LOG ENTRY: SOL 97
Holy shit, it worked!
I just suited up and checked the lander. The high-gain antenna is angled directly at Earth! Pathfinder has no way of knowing where Earth is. The only way for it to find out is getting a signal.
They know I’m alive!
I don’t even know what to say. This was an insane plan and somehow it worked! I’m going to be talking to someone again. I spent three months as the loneliest man in history and it’s finally over.
Sure, I might not get rescued. But I won’t be alone.”
That was the scariest part of this all – not being stranded on Mars (well, obviously that kind of sucked too), but the idea that I might die without anyone knowing. I know, I know – they already think I’m dead back at home, so why does it matter? But to acknowledge that at any moment I could seize to exist, and no one would know, scared me. Scared me more than I’d like to admit.
If being on this planet has taught me anything, it’s taught me to really evaluate my mental state. What do you think I do when I’m not listening to crappy disco music or watching 70’s shows? I’d say I’m pretty much a master of meditation by now.
Isolation really takes a toll on the human psyche. I’ve thought about some stuff that I’d really rather not admit. But if anything, I’ve realized how dependent humans are on each other; we’re such social creatures that thrive on interaction. More than the thought of surviving, I was just happy to finally be able to communicate with someone other than the voices in my head.
Damn, that sounded psychotic. I swear my mental health is a-okay, Dr. Shields. Well, as good as it can be for someone stranded on Mars.
Honestly, I’m pretty surprised at myself. “The whole time I was recovering Pathfinder, I imagined what this moment would be like. I figured I’d jump up and down a bit, cheer, maybe flip off the ground (because this whole damn planet is my enemy), but that’s not what happened. When I got back to the Hab and took off the EVA suit, I sat down in the dirt and cried. Bawled like a little kid for several minutes. I finally settled down to mild sniffling and then felt a deep calm.
It was a good calm.
It occurs to me: Now that I might live, I have to be more careful about logging embarrassing moments.” Good thing I didn’t mention those thoughts I had earlier. “Now, how do I delete log entries? There’s no obvious way… I’ll get to it later. I’ve got more important things to do.
I’ve got people to talk to!”
LOG ENTRY: SOL 97 (2)
Well, shit. I broke it. I finally got a hold of communication with Earth, with NASA, with other human beings, and… I broke it.
To say I am angry at myself would be an understatement.
How did my brilliant self manage to do that, you ask? As I was moving the liquid oxygen tank I had installed into the rover for Sirius 4 back to the Hab, I kind of… tripped. It was more of a full-on “holy shit I’m going to break my face” kind of fall, and my instincts kicked in. I immediately extended my free arm out to try and catch myself, and what do you think I latched on to?
In particular, the imager for Mars Pathfinder, aka the only way I could actually communicate with Houston. It’s currently lying in a sad pile on my workbench.
As much as I would like to sit here and mope, I need to come up with a plan. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem reattaching it; it seems like there’s just a screw that came loose. The problem is that I shattered the lens when I pulled it down with me. You would think that NASA would invest in some shatter-proof glass.
Speaking of NASA, they must be having a heart attack right about now. I better come up with something soon.
LOG ENTRY: SOL 98
I have an idea, but it’s not one that I like.
NASA didn’t want shards of broken glass floating around in Martian atmosphere (go figure), so they tried to limit the amount of glass they sent us up with. The only glass I have in the Hab is the glass plate in the microwave.
Two problems with that. First off, a tiny part of me doesn’t want to break the microwave. How am I going to cook my potatoes once they’re fully grown? I could eat them raw, but have you ever tried a raw potato? Disclaimer: don’t, they’re nasty. I know that the important part is that I survive, not whether or not I enjoy my Martian meals. But, as I’m sure Dr. Shields would agree with me, even small things like a warm meal is huge. Any semblance of a normal life is something that I desperately cling to. But I’ll worry about that later.
The bigger problem is that the glass plate is way too thick, and also not the right size. That means that I’m going to have to melt it down and reshape it. I really didn’t want to have to light anything on fire again after the hydrazine incident, but it looks like there’s no other choice. Here’s to hoping that I don’t blow myself up for real this time.
LOG ENTRY: SOL 98 (2)
Good news! I didn’t die!
Granted, I wasn’t burning hydrogen this time, but cut me some slack. Another piece of good news is that I think I managed to craft a pretty decent lens. I used pretty much the same method as the last time I tried to make water, lighting up shards of wood by venting pure oxygen and giving it a spark until I had a pretty hefty flame going. I didn’t need to completely melt the glass down, just enough to the point that it was malleable and I could mold it. I had a couple of failed attempts of it cracking as it cooled down way too quickly, but eventually I cranked up the heat in the Hab to slow down the process.
Tomorrow I’m going to use the resin to fit the lens back in place, and then screw the imager back on. Things are finally starting to look up! As for the potatoes, I think I have an idea that might include tricking out a solar panel to act as a sort of cooker. I’ll keep you updated.