The sheets were purity white, blameless. Two hands lying atop the crisp linen folds; gnarled, purple veins, arthritic, with brown spots as numberless as a Dalmatians riding a Fourth of July firetruck. Under eyelids jittering, sunken eyes move in REM motions; emotions, vibrations, oxygen levels, fuel warning indicators, alarms. It’s a tight fit with gloved hands dancing on switches, green phosphors ticking countdowns, maintaining pitch and yaw.
The oximeter by the headstead flutters as the machines reading pulse and heartbeat send silent warnings, somewhere a blue light flashes. Nurses start to run.
Down here where dreams become indisputable fact. On hard packed soil, grunting in excited motions, suits are put on, helmets sealed. Cases zipped for contingency samples, cameras on and running, transmitting. His eyes are moving so rapidly now, brainwaves charted, connections are made. Death by inches waits.
But not yet.
As Aldrin descends the ladder first, he extends a white-booted foot from off of carbon fiber rungs and touches red sand. High stratus clouds stretch across the distant sun, illuminating the scene under salmon colored sky. “Mars – I’m home,” he says.
And the machines cease their alarms.