[Fiction -- This is my humble contribution for 2015 Black Speculative Fiction Month]
I Walked the Planet Mars
Impossible. Yet the lesser gravity and dimmer sun implied that I was on the surface of the planet Mars, millions of miles from Boston. I wasn’t sure by what technological or mystical mechanism that I had been transported. Amazingly, where I had arrived wasn’t the dusty, nearly airless and waterless orb that our scrawny NASA robots crawled on; probing and drilling into dead soil. The Mars I was experiencing was lush with spiraling trees displaying greenish-purple foliage heavy with strange, sweet smelling white fruit. The air was rich and wet. Giant insects hummed overhead; dragonflies and wasps were the size of buses. Their fleeting shadows crisscrossed the ground. Other fauna hid. Seas shimmered in the distance. The humanoid female holding my hand was beautiful and mostly naked like me as we scampered through the thick undergrowth like squirrels hiding from hawks. She wore bright feathers on her head.
Breathlessly, I said to her, “My name is Mark.” I wondered what had happened to my clothes. I wasn’t body shy but I was concerned that it might get cold. At first, the sounds from her mouth were confusing; maybe an alien language. This had to be a dream. “My name is Mark.” A thorny branch scraped my forehead leaving a bright red line.
“Mark,” she said slowly. Then pointing at her own dark, bouncing breasts as we squeezed under a low branch she said, “SheeeeLaaa.”
I smiled and replied, “SheLaaaaaaa.” The word felt exotic and enticing.
We stopped under a clump of large leaves protecting us from the sky. She starred at me and said, “SheelaLaa. Sheila. Sheila Brown from London. You obviously are a new conscript from Earth. What do you remember?”
I stammered, “Ahh, nothing, nothing. Why I am on Mars?” Memories were swirling. This conversation suddenly was making me dizzy.
“Stupid idiots. They rushed you here unprepared, not properly processed. Can you fight? "
“Did you bring weapons?”
“We are on the absolute bottom of the food chain here!”
“Wake the hell up!”
She slapped me, hard. I staggered. Strange reminiscences cascaded into my awareness. Men and women in white lab coats. Noisy machines. Panic. Sirens. “I’m trying. I don’t understand what is happening to me!” I grabbed her wrist before she could hit me again.
She paused then said, “Athletic. Well, at least you look good and feel strong. I can work with stupid. We don’t have a lot of Earth men here. African?”
“North America, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Institute of Technology or what was left of it. The faculty and equipment were moved underground into the subway system to escape bombardment. What, where, how – explain please,” a slow panic crept up my spine.
“You are on a Mars crawling with giant, intelligent insects. Mammals are bred for food. Like what we did to chickens, cows and fish. The Insect Queens battle for dominance and territory and foodstocks. Earth was on the menu. Africans seem to survive longer than others here. Melanin probably tastes bad. Maybe that is why they sent you.”
“Mars was mostly dry with a few sparse streams of flowing water.”
“That is a billion years from now in the future if we are successful."
“Okay.” I stepped back and wished for a robe as she looked me up and down. She circled me, grinned and said, “The primitive humanoids here look like us but are not very smart, yet. We suspect that evolution takes similar paths throughout the universe. It makes sense. I had to be sure of you before I revealed myself.”
I grumbled, “Where are my clothes?”
“It’s hot. Humans taste good and clothes attract them but they hate the local birds which are also quite large.”
“What did you do at that fancy Boston University? Sweep floors? Stop wasting my time. They feed soon. We must hide deeper.”
The smaller, dimmer sun was setting. The insect humming was getting louder. Wings fluttered overhead. I replied, “Lasers, energy focused beams using natural elements such as rock crystals and solar energy. I can build a concentrated pulsed light. We can pump the heat out of the atmosphere. I hope that can help you.” She kissed me fully on the mouth. Her wet tongue lingered for a moment. That drew a reaction that I couldn’t control.
She pulled back and said, “Later for that, if you prove your worth and if we survive.”
“Survive?” I felt stupid but then an idea formed in my head. I added, “I need just a few lenses.”
“We have them in orbit. We hid them on the Martian moons.”
“But the damage to the Mars environment could be permanent if we are not careful.”
“We have to protect our species on Earth.”
I worked enthusiastically. With the help of natives and transportees from a war-ravaged Earth, I constructed the apparatus on a solitary mountaintop. Directed energies bounced off the moons and sucked the planet dry.
Eons passed. In the distant future, the attacks on Earth by the Mars Insect Kingdom vanished, abruptly. Their vast armadas faded away into nonexistence.
The Red Planet once again was a dead world where only solitary robots roamed and occasionally disturbed relics from the past.
-- The End --