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17th June
posted by amber

The Canal

A man walked along the bank of a canal. The canal had been dry for many years. Indeed, there was some debate about whether it had ever held water.

On either side of the canal, fields stretched as far as the man could see. The crops grew beneath a special mesh designed to hold in the oxygen and heat they were generating, these things being as important to the nearby villagers as the fruits and root vegetables were. The man was in charge of the crops, and he was worried. The water for the crops was carried by pipes beneath the ground, and in the storage tanks he had just enough water to last four more days, no longer.

He’d been outbid in the water auction by the first golf course to be built on Mars.

This situation had not sprung upon him unexpectedly. He’d known for years that it was coming.

Earth’s domination over Mars had ended 15 years ago, when the colonists seized their own government, and the new leaders were all entrepreneurs who felt that Martian businesses should compete in a ‘fair market,’ without the imposed restrictions Earth had legislated to make it possible for the planet to be developed in an equal manner, not solely by rich individuals and corporations. But now the water subsidy for agriculture and the unaffiliated villages was over, and life was about to get very difficult indeed.

However, the man was not without his own resources. He was an expert at crop development, having designed the generations of plants which had sustained the village with protein, carbohydrates and essential nutrients as well as air and heat for so many years. His latest project, a style of chokeweed devastating to any short grass crop was just months away from fruition.

But that wouldn’t be soon enough. He’d hoped that his attack on the golf course could be anonymous. The chokeweed, being of similar genetics to grass, wouldn’t be traceable to him, but the crude weapon he had for now would leave no doubt as to its village origins.

The first protein plant he’d made, the chickendendron, had been a notable failure, the laughing-stock of two planets, except for the unfortunate villagers who had to live near the things when they uprooted themselves and crawled together to rot in fetid heaps.

Looking around to see if anyone was watching, the man slid into the canal and ducked under the fence onto the golf course, his bag of seeds in hand.

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