Devlon (630-word sci-fear)

“Don’t you sometimes think how your life would be different if you studied better at school?” Troy, a middle-aged drilling rig operator, asked.

“I think that all the time,” Ethan replied. He was a 29-year old drilling rig assistant, who didn’t have a license to operate the machine on his own. His face was clean shaven, save for the three-inch goatee hanging from his chin. After extracting the soil and water from the inner tube, he gave a signal for the operator to continue. “Only an ape would work at 220 degrees below zero, in the South Pole of another planet.”

They were collecting soil and water samples from the southern Martian ice cap to see if it was potable for the future people who would want to live there.

“Didn’t they have some rover… Curiosity 3 was it? Why not let it do all the drilling? Why bother sending us from Hell Hallow, New Hampshire all the way out here? Makes our town seem like an ideal spot for rest and recovery.”

Troy snuffed his nose under his spacesuit helmet. “That rover only has a 16-foot long drill. Compare that with this RC drill, which can pierce into the crust for more than half a mile.” He pulled on the levers and rotated the drill hammer and casings before inserting them deeper into the ground.

“Speaking of the crust,” Troy continued, “back on Earth, we operators are used to relieving ourselves in some remote corner on-site. Don’t do that here on Mars. Throw your urine bag into the mobile toilet, not on the ground.”

Ethan twitched his mouth and nose.

“You haven’t heard of Devlon, I assume. He’s the ancient God of Mars’ crust, the grandson of Ares himself.”

Ethan twitched his ear. “I don’t believe in superstition. I’ll throw my Pee Wee bag onto the crust, and let Devlon have a taste of it.”

“Seriously, Ethan, many people were mysteriously ejected from their suits and died of carbon dioxide poisoning after they pulled the stunt. They’re all sleeping with the fishes now.”

“Don’t worry, Troy, I won’t cause you any trouble. I’ll do it far away from here. Just have to prove to our union members that there’s no such thing as ghosts or Gods.”

“It’ll be a shame to die here, in the middle of nowhere, and as a drilling rig assistant!”

Ethan ran into the pressurized mobile toilet and waited for ideal atmospheric conditions before partially taking off his suit to remove the bag from the cables. He ran back out and sprinted half a mile into the rising sun. An angular rock lay a few steps from his boot. He held up his urine bag and threw it at the rock. Urine splashed within a five-foot radius.

He held his limbs in a jumping jack position, stiffened his neck, and stared into the dawn sky. “Ha! Mars’ Crust God? Devlon? Where are you now?! I’m the one who’ll soon surpass the greatest God of all time!”

***

Dust storms only occur on the deserts of Mars. On the southern ice cap, however, where the ice is two miles thick and dry ice is 26 feet, another phenomenon occurs. When the sun shines, this dry ice quickly sublimates to carbon dioxide, creating fast drafts of air that resembles huge blizzards.

“Hooooeeeuui,” a wind shivered.

Ethan heard the noise but ignored it. Probably just some small wind, he thought.

“Hooooeeeuui,” the wind shivered again.

He stared back at the distant white landscape. Sweat flowed down his face and accumulated at the tip of his goatee, which subsequently froze into a marble.

A “Shoooeei” sound emitted from the marble.

“I’m not afraid you, Devlon! I’m the one who’ll surpass God! I’m not afraid of you!”

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