Ghosts of Mars
by Edoardo Albert
Lars Caron had only taken over as mission commander because Pete Boardman had died. We were the most scanned, checked, and examined group of human beings in history--after all, on the first mission to Mars, you don't want someone falling ill or freaking out on the way--and Pete had checked out clearer than any of us. Then, seven days before departure, he went and died. The autopsy said his heart gave out, but I knew, from speaking to the doctors, that they could not find anything wrong with him. Dead, he presented as perfect a physical specimen as he had when alive. Me, I think he collapsed under the burden of hope that was placed upon him; mission commander, new world, new beginning. So, I grant Lars Caron had some big shoes to fill. But three months into the voyage, we were all getting thoroughly sick of the chip on his shoulder, the unspoken assumption that we had caused every problem laid in front of him. Space is like that: stuff happens. So, the slight sigh and the lowering of his head when he saw me approaching came as no surprise.
"Now what's wrong?" he asked.
"I think we have a ghost on board," I said.
I grant him this. Lars' expression did not flicker. Instead, he glanced over my shoulder, checking if we were alone, before looking back to me.
"Did you flick the switch?" he asked.
"Of course," I said. "Do you think I want Mission hearing about this?"