Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part eight)

So, as everything seemed to be falling into place for the two young MOFT employees – out on a ‘jolly’ in their own personal space craft – back at the Future Museum of Mars the two mining company representatives – Doubry Furkins and Jenson Prong – felt a tad apprehensive upon the neighbouring plain…

“I know that I agreed that this time of year is probably the best time to visit Mars – what with tourist numbers down because of the approaching winter: “Doubry said through chattering teeth, “but, flipping heck, this ground is so darned cold.”

“You’re telling me.” Jenson retorted. “It must be locked-in frozen carbon dioxide. My rock-testing chisel is so cold I’m afraid to use it, just in case it shatters.”

At that moment, but further away, in an unnamed desert, Marty Friedpants was leading his fellow sewage union reps on their first hike…

“Come on, boys,” he called enthusiastically, “keep up.”

“That’s easy for you to say;” Tail-end Charlie – Tandoe Crimplehorn – gasped his reply, “but your oxygen suppository fits you better than mine: my bottom is feeling seriously oxygen-depleted.”

Marty, being an unusually fair-minded trade union earplug, was about to stop and offer to swap oxy-suppositories, when he was accosted by none other than the MOFT curator, Sir Dodger Muir…

“Dodge,” he said with surprise evident, “what the bloody hell are you doing all the way out here? I know you’ve got some new knees and all that: but you’re no spring plugmutt. You could keel over at any moment, and no one would be any the wiser.”

Sir Dodger was well aware of his advancing years, and was only present because he felt an absolute need to be there. But that didn’t stop him raising a characteristic eyebrow…

“Well here’s the thing, old chap.” He began. “It’s the new knees that have sent me out here. Not literally, you understand: they didn’t just waltz off with me an unwilling passenger. No; what I mean is…well all this metalwork inside me is reacting to the changing climatic conditions. If I read the sensations correctly – which, because I’m intelligent enough to have enjoyed a long successful acting career, and then became a curator at the planets’ most famous and most envied museum, I believe I am: we’re in for snow. Probably lots of it too. So, Marty, if I were you, I’d think about making plans for an early return to the museum. I’m off there now: you can follow in my footsteps, should you care to.”

Meanwhile, even further distant from the museum, the Scrotonite, whose name was Bo Smidgin, was conducting a reconnoitre of a suitable spot for his planned holiday-housing development…

And he too felt a chill wind blow up his metaphorical kilt that sent a shudder down his spine and gave him cause to wonder if he might have the talent of prescience.

“Hmmm,” he mused to himself in near silence, “if Venus wasn’t so damned hot, with an ammonia-rich atmosphere, I think, on balance, I might prefer to knock up some (fundamentally balsa wood and fabric) shacks there. Somehow this doesn’t feel right.”

But not everyone was out and about. Others chose (at least for the while) to remain inside the museum. Others like the huge cork, to whom William of Porridge had spoken in the reception area, whose name was Maverick Fossil-Hunter. Also a yellow earplug named Mulleon Cleets; and Mulleon’s pet plugmutt – Rufus…

As they stood beside a Cafe Puke coffee vending machine they discussed the matter that had brought them to Mars.

“It is clear,” Mulleon said, as he looked up at the cork that towered above him, “that the remnants of any oceans that Mars ever possessed would now be far below the surface.”

“I’m certain of it.” Maverick replied. “I would stake my reputation upon it. And here, beneath the Future Museum of Mars, marks the likely entry point to any access tunnels that might still exist.”

“Yeah- yeah, I get that.” Mulleon groaned. “But what makes you so sure that these tunnels lead to the ancient city of the Muffins?”

“Proximity, Mulleon,” Maverick answered. “They wouldn’t build their homes far from the water supply. Only really stupid people do that.”

Mulleon thought about that for about a nanosecond, before replying with: “But they are stupid: they destroyed their entire world by igniting a massive fart. A global fart, no less. I mean, what kind of intelligence does it take to ignite so much methane that it strips away most of the breathable atmosphere?”

Maverick ground his teeth together: this was an argument he’d heard many times before – mostly from his peers, tutors, and TV interviewers – especially that pesky Rupert Piles…

The answer came easily to his lips: “They were smarter in the olden times. They hadn’t invented daytime TV. If it hadn’t been for the development of social media, Mars would probably still have a vibrant society and a healthy planet. They wouldn’t have felt the need for a world-wide farting contest. So my idea is right.”

Although Mulleon agreed with Maverick, at least on a basic level, he didn’t much like the cork’s initial plan of action. Maverick was to go to the old citadel of the Muffins, whilst he found his way there via the subterranean tunnels and passageways beneath the museum.  He was about to offer an argument, just for the sake of it, when he had an idea of his own: he’d send Rufus in first: if he didn’t get eaten by anything, it was probably safe for him to proceed…


So he agreed financial terms, and Maverick departed…

…whilst he dragged Rufus in the opposite direction…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021


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