Darin was used to living under the weather. The old idiom had taken on new meaning after the failed terraforming of Mars. The attempt had created an atmosphere and breathable air, but it also created an incredible atmospheric storm that hadn’t ceased in over a century.
The great pioneers of Mars had made the planet technically inhabitable, but only when there was a steady supply of food and agricultural products coming from Earth. The global storm meant the ground was never dry enough to plant crops. It meant anything wild was drowned before it could germinate.
In recent decades, the storm had grown more powerful, which made the shipments from Earth less reliable. It was difficult to predict the weather patterns and cargo ships were often unable to safely penetrate the storm. Food and other vital supplies that couldn’t be manufactured on Mars would often not arrive when they were needed. There were frequent famines among the dwindling Martian population.
Attempts at growing food on Mars had met with limited success. There were some small-scale greenhouse operations, but a lack of raw materials kept them from expanding to the point of self-sufficiency.
Making a bad situation worse, Earth had begun experiencing massive, world-wide crop failures. Humanity had colonized Mars because they’d pushed Earth beyond her ability to support human life. Earth was dying and the attempt to bring Mars to life had failed. The people who remained on Earth – the vast majority of humanity – were becoming increasingly unwilling to send increasingly scarce resources to a colony that was incapable of ensuring the continued existence of the species.
So Darin, having been born and raised on Mars, was very used to living under the weather (literally, of course, but also figuratively). The unpredictability of supplies meant a lack of regular meals for all but the wealthiest of Martians. The lack of regular, proper nourishment meant that the majority of Martian people were weak and experienced frequent illness. Despite that, Darin had set out to do something no one believed possible. And he had done it. Darin had climbed Olympus Mons. He’d reached the summit of the tallest mountain in the Solar System. He’d seen the world from above the weather. In the process, he’d exhausted the meager supplies of food and oxygen he’d collected for his journey.
Looking at the world from above the weather, Darin breathed the last breath from his oxygen tank, took off the mask, and smiled.
This piece of microfiction was written based on the prompt “under the weather,” from Alder Sprig’s weekly Thimbleful Writing Prompt.