We spent several days on Mars.
I asked what the terrain was like around their settlement? Any quick sands or the like that could swallow a vehicle? Any places that might prove dangerous if driving over them?
If you had a vehicle you could drive on many surfaces around here, they said. We had a vehicle when we got here, but it fell apart after a few months. They showed me an electric driven vehicle, which had been powered by the sun, but was now useless. It was little more than a bolt together toy, which had been on wheels. We drove it for miles though, the Frenchman told me, until, he shrugged, and looked at the now wheel-less pile of slender angle iron. I was surprised that they had not used the metal for something else. We just kept hope we could somehow fix it. He said. He was the mechanic? I wasn’t sure of all their parts in this community as yet.
I consulted with my crew about which of our vehicles would let us take a look around. We decided on two of our three four X four’s, and a quad bike.
The lad took the quad bike to scout the ground, and with my wife driving one four X four and Pilot driving another we loaded up everyone and went for a drive. Could this soil support growth I was asking? Absolutely. If it could be watered. I took their word for it.
Have you anything out here that you would like to take with you back to earth? I asked them. Not really they said. We’ve pretty much concentrated our efforts near our home. One of the benefits of being the only one’s here.
I supposed they meant they could take stones for buildings etcetera from around them, and not have to go looking for them, having chosen the site wisely. These people were really impressing me.
What about farming? Could this soil support animal farming as well as plant growth? My wife wanted to know. Not without water for the animals I told her, and a cow drinks a lot of water, and eats a lot of grass in a day.
We spent half the day driving around the barren landscape. There were exposed rock outcrops, showing potential of plentiful rock for building.
Back in the dome we began taking seriously what they wanted to bring with them back to earth in order that we could start to load them onto the ship. I wanted them taken to a single spot before we took them into the ship in order that we could make a proper list of their items. No problem just throwing them in just now, but back on earth we’d need a store for them, and a note of what, and how many.
They showed me their stores of vegetables, and again I was impressed. You could have lived a while yet with them. I said cheerily.
How long will it take us to reach earth? The radio man was asking. We’ll need to take all the vegetables with us. Can you store them in a way to keep them fresh? I told him it would not take long, and we’d leave deciding about the vegetables until last. Knowing that we would not require them.
Who is responsible for creating this building? I asked him. He was the Dane.
Actually I am the builder here. I was a stone mason back in Denmark, and this is only part of my work here.
I knew about the irrigation work of course, and now realised he’d built the walls.
We all get involved in everything, if we have to, but we have individual skills.
I came to the conclusion that the need for survival had focused their efforts on a task in hand. Whatever it was. I just wished we could take the dome back with us, as it really was a work of art, and coupled with the actual art work carved into many of the stones it was visually pleasant to be in.
I employed our digger as a fork lift truck to pick up the bigger items. Mostly stuff taken from their space craft and modified for everyday use. Unlike the satellite ships the vehicles did not come with my ship of course. We’d added them ourselves. The digger, for example, I’d purchased for renovations at our island home and never begun, and kept on the ship for it’s security and the better preservation environment. It was new, some years ago, and was still as new yet. Left on the island, even in the sheds it would have rotted away. The salt air would have seen to that. The robots kept all the machines shining.
One item that did come with the ship was a powered trolley. We used that to take the stone furniture. While they insisted that it was not important to take the items, we insisted that they were going as well.
Captain was in charge of documenting and labelling, and appointing each item to who created it when she could get them to say.
The lad and I brought everything to the central yard, and my wife and Pilot were in charge of placing everything in the ship.
The builder and I took a last look around. Everyone else was on the ship and ready to go back to earth. Cleaned up and with clean coveralls everything was ship shape.
All the machines cleaned and parked away. I had to explain that nothing required fastening down on board this ship. They didn’t understand that, but we just said wait and see.
Are we happy then? I asked him.
I guess, he said. I will miss this place. I understood, and said so.
We climbed the ramp to the only opening now and went inside. I closed it.
Who’s driving I asked cheerily. Captain raised a hand indicating she was on the helm.
Okay Captain take us back to earth. I said.
Without touching anything she spoke to the computer.
There was an excitement of anticipation amongst the Martians who were sitting around the table ready to eat now. Pilot and her mum were the cooks, helped by the ladys from the colony. The builder and I took our seats. How many years will it take us? They were asking.
The all round screens flicked on. They showed us over a major city on earth. It was night. We were invisible.
Where’s that? The doctor asked.
That is where we are right now I told her. Which is? She frowned.
I’ve no idea, I told her. Where are we Captain?
Geneva in Switzerland. Captain replied. I’m going to park this thing now? I’m hungry, and we’ll have to wait until it’s morning here anyway. The screens went blank.