(better to have loved an island than never to have loved atoll)
Like the behemoth in the bowels under NYC, A Word with You Press is a sleeping giant.
Our current contest is a tough nut to crack (go there only at personal risk) and our first nut-cracker is Michael Stang. There has been a lot of back-room negotiating with this contest. The parameters were a bit constricting, and was a possible explanation of why we have had so little response to it.
So I am opening up the rules and extending the deadline to The Ides of March! The rules are now write a story about the object found in the bowels of Manhattan, 600 to 800 words, and write it from the year 2113. Anything goes.
I should warn you, however, that if Mike Stang is correct in his piece of future non-fiction it won’t even matter!
Let the blames begin!
By Michael Stang
“I’m from Mars.”
“That explains something?”
“Everything, except why I’m here.”
“Why are you here?”
“You sent for me.”
The android who worked for Project Global Feed sat perky behind the desk, her internal segments whizzing away.
“Of course, Mr. Hicks, the fossil issue. You are expected.”
“Hicks, no mister.”
“Right.” More whizzing. “Mr. Blumbower will see you now.”
“Come in Hicks come in. Sit. Scotch?”
“Still cherishing earth’s vises, I see. Have the fluoroscopes been processed?”
Blumbower slid a file envelope across the glass desk. “You may find these encouraging.”
“And the new construction,” I asked, quickly scanning the interior of an object as long as a freight train and as ugly as the sin of man. “How is that coming along?”
“On hold.” Blumbower grew nervous speaking, like he didn’t trust me and regretted offering me that drink, which I accepted—Martian distilleries lack purified water, the hooch on earth was not to be missed. “Preliminaries show, from the surface to 14.5 kilometers down, along the Manhattan corridor, west to Minnesota, south to Missouri and east again to Virginia, best suited for agronomy. Our farmers are breaking at the bit to get started. The fossil, sits in the middle of a purposed leech system that will draw from the Atlantic through converters under the city. Combined with the Great Lakes, it is enough to feed the hydroponic peat needles that will fertilize the fields. I assure you, you’re conclusions will play a heavy role on where and when we break ground. I understand you have been briefed, our lucrative expectations are high. So, can that thing be disturbed?
I need to see it.
The male-body I assumed, arriving on earth, left little to be desired. Didn’t take long, after making myself comfortable in the hotel lounge, to attract one of their thirsty females. She reminded me of the android except her whizzing was different.
I was terribly late the next morning getting back to Project Global Feed. The android stood by the soil-sub impatiently ticking. My head throbbed on the way down. Layers of earth, cold and black, reminded me of Mars’s starless night sky. Dumps for nuclear waste and other stellar garbage will do that to a planet, block out the sun too. My hangover felt as obnoxious as the dirty looks from the sub’s crew. Blumbower was waving his arms, tangled up in one of those jute-suites and yelling from a platform, as we came to a stop.
There YOU are, too early is it? Do you require coffee and donuts, or…Blumbower caught a whiff of me…a hair of the dog?
I ignored him, approached the behemoth, and faced what I thought of as the business end of the machine. The boys back home would love this, I thought, and activated secret intelligence with Tit, my superior.
Can you zap it into thin air, I asked. You have the technology, yes?
“Can’t you smell that,” Blumbower’s arms never rested. “Or has that sense slept in as well? The earth around this thing is contaminated and explosive. Mineral acids have corroded thousands of square miles. It’s a hydrogen bomb, fella, and ready to go.”
“So what do you want ME to do with it?” I could feel Tit jumping up and down at his console.
“We want you to get rid of it. I want you to try a few of these breath mints.
I smiled knowing Tit was analyzing the bore. By afternoon I would receive instructions. I told Blumbower I would take some measurements, unfolding from my pack an official looking gizmo that did nothing but flash lights and hum. The android’s adulation whizzed something horrid.
“Hick, Tit. Look, there is enough inert energy within that bore, coupled with the volatile environment around it, to produce a super nova, a sun we can call our own. Let Global Feed know you will extract, and then let me know when, I will get you out of there.”
I considered the message and what it meant for the future of Mars. No longer the downgraded bastard from eons of war and occupation. Martian’s bloodthirsty greed for dominance over earth was a created myth built around Hollywood’s binging over moneymaking Sci-Fi horror. The evil “Man from Mars”, drains blood out from victim’s brains. Our planet evil; disposable. Martians do not really exist outside of a royalty check for dime store writers, do they?
“Tomorrow, Tit, 12:00 noon, earth time.”
“Why not today?”
Miss thirsty came back with a friend. A Martian could get use to that.
11:59 AM. Blumbower and the android stood ready.
The real gizmo in my hand activated a trillion degrees of heat within the bore. I raised the middle finger of my right hand to Blumbower and winked at the android—goodbye.