Chapter 5, Page 39

Just something to chew on…

Oh hey it’s my final week to be obnoxious, lol. My very first anthology, Electrum, is up for an Ignatz award this year! If you’re headed to SPX in Bethesda this year, perhaps consider voting for us?

I’d rather this book be judged on the hard work the team put into it, and because I don’t expect everyone to just straight up buy this anthology, I’ll be sending out a free sampler via our Ascend email list tomorrow. Please feel free to sign up if you’d like to read a free story (or three); my team worked super hard and the fiction and non-fiction tales we shared are heartfelt and as authentic as it gets. You can also find the digital and physical version of the book for sale, and there will be copies at the convention itself as well.

Patreon is updated up to page 542! Ridiculous!

I enjoy making linebreaks


  • Linnhe

    I signed up! At least, I think I did. My name and e-mail address remained visible, but the bottom bit said ‘Thank you!’. Does that mean it worked?

    • shingworks

      If you used the same email as you used to post this comment, then yes it did :]

      • Linnhe

        Thank you :)

  • Kat

    I must’ve really missed something– why does Bex think she won’t be able to walk? :(

    • Ørjan

      The walking thing is unclear for me as well

    • Barreth

      The walking thing was unclear for me as well.

    • kincajou

      Same here, infinitley grateful to anyone who can help.

    • Thrawcheld

      The lower gravity in space and on Mars causes skeletal and muscular degeneration. After years off planet, they may come home to find they’re too weak to stand without their bones breaking.

      • kincajou

        I mean, yeah…
        but afaik those aren’t permanent effects (unless one was born in space, then things may be different… i don’t think there are studies on that just yet). So i would have assumed that a spacefaring humanity would have the foresight of “spend ten months in rehab before you walk on the earth” sort of thing.

        Here it comes across to me more like bex is thinking about something specific and not just “the natural side effects of being in space”.

        I may be wrong though.

      • shingworks

        Yeah, I didn’t explicitly spell it out, this is the one thing I seesawed over since I’ve mentally sorted that info into the “tmi” category of worldbuilding, but folks working for FWI committed to living on-planet permanently, as mentioned in Chapter 1. As such they don’t take the same precautions as people who are contracted for a few years and head back to Earth afterwards. A normal visitor would be taking a medley of medications to keep their bone density and muscles in shape for their return, but someone who is staying here permanently would not necessarily want or need to do that in the reduced gravity. So Bex hasn’t been taking those precautions and accordingly, despite not being here for terribly long, is not going to be in good shape upon her return. It would be very bad PR for her to come back in a wheelchair kinda thing so you can imagine she is burning a lot of career bridges.

        • Kincajou

          I see! thank you for the clarification :)

  • Luces

    Doubtless it would be good for both to stay and get healed. Perhaps they were allowed to live right because they had broken up every bridge behind them.
    Is it easier for Bex’ sons to commemorate a scientific pioneer than having to cope with a living, but difficult mother?

    • shingworks

      Probably because they don’t know him, lol

      • Skye

        I may be mistaken, but I believe Luces was referring to Bex as the scientific pioneer. The question they posed is, what would be easier for her sons – commemorating their (missing, assumed dead) mother as a scientific pioneer/bold adventurer, or having her come back & have a mom who is going to (continue to) give them a whole host of mommy issues?

  • improbablybasil

    Sorry to read about all your tribulations. Mike and Bekah have such well-crafted personalities and flaws, which I think show real thoughtfulness and knowledge and experience in their writing, so I’m pleased to know you’re back :)

    Looks like Threvi’s back too. Transponder fixed?

    Oh, and Ocotillo. Horrible nasty dry spiky things that lie in wait then attack and puncture you; a bit alien-looking also. But then beautiful flowers, supporting carpenter bees too.

    • shingworks

      Love Octillios, they grow pretty well around this area too which is nice, but I keep seeing people who are hard-growing them in the ground in their yards and they always look like they’re about to tip over and crush someone, haha.

  • iowawa

    “It’s too late to be perfect, but it’s never too late to be better.”

    This feels like the entire point of the comic, building to this line. It’s been worth it to get here. What a fantastic work of art.

  • Pylgrim

    Hmm, all this time I was under the impression that leaving her family behind was a difficult but self-affirming life choice which costs and consequences she had been ok paying. I can’t decide whether seeing it as a mistake now that she’s touched emotional and psychological bottom is growth or reversal.

    I guess the line where she says she wants to make things right is a subtle acknowledgment of the fact that her life choices affected people who did not have a say in it. Probably it was a mistake for a career-oriented woman like her to bow to the societal pressure of having kids, but it was ultimately /her choice/ and that choice produced other individuals who then had to deal with the consequences of her late “choosing career over family after all” decision.

    • shingworks

      I went to a wedding this weekend for two folks who have been in a relationship off and on for 14 years… at the wedding the marriage dude was saying that since they’ve gotten through these ups and downs (periods where they weren’t together), their relationship is stronger for it. After that I couldn’t help thinking about that… IS a relationship stronger for breaks and stops and starts? Wouldn’t it be stronger if they’d just worked problems out and dated continuously instead of getting cold feet periodically? The answer is kind of not up to anyone but them, I guess. A person changes a lot over 14 years and maybe the decisions they made with the brain and experiences of a young 20YO is different than their experiences and decisions now in their 30’s. Maybe they wouldn’t have got to this point if they hadn’t experienced failure. Maybe if circumstances had been different they wouldn’t have needed to experience those gaps in order to affirm their feelings for each other. Anyways, I figure it’s about the same here, for Bex and for Mike… is it growth or strength or weakness and backtracking? Then again, maybe they wouldn’t have got to where they have if they hadn’t taken the road they did.

      • Lilian

        Nice thoughts. I would imagine some of the answers would depend on how you’re defining strength to begin with.

        I do think there’s something to the potential space for growth that failure brings. It’s natural to want to run when we encounter challenges, but if that means giving up on a thing entirely then it also means a lot of possibilities that will never be realized, because every relationship is unique.

        It’s easy to view failure as, well, failure. But redemption is also a thing, and you can’t have that without failure first. But it definitely takes deliberate effort.

  • Somdudewillson

    I feel like knowing what page the Patreon is on would be more impactful if I knew what page # this is.

    • shingworks

      Should be in the URL and the top bar of the page, right above the text box. You might not see it if you’re coming here from the main URL since it’ll just say Today’s Page, but if you navigate anywhere it’ll list the normal set of pages.

      At any rate the Patreon is 3 days ahead.

      • Kincajou

        As the url is chapter+page number i did a quick count from the archive:
        If i counted correctly we’re at page 253

        • shingworks

          Oh, sorry! I forgot to mention, I number them like [chapter number][page number] so we’re not on page 539, we’re on chapter 5 page 39. The Patreon is on page 42.

          • Somdudewillson

            I appreciate the reply & info.

  • JJ

    With one simple metathesis “linebreaks” switches to “brine lakes”

    • shingworks

      …utter brilliance

  • Cara

    I was one of those dorks who blazed through the PDF because I desperately wanted to know what happens, but fwiw, I’m enjoying reading it updating on the site too, because a) it forces me to slow down and contemplate every page and appreciate your lovely art, and b) I get to enjoy your page-by-page commentary, which is enlightening.

    • shingworks

      I’m glad! I love the webcomic format… I am 100% sure I would have done what you did too lol. Binge, then return to the scene of the crime to eat the last few crumbs XD

  • Ben

    I’d also forgotten, or missed the reason why Bex is now in her underwear, presumably she took her suit off because it is uncomfortable or difficult to lie down and sleep wearing it?

    I’ve completely lost track of the passage of time in the caverns.

    Just as a refresher, Bex still has a complete suit available and close by, but Mike’s suit is unserviceable?

    • shingworks

      Yeah, there’s a little timeskip after this page where Mike does his sads. Presumably he took a nap after that and Bex felt relaxed enough to remove the rest of her suit for a bit and poop or whatever horribly realistic things I’ve decided don’t need to be illustrated, lol. And yeah, Bex has been carrying her helmet in her bag up until now, Mike even references it here. Presumably it’s still working (since the lights have been in use here and there) but she’s been preserving her suit battery until the helmet is completely necessary.

  • z e

    Ow my heart <3

  • Jude

    Going back to read from the beginning. Love love LOVE Mare Internum. You’ve written the most realistic personalities of any webcomic characters I’ve ever read. Not saying there aren’t other excellent authors and if the comic had many characters, it might be close to impossible to do. But I can relate to both Mike and Bekah and that’s a rarity for me.

  • Astronaut

    “It’s never too late to be better” That line really resonated with me; it is what keeps me going since forever. As long as you’re alive, you can keep moving towards the type of person you wish you were.

    I stopped reading MI sometime in 2017 while going through depression. I find it a bit amusing how, late in 2019 while I was starting to surface from that whole thing, Bex and Mike find it in themselves to return to the surface.

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