Dome 7 Mars
The bus ride from the surface station to their new home in was horrible. It was packed with people of all types. A dozen families moving in straight from Terran ghettos, all dirt poor (emphasis on the dirt, they were covered in it). Some people were coming back from vacation off-world. And, of course, there was a handful of tourists carrying luggage. It was cramped, hot, sweaty, and the air was stale. On top of that, there was this one Earth baby who cried the entire two hour drive.
When the family of five finally got off at their destination with all their luggage they were exhausted. So exhausted that they didn’t notice how huge Dome 7 was at first. Martin had lived his entire life in enclosed spaces—tightly packed cities in domes where the metal ceilings were only about 100 feet tall and there were no artificial skies.
But the domes on Mars were completely different! It was an open space, with plants growing everywhere and a soft breeze blowing. And the dome was easily a few thousand feet tall, and the artificial sky was amazing! It was exactly what Martin imagined a summer day on Earth was like. The sun was shining and there were clouds, yes clouds drifting by! And actual, real-life birds flying by!
Dome 7 was basically a huge corn farm. Aside from the sky, the roads, and the massive cornfields, there was nothing.
Oh, and the house! It was an actual house, not some cramped apartment. It was a detached house with a roof and a porch and even trees growing around it. Granted, it was in the middle of nowhere, lost in a vast sea of corn. And yes, it needed a fresh coat of paint. And yes, you could see gaping holes in the roof. But still!
“This is how people were supposed to live!” said Dad, though Martin knew he would have preferred living in some dirty forest on Earth.
‘Ew…’ thought Martin, shuddering. ‘Dirt…’
They stood on the porch, almost as though they were too afraid to step inside. It felt a bit like breaking into a stranger’s house. It was during their awkward silence that they first noticed how quiet it was. The desolation felt kind of eerie. Where were the people? The bustle? The various noises and stenches? Where were the cramped Martian slums they had heard so much about?
“So,” said Kia, breaking the silence at last, “this house is all ours?”
“As long as we’re missionaries here,” said Mom. “Apparently land and housing is cheap on Mars. The church owns this house.”
“You would think they would get us a better one,” snarked Kia, “if everything’s so cheap here. Look, I bet that wall there’ll fall in on itself at any moment.”
Mom and Dad rolled their eyes. The family started working up the nerve to walk inside.
Mom unlocked the door and creaked the door open. But they didn’t enter. Instead, All five family members peeked into the crack; like they were afraid someone would jump out at any moment.
“Hello?” Ira called into the empty house. He was surprised by how echoey it sounded.
“It’s empty bozo,” said Martin.
“Mom, Martin called me a bozo.”
“Martin, don’t call your brother a bozo.”
“If it looks like a bozo, and it smells like a bozo, and it walks like a bozo, and it talks like a bozo…”
“Mom make him stop!”
Kia rolled her eyes and sighed that way know-it-all teenage girls do. “You two are so immature.”
“This is ridiculous,” said Dad. “Can we continue this conversation inside?”
The whole family simultaneously looked down at the porch’s flaked coat of paint.
“But…” said Ira.
“But what?” asked Mom.
“I dunno. I don’t want to go in yet.”
“Why not?” asked Dad. He was asking himself as well.
“It’s the end of an era,” said Martin, finally. “And the start of a new one.”
“And I know just what we should do to start the new one,” said Mom.
They held hands and prayed. They prayed for protection and guidance and strength as they started a new era in their lives: as missionaries to Mars.