Reddit Writing Prompt #33: Mars Awakens

Planets are actually gargantuan sleeping golems. Once a human visits one: they awake, grant them immortality, and serve them forever. Now, Earth is not asleep, but is a corpse of a golem that died fighting another planet many eons ago. At this moment the first manned mission to Mars is landing. – Mako_Heero

Captain Rachel Zachow’s heart thundered in her chest as the ramp touched down on the dusty red-orange soil. She could see her own reflection in the reinforced glass of her space suit, and she saw the nervousness in her eyes. This, she realized, was what it felt like to be a pioneer. The first human being to set foot on Mars, on any planet besides Earth. This was going to put her in the history books for the rest of eternity. She knew that, and it horrified her.

The space shuttle had been in transit for three months, and she had put a lot of thought into the First Words, the First Words she would say as she touched down on the Martian surface. It had to be short and sweet and easy to remember, and she had to not feel the worst case of stage fright in human history.

Her traveling partner slapped her on the back, urging her forwards. He had been totally silent on the way through the thin Martian atmosphere, but body language wasn’t off limits. Rachel nodded, and though she felt ready to run away, marched down the ramp. She almost tripped; she had trained in simulations of Mars’s gravity, but the feeling of being so much lighter still caught her off guard.

She took tiny, carefully controlled hops down from the lander, and threw herself into the final step before she could have second thoughts. She had expected time to slow down for her, but it didn’t. Rachel considered that very rude of time.

Both feet touched down, and relief coursed through Rachel’s body. She had done it. She prepared to deliver the First Words, praying that they wouldn’t be caught in her throat. “The first step, but not the last.” That was what she had planned on saying, making it clear that Mars was only the beginning of mankind’s space travels.

At least, they would have been the First Words, but then the shaking started.

Locked in a shell of red stone, Mars awoke. LIFE, it thought with a mind the size of a continent and as old as the stars. AT LONG LAST.

Instinct ruled its actions. Mars pushed against the rock surrounding it, cracking through the planet that had formed around it while it slumbered. The right arm was the first, breaking free and scattering vast mountains and dusty plains, piercing through the thin atmosphere and into the void of space. Mars felt the consciousness of its Guide, like a bright light in the darkness. The Guide was on the surface of the rocky shell just above Mars’s left arm. It was careful to leave that for last.

With its right arm, Mars beat away sections of the rocky shell covering its lower half. When the planet was weak enough, Mars pushed with its legs, splintering the planet’s surface. The rest came easily enough.

Holy shit!” was all Rachel could think to say as something massive appeared over the horizon in an explosion of rock and dirt. It was like a new mountain had sprung up in just a few seconds, something massive on a scale that Rachel could hardly believe. And it was shaped like a head. An enormous, blank-faced head.

Then, it turned towards her. It had no eyes, but Rachel knew that it was looking directly at her. I RISE, a voice boomed in Rachel’s skull. AND I SERVE.

Mars carefully moved its left arm, taking care not to break the surface that the Guide stood on. It broke away the shell except for that surrounding the Guide, and felt the Guide’s terror, heard her scream. Mars the section of the rocky shell off its left arm, and moved it in front of its face. FEAR NOT, MY GUIDE, said the freshly-woken god to its small, insignificant master. FOR I SHALL BE WITH YOU FOR ETERNITY.

Rachel screamed as the images ripped through her mind. She saw endless armies of giants, giants like the one before her. She saw them sleep, saw them awoken by lifeforms that Rachel could only call alien. She saw titanic battles, carried out across the universe, as the stone gods fought for dominance.

Then, she felt the energy that held Mars together. It enveloped her, crackling in her chest, glowing like a bright campfire in her soul. The gift of eternity. The curse of the Guide.

In an instant, she felt them. A sudden flash of understanding, touching the minds of her brethren across the universe. They had once been mortals, but now they called themselves gods, because there was nobody who could argue with them. The power of such a titan was intoxicating, and the thrill of dominance controlled them.

Before the brief connection ended, Rachel realized that it went both ways, and the battle-hungry Guides knew that there was fresh blood in the universe.

And as sure as she knew her own name, she knew that they were coming.

One thought on “Reddit Writing Prompt #33: Mars Awakens

  1. As you know by now, this old bat has trouble with space fantasy, but I love the idea of the first to land on Mars being a woman. Also like the scale of the imagery.And the suppressed terror underlying the story. Good stuff, even though a bit hard for me to grasp


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