(The Martian Marathon was published in January 2007 in Atom Jack. Enjoy this excerpt.)
A sixty-five mile foot race along the Valles Marineris between Carter and Red Town. First run in the Martian Olympics of 2240, the race commemorates the famous run of Anatolia Shrlenko who outpaced Terran ops to warn Martian forces of an impending attack.
It looked like a marble, a fuzzy marble that changed colors before your eyes. Or maybe it was just that he began to notice that there was color there, an orangey-pink, where seconds before he saw only white. And then the polar cap appeared like a lopsided beanie and a darkish area grew in the middle. Perhaps more features would have appeared, like the Valles Marineris or the grand canals themselves, had there been more time, but after ten seconds, the fuzzy pink marble passed quietly out of the eyepiece and Eric’s turn at Lowell’s eighteen-inch reflecting telescope was over.
On the long drive home, Eric was quiet and thoughtful. “Dad,” he began. “What was that?”
“What was what, son?”
“What was that thing I saw in the telescope?”
Marcus smiled. “That was Mars, son.”
“Mars?” Eric echoed incredulously, his six year-old mind unable to connect the massive red planet that he had seen on the posters outside the observatory with the little pink dot in the telescope. They’d waited in line for three hours and stayed up until two in the morning to see a pink dot in an old telescope. It didn’t seem to make sense.
“Why did we come here?”
“To see Mars.”
“Yeah, I know, but…” Eric yawned. “…couldn’t we see it on TV?”
“I wanted you to see where you were going. I wanted you to see it with your own eyes so that you would know that it was real.”
It was the last and clearest memory Eric had of being on Earth with his father. The only other memories were vague impressions like half remembered dreams.
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