Sunday, 29 August 2010

Life on Mars

It was not long after “the greys” arrived, that rumours of abduction and strange sexual experiments began to proliferate in the chat-rooms and ride the skirt-tails of fringe electronic media hyper nodes. There were theories purporting to explain their modus operandi; however, the most plausible of these embraced the radical notion that there was no rationalisation; that they were simply space mad. But they hadn't started out that way. No one does, except the congenitally insane. No matter. What can be pieced together in the form of archival and declassified documents is, at best, an incomplete mosaic whose patina portrays a heady mixture of folklore, failure, fantasy and the odd thrown-in fact. "The greys", so the story went, were part of some über secret space programme to colonise Mars. They had launched - exactly when we do not know - amid a news blackout on a journey that would take them the best part of a year to complete. Apparently, the trip went smoothly. And, after nearly a decade on the dusty red orb, they had built for themselves a self-sustaining village. And, for a while, they were happy. The crew, now Martian terrain adjusted, comprised an even mix of gender, race and ethnicity; all got along in a gentle ambience of low-key amicability. Indeed, so busy were they building their village paradise, that no one really thought too much about the non-appearance of children. Perhaps it was just that, during the initial construction phases, there really wasn't a suitably stable environment to bring them into. The qualified medics among them ran the gamete of tests, while the soil scientists took endless sediment samples and the physicists measured the cosmic rays. When no conclusive explanation was forthcoming, paranoia set in. The ensuing factionalism fermented over the coming years, culminating in a showdown at the local post office over a lottery ticket (the exact sequence of events is sketchy at best). The survivors, many of them now in the autumn leafs of their lives, banded together under the agreement that they could no longer live together; went their separate ways, salvaging and scavenging scrap with which to build individual saucer-shape spacecraft, made their final return to Earth, sick on hope and to be home. Oh, and they wanted children badly.

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