So, after 13,000+ words of manuscript text and who knows how many in the outlines and various scene roughs, I'm pretty sure that the current novel attempt had contracted a terminal case of World Builder's disease. This happened a few months ago, when I realized that there was quality in the writing that editing could save, but that it would require a larger effort than I could dedicate to it within my time constraints. Instead, I lovingly laid the files aside and decided "That one's for practice... or at least for a time far away from here."
Which means I feel entirely safe sharing bits and pieces from the unfinished rough of the manuscript, because these are posthumous as it were. Continuing on, then...
Yuri's breath reflected a hollow kind of echo into his ears in the isolation suit, forming a rhythmic barrier between him and the howling of wind in the thin atmosphere only inches away. Small beads of sweat tickled down his cheeks and nose in defiance of the built-in sweatband. The rest of him was sure to be soaked as well, when he finally stripped down.
He finished muscling the new greenhouse frame into place and bounced easily back to the cargo hatch of the crawler. Two more trays of green-black slop waited for him there, typifying the infinite patience available only to dirt. With barely a grunt of effort he hauled them into place and swung the hinged transparent lid down to lock above them. Almost instantly the tiny spikes of hoar-frost that had sprung to life on the short journey between compartments evaporated from the lumps of muck and turned instead to a fog of condensation on the interior of the golden-hued crystal glass. Yuri nodded approvingly.
He reached into the control box and twisted valves for the hoses connecting this stand to its several hundred siblings, then touched a microphoned finger in his left glove against the junction. The short, high hiss ended abruptly with a melodic snort as air sloshed and rebounded between chambers. Satisfied, he mounted the slow six-wheel and began the forty-minute trip home.
"Honey, are you on your way back yet?" His wife's voice interrupted the labor-bestowed reverie, suddenly making it feel much shorter than the several hour respite he felt he deserved. He waited until his sigh was done and cleared his throat before activating the pickup to respond.
"Yes, darling, just finished. A little more than a half-hour out now."
"Everything go OK?"
"Mostly. There is still more dust on the roof than I like." The latest attempt to thwart the constantly shifting deposits of Martian soil had only succeeded in arranging the micro-drifts into interesting patterns. "And FIDO's charge seems to be a little short."
"Will you be able to make it home?" Her sudden concern sounded more needy than anxious for his safety. Or even his convenience.
"Yes, with several hundred kilometers to spare. There is no worry, it is just an annoyance. I'll bring it into the shop tomorrow and have a look." A few amps wouldn't make a difference one way or another, and it's entirely possible that the non-linear initial drop was in keeping with the power profile for the unit. Still, no sense in taking risks. And maybe he'd get the quiet he was looking for.
Lynette sounded disappointed after a moment's hesitation. "Alright. Just be careful. And let me know when you're getting close so I can start dinner."
"I will need to shower first."
"Come straight home then, but please hurry." She sounded fragile in his earpiece. "I love you."
"Love you too, darling." Yuri closed the channel and guided the large vehicle back across the worn and rocky path toward the outpost.
Some distance to the east, Lynette returned the radio handset to its dock and slumped deeper into her depression. As though mourning a lost world and family weren't enough, she now pined for a man somehow distant even when he was in the same room. Her sworn strength and lifeline.
She looked out a porthole window at the too-small evening sun; another day gone.