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WELCOME TO MARS!
Chester Burton Brown


Smashwords Edition copyright 2012 Hemming Media, Publisher; all rights reserved.

Read more from this author at CheeseburgerBrown.com

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1.

Every television on Earth was tuned to same channel.

The Internet groaned under the weight of the endlessly swapped video streams, the excited and sometimes vicious commentary, the shared experience of teleparties and the insatiable thirst of the commercial concerns to capitalize on the event with sales and contests, puzzles and games, spam and swindles. Each network had tailored its own theme music and inspiring graphics; each government agency stood on alert with a stack of speeches pre-written to cover any contingency.

Words painted in laser light were spread over the face of the Moon itself, proudly glowing letters dozens of kilometers wide: Pepsi Presents - Planetfall Mars.

Sixty million kilometers away the object of the world’s scrutiny plummeted through an airless void, its flotsam-pitted nose pointed into the swelling maw of the red planet. The burnished globe cast bloody highlights on the ship’s proud white hull, pristine save for streaks of grime painted backward from the odd seam, and the radial halos of advertisements clustered around the exterior cameras.

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