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Fishcake Words: Community Spirits - Part Four

Two boys go out in search of Martians.

Martin Rothery continues his sci-fi tale.

It was some time before either of them drifted off. However they must have slept as before long their mother was shaking them gently awake and the smell of toast was drifting in from the kitchen. She must have forgiven us, Georgie thought.

After throwing toast down their throats followed by a glass of fresh milk, Georgie and Bobby made their excuses saying they were going out to play without telling their parents that their intention was to be Martian investigators. Mr and Mrs Samson were relieved just to have a bit of peace and quiet.

Checking the weather, both boys were glad to see the sun was shining and it was going to be a fine day. A total contrast to the strange fog on the previous day.

Stepping out into the street, Georgie took in a deep bravery inducing breath and scanned his surroundings. They lived in a small village at the base of a deep fertile valley with a river running north to south along its length. High hills towered above them on both sides so the valley only benefited from the full sun around noon when it shone straight up the vale.

Therefore, right now, most of the valley was in shade except for the tops on the eastern side.

Most of the villagers of this small population either worked as sheep farmers on the surrounding land or were employed in the mill down by the river as this was the perfect location for the water wheel.

“Where do we start?” asked Bobby.

“I suppose by the well is as good a place to start as any. That’s where we saw them.”

“Do you think they’ll be there now?”

Georgie looked down the hill and could see the well on the green. At the moment it was deserted. “Well, they’re not there now.”

So off they went on their mission to find the Martians.

They warily approached the well scanning for recent evidence of the unnatural visitors. No strange humanoids or red candlelight beams so far. Everything appeared normal.

Villagers now began crossing the green on everyday errands, some stopping to draw water, casually granting the boys a good morning, oblivious to their investigation or any unearthly creatures.

The damp of the previous day meant the ground was a little soft and boggy in places and as the villagers came and went they would leave traces of their passing in the form of smooth footprints from their wooden clogs. Scanning the ground, it was then that Georgie noticed one that was slightly different. Although it was foot shaped, the print definitely wasn’t made by a clog. There was a strange pattern on it and what looked like a word that they couldn’t make out but looked like ‘qolnub’.

“They were here!” exclaimed Bobby. “What or where is ‘qolnub’?”

“I bet that’s their village on Mars,” reasoned Georgie. “Or it’s his name, it sounds Martian. But how do they make patterns like that, someone must have carved funny clogs.”

“I don’t think they wear clogs, they wear space boots, because they also had space helmets.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right.”

“So what were they doing?”

I bet they want to capture us all and point that weird red candle light at our brains to cook them to eat.”

“Don’t be silly, they could have already done that by now. Maybe they were just after water and were looking for the well. Those might have been their versions of gas lamps to see where they were going.”

“Do Martians drink water? I thought they drank blood?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never talked to one. Let’s go and get dad, he might know. We’ll show him what we’ve found; he could tell us what it is.”

The two boys ran back up to the house to find their father sitting in front of the hearth, sucking on his pipe and reading the paper.

“Dad, dad, we need you to look at something,” they said in chorus.

“Ay, calm down lads,” he replied puffing a couple of times. “Where’s the fire?”

“Dad,” Georgie said excitedly, “we’ve found a Martian footprint from qolnub and you’ve got to come and look.”

“Martian footprint, eh? Really?” Mr Samson glanced a quick look out of the window. Seeing it was a sunny day above the rooftops he resigned himself to playing along as it would be nice to get some fresh air on a lovely day. “Alright, alright, let me grab my things.”

Slipping on his flat cap and clogs, Mr Samson followed his sons down to the green where they proudly displayed their find.

“Well, look at that,” Mr Samson marvelled sarcastically, “I think someone’s having a laugh boys. It can’t be a footprint; they don’t make markings like that. Probably one of them there new fangled machine contraptions…” he left it at that.

“But, but…”

“Now come on, it must be nearly lunchtime, your mother must be wondering where we are.

The boys scanned the vicinity. It seemed a bit dark to be lunchtime as the sun should be shining down the valley by now if it was.

“You sure dad?” asked Georgie.

Mr Samson pulled his pocket watch out from his waistcoat and glanced at it suspiciously. “Yep, twelve ‘o five.”

“Then why’s it still dark?” Georgie queried.

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