“Life on Mars; or, Cold”
That’s it. That’s all.
Fuck, was he expecting anything else?
(He closes the laptop. Shakes his head. Looks around. He takes a sip from a mug—coffee. It’s cold. The clock is stopped. He opens the laptop again.)
Sorry. I’m sorry about that.
It’s cold. It’s very cold. It’s cold outside, but I think somehow it might be colder in here than it is out there? Because fuck it, I am freeeeeezing.
It’s been 74 days since I arrived here to scope out what life is left, to figure out what the fuck is happening to the globe. How these animals got this way. 74 days. 73 updates. One man. One mission. Record everything, make progress, cure the disease, make everything safe again, bring you home. Didn’t get to this, that first night. The first night, I stayed up drinking and looking at the view from my window, this window.
(He picks up the laptop, shows the camera the giant window in the background.)
Right here. See that? Look how infinite it is. Massive. Beautiful. And I’m the only one here who gets to see it. This is been such a gift. It’s a gift from God to me for making it. I did it. I made it here from all that frozen fucking wasteland and now, my son, the horizon is mine, mine. This view, this formerly purple mountain’s majersty, purely mine. For once in my life, I own something. I’m alive and I get to see this beautiful sky, so, I had to celebrate, right?
But now… I’m out of whiskey.
(He pushes an empty bottle off a table. There are others on the counters, along with notebooks, empty cans, coffee tins.
He bellows to the sky:)
THANKS, GOD! THANKS FOR LEAVING ALL THIS WHISKEY IN YOUR LITTLE HOUSE!
I only wish you’d have planned a little more ahead.
(He plops down with the laptop.)
Fuck, it’s, I’m just, it’s lucky there was anything left, yeah?
Are you surprised? Your mother used to say she didn’t believe in god, it was just the only way she could justify…
Day 73. 74. I still don’t know who used to live here. I keep looking for pictures, books, home movies, anything, but I can’t find anything. Oh, I found one thing, it was a dog. It was this cute collie or whatever, Lassie-type dog. Picture. She was real pretty. But that’s it. Didn’t you always want one of those dogs?
Anyway, there was your basic food, coffee, whiskAY! But that’s it.
I don’t wanna get all, er, stuperstitious on ya, son, but sometimes, I think this house was set up just for me, hee hee hee hee.
(A noise happens. It sounds like a deep, deep roaring. The house quakes. He starts. He starts to sing, loudly.)
Big wheels keep on burning,
Proud mary keeps on turning,
Rollin’, rollin’ rollin’, rollin’ on a reembow,
Ooh hoo hoo hoo
Rollin’, woo, rollin’, woo, rollin’, woo, rollin’,
(It stops. He stops.
He smacks the laptop screen.)
Jesus, talk about… the earthquakes, the screaming, it just keeps getting worse. I thought they were earthquakes, but tectonic plates shifting, they don’t sound like this. They don’t move like this. Every night. Kid, it literally sounds like the earth is dying. Like god is an evil surgeon tearing the guts out of a dying man with his bare hands. Sin anesthesia. Sin whiskey. Sin cojones. Gracias. De nada.
Bare hands. Bear. Eh? You get it?
You still with me?
Worse and worse every day. Day seventy-something.
I wish you were here. I don’t want to write these stupid fucking journal entries anymore, not write, just, you know, I just want to see your face, but I don’t want to do it, but what else is there, okay? How else are you gonna know what’s up, pops?
I’m the pops.
Your pops misses you. I fuckin’, I miss you kid. Your mother wouldn’t let me say that shit in the house, but I have my own house now, and my rules, and my own view, and my god, it’s so beautiful outside. I can imagine you and me camping out there in the summer, looking up at the stars, seeing the way the trees and mountains glow under a full moon. We could have looked at mars together. Could have seen the faces in all the planets. Could have thought about what life on mars would have been like together. Laughed about that impossibility.
It’s like that time we went camping with your scout troupe and you couldn’t sleep and you snuck out from your tent to go to that river, and you saw the stars, the constellations, the planets. I could have killed you then. You could have been eaten by a bear!
Bears, they weren’t so scary back then. They were scary… but they’re not this.
(he looks around, thirsty.)
Day 74, coming into 75, and this is it, buddy. This is what I’ve got, right here. The best part of waking up.
(He shakes his mug at the camera, downs it. Sighs.)
And that’s all, folks.
Eh, enough about me, kid, I’m always the one leading the conversation.
How is it up there? Is space really the final frontier?
What’s a sunset on mars like, kid?
You were so lucky to have found that program that would jet you out of here. You were perfect for it. So young, good health, good lungs. If I’d gone up with ya, my lungs would have crystallized in a second! You know they say you can’t ever have smoked any menthol cigarettes if you wanted to make it in space? Well… I was never a big smoker but your old man had his partying days back in the space disco era. And now it’s your turn to live your own space disco era. Literally!
Didja like that? I made it up! Clever one, I am.
God damn it, at least you’re safe from them, kiddo.
(The noise starts again. This time it sounds like a roaring. It gets closer and closer as time goes on. He sings “proud mary” again. It is louder. The house shakes. The empty tins rattle. The coffee mug tips over. The laptop falls to the floor. He stops singing, dives to catch it, is too late. )
Ty, no, no no no no, no, Ty, no, you stay here. You stay here with me. rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on a river, rollin’, rollin’—
Do you hear that? Ty! It’s happening now. It makes all the fucking sense, Ty. It’s a—
All the food gone, all the drinking water gone, all the liquor gone, all the people gone, just me now, and now—this. It’s happening, finally, Ty. It’s like someone set this all up for me, a gift from god, right? I had only so much time to figure it out, I couldn’t figure it out, and now god is telling me I’m done, right? The lord giveth and taketh away, right? Because this is the only way it makes sense, Ty. This is the only way. It’d be too fucking insane to know that a man had created these monsters. That someone took some fucking bear DNA and did this—this!
They never knew, did they, that something like this would happen, right? That they’d chase us all off the earth? Except me, Ty! I stayed. I stayed here to do the work here in the Yukon, to figure these monsters out… but it wasn’t enough, Ty. It wasn’t enough.
(the roaring gets louder. He hums nervously. He steadies himself, places the laptop on the table. He looks out the window, ducks back down, is eye level with the laptop.)
They’re finally coming for me, Ty. They figured out what we couldn’t—how to survive on this planet. Now everything will stop sounding like screams in the night, and the earth will stop shaking, and I will not be afraid. You can’t come home though, son… you can’t come home again, though. I’m sorry, Ty. I’m so sorry.
(he holds the laptop as tightly as he can from the bottom, making sure the camera is unblocked, attempts to stand, attempts to keep his footing as the ground rumbles louder and louder beneath him. He holds the laptop to the window)
But look, look at this view I get to have, Ty. Look at this screaming, beautiful, dying planet, Ty. I’m the last one here and even as it dies it’s still mine, it’s mine, it’s mine. Ty… what’s going to happen to me? When everything finally stops screaming, where will I be?
(he sings “proud mary”, louder, louder)
You’ll be safe. You’ll be the faces on the planets. You’ll be that life.
Ty… is it cold up there? Are you cold?
We thought they were scary then. Fucking bears, Ty.
(a loud crash. the door bursts open. loud roars. blackout.)