Waiting For Mars
The thrusters engaged and we blasted out of orbit. Thanks to the g-force normalising system, I barely felt a thing. Though, as I peered out of my porthole, the stars began to pass by, slowly at first, but gaining in momentum. Until they blended into blurred streaks that cut through the black of space.
For a moment, in my cabin, sitting on the small bed, I closed my eyes. If I’d known any different, I might have been back home, in my own bed. It might have been any day on Earth. Any boring day, just like all the others. But it was not. I was on a Vacation Ship to the Oort Cloud and back. A luxurious passage that only a few could afford. A trip through emptiness. And yet, just the thought of it was enthralling – a journey through space. Those aboard, we were the pioneers to the future of humanity, the future of its leisure. It was a pleasure we undertook with all our hearts… and wallets of course. Nevertheless, to be one of the first humans on such a vacation, it was priceless.
At eight in the evening, I took a shower, drank a small glass of a fine Scotch, and left my tiny room behind. I would be mistaken to believe that room was the most glamorous part of the ship, because it wasn’t by far. Neither was it meant to be. It was simply a place to rest your head after a long day. A cocoon in which to await the next excursion.
The door locked automatically behind me. I entered a corridor hundreds of feet long. People of all shapes and sizes buzzed past. Some already in the early stages of drunken slumber. I smiled. These were the first people to be partying in space, enjoying themselves in the false gravity. I laughed. It was a preposterous thought. All this indulgence, this money, the pointlessness of it all. And yet, it was nothing but brilliant.
As I reached the end of the corridor, music began to fill my ears. I latched onto the trumpets, the saxophones, the percussion – all aspects of the big band ensembles that has been a major selling point for the trip. My footsteps hit the deep maroon carpeting, keeping in beat with the rhythm.
The room opened up into a reception-like area with two red-curtained doors leading through to the main social space of the ship. A relaxed place with music, drinks, and good food – the mainstay of the trip. I entered, gazing upon this place in reality for the first time. We’d all seen the pictures, the models. Though, they really did this place no justice. In all its glory, it was a magnificent sight to behold. Towards the very rear, the room dropped away to an auditorium from which the live music leaked from. In front, many tables were positioned in various settings. People crowding around all of them. Smiles covering their faces, glints in their eyes. Numerous bars lined the sides of the rooms. And many waiters and servers milled about, taking orders, delivering food and drinks. It was mad, but in a completely respectable way.
I straitened my tie, and headed for the nearest bar. Tending it was a smart-looking man in his late twenties, he smiled at me, graciously waiting for my order. “Whisky, straight, double. Thanks,” I said.
“Any preference, sir?” He replied with a wide smile.
“Any good Scotch will do just fine.”
“Of course,” the bartender nodded, before he poured my drink.
Sipping the whisky, I glanced out over all the commotion, wondering what I might do, if anything. The Scotch was good too, even better than the bottle in the room. Then again, for the price, I suppose it should be. I reminded myself, this was a once in a lifetime experience, and experiences of this kind are worth more than all the money in the world.
I took a seat in the auditorium. Watching the big band below, I listened for a while. Letting each instrument, each note fill me to the brim. I was in space, in a suit, drinking whisky, listening to jazz – and I didn’t even know it.
Someone sat next to me, throwing themselves into the plush chair, almost knocking my whisky onto the floor in the process. I stared in their direction, a look of disgust no doubt covering my face. “Hey,” the person said. It was a woman. For a moment I lost my words as my eyes trailed down her dark green dress and back up to the ornate gold necklace hanging around her neck. She was beautiful.
“Hey,” I replied. “You almost spilt my drink.”
“Ah, yes. Sorry about that. Shit like that costs a fortune here. It’s not like we paid for the tickets, right?” She smirked.
“So, what’s your reason for being here?” She asked.
“Because, why not?” I replied. I couldn’t see any other answer.
“Ah, you’re one of those…”
“One of who?”
“You know, the people who think they are entitled to everything. Those that think the world is their playground. Those that live vicariously through hedonism.”
“I do not ‘live vicariously through hedonism!’ Christ, what does that even mean…”
“That’s one of the symptoms, of course… delusion.”
“Why are you here then? If it matters so much…” I asked, becoming annoyed.
“I’ve always been fascinated with space,” she said.
I held my arms out wide. “And that’s a good enough excuse, better than mine? There’s no space here… just indulgence.”
She looked offended. “Okay… let’s agree to disagree. Simply, there’s no rational reason to be here. But then again, isn’t that the same for most things?”
“So what, you’re a nihilist now?” I laugh.
“No, not quite. Though it has its pulls.” Her face remained straight, as she looked at me with her impossibly dark eyes.
“Well… I try,” she said, her smirk breaking through. “You like the music?”
“Yeah, sure. They’re good.”
“A…ha. You must be kidding me, right?”
“No, I like them. The band after is the highlight. If you don’t like them, why stay?”
She shrugged. “The company.”
“I doubt that’s very good.”
“You might be surprised.”
Behind the stage, through the huge viewing windows, the stars remained a blur. Soon we would buzz past Mars, catching a close-up glimpse of the red planet. I wanted to be here for that, with the music playing, with a drink, with everything… and as unlikely it sounds, with her. It is funny how attraction works when you are not expecting it. I studied her, and noticing, she smiled that smile. “You want to wait for Mars?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. “You want to buy me a drink?”
“Sure,” I said.
Afterwards, we sat there, drinks in hand, music in our ears.
And we waited for Mars.