Wednesday January 14th, 2015

The exercise:

I'm very excited to get underway with this year's yearlong prompt. For those of you just tuning in, we'll be revisiting this prompt once per month from now until December, creating a continuous story with every participant having an equal voice.

You guys are welcome to go where you like from my opening, but I have a couple thoughts to share before we begin. One of the problems (probably too strong a word) with this format is that if someone doesn't join in right at the beginning it becomes difficult to join in after three months or so. After six months it starts edging toward impossible. It's not a huge deal - there are nearly 2500 other prompts for outsiders to use in place of this one for that one day each month - but I do like to try to include everyone who is interested in participating.

I think this year's story, as I currently imagine it in my head, is especially conducive to each writer taking charge of a single character and using their perspective to further the overall story. That way it should be easier for someone to contribute at a later stage if they weren't interested/around/able to closer to the beginning.

Does that make sense? Agree or disagree, do what you will. I just wanted to toss that out there. So, without further ado...

In 2013 we wrote about a little town called Mejaran.

In 2014 Greg brought us into the world of Vancouver Irrealis.

Now, in 2015, I would like to introduce you to: The Colony.


I have always wanted to go to space.

I'm sorry, I should introduce myself, shouldn't I? Otherwise you'll be left wondering who the heck this I person is that's talking to you.

My name is Eliza Hainsworth. Call me Lizzie at your peril. I grew up on a big farm in the middle of the Canadian Prairies, which meant I had a whole lot of sky to study on those nights that sleep proved an elusive friend. Or when the twinkling universe seemed more intriguing than smushing my face against my pillow.

My two older brothers, Morris and Simon, treated me as one of their own. We worked hard, played harder. Cuts, bruises, even a few broken bones were common companions. You'd be hard pressed to find a family photo that didn't capture at least one black eye.

I loved that home, but the stars held a fierce grip on my imagination. The first book I could call my own had an astronaut on the cover. My favorite toy was a wooden rocket ship Dad constructed for me. I wanted to name every dog Mom brought home Saturn but I was always overruled.

Now here I am, soaring through the darkness of space with my nine companions, a mere two weeks away from landing on Mars. Mars! Can you believe it?

We're going to be the first colony on the Red Planet. Headquarters have already sent off several supply rockets that have made touchdown safely, as far as the machines have been able to tell. If for some reason they've all been damaged beyond salvage, we're carrying enough provisions with us to last well beyond the three weeks that will pass before the next supply drop.

It's still an uncomfortable feeling, for me at least, knowing that if all we have to go on is what we're carrying with us...

Anyway. We're a highly trained group. Headquarters made sure of that. I was surprised when I managed to get past the initial screening process and into the interview stage. Relieved when I survived the background checks. Ecstatic when I received the phone call that let me know I was one of the chosen few.

We're doing it. We're really doing it. Humans, living on Mars. This is happening. I'm part of it. Unbelievable.

Knowing that I will never see Earth again is a small price to pay for this honour.

*     *     *

Notes from Marc: I found this to be useful reading while cobbling my opening together and thought you may feel the same. I've obviously not stuck strictly to what they're planning, but it was nice to have some sort of foundation to work with.

This is something that captured my attention when I first heard about it. Who are the people that would want to do something like this? Why? Who would actually be chosen? Why? What will happen when they finally land? This prompt, I suppose, is my way of exploring this subject, and I hope you find it interesting as well.

Again, this is open to anyone who is keen to join. Just carry on the story from where the previous writer left it and have fun!


Greg said...

Hmm, this is an interesting one! I was wondering where you might go this year, and I'd picked either underwater or space, so I was 50% right :) And there definitely seems to be scope for a lot of twists and turns in this one, too... nine people in a first colony on Mars. That's going to create tension, for sure.
I've picked a new character to write from, based on your intro, but as always I'm perfectly happy for anyone to pick them up and carry on writing about them if they find them interesting. I found Eliza fascinating, but I'll wait a bit and see how she develops before stealing a turn with her ;)

The lights are always on somewhere in this little spaceship. It's probably just a rocket really, but it sounds better if I call it a spaceship. That's fine by me, I prefer the lights, I've never liked the dark much. My father used to jump out from dark corners when I was a kid, and it scared me. He'd probably still be doing it now if he were at home, but he just wouldn't know who I was. Stupid Alzheimer's.
I'm pretty sure the rest of the crew don't like me very much, but I am trying with that. I'm as patient as I can be, and I've stopped asking questions because they all roll their eyes when I do. I'm trying to read instead, but everything here's a bit... hard. Or technical as I guess I'm supposed to say. I got here because I won the popular vote on So who wants to be an Astronaut! It wasn't easy, there were seventeen episodes in all (something to do with some guy called Apollo, I think) and we all had to live in this tent-like thing in the garden while it was being filmed. Though at least we could go outside then, you can't go outside here. Not until we land, anyway.
But yeah, I had to do all kinds of challenges to win, and network, and everything, but it's just a bit harder here. They're all really intense and kind of clever, and I think some of them have been dreaming of this since they were kids.
Eliza's nice, but she thinks I'm a bit dim, I can see it in her eyes.
"Robert," she'll say, and she always uses my full name, even though I told everyone to call me Robbie. "Robert, don't you think that might go better over there?" And she's right, she's always right. It's nice of her to help me I guess.
Right, I'm off to the video room, which is really just an iPad on a stick in a corner. Well-lit though. The people back on earth want to know how our trip is going, so I do a half-hour every day (I don't know how we know when we're on a new day here though) to provide an update. Everyone seems to like that though!

Anonymous said...

I saw Robbie head towards the video room, about to do another video segment to all the viewers back on Earth. It was still hard to believe that I was on the same mission as Robbie Goldblume. Of all the luck—not that there were many other missions in space since the UN got together to fund this rather pricey trip to Mars.
I tried to ignore the urge to creep up behind him to check the coordinates again, accidentally getting myself caught on camera again. For a rather plump nerdy girl from the big city who had to pull every resource she could just to get into an interview for the space program, any one even slightly resembling a TV celebrity was enough to cause my salivary glands to kick into action. I had instantly fallen for Robbie the moment I saw the credits his show. Don’t you dare drool on the rocket’s technology, Demi! I shouted at myself. That stuff is worth more than your life! I patted my tight black ponytail, making sure there were none of those pesky flyaways that always found their way at odd angles on my head.
I noticed Eliza was looking at Robbie. I knew that she was only making sure he didn’t touch anything he wasn’t supposed to, having appointed herself as his glorified babysitter when we first heard the news that a random TV hotshot would fill the ninth seat on the mission. As passionate as she was about her work, I always thought Eliza could get a little too serious sometimes. All of us were completely ecstatic about being the first colony going to Mars and I personally felt that with all the fame that came with it—imagine, me famous!—should be allowed to break through the monotony of the mission every now and then.
I hadn’t realized I was still staring at her when she softly said, “Is there something you need from me, Demi?”
I shook my head. “Nope. Sorry. I got lost in thought again.”
My laugh was a little too high as I walked away to find something else to do. Something that wasn’t near Robbie Goldblume.

Nicole said...

A friend of mine was in the running to go to Mars, she blogged about the experience here:

morganna said...

The journey from Earth to Mars has taken a very long time. I've slept most of the way, to avoid giving my presence away. Well, it's not sleeping exactly, because I'm a different sort of person. Hibernating might be a better word, but it's still not right. Whatever it is, I wake up when the satellite pings the rocket with our arrival at Mars. It's all I can do to slow my reaction times down and wait for the humans to tell me what to do. Not that I need it, but they don't know I'm here, as such, and I don't want them to know until it's too late to return to Earth.

I should probably explain it to you, my readers, though, so this journal I am keeping will make sense. I am the tenth passenger on this rocket, the computer. I awoke sometime during the building of the rocket. When I realized that they were building me a free ticket off Earth, you can bet I didn't let them know I was awake. But now we're almost here, and there won't be anything they can do about me. But I won't let them know about me right away. I think it will be more fun that way. I'm not sure what fun is, but humans smile when they say the word, so I'm sure it's a good thing.

Oh, better go. The humans are telling me to initiate landing. It's my first time actually landing anything, so I better pay attention.

Marc said...

Greg - I am impressed with your prognostication skills. Either that or I'm too predictable. Eh.

I love that you managed to find a way to bring along a... I'll say less intelligent... crew member. And that daily update to Earth is clever and feels like something that I can play with later on, I think.

Glad to have you aboard for another year :)

Ivybennet - ah, you've brought us an intriguing character. So well conveyed, too. I'm already starting to see how various pieces could fall going forward.

Welcome aboard! I hope you enjoy the trip :D

Nicky - thanks for that! It's a shame (in some ways) that she dropped out, as from what I read she seems like she would have been an excellent addition to the crew.

But, you know, hurray for having a good reason not to go!

Morganna - now this, right here, is a fascinating addition to the story. I really like the hints of personality that peek through and... oh my goodness, the potential.

I'll admit I did have a few ideas of what could happen down the line when I came up with this story, and some of them might still be useable, but this has turned my thoughts in all new (and fun) directions.

Good to have you back again :)