Alone (The Mars Diaries Book 1)

By: Skye MacKinnon

The Mars Diaries, Volume 1

To everyone who's helping protect this planet.

This story is based on the Six Swans by the Brothers Grimm.

Six brothers have been turned into swans by their stepmother. To free them, their sister Elise must make six shirts out of nettles and can't make a sound for six years or the spell will never be broken.

The King of another country finds her doing this, is taken by her beauty, and marries her. When Elise, now queen, has given birth to their first child, the King's own wicked mother-in-law takes away the child and accuses the queen of that deed. Unable to defend herself, Elise is sentenced to be burned at the stake as a witch.

On the day of her execution, she has all but finished making the shirts for her brothers. Only the last shirt misses a left arm. When she is brought to the stake she takes the shirts with her and when she is about to be burned, the six years expire and six swans come flying through the air. She throws the shirts over her brothers and they regain their human form. The youngest brother is left with a wing because she didn't finish the shirt.

The evil mother-in-law is punished and the king and the queen with her six brothers live many years in happiness and peace.


It all started with a headache.

Next came the cramps.

Then, the pain. Cries and wails filled the station.

The bloody cough killed most of them.

The others succumbed to the fever.

And then, silence.

I’m the only one left.

My name is Louise and I’m the last human on Mars.

Week 1

There's six of them in the loading bay. They arrived last night and I've been staring at them ever since. Six cryogenic pods, each containing one man. They left Earth before the plague struck the station, and they've been sleeping ever since their rocket took off into space. They don't know what awaits them here. They've missed all the death and pain and heartache. I'm just as jealous as I am happy for them.

Through the glass window on top of the pods, I can see their faces. The first faces I've seen in two months. That's how long I've been alone now. It feels like an eternity.

They're all in their early thirties, according to the files that show up on the screens at bottom of their pods. There's a lot of information in those files, hundreds of pages about their lives, their experiences, and their health. Graphs show their vital signs; all steady and normal. For now, they are healthy.

The people on Earth say that the men can stay in the lifepods for another seven weeks, that's how long the supplies will last. Then I have to let them out and breathe the air of the station. But we don't know if the virus is still here, and we cannot risk them dying. They are my last chance of survival. I won't make it much longer on my own. This station was created to be manned by dozens and I'm struggling to keep up with all the essential tasks.

A day on Mars, or sol, as we call it, is forty minutes longer than a day on Earth. It took a while to get used to the new rhythm, but now I couldn't do without the extra time. I only sleep for a few hours each night and those are restless and over far too soon. I'm exhausted. There are no weekends or days off; there is nobody else to run the station.

I shouldn't even be here right now, staring at the new arrivals. The grow pods need weeding and the air filters will be dusty again. The sand storms are frequent this time of year and they plug the filters every second sol. Without the filters working properly, the air turns stale inside the station, so it's one of the most important tasks on my to-do list. But the green houses are just as essential; without them, my food supplies would dwindle fast. Last year, our station became self-sufficient and we no longer rely on supply ships from Earth. That also means that we don't have a lot of food stores as we tried to grow as much as we could ourselves and eat it fresh. Over the past two months, I've eaten a lot of the preserved foods we still had left from our last delivery. They are dwindling fast, so I will have to be able to rely on the plants slowly dying in their pods. And soon, there will be six new mouths to feed.

I have no idea how this is supposed to work. But I won't give up. I didn't become an astronaut by being weak-minded. And living on Earth wouldn't be much better. From what the people in the command centre tell me, the planet has changed a lot. They call it the Drowning. Sea levels rose without warning and entire cities and countries were flooded. I'm surprised they still sent new settlers to Mars with all what's going on down there, but maybe they see it as a chance to send humanity into space. Keep our species alive.