It is sometimes surreal.
Walking around the more tourist friendly areas of the planet, I notice familiar foliage in foreign soil. Not that there are tourists here - the three-year travel time tends to put most people off of the shorter visits. Still, I see a lot of very familiar looking people here. They are nuclear families, usually with two or three children, and invariably dressed in expensive clothing that is made to look rather plain… possibly plain clothing that is made to be very expensive. One does need a healthy sum of disposable income to be living here, I suppose. Not me, of course; I'm exempt. I just happen to be lucky enough to be a charlatan parading around as a journalist. This place needs the documentation. They're all dressed up in their swimwear. Many of them are workers, who saw the opportunity to be a part of something historic and brought their families along. They must feel like pioneers. They wear shorts and bikinis, as if we they were gallivanting down the Pacific coast. I wonder about the younger children; do they remember Earth at all? Can they be considered native Martians? I should probably be writing this down.
The lakes here are deep. They are man-filled, but not man-made, so people contend that there is still plenty of exploration to be done. I don't know what they expect to find. Many are old volcano shafts, weaving deep through the planet until the heat and the pressure is enough to kill any living thing; anything we know of, at least. Sunken pirate treasure seems like a stretch. Even fish would be a shocking sight around here. Yet, I feel a strange tinge of disbelief to be floating upon the waters here, idly noticing the movement of unfamiliar moons, and imagining the Earth is now so far away. The dome, however, is a strong distraction from getting lost in your thoughts. I understand the necessity, but I feel like I'm someone's pet, trapped in a terrarium. It might be just like home if I could see far out into the ether, unhindered.
I suppose I should explain. This is a private journal, but no one writes a private journal without intending for someone to read it eventually. We are all vain and full of self-importance at our core; most people are simply less honest about it. I’m not here because I’m a pioneer, or an adventurer, or some brilliant writer. I’m here because I was bored and I needed the money. I am the wrong person to be doing this job. Then again, I’ve always felt like I was the wrong person, no matter what job I was doing. There is, fortunately, very little oversight. I could write about what I see, and what is really going on here, but that isn’t what they want anyway. There are lots of stories that get passed around here, originally based on truth, but turned to legend by oral tradition, and those are what really intrigue people. They might not be true, strictly speaking, but they’re true enough. Barring that, I just make something up. Creative writing was always my forte.
Today should to be my day off, as it were. I’m trying to relax, but I can’t really. There is something about this place that gives me a constant feeling of tension. At least, that’s my excuse. Alcohol is very expensive here, but they are talking about building a local brewery or refinery or whatever they need to make the liquor flow. It is telling that this has been my most pressing concern. I’ve been spending my entire check at that damn bar. Not that I need that money for anything else, but it would be nice to walk away with something after this. If people ever figure out that I’m full of crap, I might not be able to get another job. I think this rum might have gone to my head too quickly. It’s becoming difficult to focus.
“Hey, we’re closing.” A voice I don’t recognize emanates from a short distance away.
It is some time later, and I realize that I have fallen asleep. I’m the only person left, and it’s getting dark. That’s one of the symptoms of the alcohol. I seem to fall asleep randomly and uncontrollably. I usually know that it’s coming about ten minutes beforehand, but am so overwhelmingly tired that I can’t do anything about it. I suppose I should get out of the water now. Maybe freshen up my drink while I’m at it. Even though it’s my day off, I can’t relax. I have to start working on something, and I have to do it now. There is no pause between when I complete a story and the fear that I won’t be able to come up with the next one. I’ll have to hit the bar. It’s the best place to overhear chatter without having to attribute it to anyone in particular. It’s also one of few places that will stay open.
I take my usual seat, in the corner next to the wall. I enjoy having walls on two sides of me, it feels safe. It is as if the building is cradling me. There is a fairly good turnout tonight, despite being a Sunday. I say Sunday, but it isn’t really. We don’t have the same time here as on Earth, but we keep the calendar, because it is comfortable, like my corner spot. The workers here are very good drinkers. Writing is a profession that is littered with alcoholism, but I think these people have us beat. There’s something to admire there. Looking around the room, I can see stories on all their faces. One man has scars, and is grizzly looking. You can tell that he is not a family man. He pushes harder than most, and takes more risks. So far the risks have paid off, but they’ve left him with their mark. Someday, they’ll take him. This isn’t something that will appeal to my demographic.
There isn’t much tonight. I’m going to have to figure something out myself. I’m feeling like a feel-good story this time; something annoyingly heartwarming. Nothing pulls at people’s heart strings like a child. A child will discover something. It can’t be something terribly important though; that would be too obvious. It has to be something that is equally intriguing and insignificant. A piece of a lander, perhaps? Those have been missing for quite a while under the red sand. It’s just filler though. It’s bullshit to get through to another day. I have to find something great. I can’t just pass the days anymore; I have to make a name for myself here.
“Yes, I’d like another Irish whiskey, and make it double.”