Steven Robert Morrison
PROPHET of MARS SMASHWORDS LINK
A novel of the Future
by: Steven Robert Morrison
Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun in our Solar
System, it is a silent, dead planet, devoid of life
and of the essentials elements of life. Though
that may not have always been true through all
of history, nor may it be true through all of the future.
“I think I would fare well on Mars,
where the ceaseless red,
soothes tired eyes,
while slowly eating at the soul.”
A double row of figures moved through the near darkness, dressed in red, black, and white robes, through a polished rose red arch into a roughly hewn room, there they gathering reverence. The line parted, one moving to the left, one to the right, walking against the outer wall they formed a circle. Placing their lamps behind them in niches carved into the wall, they turned to face the stone dais rising in the middle of the room. The last person entering walked directly to the centre of the room. A priest dressed in a flowing robe of white linen, his face covered with a black and gold mask. He held in one hand an ancient book, and in the other a tall staff, that resembled the crosiers carried by some bishops back on Earth. The head of this staff looked to some like a broken Ankh of old, to some others it looked like a scythe, and to all of them, it was a symbol of hope. In the middle of the room a light shone from above, he then placed the book on a rock pillar, which was carved from a rock rising from the floor. He fitted the crosier’s base into a small hole bored in the floor beside the pillar. Opening the book, he looked around the shadowed faces of those gathered around him. Raising both hands into the air over his head and slowly bringing them down in broad sweeping arcs to his side, he spoke.
“Children, Our new God.
The ancient name, the One, now,
and the One being born before us.
All rise, in silence and face the east.”
As he spoke, Roselyn thought to herself, it had been those twenty-five words, which changed everything in her life, as they had changed the lives of so many others, All of the people gathered in this room understood that change, they had all felt the same passion and power about those words. She continued listening to him, as she looked around her at what was, the new face of humanity, and the people who were changing the face of a planet and perhaps the fate of mankind. She had learned on Mars, that nothing was, as it seemed. Although the change had started, no one knew for sure what was going to happen, or to how it was to unfold, but she knew that it would beyond her dreams and imagination.
To her, Mars, the red planet, the dry mysterious planet was the planet that she was determined to make her home. This planet was about to give birth, birth to a new life for all who chose to answer the call and those to those with enough spirit and strength to understand. Yet she thought of those had chosen to come here, was it really a choice when you feel compelled, or drawn to something that is far beyond any normal need or feeling? Had she liked them just reacted to some primal response or an involuntary effect to an unknown source? Had she really made a choice? For better of worse, this was her new life. For all of those who are here, there was a new hope for and for all of those gathered a chance to create a new life, a new world and even perhaps a new faith. She wondered whether they knew it or not, whether they truly believed or if they just hoped and dreamt. Did that matter?
She did not expect to see this birth of a planet and this rebirth of man, but in her, was the same power of hope and of dreams that had led man to travel throughout history and now had led to this new world. She broke free of that train of thought with a start and found she was no longer listening to the words of the priest. She had been lost in her thoughts, and where they had taken her. She was certain of her faith and fate, but she knew she was also more unaware of what exactly those were.
Closing the book, the priest began to speak words that all the assembled knew as well as the priest who spoke them. Words that were the reason for the creation of this room carved into the heart of Mars, and the basis of the faith that was carved into the hearts of those gathered. “Rise and sing the Hymn of the Prophet, and remember as you do this, the promises you made to the task at hand.”
Her mind began to wander off again, thinking of ‘the task at hand’. Those tasks behind us were those of their own choice, of choosing to leave the cradle of our race and crossing the void. Those ahead of us were the dreams of someday living under a new sky and walking with a new Earth beneath their feet. She thought to herself, could we say, “the earth beneath our feet?” Or should we have to say “the mars beneath our feet.” That did not seem to be the right phrase. So perhaps it should be called “ground”. She felt a chill move through her as she thought that perhaps it was some hardwired mental social convention that made people call this or any firmament, earth?”
“I think I would fare well on Mars,
where the ceaseless red,
soothes tired eyes,
while slowly eating at the soul.”
The priest continued with a song that she had learned as a child back in the cities of Earth. First learning it as a child’s taunt, mocking those dreamers who had heard the call of space, of Luna and of Mars. The words of this song opened up many long forgotten personal memories and memories of Earth. The words were like a narcotic, soon after the first time she looked at them in serious study, she understood and learned of their deeper meanings. They had drawn her to this place. The words of this song like the other songs of the same poet or prophet, speaking of this new world. They had compelled her to leave her scarred and crowded home, her former home, an Earth that had gone mad. She wondered what she had done. Was she now a pioneer, a voyager and settler, or perhaps she was a just a fool?
The words of the prophet, his faith guided them all to this new world, a world far from what they thought it would be. Further from the ideals that they had held fast to, but someday, perhaps. Yet, in the struggle of the awaking of this dream, there was a freeing the body, both figuratively and very literally, to travel to a new world.
The words of the songs of the prophet and his faith offered the promise of both the hope of a new life and the freeing the mind to explore new possibilities. The dream of Mars as a new home or a second home for mankind would create entirely new disciplines in philosophy and religion. It would allow mankind the chance of opening its eyes and hearts to the most fundamental of all the questions about God and life. It was a chance to re-evaluate the ways of the ancients and to try to find their old gods and thoughts, and perhaps, even to create new ones to give them strength.
Did God, she thought, create humanity out of His or Her needs for love or companionship in the Cosmos, or did mankind create the Gods in and effort to understand the cosmos and by extension become a companion of the Cosmos? Or was everything a random chance toss of the dice or some cruel mistake of the Universe and nothing more than a cosmic joke?
“Blessed be the soils and the airs
that will grant our children life.
Blessed be the faith of our past,
reborn and of our living
and of our future unknown”
‘The future unknown’, she thought, as if she needed to be reminded of the obvious nature of that statement. In one way nothing had changed we all still hoped for a better life for our children and for their children. It had been the same from family, to clan, to tribe all the way up the top superpowers. From a child in a family, then to a great section of a greater community, everyone wants a better future, yet fearing the uncertainty of that future. That uncertainty was based on life and death, we only lived long enough to dream or a future, and died before that future could come to pass, Hopefully, there always will be something in the future if it is better that always remain to be seen. That was something else she thought that we will have to change, our whole frame of reference, a new sense of language, the syntax, the meaning of phrases and the meanings of words. Like the word ‘earth, or something as simple a ‘the grass is greener on the other side of the fence’, even if we had grass, would we the need or want the luxury or the burden for fences?
“We the willing and the chosen, against all the challenges
shall build a new world, and within this new world find a place,
for the spirit of the faith of our fathers our mothers
and for our gods and goddesses.”
‘Faith’. She thought to herself, was, the strongest and the most blinding of motivators, faith had been the driving force behind mankind since ‘day one’. From the first day that we fell out of the tree, lying on the ground with a sore head and seeing stars. Now we have given ourselves a new day one, one not built by or marked by any religious or spiritual event, but by science, and with this, we now have a quest for a greater understanding, and it would be a spiritual journey, to understand ourselves. She thought that. That was in its own way, equally or possibly more confining, constricting and blinding, than faith.
The priest continued with the words of the prophet said:
“Remember the past world, Children.
Reflect upon the errors of mankind.
Strive to help and to assist one another.
Work to build towards the goal.
Love the challenge and the future.”
“These were the five pillars of the newfound faith: Remember, Reflect, Strive, Work and Love. The five principles, the five points of our faith, and apply them to each day and apply them to each act.”
It was the scientific mind that was deep within her, that caused her to take nothing at face value and to question everything, so why would the words of the Prophet be anything that would be exempt from being questioned? The Prophet knew what the words meant and how they would affect those who followed them. He knew that there would be scientists and philosophers following his words and that although they followed his dream to Mars, they would not follow blindly.
‘Remember’. What can we remember? What did he mean? We remember Earth as a past world or should we remember what Mars before we arrived? If, it is this new world Mars, which is alien to us and on which we are alien, would not our frames of reference be incompatible and we would have no idea of who, what, where or why there are things to remember?
‘Reflection’. This was a two-way process, and we are on a one-way path. This was the sixty-four trillion dollar question is: Was coming here an error of mankind? People are told to reflect on their failures. You never hear anyone say, “Oh, think a bit about your success”. Perhaps reflection could be a case of the micro-cosmos reflecting in the macro-cosmos? Where the individual ideals are projected up and out and strengthening the greater society, and on the reverse, the strengths, morality and judgements of the greater society work down through society final rest themselves in the individual. Either way, both are out of our control until we have the chance to reflect on our choices and then, of course, it is too late.
‘Strive’. Striving, towards goals that we will never see, and working to what, some unknown end? That is not the most motivating of speeches. Every day here is just a struggle to try and survive. Every day, tomorrow is a far off concept, let alone to try thinking about twenty years, forty years or four hundred years down the road. Striving for a goal that you know you can never reach, is that the inspiration behind this faith or folly wrapped within madness?
‘Work’. Work was like strive whereas the former was will and strength of mind, the later was psychical effort and strength of body. The mind could change and adapt, but the body was had limits to its ability to adapt. And for adaptation to Mars, the body would take generations.
‘Love’. Love is the challenge and here one needs to love the challenges or die trying to love them. On Mars, that was the way of things, because if you don’t love what you are doing or at least think you can make yourself love it, and that could be a problem. You could die here if you did not rise up and motivate yourself to face and respect the challenges. Challenges are like that, they are ‘the enemy’, but you have to learn to love them. Because if you don’t, you become resigned to failure, then once you see and expect failure, you are as good as dead.
Thoughts, doubts and questions keep repeating in her mind and new ones appeared and meshed with the old ones. This was a world without a future because a future needs a past, and this is a world without a past. So we are living in the moment. This is a dead world, a dead world with no past, therefore, are we dead? Can you have future without a past? Can you create the whole from nothingness? We would have to build a reference of a past to have a concept of a future. Because we have nowhere else to go and we have no choice but the do what we need to do, or die trying.
The sound of applause at the end of the ritual suddenly snapped Roselyn out of what was becoming a depressing funk, and on Mars, a depressing funk can escalate into something much worse.