Mawrth Vallis

Ryoko Kleiger





It’s my uncle Paul’s birthday today, another fridge day another year over for him. I say this knowing full well that my uncle isn’t in the best shape mentally. Sure, he’s fit as a fiddle but he just isn’t the same as he used to be. I remember when I was a child he seemed to be full of interest and wonder but these days he sits looking up at the sky. Sometimes Id catch him in the observatory sitting on and old aluminum chair with all the lights off save for one emergency light in the back of the room, just sitting.

In these last few months he’s seemed to be developing some type of paranoia, he says things, like they are watching or they can hear us. Who is they I wonder. Father Joseph says Paul may be possessed. I wonder as well, it scares me. Last month when we came back from the medic, he was cleared of any neurological problems and was cleared of any form of tumor or cancer that could be causing it. The doctor there said simply that it’s his old age. Possession makes more sense than this sudden unexplained change in his character.


We decided to have a small party, credits have been short lately and we just didn’t have enough to splurge on anything big, Mother and Father went to the Church center to pray for help last month but nothing has happened. Usually when people pray meteors fall and inside them we are blessed with what we wished for. The gods truly are kind, but it seems as if they are more kind to the war effort than to an old mans birthday. It’s strange though, the gods haven’t answered our family since Paul began to lose it. Maybe he did something to anger them.


It’s only a few more minutes till Paul comes down from his room. The table is set and the cake is ready. I hope the surprise doesn’t cause another mood swing, so many mood swings.

“Stop it,” a voice from the other room shouted!

I rushed to the door leading to the living room and upon opening it I saw my mother and father face to face with my sobbing Uncle.

“You know if you talk ill of God he will destroy you on the spot, she said quivering.”

My father stood there holding her shoulders saying nothing.

I walked up to my father, looking at my uncle now on his knees holding his head, “What’s going on here.”


My father looked at me and shook his head, “ He said what is forbidden he said god is but a man.”

“He said this whole war is God playing games. I think Father Edward was right I believe now that Paul may be under the influence of a false god, just look at him he can’t even comprehend what I or your mother is saying to him. “


“You fool I can hear you just fine, you didn’t speak with our father in private, and you didn’t see the proof that he inherited from grandfather, Earth exists, “Paul shouted at the top of his lungs, his voice cracking in rage My mother dropped to her knees falling backwards against my fathers knees, holding onto his pants leg. She looked shaken to the core. I, nor her have ever seen Uncle Paul like this.

“What is he talking about father?”

“Don’t listen to him, my old man died before you where born, he said the same things Paul’s is saying now and God dealt with him.”


Paul looked up at me silent, with an insane stare. The tears stopped and he stood up. “Sabrina you mustn’t listen to him, this war, all of it, its an experiment and we are the mice much like the ones in Doctor Mathew’s Lab. This is all the-e fault-t-t of Earth-h-h.” Paul began to stutter and trail off. His eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fell backwards onto the ground. My father shouted something but I was too engrossed in the horror happening in front of my eyes, It wasn’t until days later that my father told me he shouted to look away, to protect me from what happened next.


My Uncle began screaming as blood pulled on the floor from his eyes and ears. Maybe a moment, maybe a few seconds went by and a faint pop, like that of a circuit overloading rang through the room blood splattered on the wall behind my uncle’s head. And my Uncle stopped moving.   He was dead. We all knew it, we where all taught in bible study what that sound was, Father Edward said it was gods killing the non-believers, the one that would refuse to fight the tribes to the north, the adulators and the thieves. We knew that if we heard that sound someone was going to die. We knew there was a non-believer amongst us. Sometimes you would hear the pop before the blood started though. I had seen it twice before in my life, once during military training and the other in Church. My father forgets sometimes that I’m not his little girl anymore.


Not more than 30 minutes after the even the good doctor was examining my Uncle. “Time of death 1735,” Doctor Joseph explained to the other medics crowding our living room.


He stood up, brushed his knees off turned to us and began to calmly walk over to my father and me. “This is a pretty straight forward case, no ill-play on anyone’s part. I’m sorry for your loss but this is gods work please don’t grieve, it was his time.”


As Joseph continued to speak my thoughts trailed off, I watched the medics begin to pick my uncle up and put him onto a stretcher, but them something caught my eye.

Something small, something electronic, metallic like a battery but smaller fell from uncle’s skull. One of the medics saw what I saw, reached on the floor and picked it up. He said something to the others and then began to move a lot faster, putting a thin white sheet over the body. One noticed me and I blinked, rubbing my eyes to make it seem like I had seen nothing. I rubbed my eyes for a solid 10 seconds or so and looked at the doctor, “ could you repeat that sir,” I said this trying to play it off. I peaked back to see if my feigned ignorance worked and it had, the medics where just beginning to sponge up the blood. What the hell was that?

“What time is it Charles?”

“It’s 1758 sir.”

“Did the Mawrth Vallis detonation request make it to Mars airmen?”

“Yes sir Specimen P694 has been terminated we sent the signal about 20 minutes ago.”

“ What’s the status for the next weapons shipment, we have a new sponsor that wants to test that missile.”


“The shipment will land at the Mawrth Vallis site next Tuesday, we’ve also sent a shipment to the Nili Fossae group, the BABLE program coordinators instructed us to try and have the Nili Fossae tribe split. Today marks the beginning of Generation 5 on Mars. At this point there is no one alive that came on the initial transport ships. We can ad scripture to the packages and try to divide the tribes on the surface, more tribes equal more test groups.”


“Sounds good. Keep monitoring the family of P694 we can’t have any of the family members connected to the original mission settlers finding out Earth exists. We need them to keep playing the game. You do understand how important that is Charles, don’t you?”

“Yes sir.”

“I believe you do airmen but I’m a little worried about your abilities, you enlisted, what, 1 year ago correct?”

“Yes Sir.’

“You caught P694 entirely too late, I’m going to put in for another month of OJT for you, don’t worry about the small stuff I’m sure you’ll get the hang of this post soon. Just put up with the extra hours a bit longer, do you understand?”

“Y-Yes sir.”



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