Echoes of Mars – Room 101

“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.”

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…

Author: Michael

Husband, dad,programmer, comic collector and proud Yorkshireman. I have no idea why im here or why im writing but i rather enjoy it. no great fan of punctuation;

33 thoughts on “Echoes of Mars – Room 101”

  1. Cheers mate I might have to start playing the lottery and hope for a win so that I have the time. I actually wrote that one whilst I was at work today and on a number of telephone calls which would probably explain why I wasn’t listening particularly well. Don’t tell work though our secret 😉

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  2. Wow … I am not ashamed to say I am a bleeding heart and this piece overwhelmed me and my eyes filled with tears as I got to the end of it … perhaps it is because I am all alone in this world. No family, and friends are scattered here and there … it filled me with sadness also because up until a year ago, my companion was a little canary who was very in tune with my actions. I work from home at the kitchen table and Buddy’s cage was on the counter not far from where I sit. He had a stroke and I had to have him euthanized, so, I am just a little like this old man. This statement in your story was very powerful: “His once sharp mind was now a lottery when it came to the things he remembered and the things he did not.” I like the bawdy limericks but some of these 101 word stories pull at my heartstrings.

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  3. Hopefully there was a pleasure in remembering to accompany the sadness also. When I wrote it there was no canary but i think we all need someone or something and the idea of him Being truly alone felt too cruel .

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  4. It still throws me sometimes when my writing connects with somebody. That piece really just started about a virus devouring the earth but actually im not really in control of how its read.

    Thanks Linda


  5. Michael, I am okay with being all alone in the world because I came from a small family to begin with … I was an only child and after we moved to the States, I didn’t see my grandparents very much, so I am used to it. It is difficult around the holidays when the world is all about spending time with loved ones. My father announced on Christmas Day 1983 he was “tired of the family” and went back to Germany where he was born and lived until moving to Canada in 1950. I rarely, if ever, mention him in this blog. I’ve got no use for him as he caused hardship and heartache to my mother in taking money out of their joint bank account and annuity accounts. I may write about him one day to get it off my chest. I’ve not seen or spoken to him in almost 35 years. My mother passed away in 2010, and she would preach to me that it is not good to grow old alone. So, perhaps I connected the old man and myself and remembered her words. I will be 62 in a few months, so not as old as him. The fact that you chose a canary over a more traditional faithful companion like a dog, or cat, resonated even more with me. Because I spent my days working in the same room as Buddy, he would react even if I left the kitchen to go down the hall. Often he would break into song as if to say “when are you coming back … don’t leave me!” He was never alone as I kept him in another room to sleep at night so I didn’t disturb him in the morning when I got up and was doing things before I left to go out to walk, etc. … when I came home from walking or errands and was home for the day, I got him up then … he was very special, so I really identified with the canary’s reactions to his owner’s circumstance. Our first canary died the same year as my mom … I decided no more pets, but my friend and neighbor said … it is a few weeks before Christmas and you shouldn’t be alone, so I relented and got another canary for company. I was devastated when Buddy had a stroke in December 2016 … I wrote a post about him:

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  6. Michael … It is interesting how you say you are not in control how a post is read. Now, to me I felt sadness at this poor man all alone and reliving an important part of his past and then the sad ending to the story. Others may perceive it as a story about a space rock, and you say your original intentions for the piece were way different … I enjoyed reading it … your short stories are as enjoyable as the limericks. You’re a very talented writer.

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  7. Wow that’s really powerful stuff and quite a story to tell and one I’m sure a lot of people could relate to because I guess we all have those sorts of feelings and there is a pressure not to be alone but many people are quite happy not to be surrounded by people all of the time it’s not necessary reflection on anyone or anything it’s just the way people are. I think we are all a combination of our past experiences and influences and we never really know how things influences especially those things from when we were younger but one way or another I think they ultimately make us and in many ways give us strength once we have the wisdom to recognise it. I will most definitely be having a read about buddy later on this evening but right now I’m about to go to the rugby club and have a good few pints and watch grown men smash into each other in the rain and snow

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  8. Coming from a small family to begin with there are not a lot of adjustments, but you do sometimes feel all alone in the world. I had a very good friend and neighbor who moved next door in 1992. She had COPD and passed away suddenly last Summer. She had COPD for a long time and it was not unexpected, but she had been in the hospital a week and was given the OK to go home, seemingly well, but then had a heart issue and died, but, she kind of adopted me after my mom died and told me her family was my family. So, even that scrap of “family” is now gone, as I don’t really know her family all that much. A friend of mine is working on her family tree and has a German fellow who is helping her track down some info for free and she has asked him to see if my father is still alive. She tried to find the info before, but does not speak German, and neither do I, so this gentleman will look and see what he can find.
    I was in England in 1979, visited there with my parents for a week. We never saw a rugby match or any sports while we were there but did see many of the sights, and took a day trip to Dover. We stayed in a bed-and-board in Surbiton, Surrey and enjoyed the trip immensely. We were there in May and not a drop of rain the entire week.


  9. Goodness that would be quite something too suddenly realised that he still alive and I’m guessing you wouldn’t do anything about it but in today’s world he could have a Facebook page and it would be possible to see him even which I guess will be quite odd after so many years.


  10. And I am thinking that perhaps you spent the only week in this country where it hasn’t rained ever. It’s quite it’s quite a pretty place and lots to see and do over here it’s just rather full of people that’s all


  11. I have never disparaged him in a blog post or on Facebook (except to close friends in a private message) and I have my privacy settings set as high as I can so if he would go onto my FB page, he sees nothing and no one can post on my Wall. I’m hoping to find out something, but at age 92 he certainly wouldn’t be traveling from Germany to here and wreaking havoc on my life in any way … hopefully.

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