On a well-settled Mars, the five major city Council regimes struggle to meld into a stable, working government. Embracing an official Unified Faith In Humanity, the Councils are teetering on the verge of pogrom directed against Christians, Molesters , Jews, Rapists, Buddhists, Murderers, Muslims, Thieves, Hindu, Embezzlers and Artificial Humans – anyone who threatens the official Faith and the consolidating power of the Councils. It makes good sense, right – get rid of religion and Human divisiveness on a societal level will disappear? An instrument of such a pogrom might just be a Roman holiday...To see the rest of the chapters and I’m sorry, but a number of them got deleted from the blog – go to SCIENCE FICTION: Martian Holiday on the right and scroll to the bottom for the first story. If you’d like to read it from beginning to end (40,000 words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.
Stepan had once been Natan, one of the Heroes of Mars during the ascent of the Unified Faith In Humanity. He’d defended seventy-two children in an elementary school from Christian and Buddhist gang members caught up in inter-gang warfare. His smile was wan before he said, “It was close, dad. If you wanted to listen, I’d have talked your ear off – and maybe even stuck with you.”
“Your mother listened,” Stepan’s father, known in the HOD – the Home Owner’s District – as Old Man Gillard had taken off his hood as they spoke in the main room of the adobe. He hung it on a hook embedded in the wall. Built against the outer wall of Burroughs Dome, through two meters of brick, mortar, and steel; was the nearly non-existent atmosphere of Mars.
Stepan nodded, “She did. But I wanted you to hear me. You’re my hero.”
OM Gillard opened his mouth, then turned away abruptly. His voice came weakly, bouncing off the wall. “Just go.”
“I didn’t come to open old wounds, Dad.” When his father didn’t respond Stepan turned away and started walking.
“I guess it doesn’t matter what you came here for. The wound is open.” He father sighed, the added, “You can borrow the anti-grav plate. I’d let you take the community antigrav lifter, but I doubt your friends on the Rim would trust you any more if you brought something like that.”
Stepan sniffed, “I’d have to agree with you.”
“There’s a first.”
“Nah, Dad. The first is that you’re still my Dad and you’re still my hero.”
The old man lifted his hand weakly but didn’t turn around. Stepan nodded and kept walking. As the door behind him, he said, “See you, Dad. I still love you.” Outside the adobe, Stepan stopped as a disciple of his father’s stepped up to him and handed him a large, jagged-edged piece of plate metal. He nearly dropped it until the disciple held it on either side and bent it slightly. Then it weighed nothing.
The woman said, “To make it rise up, stomp on it once, to make it sink, stomp twice. When you’re done with it, sent a message with your servant and we’ll send someone after it.”
“I don’t have a servant...”
Quinn waved over her shoulder, who said, “I thought they’d killed you and roasted you.”
The woman turned to him and said, “We don’t do that!”
He shrugged, “You’re not going to tell me you don’t think I’m some sort of animated furniture?”
“We made you – just like we built these houses! You’re a thing!”
“I’m a kid, just like your kids! I’m not a thing!”
The Disciple looked scandalized and exclaimed, “You are nothing like a real person!”
Stepan shook his head, grabbed Quinn’s shoulder and said, “Come on. We have work to do.”
What he didn’t see was his father, shadowed in the adobe’s window well shake his head sadly and turn away.