This is the fourth installment of a story on how we might get to planet Mars, and what we might find there. The other episodes, in order, are:
On the trip to home base, I had been in a dream. I think most would have been. We moved slowly and picked our way through the dull red twilight towards the cheery artificial light that I had known in my old home, seemingly years ago. I will never complain about electric lighting again. It represented a warm fireside glow to me at the time.
Inside, more than a hundred people awaited us, almost everyone who could be assembled who were not at their workstations. Curiously, but naturally, we were introduced to the children first, some of whom had formed a small welcoming committee. Their leader, and eldest, was a girl named Ylla, pronounced Ill-ah. It was explained to me later that this name was taken from an old novel by Ray Bradbury, a fanciful story about the first men on Mars. Another girl named Oceaxe shared in the formal welcoming speeches. She spoke Russian, but, with her halting English and winning smile, she and Ylla welcomed us Home. The origin of Oceaxe’s singular name was a mystery to me, perhaps to be explained later.
As part of the ceremony, they presented us with two odd looking sculptures they had made from the Martian rock. They looked expertly done, and I was about to make a comment about them, when the ceremony resumed. There was laughter and embracing, and introductions all around. My head spun, what with the rapid fire names that I heard, not knowing who to talk to first, and with the natural weariness of our trip. The promise of a real bed and an approximation of actual gravity was welcoming.
The people were of many nationalities and professions. Not all spoke my native tongue of English, which I shared with most of my crewmates. Aside from the Martian children, there was an almost equal division between men and women. There was a team of seven, four men and three women, who were introduced as being the governing committee for the settlement. After that, and pleading our weariness, we were shown to our quarters that had been prepared for us.
I slept for what seemed like a long long time, better than I had slept in the last eight months. It was a promising start to our new life. In the deepest part of this healing sleep, the two sculpted figures appeared in a dream. It was not a sinister or foreboding dream, but one of inquiry and intense curiosity. They were presented here as if I stood before them, and the niggling thought that came to me was that they had the styling and aspect of nothing else but the figures and royal etchings of Earth’s ancient Egypt.
To be continued….
© 2018 Lee Dunn