A day in a dry and windy planet

Zeran brushed the electric charges off his hair and sprayed water across the room after making his bed. He dipped a piece of cloth in water and cleaned his neck and face while the sun entered through the dusty and scratched window. He took pills for bone pain and medicine for nose itch.

He religiously checked the water levels in the tank while he prepared an instant breakfast. He wiped the dust off the table and ate accompanied by the gusts of wind that shook the floor.

He swept the house, wiping the dust that came in from who knows where. He put the exterior suit on, and covered in thick anti-static blankets. He adjusted his visor and connected his mask to the oxygen supply. It was time to go outside.

He went out early in the morning, taking advantage of the sun and the relatively calm winds. He inspected his cone shaped house, in search of damage or leaks, just as he did every day. Tied to the ground and anchored with metal stakes, it wasn’t going anywhere.

He turned his car on, ugly as always because anything exposed to that weather quickly deteriorated. He drove to the aerogenerators, huge columns slicing the wind and spinning with elegance. He drove just a few meters away from his neighbors, in the middle of a morning walk across the dunes. There wasn’t a day were he didn’t think about covering the steering wheel with something, because his hands froze after a long time touching bare metal. He hadn’t had time to work on that.

He stopped just a few meters from the greenhouse, almost buried in the sand. But it was for a good reason, because the heat in that climate had to be preserved. Energy wasn’t free.

He knocked on the door and the airlock opened. He shook his clothes in the middle chamber and a stream of air and mist wiped the rest of the dust. The door opened and the heat and the gardeners welcomed him.

He envied those who worked and lived there, they were able to sleep in a humid and warm environment that loathed dust like no other place in the colony. It was too late to switch jobs. Work there was pleasant, colorful, interesting, and to his eyes, easy. Taking care of plants seemed more fun than repairing circuits damaged by dust.

He stored his suit in a special closet and went to the greenhouse’s power station. He worked in there the rest of the morning, amazed that dust accumulated even in the corners of that place. He gave maintenance to the systems that cared for the plants and future food of the colonists.

When he finished his job, the sun was at its highest point, the sky was solid white, and shadows were barely visible. In the horizon a wide dark cloud threatened with a night storm.

The temperature had reached its peak, just a couple of degrees above freezing, but that number didn’t make sense, there was no water outside. It was a useless unit of measurement but one that everybody agreed on.

Zeran went to Maité’s hangar, where the colony’s trash ended up and she tore it apart and organized into useful components and inventions that decorated her home and workplace. The ceiling was translucent, but it needed to be dusted off, like all things in the hangar. Maité didn’t bother to clean things that were going to get dirty the next day. She had built a metal table were both sat to talk and eat. And each time a part of Zeran’s car needed a replacement, she looked for it in an immense catalog of salvaged components that served the entire colony. In exchange, he brought the parts he found in his long trips, carried by the wind and buried in the sand.

With the rest of the day for himself, he got lost in the desert, driving between the dunes and rocks sharpened by the wind, where no one had gone before. Exploring an infinite world that was impossible to tame, where everything weighted and tired more. Getting lost in the middle of nowhere was his favorite way of forgetting that he shared a house with people that he barely knew. There wasn’t much to do besides following the routine, and hoping that the days would go by fast. Although he had almost a year on that colony, he still didn’t dare to call it his home.

He returned to the colony at dusk, when the shadows stretched across the highs and lows of the terrain and the sky was on fire. It was the time where the anemometers recorded dangerous numbers and electrified air was common.

He anchored his car to the house and entered before things got worse. He dusted off his clothes and hair, and ate while he ordered in his mind the things he would do the next day. For Zeran, keeping his head busy was the best way to not loose it on an environment as desolate as that one. Despite the extra work that living with many shortages and dangers entailed, the experience of living in one of the most extreme places of the planet was never going to abandon him. Besides, he couldn’t drive his car in the city the same way he did it there. Without laws or roads there was total freedom.

During the night he sprayed water in his room to breathe better, he snuggled up in his bed, and the wind helped him sleep.