Bill Clearlake

February, 1998


He stood at the end of the world. Before him stretched a thousand miles of dusty red rock. He curled his toes into the soft, genetically-designed grass and breathed the carefully blended oxygen/argon/nitrogen air at the very edge of his terraformed world.

He scanned the horizon and entered calculations into the digipad. He calculated the number of new arrivals, the amount of land mass, and the amount and kinds of vegetation that would be needed to sustain a new group of refugees. He entered the expected rate of population growth and the optimal amounts of proteins and carbohydrates per capita.

The data was fed in realtime to the Mars Terraform Planning Center at Newburgh Colony. The calculations would be run through an Emeagwali matrix and fed to a simulator. The simulator would run through a thousand human generations per millisecond and show the weaknesses of the model and suggest how to sustain a human society virtually forever on that plotted landmass. The final data would be transmitted to the Mars Terraform Project at Houston Space Center. There, rockets would be prepared with seeds, fertilizer, base chemicals and atmospheric enhancers. A carefully balanced mix of select bacteria, molds, and spores would be loaded into explosive packets.

The area of Mars he viewed that morning would be blasted with Earth's essence. The red dust and ancient rocks would be impregnated by an explosive force many times the magnitude that long ago incinerated two cities in Japan. The blast would cause a biochemical chain reaction and the dry Martian mountains he gazed upon would again feel rain after half a billion years.

The new group of refugees had just been born and would undergo training in Martian Simulators on Earth. They would be raised as Martians and learn to tolerate the extremes in temperature, the strange atmosphere and foodstuffs, the unique culture of Martian civilization. They would learn the Martian language with it's odd mix of Latin, Tsalaghi, Swahili, Indo-Germanic, and Tibetan roots words. They would learn the beautiful heiroglyphs developed by a team of neurolinguists and chosen by the Mars Colonization Board for their simplicity and symbolic richness. By the time they were young adults and had made the long space journey to Mars, their new land would be ready to receive them. And they would be Martians, knowing no other way of life.

Earth was dying. Mars was humanity's last hope of survival. As fast as Mars was being transformed into fertile, life-sustaining habitats, Earth was being transformed into poison wastelands. The human experiment of rapid population and industrial growth had failed and Earth's population of twenty-four billions had taxed Earth's resources beyond her limits.

Pollutants had rendered the water undrinkable and the oceans had become a deadly chemical soup. Sea mammals committed mass suicide on Earth's beaches, and diseased birds starved, flapping featherless wings. Acid rain stripped tropical jungles of their foliage.

Strange weather became commonplace. A hurricane formed in the Sahara desert and for several days sand dunes became rolling waves of sludge. Snow fell on the Amazon jungle and destroyed half of the year's crop of natural rubber. Human arrogance and greed had shattered the stability of Earth's ecosystems. Now humanity had re-created itself through genetic manipulation to inhabit a different world.

He looked again across the dry stretch of red dust to the distant mountains shimmering in the afternoon sun. He loved the raw, rugged Martian landscape -- untouched, unspoiled, pure and devoid of life. He loved the red sky and light blue clouds of the unchanged regions of Mars. He loathed the arrogance of humans, stretching themselves out of the teeming African jungles and forcing the Earth into the age of agriculture. Then stretching again into the industrial age and again into space. Leaving a trail of waste from Earth to Mars humanity had come -- different and yet the same. And they called themselves Martians, but still forcing worlds to change to suit them, contaminating first one world, and now another. He'd had enough of Earth and her people and machines and genetically designed forests and chemically enhanced rivers. He loved Mars for Mars, and knew her topology better than he knew himself. He was through aiding the destruction of what he loved.

He dropped the digipad into the soft grass and took a deep breath. A smile crossed his lips and he stepped off the edge of the world onto the hot surface of Mars. He ran until his lungs ached and forced him to breathe in the acrid Martian air. For a brief moment he was the only true Martian on Mars.



© 1998 Bill Clearlake