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.
The Disciple, Stepan’s estranged father, looked at Quinn. The very blue, young Artificial Human stood behind Stepan. The boy had shown up in the warehouse Stepan was converting into a community center and rooftop garden.Scandalized Old Man Gillard exclaimed, “You aren’t a real person!”
Stepan shook his head, embarrassed, grabbed Quinn’s shoulder and said, “Come on. We have work to do.” They headed away from the Home Owner’s District without looking back.
What he didn’t see was his father, shadowed in the adobe’s window well, shake his head sadly and turn away. But just as the father had felt the son’s embarrassment, the son felt the father’s grief. It wasn’t enough to turn him back, but for just a moment, Stepan thought about returning; reconciling; talking. Quinn took that moment to tug on Stepan’s shirt and say, “They starin’.”
Stepan looked up, noticing the HOD again. The old woman who’d identified him as the Hero of the Faith Wars turned her back on him. She’d spent years on the surface, in a space suit and survived the measured insanity of a frontier. Add to the kind of craziness on any edge of civilization, men, women, and children of multiple faiths began to react to wild rumors about attacks, atrocities, and brutal slayings. Groups of young people banded together to protect worship times; even to escort individuals safely to masjid, church, synagogue, temple, centers, reliquary, gurdwara, and any other holy place of worship.
Hands that had been prepared to greet him when he arrive, sometimes curled into fists. There were muttered curses. Lots of, “Get out inti!” Stepan winced. The derogatory phrase came from the word, intron – referring to non-coding sections of the Human genome – that had been removed from the DNA of artificial humans.
“Get out of our town with that thing,” an older man said. Would they beat him bloody or toss him out an airlock? He wasn’t worried about that for himself. He was ready to die for his beliefs and certainly for talking to Quinn. But what about Quinn? They’d kill him for certain because he might not be as young a man as he looked. Artificial Humans were manufactured of blue flesh and blood. Their neither grew nor aged – they wore out. For all he knew, Quinn might have been an AH who lynched a dozen Human farmers in Heinlein Station, hanging them from a microwave relay tower to blow in the thin winds of Mars.
It took them to make it back to the trash pick-up shelter he and Quinn had come up in. Some people cursed Stepan openly. He shook his head. Quinn whispered, “We gotta go or they gone kill you.”
“People’s crazy when you ain’t what they think you is.”
“I look like a kid.”
Quinn lifted the lid to the garbage chute, gestured down, and finally grabbed Stepan’s arm when something flew over their heads and clanged against the metal of the garbage area. Stepan jumped, and Quinn followed hard on his head as a roar echoed down the chute.
They slowed to a stop back where they’d started. The cover above was closed, so now no light shone down. Quinn sighed. “We’re back where we belong, then.” He looked up at Stepan and said, “I’m thirteen. Actual. I was made to look like this, but right now I AM this.” He took Stepan’s hand and led him back to the tracks. “We can catch the five and take it back near the Rim. We’ll have to walk after that.”
Stepan looked down at him and said, “You’re just a kid, then.”
Quinn snorted, wiped his nose on his sleeve, then said, “Yeah, I might be thirteen, but the stuff I seen’s gotta make me older…”
Stepan sighed, nodded, then squeezing his shoulder, said, “Yeah, son. It made me older, too.” He paused. “It made me older, too.” Another sigh, and he said, “Let’s get home, Quinn.”