The Starving Activist is the sometimes-home for words. AR Neal (that’s me) finds them, cultivates them, and leaves them here. Enjoy.

Write Now! Prompt for January 18, 2013: Shoes

Here is the link to the full prompt; we are supposed to use the phrase "I pried the lid off the box with a crowbar..." My submission is entitled "Shoes" and I have decided to stick with the science/speculative fiction genre for a little while longer; hope you don't mind :)

I had been at the station for about five years now. Mars is a beautiful and terrifying place: the sunrise is eerie over the red sand; the dry storms are unbearable, even from within the station’s walls—the harsh, monotonous sound of sand brushing against the metal hull of our shelter is too much like the caress of some large beast; and the creatures that live out there in the dusty distance plot their revenge on every man and woman from Earth who dares to work here. My fellow scientists think I’m nuts and insist we are alone on Mars, but I have seen the bare footprints (Myra didn’t believe me when I said the prints had been there but must have been covered by the last storm) and heard the sounds of their laughter outside the canteen window (Myra used to say that I imagined that also and that it was just the sound of sand sliding between the food recyclers). I don’t care what any of them say because I know we are not alone.I am not sure if Willy, Barb, Judy, and Norm agreed with Myra, but they didn’t act like it when we had to all work together; we all had different jobs around the station but had to partner for certain things and not once did any of them act like they thought I was crazy. Outside of work detail, they don’t want hang around with me much, especially since Myra died. I keep myself occupied anyway; I have a shoe obsession. Yes, it sounds a bit odd for someone relegated to a life on Mars, but a girl has to have a hobby, right? Before coming here, I used to sport all the latest styles, but those were not practical for my time here. Now I spend time making my own shoes. The others still laugh at me sometimes because I will wear them around the station. They also laugh behind my back I know because I don’t have any training in creating footwear and my first few attempts fell apart pretty quickly. It’s been about three years now since I made my first pairs and, if I say myself, I’ve gotten pretty good. I am hoping to develop a pair that I can put on over my suit for when we go out; my hope is to develop something that won’t leave tracks in the fine Martian sand. If I can create something like that, I can go across the plain and find the creatures that I am sure live out there. Perhaps they don’t mean us harm after all but just need to meet a good-will ambassador.I decided to make this pair out of metal so they would be sort of like a combination ski and snowshoe or something. I had a few trial and error pairs which I got rid of but I ran out of material. But the other day I remembered we had some strong, thin metal in the back freezer room. Way in the back was the box they’d put Myra in; I pried the lid off the box with a crowbar and found it to be very pliable. I am sure Myra won’t mind me using it and I hope my design works; if it does, maybe I can convince the others that she was wrong, that I am not crazy, and that the creatures really do exist. I want to prove it to them before it’s too late, before the creatures come back and do more than scratch at the doors and windows. I sure hope this turns out to be my best shoe design ever.

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