It’s like when you’re waiting for the light to turn green to cross even though there is no traffic, he thought to himself. You can cross the street because there are no cars coming from either direction but you choose to wait until it’s safe. Just in case. Well, he thought, no point in playing it safe now. Safe isn’t really an option for me even I wanted it, he thought, ruefully, pausing at his desk. He looked outside his cell. He could feel the warmth of the sun but it never helped. He wondered what the sun would feel like from Mars. From all of his research he knew it would be significantly colder because it was further away from the sun. He already suffered from SAD in the winter so would it be worse on Mars? He caught himself before the thought developed any further. One more week. You won’t have much time to worry about that, he chided himself. One week to document everything he could and report back. One week alone. Not different to any other week if he was honest with himself. Even before prison things had not been much different. It was cliché to say he had nothing to lose. But with one week left to live he didn’t have many other options. Prison or Mars. His position as a research scientist for over twenty years ensured his suitability for documenting life on Mars. The government had wanted to do something that had never been done before. He didn’t want to think of where the money had come from to fund the mission. Didn’t want to know who had been sacrificed. He knew they were saving money on him. He had been chosen, he thought bitterly to himself. He stopped writing and looked at what he had written. He shook his head watching his meandering thoughts twist and turn. He scrunched up the sheet in from of him and threw it across the room. He started again.
My name is Jin. I’m 43 years old. Single, never married. I have one week to live and I’m going to die on Mars. He smiled a tiny smile, pleased with his dramatic turn of phrase. As a scientist he rarely had an opportunity to inject personality into his work. I’m writing this from a prison in North Korea. Realistically I know no one outside of the guards will see this, before they promptly destroy any evidence of its existence, no doubt. I have been a researcher for over twenty years, sometimes doing things I shouldn’t have been. Hence the prison sentence. I regret nothing. The work I have done, that I have smuggled out, that I have shared with the world was necessary. I accept my fate and, really, the end will be spectacular. I will be the first person to step foot on Mars. My job will be to document life. I’ll be a glorified blogger, he laughed to himself. I will be taking photographs and writing about my observations. And on the seventh day they will leave me to die. In ancient cultures if older members of a family were no longer able to contribute or take care of themselves they were left to die. So it’s kind of like that except it’s not my family, it’s the government. I don’t see it as punishment anymore. Everything that could be done has been.