I lock myself in my room. I shut off social media. I’m not dealing with anyone’s questions until I’m ready.
I stare at the pictures released, again and again. I look at them on every screen, print them on paper, just stare at them because I can’t believe that this is real.
I sigh and look away from the pictures, down at the ground. I try to remember anything, anything at all that could give me a clue as to why my ID card, my keys, the photo I keep of my mum… Why they’re on the planet Mars.
I rule out alien abduction. I’m sure something would seem odd in my memory. When did I last see these items? When could they have been taken?
It occurs to me that I should still have these items. I go over to the door and unlock it. I sneak around the house, and in a quarter of an hour I’m sure that my card, keys, photo and wallet are gone.
I lock myself in my room again. My brother managed to shout some questions at me, but I ignored him. But I saw his face. And he’s very, very concerned.
I can’t decide which is worse. The fact that my face is being broadcast around the world or the fact that my things are gone. I pick up the photo again.
And that’s when I see it. I couldn’t see it before because I was in too much shock. But now it’s there, staring at me.
There’s a mark on my face in the photo on the ID card. It was never there before. And then I see the photo and realise that the mark is on my mum as well.
It’s kind of like a scratch, a little zigzag. And I can honestly say that I’ve never seen it before in my life, and it certainly wasn’t on the photos before.
I rub my face absentmindedly. My fingers catch something.
It can’t be.
I look for a mirror, something reflective, anything. And when I do, I see it and it becomes real.
The mark is on my actual face.
I throw the mirror across the room and tear up the photos, screaming, crying, finally losing it completely. And something that rushes through my mind is that I never found out what happened to my mum.
Why she died.
They can hear my terror. They’re bashing on the door. They’re breaking it down, getting me out of here. But I run to the window instead and smash myself out through it. There’s nothing to break my fall.
I awake, I don’t know how many days or hours later, in hospital. I’m being tended to. The nurse sees my eyes open.
“You’ll be okay,” they reassure, “You’ve got some pretty bad injuries, but we’re fixing them up. You’re also being assessed for brain damage.”
They beckon someone over. I recognise this person. Who is she?
“Don’t worry. It’s okay. They’re censoring the images. Nobody knows about you now.”
The voice. I’m sure I know it, but my mind is still dazed and muddled and my head hurts from what must be the fall.
I stare at her face. But I don’t recognise her. Instead, I recognise the mark on her face.
On everyone’s faces.
I get up, through back the covers and run out of bed to the window. I pull back the curtain.
And behind the curtain is a vast, red world.