Intercosmic - Chapter 27 – Middle Child

Today is my brother Evan’s birthday, and once again, he’s not here to celebrate with me. We both hated celebrating birthdays, but he did it because our youngest brother Edan loved to celebrate them. Since he died, I do try to celebrate, try to remember him. But I’ve been out on duty most of the time, and just forget. It’s not hard to go months forgetting I ever had a big brother. It’s funny how you could spend a large part of your life with someone, idolizing them, then they’re just gone. One day you talk to them for the last time, and don’t even realize it’s the last time. If it weren’t for the old videos I watch most years, I wouldn’t remember what his voice sounded liked.

Today I decided to take a tour of Tharsis. Originally, they thought the area was full of volcanoes. Once humanity got here, we learned the truth. It was a city at one point. Little green men did exist at one point on Mars, maybe they weren’t green or little. They were long gone before humanity came around, and the remains of most cities have all but been wiped away. Tharsis is special because many of the landmarks managed to survive. We even recovered some Martian technology and integrated it into our own. Evan, Edan and I all loved to explore. I was going to go into space and visit every planet, meet every alien species, find a new planet or species. Edan wanted to create a space station that would travel through different systems. Evan was smarter than us, he wanted to be an anthropologist and study the history of humanity and other species throughout the galaxy. I figure this is something he would like. I hope he would because it’s boring me to death. I like history, but I find it extremely hard to care about archeology and that seems to be the only topic of discussion.

Since neither of my brothers are here with me, I’ll do something Edan would do as well. I’ll just hang back and let the tour continue without me. It takes a few blocks of landmarks and slow walking before I’m able to fully slip away.

I choose to stop in a large plaza and watch some street performers in front of a fountain. A Vaznian contortionist moves their body as a human woman plays a strange instrument that looks like a mix of a tuba and violin. The music isn’t exactly great and the contortionist looks to be aging out of the line of work, but people still seem to donate credit. A few quick swipes on my wrist comp and I’ve transferred a few as well. They lose the attention of the crowd as a group of officers chase a man through the plaza.

The more time I spend on Mars, the less I see a den of violence and mayhem. Instead, I see poverty. The same kind of poverty my brothers and I grew up in. Evan was the guiding light, he was going to lead us all out of despair and into a new world. Once he died, there wasn’t anything left for us. I joined the marines, partly because they promised more money than I knew what to do with. They lied. Edan ended up becoming a thief and was locked up a few years later. I knew he was on a bad path, but couldn’t really move him. Mom and dad knew he was up to no good, but didn’t try to change anything because he was bringing in money to help the household. I think that’s part of the reason I joined the marines, try to provide in my own way.

Today was supposed to be a happy day, and I ended up bored out of my mind on a tour, sneaking out of a tour and wandering what passes for a park on Mars. I guess, I can do one meaningful thing that Evan would have liked today.

I scroll through the contacts on my wrist comp when I could just say or type the name. I finally land on Edan Gray. My little brother, I’ll send him a message, because Evan always tried to keep us from fighting.

“Hey,” is the only positive thing I can think to say.

“Hey, yo, love you bro,” the message pops up entirely too fast. That means he’s in Sol, and out of jail.

“Love you too,” I type back.

“Eww, don’t be mushy.”

“Nice talking to you too Edan.”

“We gotta talk face to face when they let you off the leash. Bury the hatchet.”

“Yeah, sounds good,” I don’t mention I’m already AWOL, or am I deserting?

“You should go see Dad.”

“Why?”

“He’s not doing too good.”

“Did you go see him?”

“Why? So he can turn me in again?”

“Never change.”

“I won’t, but you change a little. Smile more.”

Edan sends a picture of Evan, himself and I. When I attempt to reply my wrist comp gives me an error message. I wouldn’t be surprised if he broke through my security in those few messages, he’s smart like that when he wants to be. I still can’t believe he had this picture with him, but I’m really glad he did. Perhaps he and I can be okay one day.

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