Rock, Paper, Scissors by Mark Bailen

Higgs stepped from the pressurized gondola, onto the icy peak of Olympus Mons. Days before he signed a contract, agreeing not to publicly discuss the ease of his ascent. This included not giving details about the gourmet chef, the heated chalet at base camp 3, and of course, the gondola. 

He posed with his sherpa, peering nervously over the scarp. “I don’t get it. With all these conveniences, how do climbers die on Olympus Mons? It’s said that one-third meet their death.”

The sherpa grinned and nudged Higgs closer to the precipice. “Do you know the game rock, paper, scissors?”

Mark S Bailen is a writer from Flagstaff, Arizona. His day job is at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center where he spends far too much time looking at maps of Mars. He has been published in Fantasy, Nature: Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. His website is

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