Microfiction: Letters to Mars

Oldest Friend. How long since I last wrote, two months, maybe three? It has been too long and the fault is mine. I offer no excuse and throw myself on your mercy. Much has changed since I last wrote, for now I am no longer in Luxembourg but instead write to you from the deep darkness of Fortress Fourteen. Days flow like water here, and I have lost the concept of time. Sleep comes to me when I tire, and food is brought by the clickity-clack machines who tend to my needs like I their mad, lonely king.

 

It seems that only yesterday we were at University, laughing in the sunshine. Oh, how I miss those days. There was an energy to those days before the war: a wondrous tumultuous energy filled with infinite promise. Those were the days when imagination was possible. For with imagination comes hope, and is not that the secret of life? But I do not write to remind you of all that we lost. This letter is to be a comfort in your travels. Even from the depths of Fortress Fourteen, I have seen the reports. I know of the evacuations to the red planet.

 

Evacuations! Such a polite word. So clinical, such coldness. So opposite to the warm agony of hellish reality. The metavision shows nothing but our glorious leaders in imperial battle, their hands red with the blood of our enemies. The Minister of Propaganda has personally spoken of our old village and our long, shared sacrifice. My old friend, I admit that my heart fluttered, proud that our village is to be scorched instead of fall to our cursed enemies. Death to our enemies! It was a gift for the Minister himself to speak of our village, to understand our pain. He is an earnest man who must suffer every blow in this endless war. His burden heavy beyond those of ordinary men.

 

The metavision has show the footage of the evacuation. All those stoney faces marching into the intra-solar space ships. Shamefully, I admit to searching for your familiar face in the crowds for longer than I should. Far longer, my oldest friend. Nothing in this war is definite except victory, and my belief that you are now travelling to Mars. I am proud of you, almost envious, that your life stretches ahead of you on the frontier of mankind. What excitement there must be on those spaceships! What air of anticipation!

 

I promise to write again soon, my dear friend. Encoded into the DNA of this trans-dimensional space-worm is this trusted message. It is with deepest hopes and wishes that it finds you safe and well as you travel to New Sydney. Soon, I will write to you of the duty that the Ministry of War has entrusted me with. I am alone in this place, old friend, but with this message I have the warmth of our friendship. With deepest affection, DM.

 

****

 

My dearest friend. Seven months have passed after a solemn promise that I would write again soon. Shamefully, I throw myself on your mercy when all I deserve is the bitter taste of recrimination. I implore you to read the entirety of this message so as to understand before you curse my name. You see, for it is not my fault! It is true my friend. For the last seven months – count them, seven! – I have been trapped within the confines of this fortress and its devilish automated defence systems. For all these months I have implored the mute intelligence for permission to send even a simple message. We are both victims my friend, with these long months the price for my safety.

 

The war has raged for some months beyond the impregnable gates of the fortress. Night and day I sensed the vibrations that warn me of the none-too-distant bombs. For these are the days that I yearn for your response most of all. With the spectre of death hovering over my soul, I long to hear your voice one final time. Yet, even that has been denied to me. The computer mainframe, an intelligence so vast that it runs the entirety of the fortress, has given me a singular response to all my pleas: Access Denied. These two words the bane to my existence these many months. It was protocol, my friend, to refuse the passage of any message with our enemies so close. Death to our enemies! Each day marking the hellish chore to wait for yet another, anxious with the certainty that your waiting reply be only metres beyond the gate. Metres! It was indeed a glorious day when the war rolled on, lifting my imposed solitude.

 

As you read this, as you now understand, you anger must be turning inwards. Such anger is entirely undeserved. Oh how you must have looked forward to my promised letter. How you must have doubted my warmest offerings when no letter came. Who would not do the same? How you must have raged. No other reason stands as to why there was no letter waiting for me. Let us never speak of it again dear friend, and let the past roll beneath our feet. The matter is already forgotten! Such miscommunication yet another sacrifice to this endless war.

 

Now is the time for promises long past due. The Ministry of War has entrusted me a grave responsibility, my dear friend. I am the keeper of The Weapon. A device so terrifying that my hand trembles as I write these very words. I have such gratitude that the side of justice possesses such power. Death to our enemies! I shall not bore you with the technical details, but suffice to say it is a nano-tech bomb.

 

Yes, a nano-tech bomb.

 

Yes, I know.

 

Now please, dearest friend, write soon. I most strongly wish to hear of your new life on Mars. Tell me of the details, no matter how small. I long for news, to know the everything of your life. Your oldest friend, DM.

 

****

 

My most cherished, dearest, and oldest friend. Are you angry with me? Have you discarded me, my friend? Tell me not that you have forgotten me, or is it the other thing? I refute the first, so it must be the other thing. Understand that it is my duty. Your life is so simple compared to the horror of the war. My burden is heavy compared to the boundless freedom of Mars.

 

The Weapon – yes, my hand still trembles – is a solemn duty. I understand your hesitation to write to those standing alone with the Gods. As you may have guessed, this fortress hides the mechanics of the nano-tech below. I am living in the belly of the beast as both master and slave. I have my duty, and I have our friendship. Death to our enemies! What more does a man need?

 

Often I wonder the empty halls of the fortress, but my walks – every walk! – takes me to where I should fear to tread. Primary Control Centre One. It is the mind of the beast. Like an iceberg, the bomb is not visible but for its launch button. A simple shape and a single word written cross its surface: Boom. Some practical joke by some engineer, perhaps? Although such humour is beyond my understanding. I fear both fulfilling my duty and for this cursed war to never end.

 

Yes, you concerns are my concerns, dear friend. Yes, the bomb will release invisible machines that will rip life itself from this planet. Death to our enemies! Yes, everything and everyone will be scorched like our village. Yes, one day we may need to sacrifice our planet in the name of victory. Yes, the Mars colony may be the only humans to remain.

 

Judge me not, my friend, but pray for me instead. Your friend, DM.

****

 

The war, my god, the war is not going well. Put down your tools and send me a message so that I know you to be safe. Luxembourg, Manchester, Montreal, Vancouver, and Melbourne are lost, scorched to keep them from our insidious enemies. Death to our enemies! So much has gone.

 

Should the unspeakable happen, dear friend, I wish only for you to have a happy life. Never look back. Never turn around and weep for the past. Let it roll beneath your feet as you grow old and raise a family. Burn these letters, and with it the burden of the past. Look only at the stars and dream the dream of imagination. Never think of me, dear friend. Never think of me and be crushed by the weight of the past. Banish these memories from your mind and be free to hope. Learn from my mistakes, dear friend. DM.

****

 

The wolf is at the gate, and there is no more time. Good-bye my dearest friend.

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