Men Are From Mars
The Captain sulked and pored over his laptop computer. Meanwhile I marveled at the detailed footage the camera’s powerful lenses had captured on our screen as we orbited Mars: dry river beds, ice-crusted lakes, and the massive volcano Le Mons.
Liesel floated in with the freshly brewed coffee encased in travel sippy cups. We’d taken the gravity off-line to conserve fuel and energy while we leapt through the space-time continuum.
‘Wow! Mars! Haven’t been there in years. Then, it’s always been the other side.’ She patted my shoulder and bared her mouthful of teeth at me. ‘How’s it going?’ She glanced at Fahrer as he brooded over his portable computer harnessed to his knees.
‘It’s unbelievable!’ I breathed. ‘Anyone else would be grateful that we’re early. But not him.’
‘Probably wanted one last go on My Face before we got out of range.’ Liesel rubbed her nose. ‘Now he can’t update his few friends.’
‘Probably can’t post his latest blog.’ I shielded my hand over my mouth. ‘Captain’s Blog—today Ich bin grumpy—a grumpy 450-year old man.’
Liesel shook my arm as she sniggered into my neck.
Fahrer looked over, eyes dark with anger. ‘What?’
On the brown-red surface, a shiny object glinted near a cavity. I pointed at the screen. ‘Is that—? An ISF Martian outpost?’
‘Yes.’ Fahrer slouched in his seat and hammered away on the keys.
Stifling the urge to laugh, Liesel pulled away from me. ‘Good luck.’ She touched my back and then drifted out of the Bridge.
Now that she was gone, and with the hope coffee would set Fahrer at ease, I summoned up the courage to brooch the subject of us. ‘Captain, permission to speak frankly.’ Surely it’s all an act. He’s got a reputation to maintain. Albeit a grumpy one.
He stopped thumping on the keyboard. ‘What now?’ He rolled his eyes over the mass of screens, controls and lights overhead. ‘Can’t you see I’m busy here?’
‘Sorry to bother you, but I feel that for us to work together effectively,’ I took a deep breath and plunged in, ‘we need to discuss what happened in Strahan.’
Fahrer threw back his head and peered at me, his eyes two slits of ire. ‘What, you and that Fox character, happened, as I recall.’
My cheeks went all hot.
‘What you do on shore, is not my concern, although it does reflect your sense of morality. Which is a concern.’ He swayed his head like a horse in the wind and turned back to his computer. ‘It’s a weakness, Ensign Mueller.’
‘Not that. I regret what I did. But I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you.’
Shushk! The door slid open. ‘Sandwiches?’ Nathan entered with a small red esky. He lifted off the lid and released it to wander around the cabin. He then handed us a round each of plastic vacuum sealed sandwiches. Fahrer studied the bread-cut triangle, his nose screwed up and he stuffed the lunch near his waist under the harness.
‘What is it?’ I asked, peeling the plastic from the sandwich.
‘Smoked Tasmanian salmon.’ Nathan ripped off the plastic and plunged his teeth into the soft white bread.
Mesmerized by Mars up close and personal, and a superior view of the landform known as the Pyramid, I hung onto the bread and nibbled like a chipmunk. Nathan hovered over my shoulder smacking his teeth and lips with each bite. The pure enjoyment of touring Mars was spoilt by an undercurrent of thoughts jabbing at my chest. Fahrer has judged me. I’m judged as immoral by the Captain. What is he? A priest?
Nathan wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve and whispered in my ear. ‘How’s it going?’
I shrugged. I knew what he meant, sensing his intentions, all their intentions including Jo, Fritz and Liesel. I’d been chosen to pick up the pieces of Gunter Fahrer from the Minna aftermath and put the poor man back together again. Little did they realise, I was in fragments and feeling so inadequate now condemned by the Captain as immoral. ‘He doesn’t—’ I shook my head. They won’t understand. ‘He doesn’t make it easy.’ I mumbled through a mouth of bread.
Nathan patted me on the back. ‘It’s okay, your shift’s over.’
I calibrated the coordinates and Mars faded from view. No Boris camp as far as we could see. ‘To the Sister Ship, then.’
Nathan took over and I skated back to my room to shower, change into a fresh boiler suit, reapply my make-up, fix my hair, and prepare to meet the crew of the Sister Ship.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: What did happen in Strahan? © L.M. Kling 2011
Men may be from Mars…And Captain Fahrer from 17th Century Black Forest…
But Boris is from some faraway smelly world—you don’t want to go there…
Anyway, how did this war with Boris begin? How did this alien cockroach Boris wheedle his smelly way onto Earth…threatening humankind’s very existence?