I find it amazing, quite frankly, that it was a whole year ago that I was in Canada.
I have to say, just based on the short week I was there, Banff is definitely a place I would like to revisit. But, alas, not this year.
Nor did I try my hand again this year at the 3-Day Novel, despite the occasional e-mails that came in reminding me about it recently. I actually didn’t do any writing today, despite meeting with my weekly writing group. We spent more time talking about comics and books and the terrible, terrible abuses of adverbs. (Seriously, “He frowned moodily”?)
I have been, sort of, revisiting for the first time the novel I wrote that week. Not so much to wonder if there’s anything I can do with it, and certainly not to admire the writing craft on display in its pages, but simply because it’s been a year and I haven’t looked at it all since then. Maybe I’m just feeling vaguely nostalgic for that time, that freedom to just write, and the environment so conducive to doing so.
Anyway, for whatever it’s worth, here’s how that story I spent three days on starts off:
On the morning of April 37th, an unexpected chill in the air and the artificial sun just starting to rise, the last man from Mars fell to his death.
There would be no investigation, or at least nothing of any substance, even though suicides of this sort were exceedingly rare and almost impossibly difficult to pull off. The corporate owners of the Astraeus Building assured the local authority that they would give their full cooperation, even offering them unprecedented access to the rooftop gardens from which the Martian man had jumped. Only a select number of employees (and of course the AI responsible for tending these gardens) had this kind of access, and both the Astraeus Corporation and its parent company back on Earth were naturally eager to learn how the dead man had fallen from their site.
There was nothing to indicate corporate espionage; Astraeus had no direct competitors in the drug trade aboard the world-station, and anyone admitted to the hub was screened and tagged well before they would reach even the Building’s lobby. Beyond the novelty of the dead man’s origin, a fact that could only be proved conclusively after the initial DNA tests had been unsuccessful, there was nothing to suggest that he was anything other than a random malcontent. Astraeus was well within its legal quota of on-board addiction and overdose; statistically, there had in fact been fewer fatalities from their prodct this month than in any April on record. All the necessary paperwork was already on file with station central and at corporate headquarters. But of course there were always the occasional protests, the odd individual whose physiology — usually because of some undocumented, ill-advised, or illegal body modification — reacted poorly with whatever growth he or she had been sold and ingested. Astraeus was not immune to these difficulties. They were simply the cost of doing business in the orbital free-market.
Perhaps, then, that was all this was: the cost of doing business. Did it really matter, in the end, if the man was the last refugee of a dead red planet? Who even remembered Mars nowadays?
In the end, station authority agreed that it did not matter. A minor glitch in the AI system, which Astraeus promised to duly investigate and, if necessary, debug, was blamed for the Martian being on the rooftop in the first place. The drugs in the man’s own system — of which there were many varied growths and strains, all of which were easily cataloged against the company’s inventory — were a convenient excuse for the suicide. If anyone thought to ask why the gravitational containment field atop the Building had failed, allowing the Martian to fall thirty stories instead of just a few safe and customary inches, or how the last man from Mars had been admitted to the station hub in the first place — no fanfare, no warning flags — neither of these questions were noted in the final report. Brief mention was made to the slight chill in the morning air, with a note to the climate techs to look into it if they had an opportunity. No one suspected the station’s own safeguards had been tampered with.
And no one suspected that the last man from Mars had been pushed.
So that was today, more thinking about writing than writing itself. Plus the Sunday crossword, a pretty decent new episode of Doctor Who, an okay but still kind of disappointing Dawn of the Dead remake, and of course a brief run up and down the street in just my socks when my sister’s dog got off the leash and decided she didn’t want to come back inside after all.
Yep, just your average Sunday.