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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Western · #2251940
Sometimes, you just have to sit back and enjoy the view.
Red dust stood half an inch thick on the floor of the barracks.

Jake knew they were supposed to leave their boots outside every night. All of the men knew that.

And they had followed the protocol for months. But as summer set in and the days grew longer, fatigue began to break their resolve.

There was no one to enforce the rules, either.

Jake plopped into a chair and pushed his heavy feet out in front of him, scraping two clean trails into the metal surface.

“My great, great, great grandfather worked on the railroad in Colorado,” Tommy said as he dropped to the floor beside Jake. “Think that was easier than this?”

Jake took a deep breath, filling his lungs for the first time all day.

“I don’t know. Maybe. Getting through those mountains had to be tough.”

“Sure,” Tommy said. “And that air was thin, too. But …”

The radio crackled, and Tommy stopped talking.

“Now, today’s weather report from the equator,” the tinny male voice said. It sounded like something from an old Philco in those movies Jake’s grandfather was always watching.

“This is the hottest day on record, registering a balmy 33 degrees centigrade at midday.”

Jake raised his eyebrows to Tommy, who nodded in approval.

“Scientists at the MAGE lab point to the new high as evidence that their atmospheric experiments are working,” the radio voice went on.

“Think we’ll ever be able to ditch these things?” Tommy asked Jake, tapping his helmet.

Jake gazed out the thick glass window, marveling as the stars winked to life in the darkening sky. He shrugged.

“In other atmospheric news,” the radioman said, “Earth will be visible in its full brilliance from the New Cumberland station tonight, coming closer to Mars than it’s been in five years.”
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