An Unexpected Discovery
“Jesus Christ, Frank, could you watch where you’re going, please?” I scolded, annoyed at the frequent prodding on my back. “That security line gives you at least a couple meters, no need to stab me in the back every few seconds. Tethered to a frickin’ idiot.” I muttered to myself, forgetting volume doesn’t translate through the our comlink. “I know I am. And sorry,” Frank muttered, nonchalant as ever. His head hovered low over his palm, reading a timer that ticked and beeped relentlessly. In his other hand he shielded the red dust from blocking his view. Protruding from the stomach of his suit was a long metal rod, at the end of it a cord that connected to me. So we wouldn’t lose each other out here. “Soon the storm will be settled enough that we can see more than a few meters ahead of us.” “Thank God. When?” “Several minutes, give or take. Maximum distance we’ll be able to see will probably be… Roughly twenty meters or so. Don’t get your hopes up. Are we still on the right track?” He inquired, unconsciously nudging my back again. I checked my digital compass. Damn red dust made it difficult to read, but I could just make out our markers and the location we were headed to. “Yeah, close enough at this point. Do we even know what it is we are looking for?” “Nah,” Frank replied from behind me. “Supposedly we’ll know it when we see it. Control never saw it close up but they got some pictures of it, labeled it as a ‘location of interest.’ From what I’ve heard, it’s almost continuously been hidden in dust storms.” “Typical. We don’t know a damn.” I exhaled in irritation. “Well, it’s not like it’ll be hard to find, once this storm passes,” kicking the red dirt as I spoke. “There ain’t nothing out here for miles.” We walked in silence for several minutes. The dust swirled and spiraled erratically, constantly leaving a faint red film on my helmet. I lazily nudged a small rock with my boot. “You know what just occurred to me? No one has walked on this damned Martian dirt in, well, probably forever. Ain’t that crazy? Every rock, every thing you see, never been touched by a living thing. The entire planet, just an open, desolate history book waiting to be read.” “Yup.” I got as a reply. The security line had gone taught, as Frank’s nose was buried in his palm again, attempting to read the timer. “We got a minute or so until the storm peters out. Won’t be completely gone, but enough to see.” “Good. God knows it can only get better from here.” I laughed at my own joke and bit back, as I got no response from Frank. Clearing my throat, I checked the compass. “We’ve veered a bit to the right, let’s get back on course. It should be coming up in about half a kilometer, I believe.” I halted, turned about 20° to my left and started again, pulling the cable and Frank closely behind me. “What do you think we’re gonna find out here?” Frank sighed. “I don’t know.” “I dunno either. A spaceship? A large rock? The Mayans? Elvis Presley?” I exhaled dramatically. “The possibilities are endless.” “I’m going to make an educated guess and say that three of those answers are probably wrong. Although, it would be nice to see Elvis perform.” Silence again.We walked slowly, plodding our way through the now thin storm that danced all around us. We could see much farther now, nearly thirty or forty meters in total. I missed Earth, the sweet wind, and liveliness of it all. Everything moved in a calm ecstasy. Here, on Mars, well, you’d better like the ugly orange color of its dirt.
And suddenly, like lightning out of a clear blue sky, we saw it. “Oh, God.” I muttered, unable to articulate anything other, hardly a breath escaping me. “Is that…? Oh, God… What the-” “I think that is…” Frank agreed, dumbfounded, now beside me. “We uh, should leave and tell Control right away. There is no, absolutely no logical explanation for this…” He turned and started walking back, a quick, uncoordinated hobble, but the security line that linked us kept him from going too far away from me. I pulled him back, so I could examine it further.We had almost run into a massive pillar, roughly five or so meters high and just a couple wide. With a small gap in between came another, with a last massive stone lying horizontally on top, bridging the distance between the two. Sarsens. There were several other arrangements like this, in the form of a circle, with several more, larger stones placed in the middle. I could only think of one possibility. “You were right about the rock.” Frank’s voice was barely a whisper.I nodded. “It’s a Goddamn Stonehenge.”