November 19, 2015

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 75: Stepan On 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 sighed. It had been a long walk to the Rim neighborhood of Burroughs Dome and the Artificial Human teenager he called Quinn  “I seen people with rickets. Somebody told me it was like a cold, but that’s stupid. You get over a cold. Rickets is a curse from a Voodoo priest. But I also seen elders who’re losing their cog – both real Humans and aych.” Artificial Humans used the contraction “ay-aych” for themselves rather than the derogatory inti they used in the Home Owner’s District, “Plus kids who 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 – the Rim, where the buildings merged with the massive concrete ring the dome rested on – and their rear walls let out onto the thin air of Mars.

They’d passed the first one when two blue men stepped out of the shadows, pulled out knives and said, “Give it.”

Beside him, Quinn stiffened, ready to fight. Stepan said, “It’s an anti-grav plate. An old one at that. It’s starter is keyed to my DNA because I got it from my dad.”

“So?” growled the older one. He looked old, withered. In an aych, that meant that he would by dying soon. His genes were programmed to senesce at an advanced rate once his usefulness was over. “We need the money.”

Stepan held out the disk. Quinn exclaimed, “Don’t give it to them!”

The younger one – there was no way to tell his real age because he looked to be in his late twenties – brandished the knife and snarled. Literally. Then he said, “Try anything little boy and I’ll cut you up so bad you’ll be dead before nightfall!” He reached to the disk.

The older one scowled and said, “Why you just giving it to us?”

“Because you asked for it.”

“I know. We’re robbing you. But you aren’t going to fight?”

Stepan shrugged. “I certainly don’t want you to kill Quinn, and I can get another disk from somewhere. We’re just going to start a rooftop garden and a mushroom farm in the darker interior of that warehouse over there.” He gestured. They’d nearly made it home.

“Why would you do that? You’re...” he used the extremely crude phrase that aychs used to refer to those who’d been born in the ancient Human manner. Stepan winced. Both of them laughed.

Stepan said, “I’m here to help...” The younger one used another crudity, though not so bad. Stepan continued, “That would probably be useful on my farm. But anyway, I am a Christian and I’m here to help.” He shrugged. “I used to be famous once and I have money and my beliefs compel me to do what I can to alleviate suffering.”

The younger used the crude word again, but asked, “All the Christians are dead.”

Stepan held out both arms, palms facing them, “Clearly we’re not. In fact, there are more Christians on Mars now than there were when the faiths were outlawed.”

The older aych pursed his lips and handed the anti-grav plate back. Stepan took it and tucked it under his arm. The younger man exclaimed, “What are you doing?”

The older man shrugged, “Maybe I think Mars needs more do-gooders. ‘sides, he’s right. It’s worthless if it’s DNA coded.”

“We can unprogram it!”

The older man lifted his chin, “Let ‘em go. Maybe they’ll do some good. Come on.” The older man started walking. With a dark look at Stepan and Quinn, the younger man followed.

Quinn’s eyes were wide when he looked up at Stepan and whispered, “How’d you do that?”

Stepan shrugged and said, “We have lots of work to do. Let’s go.” Together, they headed for the warehouse.

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