“Just twelve lines more,” Rayna murmured, as she combed the desert of her mind for inspiration. Different ideas dotted the mental landscape; the clear ones were tall and spiny like the saguaro, while the real treasures, those ideas that could change the world, were hidden beneath the sand like shy desert mice. Rayna yawned as she typed, and her desert fell from day to night. She took a drink of water and a flash of rain skimmed across the sand, which was now coming alive with all the scurrying and screeching of a desert’s nocturnal culture. “Ah, yes! Of course!” She said with a smile, as her typewritten musings pushed finally past the mundane into the inspired, into the kind of ideas that would make her famous back home; it was adventure, love, and discovery; it was—
A shrill beeping sounded from another console, jerking Rayna out of her flowering reverie—”Terrestrial Scanner No. 1 compromised: Investigate immediately,” read the offending screen.
With a sigh, she heaved herself up from the desk and walked through the station to its entrance. The shrill beeping continued at regular intervals, but Rayna didn’t appear to notice, as she slowly donned her suit, loose hair tucked carelessly into the helmet. Weeks had passed since she’d caught a brain-wave like that while writing, and the associations and implications still fluttered through her mind.
The station’s entrance hissed open, and she set off across the empty, alien landscape of her ten-year assignment. It was a three mile walk to Terrestrial Scanner No. 1. “Three years in,” Rayna said. “Has it been worth it?” She had no answer, not yet. The desired result of this job seemed inevitable, though—she would surely uncover some quality writing within herself, surrounded by endless amounts of empty space and more time than she knew what to do with. “So where is it?” She asked herself. “Three years, and I’ve barely written a haiku!”
To be fair, Rayna hadn’t quite reckoned with the relentless grind of living out here by herself, where rocks, craters, and the wheeling stars were her only company. The initial excitement of living on an alien planet had dissipated, and every day now held the enormous challenge of simply continuing to exist. Why should she? That was the question looming larger all the time: Why should she keep existing? In dreams, she found her meaning: she found freedom; she could visit old friends, old places.
She often thought that death would be a great way to dream forever, to bid a final farewell to this desolate outpost. “But today could be different,” Rayna thought. “Today I very nearly wrote something! These dreams… they’re growing more vivid, and I can very nearly hear what they’re trying to say. One more day! I’ll give it one more day.” Her resolution gave a renewed vigor to her steps.