alone. I remember walking outside, with a light backpack, and my dog was at my side. The river flowed behind me, deeper than usual that year, and the image of pastoral fields, though long since given up to nature from the harsh regiments of crop cultivation, was laid at my front like one of those moving screensavers — the two hills in front, perhaps a mile away, in perfect symmetry, defined the landscape. Wooded and taller than they seemed, the hills were nigh-insurmountable thanks to a unique blend of vegetation — thick and dense, unlike the tamed field below.


Hmm. Went on like that for a while. Not great. Perhaps workable. I remembered the response from Penguin: it was fine, they said, but people weren’t looking to read this kind of family story any more. The proposal is rejected. It had been boring proposal.

So maybe the answer was to write something truly unique. Cast aside the shackles of grammar, syntax, plot structure!!!!! Cast aside all expectations! It would be ballsy, that’s for sure. But it would almost be more ballsy NOT to, and submit the same, perhaps reworked, decidedly “meh” Memories from an Age of Reckoning.

Let’s just start writing. Let’s just go.


Document 3.docx

It had been a while since I had seen her — long hair beautiful eyes — something was happening to me, where I would still be able to conjure up the feelings of love and lust I had felt for her on that night, but I would not be able to see her face, and this happened at first three months to the day of our meeting.

At the conference I was in “Exploring Analytics as a Quantifiable Research Strategy” in room Yellow 5B and she I learned later had been in the “Unique Approaches to Critical Thinking in the Age of Technology” in room Yellow 3A, just down the hall, and though we met that night I had often wished I could have spent those long boring seminar hours instead with her, and I often thought that just maybe if I had had that day- if we had met perhaps a few hours earlier — she would have said “fuck it I want to spend these next few days with you, I’ll delay my move” or “come with me to paris, at least for a little while” and we would have had at least a little while longer together. Or maybe, I would, if we had spent just a little while longer together, I would remember her face.

But as it stands, I met her that night, at the final Get Together Now, in the Red room 3A, which was the biggest room and most appropriate for large events layout-wise, and so we only had a few hours before we both had to go to sleep and she had to move to Paris and I had to return home. But what a fucking wonderful few hours- we met eyes, and we talked, and for once I hit it off with someone, and we talked some more — it was something special, and though it’s been three months and I don’t have her address so I can’t send her a letter I feel I would have gotten over it if only I could remember her face, and I knew it was in me, I knew it was somewhere and I just couldn’t find it, and that made me scratch at my memories and bastardize and mutilate them, and because I kept looking so hard, searching, for some trace of what she had looked like, but every time I looked she faded and faded and faded and faded — and when I thought I remembered if I focused on it it was like the Andromeda Galaxy — you could only get a slight glimpse of it if you were staring some other way, it was a trick of the light, because whenever you tried to look straight at it it simply disappeared into the abyss.


I could work like this, I could work with this. It wasn’t great, not yet, but it was unique, it was new, it was intriguing. I had 36 hours. 10,000 words. Not impossible. I could do it. And Pinkman would read it and love it and Thompson would read Pinkman and love it. Now I just needed to write. Now I just needed to focus.

Perhaps the title will be Love in the Age of Reckoning. Perhaps it should take place on Mars?

Originally published at shakydetoursintocanaan.wordpress.com on August 20, 2015.