The desolation is absolute. Not a single tree stands before me, nor any animal. There are no signs of life at all. Over time, the sun has blasted the iron-brown land and the wind has abraded it; the plateau stretches before me, mirror-flat and searing. Even the sky suffers: it is not blue, but red. All I can see before me is this horrendous landscape. It seems to be actively hostile, and I quail at the thought of having to journey onwards. All I have to guide me is a completely inadequate map, and a compass. I intend to drive dead east for four nights, sheltering during the day. By then I will have reached my base camp for the next few weeks. My predecessor brought back inventory lists, and there is water and food for a single researcher for twelve weeks. Hopefully my part of the job will be completed by then; if not, I’ll have to make the trip back for more supplies. Speaking to my predecessor, Dr. Mogal, he told me his digging revealed the expected fossil signs of a prehistoric ocean bed. He left the rest of his research files at the dig site. He also told me he found something peculiar in the sediment he was extracting, and advised me to pay close attention to the blue file he left on the top of his research pile. I made a note to do this. Dr. Mogal went back to the city to report to our Sponsor, and I went to hitch the trailer. I depart here at sunset.
Dr. Henry James