08 September 2014

Short Story - Corpse of Mars

copyright 2013 by Sean Sherman

March 4, 1866
He was a veteran of the War of Northern Aggression. The Army of Northern Virginia. The war was over, a loss for his adopted state. Now he and his partner traveled across the west, mercenaries and prospectors.

Things had gone poorly when they prospected in Arizona territory. His partner was killed while on a supply run, a victim of the Tonto Apache. After an insane charge into the Apache camp to recover the body he made his way to a cave in what was sacred ground to the natives.

The Apache pursued him in force, but they began to slow as they approached the sacred ground. The shaman urged the warriors forward, they would be forgiven for violating the ground if they dealt with the white-skinned invader.

The Virginian carried his dead friend's body up the path into a cave. He then turned and took cover behind a boulder, awaiting the Apache. Shortly after they arrived a gun fight began.

The defender's only near hit almost killed one of the braves if not for the interdiction of the bullet by a startled bird. The explosion of blood and feathers made it clear to the brave that he was saved, but for what purpose he did not know. Less than a decade later his tribe would be scattered and he would be the partner of a white Texas Ranger turned vigilante.

The white man realized he was doomed. Outnumbered and outgunned with no hope of rescue. He drew a bead on the shaman who was approaching closer to the cave. He then held his fire when he saw the look of terror on the Apache's face. As the shaman fled, the braves followed closely behind him. What had happened? Given that he was still alive there was little reason to be concerned with the details.

Staring up in the sky he could make out a tiny light rising over the horizon. It was a light he knew well. Mars was rising. Mars, the god of war. That other world always had a hold on his imagination. Being a warrior and a mercenary himself he would dream about what life might be like on Earth's neighbor. As exhaustion finally embraced him and he drifted off to sleep his thoughts were of the red planet.

(image from NASA)

Something happened. Something impossible. Suddenly awoken the man found himself transported to the surface of Mars! His body quickly went into agony in the frigid thin air. The liquids of his body began to quickly evaporate in the low pressure of the alien world. Within moments the thick sludge his blood had become could no longer maintain his body's vital functions, but with the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere serviceable blood would have been worthless. His freezing, unseeing eyes never closed as he collapsed as quickly as he had risen his hand clutching a handful of martian dirt.

4 March AD 2429
Marte 1, the first manned mission to Mars, landed on the red planet. Minutes later the hatch opened and a space-suited man, Comandante Mendelez, emerged. After a few brief steps on the alien world the man plants the flag of Sul Aliança into the dirt. Over four centuries of rebuilding and humanity now, officially, had surpassed its former glory.

Flag of Sul Aliança

Mendelez looked around the new world in awe of his surroundings. The other two men of his mission team take their first steps on Mars. Something caught the Comandante's eye. Over behind the rocks.

As he moved around to look at the strange object he swore. His profane language transmitted to nearly every radio and television receiver on Earth minutes later. What he saw defied all logic, the desiccated corpse of a human! Examining the corpse and its possessions it was apparent that it was a man from nineteenth century United States. An impossibility.

It would be a mystery humanity would never be able to solve.


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