Happy New Year! Start 2016 off right with Samuel Jensen’s “Sarajevo,” a love story set one hundred years in the future, on a moon light years away from earth. In a cave on this distant moon, a deaf geologist miraculously hears—for the first time—a familiar voice from her past. Trust us: you will be stunned.
It was so white you couldn’t believe it. Just an even keel, this infinite circle of snow radiating out into the distance from their shuttle. The only thing Sawyer had ever seen like it was the sky once flying into Dallas Love Field: the endless clouds had spread beneath her plane like pastureland, then swallowed her up on the descent.
Once freed from the shuttle pilot and his atmosphere readings, disarms, and crosschecks, the research team stumbled out into the snow. They were six, helplessly dorky in black and orange parkas. Before long three of them started a snowball fight. The meteorologist, the chemist, and the botanist. They gallivanted about like ungraceful children. The blister cold of Sawyer’s first alien atmosphere lashed at her hair and at the seams of her tactile gloves.
Chris tapped her shoulder. Can you believe it? he signed. Under the clear shield of his mask he wore the smile of someone who’d just ridden someone’s coattails to the big time, which, as the assistant and interpreter of an internationally significant geologist, he had.
Like so much cotton, Sawyer signed back. She looked out, considering. Like the Antarctic, but unexplored. And that was what they were, basically: the painfully academic, new-century Heroic Age of Exploration. Shackleton with jet engine shuttles and in-orbit rally stations. Two hundred years ago, on his third expedition to Antarctica, Sir Ernest Shackleton had undertaken an eight-hundred-mile, open-boat journey to seek rescue for his crewmen, stranded together on a tiny island in the Southern Ocean. Sawyer’s own little trip-of-no-consequence, in contrast, was backed by on-board agriculture and drive algorithms and automated docking procedures. Armchair tourism, is what it was.
Because she was a geologist, and to remind Chris to read the briefings, she signed, It’s fifty inches of snow, twenty feet of ice under that, and then a mess of cumulate rock and iron oxides.
It’s fucking cold, signed Chris.