Fiction Friday: Cavaliers of Mars

Cavaliers of Mars

The fiction for Cavaliers of Mars‘ chapter 4, “Luck,” by Audrey Whitman.

My name is Étienne, and I’m the unluckiest man on Mars. Wait, let me go back.

Six weeks ago, I found a scale the size of a dinner plate. When I tried to hide it in some machinery, I found another one. Just as I picked that one up, Issac (my boss’s son, and too intense for my own good) walked by. And he wanted to go tell Ms. Turhan himself, right now. Now, I was more than happy to give him all the credit, but he dragged me along, too.

So, I found myself explaining to the Captain how these aren’t even the first scales I’ve seen, and yes, probably I could point the locations out on a map. I mean, I made those maps. Next thing I know I’m dangling in a rope harness above the central block. Well, the block that’s at the center of our maps at least — I think we’re actually southwest of the true center of the complex. But I’m swaying there in the stillness, shining a penny-light down the midline, looking for a hidden cul de sac my sounding says should be there. Unfortunately, I find it.

Two miserable tugs on my leash and down I go, slowly spinning as the rope twists. And I wince almost before I hear the snap. The water I splash into is slimy with algae, but fresh enough, and takes my fall without much complaint. It is, however, absolutely devoid of fish. So I sigh, and wonder what they’ll tell my mother when they can’t recover the body. I walk down the bank of the canal, and try to cheer myself up by composing my obituary, but I feel this terrible ache in my ears and teeth and the soles of my feet. Perhaps nothing will get a chance to eat me, and the tunnel will collapse instead. It’s less exciting than being devoured by a monster, but maybe it’s more respectable to be crushed by stones instead of sharp teeth.

That happy thought lasts just until I round the next corner, when I see something that might be a Pale Martian, all dour and wide in the face, but attached to a body twice as long as the cargo ship I rode to get from Chiaro to Vance. It opens its mouth and flicks a tongue as long as my arm. Then it cocks its head, and my eardrums shake like they’re going to pop out of my skull again.

I fell, I guess. There was a lot of blood in my corneas when I came to, floating in the canal a mile or so from where I landed. Issac picked me up once I made it to an emergency beacon, and asked me what I saw. So I told him (and then the Captain) the whole awful story, but all they wanted to know is how soon I can go back, and what I think it said.

I’m not quite sure, but I think the answer to both questions is “no”.

  1 comment for “Fiction Friday: Cavaliers of Mars

  1. Josh Stotz
    June 8, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    I love this.

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