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16th June
posted by amber

Dear Readers – I’m reposting some of the Bradbury inspired stories from last year.


Sam Parkhill

Sam Parkhill motioned with the broom, sweeping away the blue Martian sand. He opened the door of his general goods store and guided the sand out the door, then he followed it and swept it off the sidewalk.

“Come on in,” he said to the tourists. “I know you’d like to hear what it was like when Mars was young.”

They shuffled in, nine of them, and he found them chairs around the pot belly stove in the middle of the store. They gaped at the cans on the shelves and the bins of pickles and crackers in front of the counter, at the racks of shovels and rakes along the back wall.

“Frontier wasn’t much of a town back then, but we got by with hard work and pure stubbornness. And not only were we struggling just to survive against the elements, but there was kind of a range war going on too. Because the countries back on Earth were in too much disarray to keep order on Mars, all sorts of different groups were colonising and exploiting and disputing. Just over that hill there–” Sam pointed out the front window and the tourists obediently looked that way.

“That’s where the New Randists were mining copper, putting all kinds of deadly dusts into the wind that blew our way. And on the other side, the great philanthropist, Thadeus Payne, was installing his first Air Enhancer, which was later blown up by the Natural Mars Society.”

A distinguished older man put up a hand. Sam nodded at him and the man asked, “With a whole planet to chose from, why did the early settlers decide to put themselves into such close proximity to each other?”

“Good question, sir. This rift valley was determined to be the easiest to dome over. That’s how we expected to make the planet fit for humankind – by doming and using Air Enhancers. We didn’t predict that lungs could be grown that would allow people like yourselves to walk around and do just fine in the Martian atmosphere. Now, if there aren’t any more questions, please feel free to poke around the store and look at everything. There’s peppermint sticks for the kids in the jar next to the cash register. Then you can mosey on down to the saloon or the blacksmiths or the newspaper office. But don’t forget that you’re all expected back at the Ranch house for a barbecue lunch followed by a barn dance. Plus we have a rare treat for you folks. Frontier was built for more than tourists – we always hoped that a Martian film industry would develop eventually, and now, 300 years after Frontier was established, the first Martian western is being shot and you’ll have the opportunity to dress up in period costumes and be part of the film.”

The tourists stood. Some moved to thank Sam and slip him a tip, others wandered deeper into the store. A small boy, his forehead wrinkled with puzzlement, whispered to his mother, “If Sam’s been here since Mars was young, is he 300 years old?”

“Oh honey, no one lived on Mars back then except robots like him.”

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