Short Shots August 2017
|Word Count: 1159
Enide Annag Farquharson stared at the photograph lying on her desk. To her it looked like the ruins of a temple located somewhere in Egypt or Africa, but according to her father's journal he had taken it on Mars during the First Colonial Expedition in 2030. Enide frowned, her father had been one of, only, three survivors of that ill fated odyssey. All three were male and none could adequately explain what happened to the other forty-seven people. In 2033, the Second Martian Colonial Expedition discovered the other twenty-two male bodies, and that deepened the mystery because the autopsies revealed no obvious cause of death.
Before leaving for Mars, Commander Aindrea Farquharson and the other colonist left sperm and egg donations at the Luna Cryobank in the Mare Moscoviense base on the far side of the moon. In 2035, Commander Farquharson requested the Cryobank use his sperm to fertilize two of his wife, Annag, eggs. Nine months later a surrogate gave birth to Enide and her brother, Aindrea Farquharson, Jr. That was twenty-five years ago, now she had the duty of scattering her father's ashes on Mars. The problem was, she did not know how to find the place her father wanted them scattered. He stated, in his will, that he wanted his ashes distributed at the temple in the photo, but, according to official records, no such temple had ever been found by any colony or exploration team now on Mars.
"Enide," came a knock on her door. "Time to leave for Mars."
"Yes, Aindrea," she got up, picked up the picture and her father's journal, and left the room. In the hall, she hugged her brother before leaving their lunar Quonset hut.
Enide stood inside Mars Port I looking out across the Martian landscape. She had planned to rent a personal rover, and drive to Olympus Mons where the First Martian Colonial Expedition had landed. Unfortunately, there was a sandstorm in progress, and no one in the Port was sure how long the storm would last. Well, she thought, I might as well find a place to sleep. There's no telling how long I'll be stuck here. She picked up her backpack and started for the Port's living quarter.
"Miss Farquharson," a man, dressed in the one-piece gray body suit of Martian colonist, came up to her. "I'm Carl Einstein of Einstein, Johnson, and Javier Attorneys At Law. Commander Farquharson's attorney contacted me, a few days ago, and said you might need help finding a place to deposit your father's ashes."
Enide frowned, "Who was my father's last attorney?"
"Lance Bullock of Bullock of Bullock, Javier, and Johnson."
"I suppose there's a reason Mr. Bullock didn't tell me he was going to contact you."
"He probably thought you already knew about our association with Commander Farquharson."
"You know how to find the..."
"Miss Farquharson, could we take this conversation somewhere a little more private."
"That, Mr. Einstein, depends on how private it is."
"I assure you, Miss Farquharson, you are quite safe. It's just that rumors of the... Uh, Ghost Ruins, seems to attract unwanted attention to some of our colonies. Which causes the governing colonial council to panic."
"Very well lead on, Mr. Einstein." The walked quickly through the public area of the port to an elevator. They took the elevator down to the subterranean living section. There they entered a luxury apartment. Enide sits down on the couch, while Carl went into the kitchen and came back with coffee and Danish pastries.
"No wife?" Enide said as she sipped her coffee.
"My wife is at our farmstead at the Olympus Mons colony site. My partners and I only use this apartment when we have clients come in from off world."
"All right, Mr. Einstein, I think it's time you told me about the temple my father thinks he found on Mars."
"Call me Carl," he took a sip of coffee."
"Then you have to call me Enide."
"Enide, your father found the ruins of an ancient temple near Olympus Mons. Before he could contact Earth with the photos, a sandstorm struck and drove the colonist underground."
"What did they find?"
"Something that would cause political, social, and religious upheaval on Earth." Carl took a bite of a pastry before going on. Enide could tell by the look on his face that he was hesitant about going any further.
"What did the colonist find?"
"The last survivors of a Martian civilization. The first encounter was peaceful enough. The Martians gave the colonist shelter from the storm. After the storm was over the Martians asked them to keep their existence a secret, but some of the colonists were reluctant. The Martians attempted to erase the memories of the colonist, but failed in all except three cases."
"My father and his two friends."
"What happened to the rest of the colonist?"
"They remained with the Martians, and eventually the two groups intermarried. It seems that Martians and humans are genetically viable."
"What about the bodies the second expedition found?"
"They were clones. It was hoped to use clones to increase the population, but they died for some unknown reason. It was an accident that the new colonist found them."
"After I scatter my father's ashes, will I be allowed to leave?"
"Do you want to leave?"
"Ask me that again after I scatter his ashes."
Three days after arriving on Mars, Enide found herself standing in the ruins of the Ghost Temple, with the Martian governing counsil and the citizen of Olympus Mons surrounding her. She opened the cremation urn, and let her father's ashes be distributed by the slight wind that always blew through the ruins.
"Lord," she said as she watched the ashes dance through the ruins. "Take his soul to paradise."
After the ceremony, she sits in Carl and Annag Einstein's Quonset sipping Martian coffee and listening to the Scottish bagpipes playing Amazing Grace. She tried, unsuccessfully, to study Annag without being too obvious. The woman's green eyes and pale bluish complexion complimented each other, but it was Annag's eyes that attract Enide because they mirror her own.
"That's a beauty song, Annag," she remember listening to it as a lullaby.
"Thank you, that was my mother's favorite song."
"My mother's as well." Enide took a deep breath, "Annag, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"
"Not at all, Enide."
"Are you part Martian?"
"Yes," Annag smiled. "My mother was among the colonist of the First Martian Colonial Expedition. Her name was Annag Mackintosh Farquharson."
"You're named after her." Annag nodded her head, returning Enide's smile. "Annag is my middle name. My father named me after my grandmother, Enide, and my mother."
"We're half-sisters?" Annag looked perplexed.
"After my father recovered from the expedition, he hired a surrogate to carry my brother and I to term." Enide got up and hugged her new found sister. "I think I'll remain on Mars."