I feel like absolute trash today. My stomach is just as bad of a storm as it is outside- outside the borders, I mean. Heavestone’s weather is on a seemingly endless loop of the same springtime day. It’s nice if I want to stay inside of town, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed through wearing my warm weather clothes just to be met with negative forty-below degrees in the depths of winter.
That feels like cryonics, to be honest.
Boney went to visit the Miralayan girl again, which is how I know about the weather, because he showed up at my house during lunchtime with his hair sopping wet. I was sipping away at a cup of watery hot chocolate- Mom never got the hang of making anything in a mix- and watched him kick off his shoes at the front door.
“Why didn’t you answer my phone?” he asked, pulling up a chair. Not at all like Boney- usually he just barges in and immediately stuffs his face in the pantry.
“I’m sick, you dunderhead,” I explained. “I mean, you always make me want to throw up, but even more today.”
He waited for me to set the cup down before slugging me in the shoulder, knocking me against my chair. I winced.
“Crap. Sorry, Pony.” He got up and opened the fridge, retrieving a jug of orange juice and coming back to his seat a few seconds later with a towering glass.
“Why were you romping around-”
Boney cut me off, glancing around to make sure that no adults were in the room. He bent forward, close to my ear, and whispered, “I went to visit the girl again. I opened the pod. Got to touch her, even. She’s the real honest-to-god Miralayan Providence.”
You look confused, diary. What’s wrong? You don’t know what a Miralayan is? Or the Providence?
It’s okay. I wouldn’t expect you to. I’ll do my best to explain without taking too long.
An absurdly long time ago, when the political system of the world was coming apart at the seams and any former government agencies that might have had a semblance of a chance at escaping to the stars failed, one of the leading technology companies at the time- Mordern- decided that they were going to start a colony on Mars for no better reason than that they simply wanted to. There was the original public excuse that they wanted to secure a future for the human race, but seeing as that carried an off-putting resemblance to the manifestos of many a white supremacist, they forwent the guise of altruism and did it for the hell of it.
It went alright for a while, I guess. There was the original problem of getting the brave souls who signed up for the original trip up there in the first place, which was solved with the advent of the sleeping pod, which Mordern had invented in the later months of 2009. By the time 2012 rolled around, Miralay Colony had dug itself out of the red dirt and sprung up as the only dot of life on an otherwise barren planet.
A living wasteland, if you will.
Mordern turned their backs on Earth, choosing solely to focus on their new society four hundred million kilometers away. They placed two twenty-year-old leaders with iron fists to govern the burgeoning colony and make sure that they didn’t decide to take advantage of the slowness of communications in those days to revolt while Mordern couldn’t do anything for lack of knowledge. Not that a revolution would have had anywhere to spread- there was no privacy in Miralay. Everything was public knowledge.
That’s why my parents left. That’s what they told me, anyways. There was a practice they called mind shedding, where a forty-year-old and a seventeen-year-old would step into a machine and have a multitude of tubes hooked up to both of their heads and the young person would be the only one to leave alive, albeit extremely woozy to the point where they’d have to take a few days off of work to get used to their new identity.
I’ll let you connect the dots.
It was mandatory, and it was complete. Miralayans were empty vessels until that magical birthday where they donned the mind of someone who had been passed down over and over for a hundred years. Then another magical birthday rolled around and their life was snuffed out like a cheap birthday candle. People got to live longer on Earth, someone always complained, and they were always met with the argument that they didn’t have to worry about developing dementia or any of the cancers that old people were afflicted with. Their lives would be filled with purpose, unmarred by senility.
My parents survived, though. Their minds, I mean. They still retained a rebellious streak after they received their memories. They left everything behind to pay a cargo ship pilot headed for Earth to smuggle themselves and infant me into a trio of unused sleeping pods. Then there was a crash, and then we ended up here.
Heavestone is for other Miralayans like us, everyone smuggled or otherwise illegally entering this planet. Mordern can’t find “stolen property” if it never exists.
“Swear you haven’t told anyone yet-”
“Why, so you can get all the glory for yourself?” Boney crossed his arms. “I can’t imagine the Providence is something the adults would shrug off.”
“No, idiot. I- hey, why are you so close if you know I’m sick?” Boney backed up a bit as I continued. “You closed the pod before you left, right?”
Boney’s eyebrows wrinkled as he thought. “Maybe?”
I sighed. From my knowledge of sleeping pods, a person wouldn’t immediately awake upon their pod’s opening- but left, say, overnight, and surely some safety function would set in and the pod would fail to provide stasis any longer.
I’d been in a sleeping pod twice in my whole childhood. Onceon my trip to Earth when I was too young to remember, and once after the accident that I don’t remember after the surgery that I’m told saved my life. Neither of them had been very pleasant.
How long had the girl been sleeping?
And where would she wander to if she had woken up?
“Boney,” I whispered, “if you can, go check on that girl again. Make sure the pod is closed until we can have someone else deal with her-”
“I don’t want to wait. If she woke up, I’m bringing her back.” Boney stood up and downed the glass of juice in two gulps. He wiped a smudge of juice off the X-shaped scar on his cheek and tossed the plastic cup into the sink. “So I guess you better pray that I remembered to close the lid.”
And then he left.
…You know, diary, it’s been three hours, and I don’t think he’s come back yet. I would investigate, but… I’m so sleepy…