Echoes of Mars – Room 101

These things tend to be short pieces that may or may not be the beginning of something else.  Originally they were 101 words only.  I’m less strict about that now.  They dont always finish, I just like to try and evoke a certain feeling or scene.


Amos sat in the old rocker looking out across the open fields in front of the farm house.  He watched wisps of clouds dancing across the sky and jet trails slowly dissolving into the blue and remembered a time, long ago now, when he was more than the frail old man now living out the last of his days watching the seasons pass from his window.  Snippets of another life he was no longer sure were even his.

“You see that girl” he said looking over at a canary is a small cage on a dresser next to the window.  “you see those vapour trails? That was me once.”

The small yellow bird cheeped almost as if in response.

His eyes weren’t what they once were but he could still make out the feint outline of the city in the distance and he watched as shuttles, from this distance mere specks, took off and headed upwards towards the east pacific low orbit station.

There was a flash of silver as the sun caught the side of a large long haul transporter rising slowly upwards and he remembered, not at all fondly, the early days long before anti-grav when they had to strap you to a rocket just to get you into orbit.

He didn’t miss the take offs but he each landing was fresh in his mind as the day he had made them

“Good times” he mumbled to himself rolling a small red rock no larger than a thumbnail between his fingers, a memento of his last trip to Mars smuggled home and his most prized possession.  He rocked slowly and pulled a blanket over his knees.  He looked at it and his eyes lit up and a smile spread across his face.  He had kept it locked away for decades but today, today he wanted to hold it.  It was softer to the touch than he remembered, perhaps from being kept in the old cigarette tin in the dresser.

“I went there you know” he told his canary.  He had told her uncountable times but he didn’t know that, not anymore.  His once sharp mind was now a lottery when it came to the things he remembered and the things he did not.  “I saw sunrise over the Martian planes, before we stopped going there and trust me, it was a sight to behold.  Miles of red, like a sea of blood stretched out before us.”

The canary cheeped and cleaned her feathers, then hopped down to the bottom of the cage.

“Oh yes” he continued proudly, fragments of past glories now darting about his mind. “I was a real American hero indeed.”

The canary chirped again, and then for a second time as Amos suddenly stiffened, a look of pain etched across his face.  His right arm reached for his chest and the small rock fell from his hand.  Amos gasped as the bird continued to chirp loudly, now in full cardiac arrest.  Hands clenched into fists the life ebbed slowly from his body as his eyes glazed over and with a final gasp Amos McCartney drifted into nothing.

And with that final, his body now relaxed the chair rocked forward crushing the small rock fragment, red dust smeared on the carpet beneath the runner of the old rocking chair.  The canary chirped wildly, hopping up to the small wooden perch and then back to the cage floor but there was nobody to hear it or heed it’s warnings.

Slowly, spreading out from the spot under the chair a red stain began to creep.  It first engulfed the chair and Amos, turning them a dark ochre red and, moments later,  the wood and flesh and plaid blanket on his knees suddenly collapsed into dust.   The canary chirped wildly, flying around the small cage panicked.

Outwards it then began to spread and in a moment the chirps of the canary were  silenced…