The sniper looked out at the grey metal rushing past him as he sat in the railcar. He had one more day to find her. One more day before they declared him an incompetent and he had to rely on others to help him get the job done. One more day.
He sat back in his seat and stared at the screen. There was data flowing across it, but he could not bring himself to be interested in it.
He paused the scrolling and closed him eyes. All the fighting and chasing had him exhausted. He would not sleep, no, not after last night, but maybe just a small rest…
Jor rolled over and looked at Naci beside him. They had been here on Mars for three years now. And for the most part he had been keeping his anger, his desire to make art, deep inside.
He was still surprised that she had feelings for him. he was so unlike her in so many ways, but he loved her, and he thought that she loved him too. It was so strange and wonderful. He often thought about those first few weeks on Mars. It had been what romanticists call a ‘whirlwind romance’. It was, to him, a miracle.
They had met up a few days after arriving to talk. They had talked for a long long time, and finally when they did go off they had set up another meeting so that they could talk some more. And he had slowly become normal.
He had done what he told her he was going to. He had opened a bakery. He took up other hobbies, and painted when he had spare time.
He made love to her when they could find time together, and when they couldn’t find time for that he went to see her, or she came to see him.
He felt, in short, normal. Like a normal person. For the first time in his life. Normal. It was wonderful.
He smiled at her and brushed her hair back behind her ear without waking her up, then got out of bed. He pulled on his pants and threw on a jacket, then headed out.
The Martian mornings were still cold, so very very cold, but compared to what they had once been this was a dream.
He caught a snowflake on his tongue, and walked off to the bakery. So much progress in three short years. He smiled at the thought as he looked around. As he had become more and more normal Mars had become more and more like Earth.
The Lifedomes had not been necessary after a year, but they had kept them around for two just to be sure. The terraforming had been going wonderfully well, better than it had ever gone before.
At the same time colonists came in droves, making Mars into a whole new world. Shops, cities, villages, towns, everything had sprung up. It was fantastic, truly.
But it was not only Mars that had seen such wonderful improvement. Across the entire Solar System it had been a time of prosperity. The Arc had been built to mine the rings of Saturn of what they could, along with colonies on many of the moons across the Solar System.
Europa, Titan, dozens of moons, all colonized. Work had even begun on Mercury and Venus. The past three years truly had been wonderful. And now there was snow on Mars.
Jor smiled as he unlocked the door to his bakery and stepped inside. The other workers hadn’t arrived yet, but that was fine. He always got there early, always liked to get there early. He loved the quiet of the bakery before the work began, loved the smell of day old bread, loved everything about it. A convenient lie had become his life.
The world worked in funny ways sometimes.
He began to whistle one of Naci’s songs as he warmed the oven and moved old goods out of the window. He was happy.
The sniper lashed out with the blades he kept up his sleeves.
Sheets shredded, pillows accrued furrows, and the screen’s covering got an impressive spiderweb crack when he hit it with a crash.
After a few moments of flailing he realized that he was shouting.
“Die! Die! Die! I’m not him! He’s not me! Die! I didn’t want to! Didn’t mean to! Why won’t you just die!”
He stopped his shouting and took a deep breath. What had gotten into him? Why, why? was he having these dreams? Why were they haunting him? Why?
He slammed his fist down on the armrest. Why? Tears carved hot paths down his cheeks. He had not cried, had not shown emotion in years. Not since her.
But why now? Why now when he needed, needed, to stay focused? He needed to banish these thoughts somehow. Take them away, forever.
He got up and went to stand by the screen, pausing the datafeed and turning it transparent. The tunnels whipped by. He did not know where he was going, did not know where to find the artist now. He was adrift. And he only had one more day before he would be shackled, before he would be chained to a team of loyal psychopaths who would never let him have a moment of weakness, a moment to himself.
He would not have been worried about moments of weakness before, but now it had become an issue. He shook his head in anger and clenched his fists tighter around the rail.Why now? A light passed heading in the other direction; there were other cars on the tracks at this time, but not many. As he stood he cast his thoughts back to the fight of the day.