This was started by 1000 words – Prompt number 17. And, as I was writing, I realised this is another part of this story, or at least closely related. I guess somewhere in me is a story about terraforming that wants to be written.
“It is raining again,” she says irate. I nod silently, staring past the screen with her face on it through the window beyond. I wish it was raining here. The buildings outside are shimmering in the heat, and everything is tinged red. It hasn’t rained here in years. Millennia probably.
I don’t remember the smell of the rain, but nod anyway as she continues to complain about the abundance of water. I’ve been here, preparing for today, for over three years now.
The picture icon on the top left hand of the screen starts blinking – I have a new picture. She is still going on about the weather, so I double click and drag the picture to the left of her head.
Wonderful, she sent me a picture of the rain. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. I giggle, shaking my head.
“What’s so funny,” her voice pours out of the speakers next to the screen, jerking me back to this reality.
I smile politely, apologize and blame my rudeness on one of the boys pulling faces.
“So, tonight’s the big night,” she says, changing the topic quickly, much to my relief. So tired of her continuous complaints about the rain. “All the equipment ready?”
I nod. "The guys have been setting up for days, and it’s not an easy job in those damn hazmats.”
“You need to pull this one off, girly, we are running out of space down here. Let’s hope it works the way you told the big boys it would.”
I hope it would work better with every cell in my body, but I just smile and say “We’ll know by the end of the week.”
“Ok, doll, I will check in with you later, I am sure you have more thingamabobs to connect and do whatever it is you do up there.”
I sit in silence after she disconnects for a couple of minutes. Three years, who knows how many billions spent, and now… now it is time to switch it on. I never thought I would see the day.
Once we had figured out how to build small colonies on planets, enough to sustain a team of scientists mostly, it was pretty easy to figure out the rest. We ran our first test on the moon, shortly after I finished my thesis on the subject.
God, I was so young then.
And now, now we are about to do the real thing, here, on this scorching red planet. I pick up the cold glass of water from my messy desk and savour the liquid on my tongue. We will know when it starts raining.
Two hours, fifteen minutes and counting.
I switch on the comms, tile the various cameras on the screen and say “How are we doing, guys?” The small figures on screen each give a thumbs up, except for the one bottom left. I touch his picture and it fills my screen.
“What’s wrong, Guss?”
“Nothing, boss. Just wanted to say good luck.” He smiles and gives me a thumbs up. He’s been with me since the first tests. I thank him quietly, and return to the previous view.
“One hour, fifty minutes to go. I will check in with you in another hour.”