aqua fortis

Monday, August 06, 2012

WFMAD Day 5: Pulled from the Headlines

Today’s Prompt: Go to the Washington Post or the newspaper of your choice and choose a story from the front page that, for whatever reason, really strikes a chord in your heart. Read the story through twice, then put it away. Don’t look at it again.

Write a scene connected to that article. Put your character in the middle of the action. The character can be someone who was actually mentioned in the article, or – more interesting! – make the character someone who has a strong emotional connection to the people in the article. Or insert yourself into the middle of the action and write a scene.

I really have no idea what's going on in this scene. I picked an article on the landing of the latest Mars rover Curiosity, so it's kind of a sci-fi piece, although any "science" is pretty much made up by me on the fly. The quote at the beginning is pulled from the end of the article.

“We’re going to nail it for Neil,” Grunsfeld said.“Curiosity will set us up for the day when men and women will land on the surface of Mars, and it might not be that far away.” 

The famous quote that got it all started. The quote from Chief NASA Scientist John Grunsfeld, back in the 2010s, the reason our team is called the Nailers. One reason, anyway. The other reason is simple and obvious: we're the building team, the first ones, the ones who leave the landing module every day, nail guns and riveters in hand.

We're the ones building the Neil Armstrong Memorial Research Laboratory. The first permanent structure on Mars. It's 2076 now and we know what tools and methods work in this Martian atmosphere, and we're almost done.

I lift my nail gun and quickly drive in the tenth and final nail attaching the plaque bearing the laboratory's slogan to the outer wall, just above the main doors.

Nail it for Neil, that's what it says. It's supposed to symbolize how we're all workers, scientists and builders alike, even those first poor bastards who died up here before we got the suits and equipment fully figured out. Each one of us is a cog in the machine, that's for damn sure.

Me more than most. I'm twenty years old, and I'd planned to be one of the scientists working in that shiny new lab. I was going to be a terraforming specialist. I was an artist, a designer, a creator, living things my media. One mistake, one little screwup, and instead I was sent into service, and now I'm the lowliest member of the construction crew. This job, this last humiliating job, is supposed to mark the end of my service sentence and put a shiny exclamation point on the monument to the glory of science.

It should have been my glory. But they'll remember me. They don't know it yet, but they will.

I finish attaching the sign, breathing heavily into my helmet. Then I get out my heat torch.

Under their quiet little machine-made plaque, the expanse of smooth metal doors is my canvas.