Martian Mission


First Transmitted September 2002

SEPTEMBER 21, AD 2303 (Two days from Departure)

Ralston attached a cord to the base of API-15's skull. He plugged the other end of the cord into the wall. With push of a few buttons from a remote control, the whole window of Ralston's office (which comprised one wall) became a blank screen.

"Okay, API-15, could you find the requested data?" Ralston asked.

"No problem," replied API-15.

In a moment, the wall showed a life-size scene. An airlock door opened. In front of them, the man who must have been Francis McCartney floated into the Station. A blue robot floated up to him.

"Greetings," a drab lifeless voice intoned.

"Hello," answered McCartney.

"You are Francis Jethro McCartney?" asked the spheroid.

"Yes," answered McCartney.

"Thumbprint scan," droned the robot. McCartney pressed his thumb on the robot. "Retina scan." McCartney opened his eyes to allow the robot to scan his retinas. Then he fell limp.

The next image was of API-15's arm colliding with the robot, which bounced off a window, cracking the plexiglass. What interested Ralston was in the right corner of the image. He saw there a man in a beige jump suit. He had a shock of red hair that matched his red jacket. He held a small black box in his hand. The mysterious man stepped forward. The sound of limitless suction cups was heard in Ralston's office. The black box was raised. The man came into the centre of API-15's vision. Blue lightning filled the window.

"Thank you," Ralston said. He pushed a few buttons on the remote control. "That image is now downloaded into my vidfiles. Both your verbal and visual testimonies have been invaluable, API-15."

"You are welcome, Mr. Ralston," replied the battered robot.


Andy sat down before his vidphone, quickly pressing the answer button. Ed Ralston appeared on the screen.

"Hello," said Andy.

"Good evening, Rev. Darnell," replied Ed. "Has your day passed well?"

"Well enough," replied Andy. "Everyone else is going to catch their last film on Earth. I needed some time alone tonight. What brings you to call me?"

"McCartney's assailant was the Head of Station Security," replied Ed.

"Really? How does the Station Commander feel? Has the man been apprehended?"

"The Station Commander is apologetic. The Head of Security, a Major Drood, left on leave this morning," replied Ralston.

"That's a bit of a problem," noted Andy.

"Yes--" suddenly, Ralston disappeared. The lights in the house went out. Andy carefully walked through the dark house and looked out the window. It was a very dark night. No street lamps were lit up. The myriad lights from the city were not to be seen. The glow from the pale Moon shone down on the swimming pool. The power was out.


Joe felt a little awkward. On one side of him sat his mother. On the other side of him sat Elizabeth Underhill, with whom he felt he could quite possibly be passionately in love. Not that he'd ever professed such a thing to her. Really, they'd only horsed around in a swimming pool. Not really a romantic event. He saw those blue eyes of hers out of the corner of his eye. His chest pounded. The lights in the theatre went out. His chest pounded a little harder.

"Hey," yelled an angry patron, "where's the show?!"

He was greeted with silence. In a moment, the theatre was bustling. Then a voice yelled from the front, "There has been a power failure. The whole theatre has no power. If you follow me, I have a flashlight. I'll lead you out."

Joe looked up at the front and saw the beam. He felt Elizabeth grab his hand. It made him tingle.

"Don't lose me. It's dark," she whispered.

"Don't worry," he replied. As if he could lose a beautiful girl who was clutching his hand.

They made their way to what must have been the lobby. It was very dark. He heard his mother yell something that must have sounded extremely ridiculous to the rest of the world. "Martian Missionaries over here!" Juan must have found it extremely hilarious, judging from his laughter. Joe and Elizabeth made their way to the sound of his mother's voice. How he'd lost her in the shuffle was beyond him. He found her, illumined by the cold, white light of the moon outside. He smiled. She smiled back. And Elizabeth didn't let go of his hand. Once they were all assembled, Joe's mother led the Martian Missionaries outside.

Outside was very dark as well. Not a single light shone. A man on a cell phone declared, "The CGE's power's out!" Not good. Then he said, "Argh! Now phone service is gone too!" Not good either. This state of affairs was especially troublesome for the MMT. They used public transit, and the electrobuses ran on the City of Greater Edmontons power supply. There hadn't been a power failure in over fifty years. No one had anticipated a general power supply. Juan, ever the conspiracy-theorist, made the obvious connection.

"Sabotage," he muttered.

"Not necessarily," cautioned Rufus.

"Bah. I was right before. I'm right now."

"Anyway," interjected Mrs. Darnell, "we need to get home. That is our primary concern."

"We'll have to walk it," declared Mr. Underhill.

Everyone groaned. But they knew it had to be that way. The MMT began its hour-long trek back to Leduc. They sang hiking songs and songs of worship as they marched steadily on. Joe was careful to note that Elizabeth did not let go of his hand once.


Frank fell down. Falling down was not supposed to happen in space. He heard shouts from outside. There was banging at his door. The lights went out. He was still strapped to what he now identified as a cold metal slab. He prayed for deliverance.

He looked up at a being far more glorious than any he had hitherto encountered. At first he was unbelieving. Then, from somewhere in the back of his mind, he remembered a prophecy from the prophet Joel. God told Joel long ago that there would be a day when young men would have visions. He supposed this was what it was. The being before him was most certainly not natural but markedly supernatural. The being had the face of a man. He glowed with a brilliant light. Frank was somewhat afraid.

"Be not afraid," came a calm, soothing, lilting voice. Frank said nothing. This sort of thing didn't happen. "Yahweh has a message for you. He loves you greatly and will not let anything happen to you. Indeed, this very night you will be set free from your captors."

He looked into the bearded face of the angel. It was full of a great love. The angel smiled warmly. Then Frank saw a scarred hand reach out and touch his bonds. They all fell off at once. He looked again at the scarred hand. Francis Jethro McCartney fell prostrate on the floor.

"My Lord and my God," he breathed, tears of joy filling his eyes. A sadness also tugged his heart at the sight of those wounds.


In a corner of the City of Greater Edmonton Power Centre, the guards found a man dressed in a pale blue suit mumbling and moaning to himself. He was crying, tears spilling down his face. "What have I done? What have I done?" he muttered to the air over and over again. The guards identified him as the Reverend Doctor William Latimer, the Holy Apostolic Overseer of the Greater Edmonton Area. Apparently, he was involved in a nefarious plot to keep the Martian Missionary Team from taking flight on September 23.

Copyright 2002, Matthew Hoskin