World of Fiction

A serial format to new stories written only waiting to be published!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Joe "Fat Man" Lucas

If only he knew. That was the one sentence that went through Christina’s mind as she left Fort Franks. It was time for her to get her second interview. She had to drive over to Industrial Sciences because they wanted to the pilot to train there. His name was Joe “Fat Man” Lucas. It seemed a little odd to Christina, but she was confident that all of it would explain itself when she met the man.

Little did she realize how accurate that statement was. Lucas was a shade under six feet tall, but had to weigh at least three hundred pounds or more. For man his size, though, he appeared to be rather agile. When he saw Christina, he extended his paw of a hand. If Christina was afraid of anything, it was that this man would crush her.

“How are you doing?” asked Lucas.

“I am good.”

The two walked along the outside of Industrial Sciences. Christina began to interview with minor questions, but eventually got to the mission. “Why were you chosen to pilot this mission?”

“I was an ace on the simulators,” replied Lucas. “Also, I was the only guy who knew how to hald Phoenix. She is a tough bird to fly. Part of the problem with her is that you need to fly her out of the planet from the ground. So instead of having a booster rocket, you are doing it yourself.”

“How long have you been preparing for this flight?”

“Its been about six months,” said Lucas.

“Why that long?”

“When I heard about the mission,” said Lucas, “I volunteered right away. Something like this does not come along very often. Besides, I am the best.”

“Because you are an ace?”

“Exactly,” replied Lucas.

“If a dangerous situation were to present itself and you needed to get away from the planet, would you be able to make sure everyone was safe onboard the Phoenix?”

Lucas stopped and looked at Christina. “I guarantee, if anyone tries to do something to my ship, I will get her out of harms way. There is nothing that will cause even a scratch on her. I guarantee it.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Lieutenant Koch

The next day Christina went to Fort Thomas Franks to interview the lieutenant in charge of the platoon of soldiers assigned to the Phoenix. She went to the main administrative building and sat in a small conference room. The most notable thing she had seen thus far was how nice everyone was to her. It was common courtesy to be nice to someone, but she couldn’t help but feel that due to who she was the reason for why she was there, Christina was getting some kind of special treatment.

After almost a twenty minute wait, the door opened and a young man entered the room. He was about six feet tall, with short blond hair. He looked like the average poster boy for the military. Lieutenant Charles Douglas Koch had been chosen because he was a smart command officer with a very level head on his shoulders. The men he was in charge of trusted him and knew that no matter what they did, he would do as well.

Shaking hands with the young lieutenant, the two sat down at the table and began their interview.

“Before we begin, I have to ask, how do you pronounce your last name?”

Koch chuckled and little and said, “It is pronounced like Cook. You would not believe the number of times I was made fun of in school growing up.”

Christina smiled and then pulled out her pad and pen. “So how does it feel to be going on such an important mission?”

“This is a big deal for all of us,” replied Koch. “I had to chose very carefully who I wanted to come along for this mission. I wanted to make sure everyone was qualified and up to the task for this mission.”

“What does the age range look like for your platoon?”

“It is a strong mix of young and middle aged individuals. The sergeants are veteran soldiers who have the most experience in difficult situations.”

“How did you choose these individuals? Since Mars has not had any real major conflicts, it must be difficult to actually choose the best of the best.”

“I can be,” said Koch. “However, we do drill here and do our best to make sure that every person here is ready to go in the event of a major situation. The people I chose can act independently of each other in the event something were to happen and we got separated. By having this kind of training in place, we can be prepared for anything.”

“Are you sure you are prepared for everything?” asked Christina.

“We are ready,” replied Koch. “In my opinion, there is nothing that can surprise us.”

The Mission From Mars-A New Horror

Christina got back to her apartment and threw her bag onto the couch. She went to get a pad to take notes on when her phone rang. Going over to the monitor, she pressed the talk button and saw the face of her editor.

“I got an interview for you with the pilot of the Phoenix and the lieutenant in charge of the soldiers accompanying everyone on the voyage.”

“How did you manage that?” asked Christina.

“Press has to have some strings to pull,” replied her editor. “Besides, with the mission public and a timetable in place, everyone is going to want to know who is involved. Your interviews are tomorrow. One in the morning, the other in the afternoon. I want an article set on each one after the interview is completed.”

“Got it.” The screen went blank and Christina returned to her couch. She pulled out the micro tape and placed it into her player. It took the machine a few seconds to prepare itself, but the wait was almost nonexistent. When the machine had the tape ready, it started to play it.

The screen was blank, but then showed what appeared to Christina to be a communications room. The older man on the screen was looking off camera to his right, her left. There was banging on the door. Although she could not see it, it sounded like the door was not able to back whoever was trying to get into the room.

“Oh no,” said the older man. “Mars colony, do not come back to Earth. For the love of God, do not come back to Earth.”

The door broke open. The sounds of a lifeless moan could be heard, but no sign of who was making the noise. The older man Christina saw on the camera began to walk backwards. Slowly coming onto the screen was a stiff person. The man was absolutely lifeless. He reached out towards the older man now off camera.

More lifeless people began to be seen on camera. A scream could be heard and the older man from before could be seen on the screen. He fell towards the camera. “Help me,” he groaned.
The lifeless people began to claw at their prey and tear him to shreds. Christina could only watch in horror as the man giving the last message from Earth was dying in such a cruel and horrific way. His hand reached out to try and terminate the communication link. Christina moved her eyes away from the victim and saw that the lifeless people were taking pieces of his flesh and eating them. From where Christina sat, it looked as if their eyes were completely lifeless, as if the lights were on, but no one was home. With a final lunge, the older man cut the communication link and the screen went blank.

The tape was not very long. Christina shivered and made herself into a ball. After a few moments, she made a frantic dash to her bathroom and vomited. Now she knew why Spiro was hesitant about coming out with this story. Something made the people on Earth become cannibals.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Careful Planning

“What in the world are you thinking?” asked Thomas C. Williams.

Mentor watched the portly politician pace around in his office. The fat man had been complaining for the better part of a half hour. Why was Mentor going on such a dangerous trip? Had he finally lost what was left of his mind? It was a rather amusing scene to watch. Mentor sat back in his chair and waited to see what Williams would say next.

“What is even worse is that you are taking that girl scout of a reporter with you on the mission,” said Williams.

Mentor bit the inside of his lip, trying not to laugh. Williams was really becoming quite comical. At the rate things were going, he could easily work himself up into a frenzy and give himself a heart attack. If only there was a way to guarantee something like that could work. Blinking his eyes. Mentor focused back on Williams.

“I’m sorry. Could you repeat what you said?”

“I said ‘What were you thinking by bringing that girl along?’”

“Simple,” replied Mentor. “By having her onboard, we will have an official, unbiased, record of the trip. Anyone who says I am making a fake film will have to deal with the fact that there was a person who had skepticism on the trip. As a result, the history written about the film will have two perspectives on it, the true believer and the skeptic. Either way, it is a win win scenario.”

“What happens if even a part of her absurd story is true?”

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” replied Mentor. “Until then, I suggest you calm down and relax. I know what I am doing.”

“Things like that are easier said than done,” commented Williams.

Mentor nodded. He stood up and began to walk around his office. “You know,” said Mentor, “you remind me of an old colleague of mine. This was an old battle axe of a woman. My first year here at Industrial Sciences, I could do no wrong for her. Second year, she seemed to listen to what others said instead of trusting me.”

Williams sensed there was a message imbedded into the story. “What happened to her?”

“Oh she retired,” answered Mentor. “When my third year was complete she decided her time in Industrial Sciences was over and ended up handing the reigns of the department over to me.”

“She decided her time was up?” asked Williams questioningly.

“But of course,” replied Mentor with a sly grin. “Now, granted, she might have had a little bit of influence in making that decision, but she did retire nonetheless.”

“I see.”

Mentor knew the truth behind his ascension to head of his department in Industrial Sciences. It was that job which led him to the executive board, and then being in charge of the entire company. It wasn’t as if Mentor lied about the former department chair deciding to retire. In fact, she really did do that. The influence for retirement came from many different sources, but Mentor was the most vocal on it. He simply reminded the old battle axe that she was not quite as spry as she used to be. After that, he threatened to blackmail her on all the dirt he had on her to the executive board. The fall would not have been so bad for him as it would have been for her. So, the only honorable course of action left for the old battle axe was to retire. The day after she did that, Mentor made a note to visit her at her apartment. While she was not happy to see him, he made sure that her angry rants would take care of themselves. Nothing says silence like syringe full of air emptied into a vein.

The memory of doing that made Mentor think about his situation with Williams. It had potential, but needed timing. Since the politician was portly, people would only assume he had a heart attack. Timing was still the issue that needed to be addressed. Mentor had to think about the usefulness of Williams for the near future. If he had his uses, then the fat man would live. If not, well, the planet might get a little lighter.

Mentor walked over to Williams and slapped him on the back. “Don’t worry Tommy,” said Mentor. “I have a plan.”

“You better,” replied Williams. “Because if you don’t, she could cause trouble.”

“She won’t,” said Mentor. “Trust me.”

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Mission From Mars-A New Revelation

Staring at Spiro was a tragic thing to do now for Christina. The man looked as if he had aged so much over the past couple of weeks. According to nurses at the retirement center, there was a mixed reaction to his story. On the one hand, some folks thought he might be telling the truth about what happened. Those people tended to be the residents of the facility. These were the people who were old enough to remember their last days on Earth and could believe much of what Spiro said. Then there were those who did not believe him. These people tended to be younger and generally the staff of the retirement center. From their point of view Spiro was telling a bunch of wild stories to get everyone riled up. As a result, they would do everything in their power to try and sedate him. It didn’t take Spiro long to realize what was going on, so he made sure not to swallow all of his pills when they were brought to him.

Christina was always a welcome sight for him. If there was at least one young person who would believe him, she was that person. She came back to him for more information on that damned tape. Spiro had wracked his brain with any kind of memories he had about it. There was only one left to share with her. He had kept this one secret because it was more devastating than anything else. However, now he was forced into a position where he had to reveal it.
Looking out the window, Spiro said, “There is only one part of the story I never told you.”

“What is it?” asked Christina.

Sighing, Spiro rested his head into his hand. “After I watched the tape, the images in it frightened me. I needed to do something to the tape. I contemplated destroying it. In the end, I decided to do one small edit to it.”

Christina felt the color in her face drop away. If Spiro edited the film, how much did he edit? The old man was more than willing to let her know. “When I first watched the tape, there was something smeared on the man’s shirt. At first I thought it was grease or oil, but ten at the end of the tape, I realized it was blood. The reason for that realization was what happened to the man in the tape. There was a banging on the door. He looked towards it and then that is when it happened.”

“What?” asked Christina.

“I can’t tell you. Words can’t describe what happened. I opened the cassette and carefully cut the tape at the point of the banging and then reconnected the tape when it went blank again. I even copied a brief moment when he turned on the camera.”

“Why did you do it?”

Tears began to roll down Spiro’s face. “I just had to. If you saw what I saw, then you would understand.”

Christina sat back in her chair. Her ace in the hole was something big, but how big? Biting her lip, Christina tempted fate. “Is it possible for me to see what you saw?”

Quietly sobbing, Spiro nodded. Trembling, he stood up and walked over to his dresser. Opening one of the drawers, he pulled a small micro tape out and gave it to Christina. “That is the only copy of the ending of that message.”

Quickly placing the tape into her purse, Christina wrapped her arms around Spiro. He needed a little comfort. His life was not going to be easy anymore. The two parted ways after a few minutes. Christina needed to get home and watch the tape Spiro gave her.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Press Conference Reaction

“I just can’t believe you are going on this voyage Christy.”

Christina very rarely allowed people to call her Christy. The few who did were close friends and her parents. After getting out of school, she decided to go by her full name in order to sound more professional. While she didn’t have a boyfriend, Rob Dell was the closest thing to a brother/boyfriend she had. He knew all of her secret, but at the same time there was some chemistry between the two of them. Rob was three inches taller than Christy and looked like your average athlete. He was a coach for the high school track team and a part time teacher at the school.

Christina looked at Rob and said, “I had to say yes.”


“Because Mentor forced my back into a wall,” replied Christina.

Rob rubbed his hands over his face and said, “I know it was a trap, but now you are playing closer into his hands. What if he tries to do something to you during the voyage?”

“He can’t,” replied Christina. “We are going to have troops there with us.”

“Don’t be naïve,” said. Rob. “I bet those troops will be on his payroll.”

“You don’t know that,” replied Christina.

All of these things had gone through her mind already. Only a fool would not have seen Mentor was trying to set her up. When she had accepted the last spot on the voyage, she had to give the right kind of answer to throw Mentor off balance. The problem for her now was that she was off balance. There didn’t seem to be anything she could do. Backing out of the trip now would make her look like a coward and that her story had no merit. Going through with the trip could lead to some kind of disaster.

“I wish there was a way you knew what was coming,” said Rob.

“What do you mean?” asked Christina.

“Mentor probably knows something everyone else doesn’t know. If there was a way to know something he doesn’t know, then you could use it on him when the time was right.”

Christina leaned against a wall and bit her lower lip. Science was not a strong subject for her. People on the other hand was her strength. In many cases she could read and person and know whether or not they were telling the truth. It was a strong trait and one she used when dealing with interviews. It was the one way in which she knew Spiro Wilson was telling the truth.
Eyes widening, Christina grabbed her purse and said, “I got to go.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get my ace in the hole.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Mission From Mars-The Press Conference

Since Christina was the person responsible for break the Earth message story first, her editor decided to give her the nod and allow her to cover the press conference being made by Richard Mentor. When showing her press credentials, she was directed to go to the front row and be close to the podium. It seemed a little strange that she would get to sit there, considering there were other people who normally get to sit there. Often times, a few plant reporters were placed there who would give softball questions and guarantee safe moments for the speaker. If Richard Mentor thought he would get that from Christina, he had another thing coming.

A chime sounded over the crowd. Everyone stopped their conversations and watched as Richard Mentor walked up to the podium. To his left was a giant screen showing the Industrial Sciences logo. Most likely he would be putting pictures up during this conference, but no one was sure what it would look like. Everyone anxiously awaited to hear the first words Mentor would give in regards to what was quickly becoming the story of the year.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” began Mentor. “I have called on you today to announce that the search of the vault in Industrial Sciences has revealed a number of interesting artifacts.” Looking towards the screen, Mentor continued with his speech. “As you can see, a number of periodicals were found in the vault, including magazines covering what must have been some very important moments in Earth history. As such, I do not wish to comment on this, but allow the historians to take care of these details. In addition to this find, we also discovered a series of tapes in the vault. A number of them were security tapes and other inconsequential tapes that showed construction of the city we live in now.”

Mentor gave a pause in the speech for a moment. He wanted to make sure everyone was paying attention. “However, we did find a tape of some interest. This is a communication from Earth. We believe this is the last one. At this time, I would like to play it for you. The man in the film is unidentified, so we can only assume he is a technician or someone of some kind of importance.”
Mentor turned to the screen and the lights dimmed. The screen showed a young man, very unassuming, speaking into a camera from Earth. “Mars colony. By the time you get this message, things here on Earth may be different. Recently, diplomatic relations between a number of countries have been tense. As you know, the issue of space travel and human colonization of another planet is something that has sparked a great deal of debate on the planet. Geological activity on the planet has begun to get a number of leading scientists to believe the potential ‘Big One’ is going to happen. In the event that happens, the landscape of the western North American continent and much of the Pacific could be greatly affected. We will keep you notified as new situations develop.”

The screen went blank and Mentor returned his attention to the audience. “As you can see, this tape does bring into question much of the story Mr. Spiro Agnew Wilson brought forward. Most likely, in my opinion, Mr. Wilson watched this tape in his youth, but as time went by, his mind began to ponder the events that happened after the message was sent. By the time he reached such an elderly age, Wilson convinced himself that a war did occur. However, we all saw the concerns over the issue of a geological disaster. By taking this into consideration, we must assume that it was this which occurred. One way or another, I believe the only way to answer the question is to send our spaceship to Earth. Actually, lets stop referring it to spaceship and call it by its proper name, the Phoenix.”

With a slight nod, Mentor gave the cue for the press to begin asking questions. Like vultures on an open prey, they pounced. Hands went up and voices were laboring to get louder and louder and sound more important than the others. Internally, Mentor was beginning to like he was a puppet master. Externally, he allowed his eyes to scan over the group and pick one that he would begin with. Naturally, he had his primary target: Christina Long.

“Miss Long.”

Christina stood and asked, “If this theory of yours seems so logical, then could you explain to me why it is that the schools on Mars does not seem to support it?”

“Well, it has been awhile since most of us were in school. I do not think many of us can recall exactly what our teachers taught us back in elementary school.” Many of the people in the press conference began to laugh.

Christina was undeterred. “Why is it then Mr. Wilson would wait this long to announce the story of a tape detailing the final message of Earth to Mars? Would it not have been wiser to do it when he first discovered it?”

“You would need to ask Mr. Wilson that question,” replied Mentor.

“I did.”

“What did he say then?” asked Mentor. It was a risky move on his part. He was giving his biggest foe an opportunity to surprise him. The only thing he felt confident of was that whatever answer she gave, he could punch a hole through.

“According to Mr. Wilson, the tape was so horrific that he had to keep it a secret. If that is the case, don’t you think the tape you found might have been an earlier one, which lead to an even worse tape?”

“It is not my place to suppose anything,” replied Mentor. “However, if there were another tape, it was not found.”

Now the other reporters came in for the kill. Pointing to different reporter, Mentor was beginning to get bombarded with new questions.

“Was the search as thorough as you thought?”


“Are there other vaults this possible second tape could have been placed into?”


“Are there any other details of the situation on Earth which Industrial Sciences knows about, but is not disclosing to the public.”

“Of course not.”

“Will the press be given an opportunity to do a search of their own?”

This was the last straw. Mentor thought he had given a witty answer to Long’s earlier question. Now, he was on the ropes. Every second he delayed in giving an answer would hurt him and the space program. He needed to think on his toes.

“I am confident in the job done by our people in Industrial Sciences,” replied Mentor. “As such, to call into question their professionalism is unnecessary and an insult to their work.”

That put the reporters off balance. No one wanted to insult hard workers. If there was anything people on Mars took pride in, it was the fact that nearly everyone pulled their weight in this society. Christina stood up and was acknowledged for a question.

“If that is the case, then how do you plan on trying to prove your theory or disprove the story of Mr. Wilson?”

Now it was the time for the moment of truth. Mentor had dreaded this question from the beginning of the press conference. He had thought about this for a little bit and considered his options. The best one he had still made his stomach a little queasy. For show, he began to slowly nod his head and look down at the podium. Everything that needed to be done had to be considered very carefully.

“Since there does seem to be some questions as to how true the final message between our planet and Earth looked like, I want to take this opportunity to make a second announcement which was going to be held off for sometime. I plan to launch the Phoenix in three weeks time. The ship will carry a small platoon of twenty soldiers to act as protection in the event things on Earth are hostile. The primary crew will consist of two engineers, who will monitor the ship and its ability to travel through space, two scientists, who will be conducting some scientific experiments on the mission, and our pilot, who will also double as captain of the ship. This will bring the size of the mission up to twenty eight people. Overall, the Phoenix can hold thirty people on board. As such, I have decided the twenty ninth person shall be myself.”

The gasp in the room was more than audible. Mentor took a real risk in breaking this news now, but as far as he could tell it was worth it. After a moment of silence, the questions from the vultures began again.

“What prompted you to make this decision?”

“After hearing all of the stories from the press,” replied Mentor, “I decided that there was only one way to make sure my theory was either correct or incorrect. By doing this, not only do I take the risk of getting embarrassed, but I also take a giant leap forward in showing the importance of this mission.”

“Who will be the last person to join the crew?”

Mentor smiled. “I am glad you asked that question. I carefully thought about this as well. So, I would like to ask the final member right now, with everyone present, if they will join this mission. Ms. Long, I would like for you to join this mission and act as our press correspondent on this epic voyage.”

Now it was Christina’s turn to sweat. She looked back behind her and saw all of the other reporters staring at her. There was really only one right answer. She looked back at Mentor and said, “I accept.”

Mentor smiled and replied, “Excellent. With that ladies and gentlemen, the crew of the Phoenix is set. As such, we will be preparing for our voyage. Miss Long, my people will be contacting you and giving you all the information you need for the trip. This concludes our press conference. Thank you.”

Turning around, Mentor walked back towards his office. The entire way there, he had a scowl on his face. He was muttering to himself, but the words weren’t too audible. He had banked on her not wanting to join the mission. By doing that, he would have crushed her completely. Then he would conveniently get sick right before the mission was to start and then he would be free to stay on Mars. No one would blame him for being sick. What everyone would remember is Christina Long chickening out of a mission of a life time. Now he would have to go through with the mission. He still had the option of trying to take care of Christina, but, no, that would be less than opportune for him Everyone on the planet might suspect him. The mission, naturally, had dangers in it. Perhaps somewhere in it an opportunity would present itself for him. Patience. That was the one word Richard Mentor had to remember. Patience.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Mission From Mars-The Press Hounds

“That damn annoying little brat,” said Mentor. This Long woman was proving to be more trouble than she was initially worth. The three follow up articles she wrote on the last message tape was proving to be a media sensation. What initially began as a daily progress call become a twice, three time, four time, to almost hourly call. Every reporter wanted the next big scoop. Something had to be done.

The phone began to ring. It was becoming almost like clockwork with those damn reporters. They would never leave Mentor alone. Grunting as he walked over to the phone, he turned the screen around and took a deep, cleansing breath. “Richard Mentor.”

“Mr. Mentor, this is the Times,” replied the caller.

“How can I help you?” asked Mentor.

“How goes the search?”

“Well,” replied Mentor. “The search has shown a great deal of things were placed in storage we did not even know about. For instance, the number of periodicals from when the Founders first came to Mars is amazing. We plan on donating these artifacts to both the museums and libraries for public use. However, as for tapes, there have been a few found, but nothing which indicates any signs of a message from Earth.”

“How soon before the search will be completed?”

“I am confident that if all our available employees work at this particular task, we could complete it by the end of the week.”

“Thank you Mr. Mentor,” replied the reporter. “Our readers will be very interested in this.”
Mentor smiled and pressed the end button on the phone. He scowled at the blank screen and started to pace his room. The indignation of having reporters contacting him all the time was beyond belief. Even worse were the rumors he was beginning to hear about the government considering a repeal of their recent vote to appropriate more funds to his space program.
Going to the phone again, Mentor punched in a few numbers and got Williams on the phone.

“What are the chances of a bill being brought up to suspend my funds?”

Williams shook his head and said, “The President is considering it. There are a few Senators who are also thinking about it, but I am still holding the line on going forward with everything. It will set a bad precedent if we pull your funds so quickly after giving it to you.”

“Good,” replied Mentor. “I want you to let the Senate know in some way or another that I am going to do something to crush this story once and for all.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Williams.

“My concern, not yours.” Mentor disconnected the call and sat down behind his desk. He picked up the piece of paper which had the names of people he was going to have on the ship. What was originally going to be a mission having all of the most famous people on board turned into a mission with the military. Now he had to consider a few other things. He could consolidate a few of the positions together and create a couple of extra seats on the ship. If that were the case, he could have some fun with this. There were already cameras onboard the ship in order to document the trip and let everyone know exactly what would happen.

A few different thoughts were going through his mind. Killing off Miss Long didn’t sound like too bad of an idea, but people might wonder about the death of a young reporter after such a big story came out. Scaring her might be a good idea, but then again she could print the threats and link them with Industrial Sciences. Nothing like a little reasonable doubt to make readers think. This was something that needed some careful planning. Mentor realized that if he wanted to kill two birds with one stone, he not only had to something to discredit this story, but make everyone involved with it save face and look good. It wasn’t as if he wanted to crush the young girl, but he did want to weaken her position.

The phone in his office went off again. “Richard Mentor.”

“Mr. Mentor, this is the Chronicle.”

“Ah yes,” replied Mentor. “I do have a statement for your paper. Please let everyone know there will be a press conference in two days. I was just notified that the search of the vault has been completed and there are a few items that have been put aside for my viewing.”

“Thank you, sir,” replied the reporter. “This is going to be a scoop for all of us.”

Mentor turned off the screen and looked at his paper. Two days was not a lot of time, but giving himself a time limit was always a good thing. It forced his mind to think a little faster. The question was how he would take care of Miss Long’s story while allowing them both to have their dignity. With a snort, Mentor amended that thought to just letting him keep his dignity. Perhaps a good knocking down the old ladder would be a good thing for the girl. She was young and could rise back up, but not until after he had achieved a number of his own goals.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Chasing the Story

Christina had received a great deal of praise for her article. Numerous calls were coming in from people. Some were saying it was a unique perspective of history and gave the public something new to think about. Others were saying she was nothing more than an anti nationalist who only wanted to cause problems. For this line of work, everyone was a critic. Overall though, her editor thought the high degree of feedback that was coming from the story was a good thing. It meant people were going to be reading more of what the Chronicle had to say on different events situations on the planet.

“Hey Christina,” shouted one of the reporters in the bullpen.


“Check out the news broadcast.”

Christina turned on the small television in her cubicle. On the screen was Richard Mentor, head of Industrial Sciences. “Yes, I have read about the story from the Chronicle.”

“What do you say to the story of Spiro Wilson?” asked an off camera reporter.

“Certainly it is a story,” replied Mentor. “I do not deny that Mr. Wilson was once an employee here; however, this is a very shocking story to hear about. I can assure all of you in the press that we here at Industrial Sciences plan on investigating the legitimacy of the tale and will report back to you as soon as the investigation has been completed.”

Christina turned off the television and turned to her computer. She opened a new document and began to type. “Richard Mentor, head of Industrial Sciences, recently announced that he plans on conducting an investigation regarding the story of Spiro Agnew Wilson and how Earth stopped contacting Mars. The opinion of this reporter is that if the head of Industrial Sciences plans on conducting an investigation, then there is some kind of truth behind Mr. Wilson’s story. If it was false, then Mr. Mentor could have come out and said as much. However, if an investigation is needed, then there has to be some legitimacy. Something of this magnitude would have been discussed and revealed much earlier in the history of our planet.”

Typing this new article made Christina think of numerous things. She was certainly affecting many lives. The Senate voted to give more money to the space program. Now there was a chance they could pull the funds. In addition to this, history books would need to be amended. A number of things were going to change for Mars.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Mission From Mars-The Tape

The video phone chimed a little tune in Richard Mentor’s office. He pressed the speak button. Williams came on the screen. “It looks like there is a problem.”

Mentor could feel the veins in his skull contracting. “Problem with the money?”

“No,” replied Williams. “A story emerged in the Chronicle about some tape talking about the last message from Earth.”

Mentor’s eyebrows went up. This was interesting. “I’ll look into it. Just make sure no one tries any stunts with pulling my funds. I will do damage control from this end if this story pans out.” Mentor pressed the end button and went to the Chronicle’s webpage. He was a little surprised that an article of that magnitude wasn’t the lead story. There was a link to it towards the bottom of the page.

Skimming over the story, most of the information in the article was fluff. Spiro Agnew Wilson was a
little known Founder. He worked behind the scenes in the early days of the colony. All of this information would have been a nice little biography piece in any other scenario. Finally he reached the paragraph that mattered.

“While working at Industrial Sciences, Mr. Wilson discovered a rare tape containing the last message sent from Earth to Mars. In giving details on the contents of the tape, Wilson said that the reason for why Earth stopped contacting Mars was due to a World War and a biological disease unleashed on the planet. After watching this tape, Wilson made the decision to spend the rest of his life to watch for any signs of Martians going back to Earth and warn citizens of his home planet not to venture out to a world that might not exist anymore.”

Mentor leaned back in his chair. Overall, the story did not look too bad from his point of view. All he needed to do was say in a statement that this story was nothing more than the ramblings of an old man and the reporter, Christina Long, was just caught up with the idea of getting a scoop. There was nothing wrong with getting excited over a story, but he believed Miss Long needed to do some more research on the story.

However, he would need to look for the tape. Leaving his office, Mentor went down to the catacomb vault and entered the massive chamber. Taking a flashlight with him, Mentor started to walk around through the aisles and checking through the things in the vault. Most of the boxes were filled with what he thought was junk. There were some tapes in a box towards the back of the vault. Mentor picked them up and placed them on the outside of the vault. He went back in and continued searching for more tapes.

Mentor was not a stupid man. It was highly unlikely the tape he wanted would be found in a box full of them. No, this was something Wilson would have tried to place in a location that most people would overlook. Searching through the different shelves, Mentor found a few different things he never thought he would find. There were old issues of magazines from Earth, including Sports Illustrated covering the story of Barry Bonds breaking the all time homerun record, Playboy magazine, and Time. After getting very dusty, Mentor found a tape hidden behind a box near the entrance of the vault.

It would have been the last place in the world for anyone to look for something. It made sense really. If you want to hide something from someone, do it in plain sight. Or in this case, virtually in plain sight. This would be the first tape Mentor would look at. He picked up the box of other tapes he had found and took them up to his office. Finding an old micro tape machine was a little harder to do, but it was done. Mentor placed the special tape in the machine and hit play.

The screen flickered for a few moments. It went blank and then showed a few words. “Transmitting Message. Location: Houston, Texas. Destination: Mars Colony, Alpha Site.” The screen switched again to what looked like a communications room. An older man in a lab coat came onto the screen. He wore glasses and a light blue shirt with something smeared on the front of it. Studying the tape more could give him an idea of what was on the shirt. The scientists must have been about fifty, maybe a little older. He looked like all of those scientist type individuals.

“My name is Doctor Daniel Morgan. I don’t know if you will get this message, but considering how long it takes for a radio message to reach the colony, I can only hope you are waiting for our next message. After the last transport of immigrants was sent to Mars, the political climate here on Earth deteriorated. As you know, for years Iran has claimed their nuclear program was designed for nuclear power plants only. They had kept to their word and spread the knowledge of how to do this to countries like Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. The day after the transport left, the announced the possession of a nuclear arsenal which could rival some other nations.

“The United Nations demanded that Iran surrender its weapons to an international force. Iran refused and decided to launch its arsenal at different locations. Israel was wiped off the map. Some portions of Europe was hit and terrorists took weapons into other countries that could not be hit with missiles and blew them up. In the
United States, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta was destroyed. In Europe, London, Berlin, Paris, and Madrid were taken out. The world all of a sudden found itself in the middle of World War Three. Arabs or anyone associated with Islam were arrested if possible, killed everywhere else.

“This was is like a world wide civil war. To make matters worse, the terrorists released a powerful new toxin into the atmosphere through one of their nuclear bombs that they had. This toxin has had bizarre effects and we are still trying to figure out what it is. Thus far, we have found those who were affected by it to lose all major thought processes and become mindless beings, like zombies. While they obey commands, they are exceptionally strong. Feeding them has also become awkward as they prefer raw meat or live animals. Until we find a cure for this, we can only assume more people might succumb to the disease. We don’t even know how only some people are affected while others are not.

“Whoever gets this message, do not expect to receive another message from Earth for a long time, maybe even ever.” A siren goes off. “Oh no. This installation is under attack. Listen to me Mars colony, you cannot come back to Earth. Under no circumstances can you return. If you do, you might not come back yourself. You are all that is left of humanity. Do something better than what we have done here on this planet. Don’t let our people die out. Please.”

Morgan turned his head as the sound of someone banging on the door to room could be heard from somewhere. He stood up and looked in the direction of the door. Morgan looked towards the screen with a frightened face. It was the final image on the tape. The screen went blank. Mentor could see his reflection in the screen. He lost all the color in his face. His legs felt weak and he knew what fear felt like right then and there. The tape needed to be destroyed, not to mention Spiro Wilson. What to do about the reporter was another story. Mentor had to think. He stood up, grabbed the tape, and left his office. He walked down to one of the labs and made sure no one was around. He opened a container labeled acid. He dropped the tape into it and watched the incriminating evidence disappear. A little of the fear he felt was going away now. The tape was gone. Now damage control needed to be done.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Christina Long

Christina Long walked into the Red Sands Retirement Center. She was only a couple of years out of college and had started her journalistic career with little notoriety. For the most part, she was an average looking girl. Average height and weight, her long brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail. She didn’t do much to make herself look too noticeable in a crowd. It was better that way because some folks were shy about talking to a reporter.

She worked on local interest stories and was given the assignment of interviewing an old man with a “great story.” Odds were this would be a few paragraphs in a web article and that was it. As far as she figured, this story was going to be something along the lines of him being the descendant of someone famous and wanting to make sure the story got out before his death.
Christina walked in to Room 124. Seated in a chair on the far side of the room was the man she was looking for. “Spiro Wilson?” she asked.

The old man looked up and tried to stand. She waved for him not to and walked up to him. She shook his hand and sat down on his bed. “I understand you have a story for me.”


“So where would you like to begin?” asked Christina.

Spiro took a long breath of air and said, “I suppose at the beginning. When I was twenty, I worked at Industrial Sciences as a maintenance worker. Some might consider me one of the final Founders left alive, but I had nothing to do with the creation of this society we have today. I didn’t come up with the design for the bio dome system we have above us. I didn’t set up the government. When I first came to the planet, I was on the last transport wave. I had turned nineteen during the transport and was almost twenty when I arrived. The year was 2030 when I left, but the time it took to get us here was almost a decade. So, we were told to ignore the time we lost in suspended animation and consider it like a hiccup.

“After my arrival, I got the job being a maintenance man. I will tell you, those early years were rough on everyone, but we persevered. I guess that was what the old Earth colonists thought life was like when they first went to America. Do you know about America?”

Christina nodded her head. She had learned about it in school, but didn’t really care too much. It seemed this story was proving to be a little better than she thought. The working title on the story was going to deal with the reminiscences of a lesser known Founder.

Spiro continued with his story. “So I got my job. Most of the work dealt with cleaning the floors since our roads were still dust instead of concrete. I had to attempt to keep some kind of sense of cleanliness in the building. One day I was told to move boxes from one storage area to another in the catacombs of the building. While doing the moving, I stumbled on a tape. I took it home with me. The reason I did it was because it had no markings on it and I figured at the time it had no real value to anyone. I decided to see what was on the tape, curiosity I suppose, and discovered more than I wanted.”

Christina stopped writing on her pad and looked up. The old man stopped for a reason. He wanted to make sure she was ready for this. She gave him a small nod to prod him forward in the story.

“The tape was the last message sent to Mars from Earth.”

Christina dropped her pad and pen. No one had ever seen or heard the message. THIS was a story. The only known person who had heard the reason why Earth stopped contacting Mars. Picking up her pad and pen, Christina asked, “What did the message say?”

“It was horrifying,” replied Spiro. “The man on the tape was a scientist. He talked about how Earth was engaged in a Third World War and the introduction of some kind of disease which was destroying humanity. The man was under some kind of time constraint. It sounded as if someone was after him. He warned that we should not come back.”

Christina wrote down everything the old man had to say. This was an unbelievable story. It was almost too good to be true. She needed to ask a few questions though.

“Mr. Wilson, my editor is going to question the legitimacy of the tape. Where is it?”

“I placed it back in the vault with all the other things I had moved in there. I couldn’t come out with the tape. Everyone was busy trying to get the colony going. We had succeeded thus far, but we were still looking for the long term goals. A new generation needed to be born on the planet and a stable civilization needed to be put into place. Taking a tape like this to the press, which was barely around at the time, would have caused who knows how much damage. I figured I would wait. If anyone ever thought about going back to Earth, I would talk then.”

“And the Senate vote yesterday is what made you place the call,” said Christina.


“If I go snooping around for this tape,” said Christina, “I doubt I will get anywhere with it. Is there a way for me to view the tape without getting the run around?”

“Print the story,” said Spiro. “Once it is out, keep pressing it. Industrial Sciences will have to come clean about it.”

Christina nodded her head and wrapped up her interview. She asked a few minor detail questions designed to be filler. As a whole, this story had some real potential. She might even be able to extend it into a few editorials and follow up stories. All that was needed now was to write the article.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Mission From Mars-The Call

Spiro rubbed his temples. The news had just reported the vote from the Senate. If a ship was going to make its way to Earth, it was going to find itself heading right into a trap. Getting up from his chair, Spiro grabbed his cane and walked out of his room in the retirement center. He shuffled down the hall and headed towards the video phone. He shakily tapped the numbers on the pad. Within a few moments, the screen came alive with a receptionist. “Mars Daily Chronicle, how may I help you?”

“I need to speak with a reporter,” said Spiro. “I have a story for them that might be worth their wild.”

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Thomas C. Wilson

“The chair recognizes the Honorable Senator Thomas C. Williams.”

It took four days to rally some support for the space bill, but Williams had almost all the votes necessary to guarantee the passage of the bill. He made assurances that the military would be present in order to protect the crew in the event there could be trouble. Now it was time for him to give a speech to convince any of the hold out votes and also get national attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Honorable members of the Senate. As you know, I am a man who has championed the recent number of bills that have been proposed before this august body on the issue of space exploration. To date, we have sent satellites to orbit our planet. We have begun to survey the universe around us. Now we have the opportunity to make history once again. Red Rock Facility for Industrial Sciences has developed a spaceship for the use of space exploration. More importantly, this ship has been prepared for a historic trip from our planet of Mars to the old home world of Earth.

“Our Founders had said that when we first colonized this planet, we were writing a new chapter in the history of humanity. Now, we can write another new chapter. By being able to travel from one planet to another, we will have done more for our civilization than any of our predecessors could have possibly thought. I call on all of you to vote in favor of the bill before you. By giving the Industrial Sciences the funding they are asking for, we are making history. We will be part of a moment designed for everyone. A vote for this bill is a vote for history.”

The applause from the gallery was a nice touch. Williams looked up at the crowd and watched them rise. From where he stood, he could see with his peripheral vision the entire Senate rise and applaud as well. Williams went back to his seat and waited to see if anyone else would try to give a speech to deny the passage of this bill. The mood of the room was tense.

The Speaker stood and called for a vote. The bill needed to have twenty six of the fifty members to pass, but Williams wanted more than that. A higher number of votes would guarantee any person who would speak out against this to be anti national. The clock above the Speaker’s chair shoed fifteen minutes. It began to tick down. Williams took his voting key and went up to the voting box. He inserted the key and pressed the green button. A number of other Senators did the same.

The results board showed the numbers going up. Yea had already garnered fifteen votes. Nay had three. After five minutes, Yea had twenty eight. Nay had seven. The bill was going to pass. Williams had seen things like this before. While the Senators had fifteen minutes to vote, the votes were not finalized until after the fifteen minutes were up. So, if someone had second thoughts, they could change their vote. Ten minutes were gone and the vote looked pretty good. Yea had forty one. Nay was down to three votes. The remaining seven votes were probably hold outs in case things got very tense. Four minutes left and Nay was down to one vote. Three minutes remained and Yea had forty eight votes. Two minutes and Nay was still at one. As the final minute ticked away, Williams leaned back in hi chair and smiled. The clock hit zero.

The Speaker rose and said, “The final vote is in. In regards to the proposed bill for the Red Rock Facility for Industrial Sciences to receive the amount of three million dollars, with the express use of exploring space and sending a manned space vessel to the planet Earth, the Senate votes as follows: Yea, fifty votes. Nay, zero votes. The bill passes unanimously.”

Once again, the applause from the gallery was thunderous. The first part of the mission was complete. Now it was up for Mentor to get the job done.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Richard Mentor

Richard Mentor was the head of Industrial Sciences for almost seven years. He had developed the Mars Space program from the ground up when he first became an executive in the company. The model was simple: take the existing spaceships from the Mars History Museum and strip down all useful technology from them, analyze the fuel structure of the ships in order to power the ship, and finally get the funding through both public and private sources.

After years of hard work, Mentor was able to get into a position of power where he could push his space program to its full potential. He launched a number of satellites into orbit around Mars and was beginning to think about building a space station. The boldest plan of course was his idea of sending a ship to Earth. The government was not about to spend billions of dollars in building a space station unless it could find something worth of value in space.

In looking at his plans, the trip to Earth had the most potential. The selling point was that if Mars could reopen communication with Earth and create some kind of trade between the two planets, the economy of Mars would get a new boost in revenue. Naturally, the business community leaped at the opportunity to have exports sent not only to another country, but another planet. The government was intrigued by the idea of having communications set up between two planets. There seemed to be plenty of upsides to this mission.

The chime went off in his office. Mentor looked up and press the speak button on his desk. “Yes,” he said.

“General Tyler and Senator Williams is here to see you,” replied Mentor’s secretary.

“Send them in.”

The doors to his office opened. Unlike most businessmen’s offices, Mentor had his doors blend in with the walls. By having this happen, visitors to the room would quickly lose sight of where the doors were and could never be sure where they came in. General Josiah Tyler was a third generation military man in Mars. His grandfather, Lewis Tyler, had been in charge of creating an army for Mars.

The new uniform of Martian soldiers had been a light red. Tyler wore the more formalized version of it, with his three stars sewn close to the neck on the uniform. He was athletic looking and for a man nearing middle age, he could still fight any man entering his twenties and take him to the mat.

As for his associate, Senator Thomas C. Williams was almost the complete opposite of the general. He was overweight, loud, obnoxious, and had no real sense of timing. The only good thing about him was that he had the ears of many politicians in the Martian government. This meeting was designed to hammer out some of the final details of the mission.

“So gentlemen, how soon can I expect you to give me the final funds necessary for me to get the Earth mission underway?”

“With a little luck,” said Williams, “you could be looking at the government giving you your funds by the end of the month.”

General Tyler coughed. Mentor knew this would mean trouble. “Is there a problem General?”

Tyler shifted in his chair and said, “The concern on the part of the military is that since we have not heard anything from Earth for so long, then there is a chance something bad could have happened. Maybe the situation on the planet is hostile. I want to send soldiers with the ship to make sure the situation there is safe.”

Mentor had heard this argument before. As a whole, the ship could only hold about a dozen people on it. The original transports that brought the Founders to Mars could carry a group of almost two thousand people. The difference between those ships and the one Mentor built was that the older vessels were designed to only go one way. This one was meant to go to Earth and back again to Mars. As a result of this, the size of the vessel need to be considered, along with fuel storage and other supplies. In the end, the engineers designing the ship only allowed a crew of thirty.

“Now Josiah, we both know the ship has a limited number of people allowed on it.”

General Tyler leaned forward and said, “I have looked over the schematics of the ship. You need a pilot, two engineers, four scientists, and someone to captain the vessel. After that, there are twenty spots still open. I can have a small platoon of men ready to go in a week and have them ready to be deployed to your ship in under a day.”

Williams decided to take this moment to grunt. Mentor turned his attention to the Senator. “There are a number of people in the government that agree on the notion of sending some military men with you.”

Mentor had heard these rumors. It was his original hope to gain a little extra money by auctioning off a few of those seats to the highest bidder. There would be a couple of charity seats, but overall Mentor wanted to make a profit on this trip. He even considered going himself. Why not? He was the brains behind all of this. He might as well go for it. Perhaps a compromise strategy was needed.

“Gentlemen,” said Mentor, “I understand your concern. If it means I am able to get the money I need for this mission, I am willing to compromise on some things.”

Williams smiled at the prospect of moving things forward. General Tyler on the other hand was a little skeptical. Tyler opened his mouth, but Williams prevented him from speaking. “I think the government can have a vote passed by the end of the month. I will propose having a few soldiers added on to the mission, so as to make General Tyler feel better, and recommend that the delay in creating a historical moment like this cannot be done anymore. I believe the need for nationalism will more than make the government give you your money.”

Grunting, Tyler said, “If you take soldiers with you, then the military will also give you some funds to help you out.”

Mentor slowly nodded, but in his head he was grinning from ear to ear. Instead of doing a long drawn out compromise, he just opened the gates and let the two men in. He would need to remember this for future reference in other dealings with the government. General Tyler stood and said, “I need to leave gentlemen.”

Both Mentor and Williams stood. After Tyler left the two men faced each other. “How soon will the vote occur?”

“When do you want it?” asked Williams.

“The sooner the better,” replied Mentor. “We both know I want to use this as a spring board into politics. A successful trip to Earth, or at least a claim to a successful trip.”

Williams laughed. “Will the ship make it there?”

“It can, but I won’t let it land on the planet.”

“Why not?” asked Williams.

Mentor poured a glass of water and sat down behind his desk. “Years ago, when I first took over this position, I was told about how when the Founders first came to the planet, Earth suffered some kind of natural disaster. My predecessor wasn’t really too sure of the details, but according to him it was just some kind of disaster. If I had to guess, it was probably a volcano or two or more that exploded and sent up ash and dust into the air, causing life on the planet to virtually be wiped out. So, if we send the ship, we announce that the planet had suffered some kind of cataclysm and that the planet will need a few more years to be prepared for terra forming and other procedures for our use in exports. While the mission is not seen as a complete success, it will allow business industries to look at new futures and the opportunity to allow us to make the best out of certain portions of the Earth.”

Williams nodded and asked, “Does anyone else know about this?”

Mentor shook his head. “No. The schools, if you can remember that far back, just tell the children that contact between ourselves and Earth was cut off for no real reason. The Founders only said Earth didn’t want to help us anymore. As a result, they said we were going to start a new chapter in the history of humanity. It is a good story for kids. As far as they know, they are a new page in history.”

“I can see my speech right now,” said Williams. “I will call on the pride of the planet. Once that happens, a stirring speech that appeals to the adventurous spirits of our people will get the vote through.”

“Good. I want the vote in a week.”

“A week?” replied Williams. “That will be a little tricky.”

“Do it,” snapped Mentor.

Williams was taken aback. He did a long, dry swallow and slowly nodded his head. “Alright.”

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Introduction

The Red Rock Facility for Industrial Sciences was founded during the fourth year of man’s colonization of Mars. Now, after seventy years of living on the planet, the Martians could enjoy a prosperous life with peace. There were no wars on the planet and crime was limited. Very few people remained who could actually talk about Earth. Contact with the planet which created man had been cut off shortly after the first wave of humans reached the red planet. Shortly after their arrival, the final two waves of people arrived. Communication between the two planets stretched for the span of almost a year. When the message from Earth came, only the founders of the colony knew what it said. They decided to keep the message quiet.

The only known copy of the tape which had the message sent from Earth was kept in the Sciences vault, deep within the catacombs of the building. The tape had been accidentally played once by Spiro Agnew Wilson, a young technician who stumbled across it while moving storage items to the lower vaults. When Spiro played it, he thought it was a worthless video tape which could be taped over it. Who would have missed a tape that might not have anything worth wild on it? After watching the tape though, Spiro knew it had to stay in the vault. He never breathed a word of what was on the tape, but now his mind was beginning to think about taking the story of the tape to the press.

Spiro was now eighty five. His head had a thin covering of hair, liver spots on his skin, and blood shot eyes. He slouched over when he walked, which could only now be classified as a shuffle. If he had a choice in the matter, Spiro would have been more than happy to die with his secret, but the news reported that Industrial Sciences was planning on sending a ship back to Earth. Details on the mission were kept secret, but Spiro knew he could stop the mission if he announced the existence of the tape. He was the only person left alive who knew where the tape was. He needed to do something. He was going to call the press.