The Earth Situation (part 1 of 3)


Eve spends most of her time in the garden, now that the last refugee has taken up residence there. She stalks him as he rambles unpredictably through the foliage muttering to himself, flying into sudden rages and cowering in terror from threats visible only to him. He doesn’t seem all that threatening, but she keeps a careful distance just to be safe.

His arrival was a shock, the first in over six months, long after the waves of increasingly confused and haggard refugees had slowed to a trickle, and finally stopped. Eve watched from behind her mothers legs as the injured earthman was dragged through the airlock with long metal clamps, like a diseased animal, naked and shivering from decontamination. He looked like pure snow against the filthy decking.

Soon he settles down to rocking back and forth on his haunches, something she knows he could be at for hours. She goes to partake in her other favourite pastime, one which the garden also affords: watching for ships through the glass of the dome. They used to be a common sight, arriving from or departing for Earth, or passing overhead on their way to other settlements. There is no going back now though, and they have no reason to visit. Sometimes Eve thinks she still sees silvery objects glinting in the distance, but they’re gone so fast that she’s never certain.

All that’s out there for sure is the haphazardly constructed network of tunnels and habitats that house most of the remnants of humanity. She’s been exploring them since she’s been able to slip her parents clutches, and she’s growing bored. Beyond the settlement, even less stimulation: hundreds of kilometres of dead martian plains, ravines, mountains…

She takes out her binoculars anyway and scans the horizon. If nothing else, there’s sometimes interesting things to be seen in the windows of the buildings opposite. There is nothing very exciting today, just a couple of families eating lunch and a young boy looking back dejectedly through his window. That is, until her eyes wander towards the Aquarius airlock. Approaching it is a tall, thin figure, so pale that he is almost glowing. Eve inhales sharply in excitement: another earthman!

She crashes through the greenery and into the corridor, and sets off towards the airlock without missing a step. This opportunity, to meet an earthman who doesn’t possibly have brain damage and who hasn’t yet been in custody, is too good to miss. She cuts down a private residential corridor for which she long ago learned the access code, and into the Northern concourse. She slows as she comes into the final leg to the airlock. What if they really are as dangerous as she’s been told? As she approaches the doors however, it becomes clear that she has nothing to worry about. All that greets her is hundreds of kilometres of dead martian dust.


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