In the Shadow of Olympus Mons

Avatar Author: dkscully "Stand back! I have a keyboard and I'm not afraid to use it." This site is totally awesome. I really enjoyed (where I went by my alternative handle of kjaneway), and I thought that it was a great shame that... Read Bio

Even through the heavily tinted portals of the habitation unit, she could almost taste the crimson sky. It was so much worse when they were out there, though.

It had taken less than an hour on their first excursion for their shining bright environment suits to be so thoroughly coated with the carmine soil that they could barely pick each other out against the strange, too close horizon, unless they were moving. After three months here, exploring every day, the suits were rusty with dirt, and she swore she could taste the blood of the planet in every breath of recycled air and every drop of recycled water.
“Are you kidding?” she screamed, and walked out, her dramatically petulant exit rather marred by the lack of a door to slam behind her.

He was well aware that nerves of the team were strained by the close quarters, the heavy work schedule and the odd hours. He’d watched as she spent more time in the windowless lab than out on the vermilion plain, and worried.

Had he imagined the scarlet hue of her eyes?

View this story's details


Oh no! This story doesn't have a prequel. Want to fill in the blanks and write one?


Comments (13 so far!)

Average Reader Rating

  1. Avatar jesteram

    The ominous ending ties the color challenge in with sequel potential. And who doesn’t like reading about Mars?

  2. Avatar Paddy Festus

    I like the imagery, the planet seeping into her in every way. Very nice.

  3. Avatar Radical Yellow Duck

    A great start to a story on my second favorite planet.

    Thank you.

  4. Avatar Mighty-Joe Young (A.K.A Strong Coffee)(LoA)

    great story great imagery i would expect nothing less from you skully

  5. Avatar ethelthefrog

    It’s taken me a looong time to comment on this. I have been simply unable to find words, but here goes.


    Being on the Martian frontier is going to be very claustrophobic indeed. You capture that brilliantly.

    That little twist at the end sets us up for how the planet is affecting them physically as well as mentally.

    A fine opening, brimming with tension and potential for conflict. Top stuff.

  6. Avatar Match

    A brilliant take on the combination of hard labour in the claustrophobia and vast emptiness of space.

    Hints of Frank Herbert, and Walter M Miller’s Crucifixus Etiam here – but in a uniquely different way.

  7. Ahfl_icon THX 0477

    Lots of mystery there. I’m perplexed and curious but in a good way. Neat bit of story here, just begging to be continued.

  8. Avatar bluefish

    People keep saying first part. I think it stands on its own. The rest is left to the imagination. What strange tales might our minds spin?

  9. Avatar dkscully

    Thanks for the kind words, guys. They’re much appreciated.

  10. Avatar DoItForScience

    I’m sorry to nitpick on the science of what is merely your title, but Olympus Mons doesn’t cast much of a shadow, because of the really, really low slope. If you were standing at the base of the mountain, you wouldn’t know it from looking at it. Actually, I’m pretty sure the peak would be over the horizon.

    … ignoring that, I agree, it’s definitely a nice story. Well worth a sequel.

  11. Avatar dkscully

    @DoItFOrScience Yeah, I know… Martian terrain is pretty odd from what I understand of it.

    But I wanted the foreboding feel that the title gave, especially to tie in with the last line.

    Also I needed something so that I could get the wretched thing posted, since I’m really bad at thinking up titles. :-)

  12. Avatar ethelthefrog

    There’s no reason the shadow has to be a literal shadow…

  13. Avatar Browncoatben

    This made the environment so very tangible and interesting. I absolutely loved this piece…everything about it. The characters are, with only one line of dialogue, so very well developed and seated in the world.

    17 Stars and 9 pencils, for good measure.

This story's tags are