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18th June
2012
posted by amber

Four Bodies

The four bodies lay in the sun. They were small, they were green, they weren’t Martians.

Josh thought they were Martians.

“Come on, Josh,” I said, “we’ve been on the planet for ninety-eight years now and no one’s ever seen anything like this. No evidence that anything more than bacteria extinct a million years ago lived here.”

“So where did they come from then?”

Well, that was the question, wasn’t it? The question for me, as sheriff of my county, and Josh, being my deputy, wasn’t going to let me off the hook.

Before I could answer, he served up his theories. “Either they’re from here, but they’ve been way underground or somewhere else we haven’t looked yet. Or else–” He noticed me rolling my eyes and spoke louder, “Or else they aren’t Martian, in which case they must be aliens from someplace else. It’s not as if we’d have any way of knowing if an alien spaceship was coming into our atmosphere, would we?”

He glared upwards, which is what we were all doing recently, venting our spleen skyward, to Mother Earth up there somewhere, the source of all our discontent. No doubt they were discontented with us as well, the orphan colony nearly 100 years old and still sucking at mother’s tit. We had resources to burn, but nothing they wanted and needed badly enough to pay to bring it up through our gravity well. They were happy to send us prisoners for the Hellas penal territory and wacko religious compoundists, but they preferred to trade with the developed asteroids. There were voices back on Earth, louder and louder every year, saying we should be cut off all assistance to ‘make it on our own.’ If they got their way, well, I didn’t even want to think about it.

“You’re right, Josh. They must be aliens, Martian or not. Take some photos now, then we’ll haul them back to the village and Doc Smith can do the autopsies. I’ll just go up on the hill there to get a line of sight to phone it in.”

I knew that in my absence he’d take more photos than the official ones and I knew his photos would be smuggled off planet as soon as he could manage it. And I knew I’d let Doc Smith bungle the autopsy and then somehow the bodies would mysteriously disappear.

I didn’t know who was behind this hoax, but I’d play my part happily, to buy Mars a decade or two of wonder and investment from the home planet.

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