– Portfolio illustration by Hayley Alcock
We hurtle towards the Red Planet, as it sits in space like a drop of blood.
We, the voyagers, the optimists, the deserters —
cluster around a hexagon table.
Bottles of water behave like lava lamps.
The freeze-dried jerky tastes tough and derivative.
We all wear the same off-white bodysuit,
inlaid with coils of bright red tubing.
We look inside out; our fibrous network of human circuitry
simplified into abstract art.
But coursing though these concentric curves
is not blood, but a liquid coolant.
An android serves tea with a programmed smile.
Technology used to have its own shape,
but we grew offended by its sharp edges,
and mathematically perfect angles.
We began to tinker and reconfigure
the bodies of machines.
Now they look like us.
A simulated ally; immune to our prejudices.
Tolerant of our intolerance.
Behind us, the sun lifts night from our ruined home, like a waking eye.
When we left the blue planet
we didn’t leave it blue.
We choked its clear oceans,
ploughed its green fields,
felled its purple forests.
Until the dust and the sand and the fires were all that was left.
The appetite of humanity was punctuated by a nuclear belch,
whose baleful echo we can still feel,
even as we reach the outskirts of our new orbit.
But we, the pioneers, the survivors, the hopefuls —
Are armoured in hubris, and fortified by knowledge.
We carry to our destination a mythos long aborted;
to cultivate, instead of eradicate.
With eyes full of stars, our descent begins, and we are all partners in wonder.
Hayley Alcock is a 2nd Year Creative Writing student who has been lost in space since her brother introduced her to Star Trek as a young child, sparking a lifelong interest in all things SF. She particularly enjoys the retro futurist aesthetic of the 60s, 70s and 80s, as well as boundary pushing speculative fiction.