Dead Roads- Episode 1: Blood Red Planet- Chapter 1

This is the first Chapter of my Space Western novella series. It is a futuristic western that takes place on a colonized Mars, centuries after those sent to colonize the planet lost contact with Earth. I hope you enjoy!

It’s been two hundred years since we last had contact with Earth; and in those two hundred years we ain’t done sh*t but drink, steal, fight, f*ck, party, and kill each other since we got to this planet. Sure, we built an atmosphere, and we even pumped out enough CO2 to bring rain to the planet but we ain’t really changed anything; we haven’t evolved or improved. We’re making the same mistakes we made back on Earth. We’re still the same greedy, selfish, reckless creatures we’ve always been; the only difference is that now we’re on a red planet instead of a blue one. We’re still killing our neighbors and exploiting our kin for profits. Mars was never a new beginning for any of us; it’s just another world for us to f*ck up. We ain’t no good; and we never really tried to be. 

Dead Roads_FinalCorben grinned and leaned back in his chair as he listened to Daniel get into one of his drunken philosophical rants. His hazel eyes glowed with intrigue as he chugged down his ale. Tiffany rolled her eyes as Daniel continued his rant. She was gorgeous with light skin and long orange hair that flowed down her back; it was much longer than Corben’s black braid. His sandy brown skin glittered as he admired Tiffany; she was annoyed. Tiffany slammed her hands on the table and said, “I think we’ve done a fine job at bringing this rusty old planet to life.”

Daniel glared at her, his dark eyes popping with anger. “You don’t know what the f*ck you’re talking about,” he declared.

Corben could not resist laughing as he watched Tiffany’s face go from pink to red in a split second. She was a mean drunk and Daniel was a talkative one. The tavern was busy for a Tuesday night, but Corben was just glad to have his friends there to distract him from his boring life for a couple of hours. Every day was the same, Corben woke up at six in the morning to work at the mine until five in the evening, and then he went to Orange Tavern to have a few drinks before going home to shower and sleep. Then he woke up the next morning and did it all again. It was a simple life and as much as Corben seemed to be content with ordinary, he secretly hated every moment of it.

When he was a young boy, his grandfather would read him western and Steamfunk novels before bed. Corben would fall asleep with tales of bandits, and bank heists, and gunfights, and wondrous inventions flooding his dreams. Minus the adventure, living on Mars was like living in an old western town. After communication and travel from Earth ceased, the luxuries and innovation of Earth also ceased, as the people forgotten on Mars worked to survive without resources from their home planet. It took over two thousand years to make Mars inhabitable and then after the scientists, astronauts, and explorers finished their work, communication just stopped. The people left in the dozens of scattered bio domes on Mars were forced to figure out a plan for survival when the ships back to Earth never came. So just like the books Corben’s grandfather had read to him when he was a child, Mars was living in the past, well sort of. Solar energy was available in most parts of Mars; there were even solar trains, but very few automobiles. Communication relied on HAM radio which was relatively new. All of the technology that was not crucial to make Mars inhabitable was invented and built far after contact with Earth ceased. Mars was inhabitable but it wasn’t fitted with all of the industry and technology of Earth.

“What do you think, Corben?” Tiffany questioned, “Is Daniel right; are we nothing but greedy animals?”

Corben laughed and said, “I think you’re both drunk, and if I want to reach your level I’m gonna need a couple of more drinks.”

He shook his head and walked over to the bar. He ordered a drink and turned his attention to the rest of the tavern as he waited. There were many familiar faces in Orange Tavern that night; Cobalt City was a small town, so when Corben noticed the man in the black cowboy hat, sitting in the shadows with nothing but the embers of a cigarette lighting up his lips, he had to do a double-take. The man was tall and muscular with rich dark brown skin. Corben couldn’t see his eyes but something about the man made him think of his grandfather.

The man put out his cigarette and got to his feet. He lifted his head and walked across the Tavern to Corben. Corben straightened up, his brown cheeks burning as he realized he was staring at the stranger. The bartender slid Corben a drink and as Corben reached out to pay, the stranger grabbed Corben’s arm and said, “It’s on me.”

Corben nervously looked at the man, finally seeing his amber eyes. The stranger smiled and said, “Enjoy the rest of your night,” then shook Corben’s hand. Corben flinched as static from the stranger’s touch shocked him. The stranger quickly exited the Tavern. Corben tried to shake off the heebie-jeebies as he made his way back to his friends. Suddenly, he bumped into a young man and spilled his drink all over him. “Sh*t, I’m so sorry,” Corben apologized as he looked up to see the young man’s fist in his face.

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