TITLE: Red Dirt White Noise
GENRE: YA Science Fiction
Remembering how to breathe is harder than it sounds.
Without the respirator tube, too many seconds tick past by the time my brain tells my body what it needs to do. Lungs sputtering, I pull air in, let it out, and swallow around the pain.
I cough and pray my heart won’t rocket out of my chest until enough oxygen kicks in, and my body slowly comes back under my control. Took long enough. I can still feel echoes of the tube where it was wrenched out of me. Like throwing up a hard, thick straw, leaving my throat bruised but intact.
But I’m here—breathing—and too soon, I wish I wasn’t.
I try to sit, but my arms aren’t quite ready to listen. I flop back against the hospital bed. Everything grates. Every breath. Every movement.
My eyes water as I blink back the harsh light of the examination room. Antiseptic dulls my nose. The crease of my arm where my port was aches even though the skin’s now healed over. My jumpsuit—brand new when we left Earth—has that itchy, worn-too-long feeling. I need a bath. And a one-way ticket back home.
The med tech hums as she checks my vitals. Hands brisk and impersonal like those of some manufacturing line inspector. She checks off boxes with her stylus, then signs the bottom of her touch screen with a well-practiced flourish.
She looks up and smiles. “Welcome to Mars...” She glances at the screen “…Nadira Kordell.”