Submission: The Ink Well Weekly Fiction Prompt #3: Beauty With a Twist

You could cut the tension with a knife. They had waited months for this moment. In a few short minutes, they would all be celebrating jubilantly or else have their heads cradled in their hands, wondering what went wrong. The first bit of telemetry came back – the parachute had successfully deployed! There was very little relief, though, among those who knew the dangers that still lay ahead. Seconds felt like hours as they waited for the next beeps to be transmitted across the cosmos. Landing confirmed, the rover has touched down on Mars! Cheers erupted from around the room as the accumulated stress of a months-long mission burst like a dam. An easy uncertainty still lingered in the air, however, as they waited for the first images from the surface of the red planet to arrive, signaling that the rover and its equipment had arrived intact. They stared at the monitor with baited breath, when suddenly the awesome image appeared. The alien landscape stretched before them, like a dried up riverbed scattered with stones waiting for the next storm to spring to life. The sounds of celebration fell quiet as they gazed on the image of the distant world in stunned silence and contemplated the wonders that lay ahead.

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