“I’m approaching the site,” Brad screamed into his helmet, hoping that the mic would pick up his voice along with the roaring of the wind.
He never should have gone out of the habitat today, the winds were too strong, there was too much red dust kicked up in the thin atmosphere and swirling around him in rusty eddies making him have to wipe off his helmet every few steps, but he pressed on.
Brad Filcrum was a biologist in a land where nothing lived.
With one day left on this strange, red planet, he was determined to find something, anything resembling life.
Just yesterday they had realized that a large outcropping of rocks had an opening that may have been a cave.
The crew members weren’t permitted to enter any caves or go beneath the surface, not on this first mission, but Brad wanted to just get as close as he could to the opening — peek into the darkness and see if there was anything to find.
Perhaps some kind of Martian cockroach, those suckers could survive anything and everywhere on Earth. Or maybe a small fungus that could somehow withstand the freezing temperatures.
It didn’t matter.
Brad had been told that the likelihood of discovering life on Mars in this first mission would be slim to none, but Brad also knew this would be his one and only trip to the red planet, and he wanted to make his mark.
“I’ve reached the rocks,” he called into his mic.
Static and gibberish was returned to him.
He looked back toward the habitat and could barely see it through the swirling red dust, but at least he could see it, he wouldn’t lose his way back.
As he turned back to the rocks, Brad thought he saw something long and black moving out of the corner of his eye, but he turned and there was nothing there, just the small opening between the pile of red boulders.
Brad dropped the bag he was carrying on the ground and pulled out some specimen jars. If nothing else, he would get a soil sample from this shaded area to see if the nutrient components were different than the rest.
A shadow passed over him as he was bent over the bag, and Brad felt his heart flip-flop in his chest.
He snapped his head up, and could have sworn he saw a shadow moving inside the little rock cave.
“…okay…there?” he heard a crackling through his comms.
“Yeah, I’m okay, just spooked myself,” Brad said, then took the specimen jar and moved closer to the little cave.
He squinted and rubbed at his helmet.
He could have sworn it looked like something was moving inside the cave.
Suddenly, Brad wondered whether coming out here was worth it.
“Hey guys, I think I’m gonna head — “
Brad’s voice cut off abruptly when a long, black arm darted out of the cave and snatched the specimen jar out of his hand.
Before he could say or do anything, another arm lashed out, grabbing onto the bag by his feet, and as it pulled away he felt something pulling at the pant leg of his suit.
“Oh my god, it’s a tentacle,” he screamed into his comms.
Brad turned and began running back toward the habitat, shouting into his comms as he lumbered over the rocky Martian soil.
“There’s something in there, something in there and it has tent — “
And that was the last thing Brad said before he was grabbed around the waist and yanked back with enough force as to make him lightheaded, but unfortunately, he didn’t pass out before reaching the cave.
Brad’s body was too big to fit into the space between the boulders, but the tentacled arm that had him didn’t care about that at all, it pulled anyway.
Brad screamed when he felt his back breaking and pelvis being crushed as he was bent in half and yanked through the opening, falling backwards into darkness in the clutches of his certain death.
Brad Filcrum had found life on Mars.
It would be many missions before anyone found what it had left of Brad.