This is the 7th instalment of a speculative story about our visits to, and colonization of the planet Mars. The previous ones, in order, are:
Sasha Hendriks was the co-chair of the governing Committee. She was a tall sparely built woman, sharp-nosed, now in her mid 40’s. Her brilliant grey eyes had slight circles underneath them, and her sandy hair seemed always to be hidden beneath a plain military style peaked cap. I do not think I have ever seen her smile, but that is not to make any comment on her character. Rather, she was very serious about anything she undertook. She had considerable scientific and engineering knowledge, had been a psychologist by profession, and was entrusted with much of the responsibility for the outpost’s operation.
After Mark’s revelations about their discoveries, Sasha presented a series of dilemmas to us in the form of moral / ethical questions.
A few things should be noted here: After nearly four decades of the operation and expansion of this colony, it was becoming more self reliant in its functioning, and less so on guidance and supplies from Earth, as long as the status quo was a given. Meaning that its present population and internal growth estimates were to be maintained. What was still needed from Earth was more excavation and welding equipment, raw materials of steel and other metals, and medical supplies. Food and water had become self-propagating, especially since the discovery in the canyon caves. Before Earth’s catastrophe in 2067, plans had been made for the necessary supply ships, and for further teams of colonists. Much of that had changed after June of that year. The population had been decimated, leaders had fallen, borders and nations were no more.
After introducing herself and bidding us welcome once again, Sasha continued the meeting:
“The things you have seen and heard here today have not yet been communicated to our base on Earth. Yes, it has been some time. You might think that we have abdicated our responsibility, and question why we have not made the report. When we heard about the cataclysm back home, communications were disrupted. We were talking to different people, and more sporadically. Some did not have the expertise to answer questions that we had. The last contact was some weeks ago, during which we made a formal request for supplies needed. We were given assurances that a shipment was being readied and would be sent on its way in three months.”
“We have been reticent in informing them about what we have found for several reasons: The confusion and ineptness of those in charge there. The desperation that they must be facing. The possibility that they may be planning a mass exodus to Mars, especially if they hear that we have confirmed a water source. The question of the usefulness and intentions of any new arrivals, once our secrets were out. The uncertainty surrounding our discovery of intelligent life forms that once existed here, and what it will mean to our new home and to those on Earth.”
This gave us pause for thought. Some of these questions had already been forming in my own mind, but her disclosure of the non-reporting was unexpected. I felt a nagging fear for our future here, and realized that there was now a delicate balance between continued deception and having our needs fulfilled from Earth. That there may even be a doubt as to their capabilities of sending anything further. Would an exodus get underway, even if we did not tell them? Would they send hundreds more people and supplies, without appropriate expertise, out of desperation? What kind of chaos would it cause there, if we did disclose?
to be continued…..
© 2018 Lee Dunn
Lee Dunn has been writing since the age of 18, but found that work got in the way for the ensuing 48 years. In his home town of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he reveled in his independence at an early age, and spent as much time as he could exploring the city’s Arts scene. He was introduced to poetry and prose by the works of two literary giants, namely J.R.R. Tolkien and J.W. Lennon and thence fell in love with the written word. His work includes poetry, short fiction, and personal essays, and ranges in theme from the surreal to the horrific, nostalgic, and themes on the human condition. He has been published on Spillwords.com, The Dark Poets Club, Journal of Undiscovered Poets, Crepe & Penn Literary magazine, and the Shelburne Free Press.