Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meet the alien from Saturn's moon Titan—Part 2

A short story:
By Otto

Mission to Mars

It would be a few weeks of traveling through the deep dark blackness of space. Once we left Saturn and its moons, we would have nothing to look at but the Sun, which for a while would look only as a large star and other stars and planets so far from us that they also just looked like stars. The little red planet would eventually grow to be a large disc for us to aim at. But that would take a while.
We were headed to Mars Base 7, a space station that looked a lot like the one we just left on Titan. Captain Mitch Sprawling is doing some biological research there and we are going to check on his progress.
 As we approached the red planet, the disc started to get larger and as we got closer we could see more features on it.
Captain Sprawling was an old white haired man, who looked like one of those ancient scientists on a distant world, in the old 1950's science fiction movies, such as Forbidden Planet (1956).  He was a little old fashion, liked books and no doubt had a large sprawling lab with equipment of all kinds everywhere. 
Upon landing, we went straight into the lab station and met with Captain Sprawling.
“Do my eyes deceive me Captain Skyhawk!?” Sprawling said. “There seems to be two of you.”
“This thing or man or what-ever it is, will be kept here as a prisoner to be studied,” Skyhawk said. “He is a quasi-clone of me, made from some cosmic goo we found on the moon Titan.”
“So you’re an alien?” Sprawling asked.
“Yes,” he said. “But don’t use that word around Skyhawk. He seems intent on treating me as a Petri dish fascination. I’m nothing more than a ‘specimen’ to him. He didn’t even give me a real name at first. But now I am Albert Kirk.”
Captain Sprawling is a jolly guy in general. He's very generous and agreeable—most of the time.
After a few minutes, Captain Sprawling signaled us over to one of his microscopes.
“You’ve got to see this,” he said. I’ve discovered a Martian worm. It’s the first multi-cellular life form anyone has ever discovered here on Mars. It probably evolved since the planet became dry and most life forms went underground. This is a major find. We not only find that life is a process that has been found on this earthlike sister planet, but it also shows signs that evolution is a life process as well.”
We all looked at the microscopic little worm that seemed rather plain and yet on the planet Mars, it may have been a blue whale in its rarity.
“Do you realize it took more than 3 billion years for multi-cellular life forms to develop on Earth,” Sprawling said.  “The earth had nothing but one celled beings on it for more than 3 billion years. We believe surface water has been missing on mars for more than 2 billion years. That means this evolution took place without any surface water and not development on the surface with lake water or sunlight.”
I can remember when members of the religious right used to argue there could be no life on Mars because that would be evidence of evolution and they don't believe in that. These people are still around today. They claim god gave man the earth and there is no reason to believe that god meant life to be on any other planet.  
They ignore the signs of evolution can be seen today. A salamander called a Congo-eel has four tiny legs that are useless to the animal. The Congo-eel had evolved into a serpent shaped animal that doesn’t need its legs any more. Millions of years ago, the legs were as useful as on any other salamander. A million years from now they will be completely gone. That’s evidence of evolution in the present.
There is also plenty of evidence of past evolution. By 2004 scientist were beginning to find fossils of dinosaurs in the process of evolving into birds. Feathered and winged dinosaurs were found in China’s Liaoning province in the early part of 2000. This is just one of many examples of past evolution and it demonstrates how a modern species can evolve from an extinct one.
          “Do you realize how much of my time is spent verifying these finds are not earth life?” Sprawling asked us. “Thanks to earlier efforts to colonize the planet, in 2023 an outfit called Mars One decided to put up a permanent colony for humans to live on Mars. They claimed they would pick a place that would not be likely to have any life, in case indigenous life was found on Mars.
…Perhaps it was just an old fashion real estate scam. But, as with most “free enterprise projects involving space exploration, everything that could go wrong did. They manage to pollute the planet’s water, air and ground. They spread all kinds of earth germs to this planet before we even knew if there were any real Mars microbes already living here. Their stupidity has caused me to have to verify every find I make against known earth germs and RNA and DNA configurations to make sure I’m not just looking at an earth bug that those idiots let loose on this planet. Who knows how many indigenous life forms have been wiped out due to the introduction of Earth life here by these incompetent profiteers?”
“I remember that project,” I added. “They said they wanted to preserve life on Mars, but all they really wanted to do was make money.” 
“If it weren’t for those idiots from Mars One, I would have already verified that this worm is the first multi-cellular organism found on Mars.”
"This allows all those anti-evolution people to claim there is NO real Mars life."
After we finished a spirited debate, I received permission to put on a Mars-day-suit and use a ground scooter to gout out and explore the surface of Mars. This was my first trip to the surface of Mars and I couldn’t wait to go exploring.
The scooter was electric and could go 50 miles per hour. The day suit looked a lot like a wet suit used by skin divers. I also had to wear an oxygen tank and goggles, that made me look like a skin diver. The gray suit was needed to counter the thin air pressure that would allow my blood to boil if I wasn’t wearing it. The air is mostly carbon dioxide with a small amount of oxygen, about 1%. The goggles were needed to protect me eyes from the harsh ultraviolet light that would easily cause blindness in just a few minutes. But the air temperature was between 70 to 90° Fahrenheit. The weather was perfect and no chance of rain. A dust storm was the most intrusive weather I had to worry about and that particular day seemed rather calm.
Had I gone out at night, I would have needed a suit similar to the one I wore on Titan. The temperature drops down colder than the coldest nights at the Earth’s South Pole. That requires a lot of heat and insulation and a much bulkier suit.
The various types of terrain that I drove over in my little scooter amazed me. There were valley s with gullies, dried creek beds as well as dried out river beads and lake bottoms. There were all types of mountains that closely resembled those of earth, minus the snow caps found on earth. The sky was a beautiful pink color and at time, I could see small white clouds in the distance. I knew they were made of ice, but they still held the same beauty as clouds on earth. In the morning I could see the sun streaking through the daytime sky. It was breathtaking. I felt extremely privileged to get to take in these sites.
As I moved from the mountains, I began to notice the plains that resembled the deserts of Arizona. There were rocks and dust all over the place. Except for the lack of plants, such as cacti and sagebrush, and lack of a blue sky, it was just like traveling through the desert except there was no extreme heat.
Years after sending up spaceships and carrying out thousands of experiments, the question of life on Mars had finally been answered. There are obviously no little green men, no Marvin the Martian or any of those other strange creatures we saw in all the old movies and old Twilight Zone episodes. Now we would settle for just a few microbes.
I was lucky to get to stand on the surface of Mars and Titan. In my lifetime it was hard for me to even imagine that I would ever make it to such worlds.
By the year 2013, the political climate across the US was that Universities should take part in research only if it would lead to a profit. The idea of knowledge for the sake of knowledge seemed to be on its way out. Those with PHDs who could not provide a way to turn their research into a profit making enterprises were being let go. If it weren’t for the colonization and mining on Mars, no humans would have ever been sent there.  
So while Captain Sprawling complained about the colonies of Mars One, he would have never gotten the government grant money to travel in space if it weren’t for those jerks and the politicians who promoted them.

In my grandfather and grandmother's early life-time, my country went to the moon and no one had to justify it using economics.

After a few hours of scooter travel I headed back for the base. As I got there, I was met by some strange glares from my co-travelers as I came in the building.
“You took out a hover-craft for less than 20 minutes today?” Captain Sprawling asked me.
“What are you talking about,” I replied. “When I left I took a scooter. That’s all I thought I needed. I’m just now returning. What is the problem?”
“Twenty minutes ago we got a message from the garage that you were trading in the scooter for a hover-craft,” Sprawling explained. “So what happened?”
“What happened?! I returned the scooter and came back in. End of story!”
“Who took the hover-craft?” Sprawling asked me.
“How would I know?”
Then it came to me. What if Kirk went out and stole a hover-craft?
“By the way—has anyone seen Kirk?”
They all looked at each other.
“No!” they all said in unison. “Where is he?” they repeated again in unison.
“Mark, that THING was YOUR responsibility!” Captain Skyhawk said.
I could tell Skyhawk was mad. He didn’t like Kirk in the first place. So now he was beginning to get seriously pissed.
“Now take it easy,” I said nervously. “We can find him rather quickly since he has no credentials.
Next Skyhawk started checking his pants pockets.
“My Wallet, My credentials, he has everything of mine! I have nothing!—SPIES! What’s going on here?”
“Maybe Kirk stole your credentials,” I said in a rather meek voice. “He seems pretty smart.”
“Don’t worry Skyhawk,” said Sprawling. “We can all get your credentials replaced fairly easily.”
“In the meantime, that ass-hole is somewhere on Mars pretending to be me!”
Skyhawk was not the least bit interested in his twin’s motivations, only the embarrassment he will cause him.
“We can test your own DNA to verify that you are you since we already know Kirk will not have identical DNA to yours,” Sprawling said. “We can verify who you are right now. Then we can disprove the imposter when we find him.”
“You mean, when Mark Spies finally captures him!” Skyhawk thundered. “You better find him before he does any more damage. Remember Spies! You’re responsible for him and all he does! “
Actually I felt a certain pride that my “Frankenstein Monster” had found a clever way to escape. I was in trouble if he wasn’t found soon, however, I couldn’t help wondering if his curiosity got the best of him and he was still trying to see what it might be like being human. Did he want to meet woman—did he want to do more than just meet them? Did he want to learn more than he had so far?
I was far more curious than Captain Skyhawk. I guess there was not much I could do until some trace of him showed up. We did an inventory of the base and Kirk took a night suit. He could be gone for a few days on Mars before he would need to find a base or colony.

To Venus

After a few days we got ready to take off and head for the next planet Venus. We would not go down to the planet because we barely have the technology to send robots down to the planet and work on the space stations. The present surface of Venus is about 800° Fahrenheit. Creating a suit that can hold out the extreme heat and the thick pressure, 200 x that of Earth, would be disastrous if one of the suites broke down and didn’t work,
We couldn't and wouldn't stay here very long. It was time to go back to Earth. But I couldn't stay long. I had to gather my stuff and head back to Mars. I had to search for any sign on Kirk at one of the Mars colonies. After all that is the most likely place he would have gone to learn about other humans

On Earth

I had been to my apartment on Earth just ONE day. Then a sudden though hit me. I should search on Mars.....Unless!? We never search the Firebaul for him....wait a minute.....what if!?
Across town, a week later, Kirk was sitting comfortably in a small and very-cheap dark room he just rented, among the ugly red brick flats. He had some While Turkey whisky and the latest city directory of interesting things to do.
"I can't believe Captain Skyhawk never went to a strip club—that dolt," Kirk said to himself. "That's going to change. I'll bet I can impress those women since I'm a spaceship captain."
He looked out of his small plain windows to see Topeka Street in Wichita. Then he pulled out a phone and called for cab service.
Sure he would eventually get caught, but he was human-like enough to give us the slip and live high off the hog for a while at least.

The End


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