August 6, 2015

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 71: Stepan Back to the Rim 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 (50,000 words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.

Stepan Izmaylova, who’d once been known as Natan Wallace-Gillard, “Hero of the Faith Wars”,  looked down at the blue adolescent and said, “You’re really just a kid, then.”

Quinn, an Artificial Human 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.”

As Quinn was leading, they caught the five o’clock local time garbage run. The carts crisscrossed the surface beneath the city of Burroughs, transporting the waste of half a million people to where it could be processed and recycled. Typically, the facilities were on the Rim of the original Burroughs Dome – a dilapidated, run down area perpetually layered with fine red dust, which was the final resting place of the Dome’s indigent inhabitants. No one was really “poor” on Mars. But there were those who had more than others. No one literally starved to death on Mars – no matter what the tabletoids screamed from the fanciful headlines. But vitamin D deficiency, along with its multiple problems of bone weakness, increased cardiovascular disease, cog-impairment in the elderly, asthma in kids – especially young Artificial Humans of any size or appearance, diabetes, and even cancers; was a profound problem on the Rim. Supplements were expensive and reserved for the middle and upper classes, natural went without saying that with the Sun not-quite twice as far from Mars as it was from Earth, the intensity of sunlight would be that much less. Even if an average Martian lay out in the full light of day, stark naked, every day, their body would only just barely synthesize enough vitamin D to keep them healthy.

Rimmers didn’t have that luxury. The ones who found work had the dirtiest jobs in the Dome. Those who didn’t spent most of their days “dumpster-diving” in the depths…


The blue boy looked up as they took an industrial lift from the underground back to the surface. They weren’t alone. Plenty of Rimmers were heading up to some space they’d carved out of the city above to make their home. After their trip to the HOD though, Stepan noticed the ripe smell; hating himself momentarily for noticing. The boy said, “’Sup, Bossman?”

“Don’t call me that,” Stepan began.

“OK, Bossman. ‘sup?”

“You eat mushrooms?”

He wrinkled his nose, genuine distaste on the blue face. “Hate ‘em, so, no, I don’t.”

“Where’d you get them from?”

“The underground. They grow on the walls.”

Stepan pursed his lips. “That’s mold, not mushrooms.”

Quinn shrugged. “Same thing.” The lift doors opened. It was night and the Dome was transparent, letting in the dust-fuzzed light of the stars.

 “No, they aren’t. Mushrooms – good ones – can give a you vitamin so you don’t get the soft bone disease.”

“Rickets? Yeah – and I’ve seen elders who’re losing their cog, real Human and aych,” he used the phrase Artificial Humans used for themselves rather than the derogatory inti they’d used above, “kids whose got bad asthma, and that blood sugar thing.”
“Diabetes,” Stepan said, staring down at Quinn. “You know about that?”

“Who don’t?” Looking up at Stepan he laughed and said, “I’m artificial, not STUPID!”

Stepan laughed as well, adding, “Well, we’ll grow mushrooms in the dark of the warehouse and raise chickens and grow vegetables on the roof. All of those are high in vitamin D…” he patted the antigrav plate his father had lent him. They walked with the crowd as men, women, children, and aychs peeled away. Soon they were at the edge of the warehouse district. They’d passed the first one when two blue men stepped out of the shadows, pulled out knives and said, “Give it.”

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