September 15, 2016

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 87: Stepan of Burroughs

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, 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 (60,000+ words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.

“But some of the really, really rich of your kind like to go deep down into the tunnels and hunt my kind,” QuinnAH, the young, blue Artificial Human standing on the roof of the warehouse that shared the Wall supporting Burroughs Dome.

“Animals!” Stepan Izmaylova, possible missionary to the Rim exclaimed.

“Sure we act like animals, but…”

Stepan looked down at Quinn, put his head on the ebony haired head and said, “You aren’t the animals, son. We’re the animals.”


Stepan shook his head, “Humans hunting Humans is a deeply disturbing idea for me.”

“Why? Happens in the Underground alla time.”

“Just because it happens all the time doesn’t make it right.”

“Nah. Didn’t say it’s right – it just is.”

Stepan turned to Quinn, kneeling in front of him, holding both the boy’s shoulders. He looked up into the cereluean face with its unruly mop of blue hair so dark it appeared black. He said, “If there is anything that can be done to stop Natural Humans hunting Artificial Humans, I will do it. This is where I live now…” he stopped abruptly; opened his mouth then shut it again.

“What’s wrong, Preacherman?”

“I…I was about to say that ‘Your people are my people.’ Then I realized that that would be absurd.”

“We’re all Human, though,” said QuinnAH. He patted Stepan awkwardly on the shoulder. “You can’t help the fact you was born no more than I can help the fact I was vat.”

Stepan stood up and gripped Quinn’s shoulder. “I’m not one of you, son, but I can help you.”

Quinn looked up at him, squinting and finally said, “You really are that guy who got all the religions kicked off Mars, aren’t you?” Stepan thought to deny it at first. Quinn didn’t need to know that much about his past – only what kinds of plans he had for the future. Plans that were bigger than growing a few tomatoes and giving them away. He wanted to be able to do something to change how artificial Humans were not perceived…not governed – but how they were defined. He wanted to see them defined as Human. All Human, without qualification. They would simply be Human; the way that Quinn blithely defended the hunt as something that simply was. Everyone on Mars would be simply Humans. “You gonna make us all Human, ain’t ya?”

“You already are Human, kid. I’m not going to make you anything.” He paused, pursing his lips and looking at the Dome as if he could see through it. He added, “I’m going to make THEM see YOU.”

“They didn’t have no problem seeing me when we were in the HOD. They was gonna kill me if they could.”

Stepan actually smirked for the first time in decades then said, “That’s not the kind of seeing I had in mind, son. Not the kind of seeing I was thinking of at all.”

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