Martin on Mars – Aftermath – Day 21

The capital dome shook violently in an explosion that rocked under our feet, throwing the tram passengers against the glass walls to cling desperately to the handrails. Some of them held on, some of them fell to the floor scrambling as they tried to get back up. A grey haired woman in her fifties screamed in terror as she was thrown sideways. I reached out and quickly and stopped her from impacting the wall. A short, squat man at the other end of the car was not so lucky. His head cracked on the glass leaving a bloody smear behind as he slumped to the floor. The tram continued to rock back and forth until there was a loud metallic snap from above. The front end of the vehicle dropped suddenly, and we all slid into a pile of bodies at the narrow front end.

People screamed in terror, and some groaned in pain. I was pressed against one of the transparent walls and looking down at the ground about two hundred meters below. This end of the tram pointed down and swung back and forth like a pendulum, supported by whatever remained of the tram track that attached to the other end. Below, I saw the trees swaying in a wind that blew straight for a massive jagged hole in the side of the dome, and I saw a something that I won’t forget in a dozen lifetimes. Several human figures flying through the air with other debris out into the red Martian landscape like leaves in a hurricane.

The more lively and terrified of us flailed frantically as they tried to extricate themselves from the human pile. I heard them wounding the already wounded as they pushed and struggled.

“Stop it! Don’t move.”  I yelled.  “You’re hurting people.”

The struggling ceased, but the moans of the injured continued. I couldn’t tell how many were hurt, but I figured it out was about half of them.

“I can’t breathe, we’re smashed in here,” a woman cried out.

“We’re going to get out of here. We’re going to work together and get out of here.  Linda, does this tram have its own life support?”

There was no reply, and finally a man said, “She’s right next me. Her eyes are closed. Oh my god. She might be…no, she seems to be still breathing.”

“Alright, we’ve got to get off of our wounded. Everyone that’s on top and still able to move, use the hand rails to pull yourselves up the wall.  It should be easy, this is one third normal gravity.”

I could hear grunting and motion from above, and some weight pressing down. People protested as someone invariably stepped on someone else in the process. Then I felt the weight lighten some and was able to sit up to look around as two other persons got off my back. I looked up and saw four people shinnied up the hand rails on the sides of the car. They’d found purchase for their feet on supports where the rails were attached to the glass alloy. I stood up out of the pile and about three others with me.  This created more space on the cramped floor area that had been the narrow nose of the tram. I could see five people injured laying on that floor. Two were not moving.  The squat man with the head injury, and our knowledgeable tour guide, Linda. A young redhaired woman holding her arm likely had broken it during the fall. A middle aged man lay sprawled with a leg twisted at an unnatural angle, and elderly woman held a hand to her bleeding forehead was still conscious.

I looked down at my beautiful shirt and tore a strip from the tail of it.  I bound it carefully around the woman’s brow to stop the bleeding. The other two guys left standing tended to the others. I joined the one looking at the man with the broken leg. There was no external bleeding that we could see, but it was an obvious fracture in the lower leg. He moaned in pain and tried not to move the leg, but did so anyway as it he could not help it.

I was not about to go about trying to set the bones straight with traction. Last thing I needed was a stray fragment of bone to sever an artery or break the skin. I looked around for anything that might serve as a splint.  I remembered the brochures that they’d given us for the tour, a thick booklet with maps of the domes and attractions.  It was still stuffed in my back pocket.

“Everyone toss me your tour brochures.”  I said.

About five booklets dropped around us and I started pulling out the pages and forming them delicately around the mans leg. I then removed my shoe laces and tied them snugly around the pages to create the worlds’ worst splint, but hopefully it would be enough to keep the leg from being damaged further. It seemed to do the job as I elevated and rested the man’s leg over the lap of our unconscious tour guide. She looked very white and didn’t move, her breathing was shallow. There wasn’t much I could do for her. I checked the short little guy next. No breathing, no pulse. He was gone. His head injury must have been too severe.

A silence passed over the car then as I stood looking down for a long moment at the man. In a brief moment he went from living to dead, with no warning. I’d seen it too many times.

The swinging of the car slowed to a barely perceptible motion. I looked down and saw that the wind had died out now that the air was totally gone. The air in the car would hold only a short time. There were a lot of us in this confined space, and none of us knew what the emergency procedures were. The only person who knew that lay on the floor, and she wasn’t going to be of any help now.