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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 001, Sur Two, Saturday, Sol 45 (001.2.45)  10:01 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Tuesday, 19 April 2016  2:00 PM PDT 
  • Distance traveled:  191,960,712 kilometers   Time Delay:  4 mins 18 secs
  • Distance to Mars Rendezvous:  200,449,040 kilometers
  • Song of the Day:  Real Love (Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne)

Sam was standing in the Rex Bay looking at a monitor. The screen was almost a meter wide, and three meters tall. She was watching video of Yosemite Park in the early summer. It had no narration, it was just recordings of different sites in the parks from different viewpoints, including helicopter flyovers of waterfalls and granite mountains.

The Rex Bay was designed to be a place for the crew to go and relax, or gather and talk. It had food and drink available, and it served as place to celebrate events.

Zeke came down into the Bay and saw Sam. “Hey Sam, what’s up?” Sam didn’t respond. Zeke grabbed a drink and walked over to her. As he got close he saw she had been crying. Zeke said, “Sam, you okay?” She glanced at him and replied, “Yeah, I’m just being stupid.” Zeke said, “Stupid’s my gig, you’re going to have to find another ship.” Sam laughed a little.

Sam still watched the monitor. Finally she said, “Zeke, how do you do it? You seem to love space. All I can think about is how far we are from Earth.” Zeke said, “I don’t know. I’ve never felt like any one place is my home. I guess I just am a wanderer.”

Sam asked, “Where were you born?” Zeke said,

“Chicago, on the west side, near Garfield Park. I lived there until high school.” Sam said, “You’re a long way from home.” Zeke replied,

“And going farther. When I was about eleven or twelve I was starting to get into some trouble and fighting with my Mom. After school I would go and play basketball. My Mom put me in a basketball program and this coach saw that I was going to end up dead or stuck in nowhere. He got my Mom’s okay to take me on the ‘L’ one day. I hardly ever left my neighborhood and he took me all over Chicago. Every Saturday he would take me on different lines and to different places.

After a while, I became an expert traveler. I even taught my Mom what to do and what not to do. Both of us began to want more out of life than what we had in our neighborhood and she and I became a team of explorers. In a couple of years she found a new job and we moved to a better neighborhood. Eventually, we moved to Denver and I got in a great school, and she had a good job.

I went off to college and in my junior year she died. Not too long after graduation, ESEP began its Mars program, and I became fascinated with going to Mars. It was like a switch was turned on. I knew I belonged on Mars.”

Sam said, “But don’t you miss Earth…even a little?” Zeke says, “Earth is still there. It will always be there. But we’re on the ‘L’ train to Mars. I know I can go back, but right now I’m going to Mars.”

Sam smiled and said, “Man, you need serious therapy.” They both laughed and then Wendy climbed down into the Bay and said, “Can I join the party?” Zeke said, “Perfect timing. Sam says I need therapy.” Wendy looked at Sam and said, “Good diagnosis. I was looking for a new partner.” Sam said, “Actually, I’m the one whose been standing here crying.” Wendy gave a little smile and said, “I was wondering when it was going to hit you.”