Well, as you can imagine, it wasn’t a mirage at all: Doubry Furkins and Jenson Prong really were daft enough to think that the worst of the winter was over. Convinced that the Muffins were hiding something beneath their citadel, they were out making preliminary measurements of the area…
Well Doubry was: Jenson didn’t believe it for a moment, and he doubted Doubry did as well. But he knew his colleague was convinced that they were being monitored, so went through the motions of doing his job. But when Doubry looked around: “Jumping jam sandwiches,” he exclaimed, “it’s snowing again. I’m not sure we should be here.”
Jenson had always thought that, so quickly pocketed the theodolite and went in pursuit of Doubry, who found himself confronted by Gerhardt and Tynan…
“Hey,” Gerhardt cried out, “worse it is getting. Are you having an idea where safety we can be finding?”
Initially the mouths of both Doubry and Jenson fell open in confusion. “You what?” They both enquired.
“We’re looking for a safe abode.” Tynan Ware explained. Then after introducing himself and Gerhardt, added: “We thought that you might be better equipped than us for inclement conditions. You appear to be professionals: we are mere tourists.”
“A flip-up tent you are having perhaps?” Gerhardt added.
“Um…no.” Jenson replied. “Why are you wearing a helmet?”
“Ah, my helmet,” Gerhardt’s eyes shone as he swivelled them upwards towards his headgear, “most wonderful it is being. You see a mutant I was being – with an enormous brain. But the authorities were fearing that a dangerous megalomaniac I might become, and cut the top of my head off.”
“Yes,” Tynan spoke as he noticed that Gerhardt’s speech pattern seemed to confuse Doubry and Jenson, “they did. It was the only course of action open to them. Now he wears the helmet in place of a skull.”
Jenson was appalled by this information. “Will it grow back?” He asked. Then, to add a little clarity to his question, he added: “his brain I mean?”
“Yes, my brain it is growing at this moment we are speaking in.” Gerhardt informed him happily. “When I am returning to Earth, the doctors will chop off the new bit.”
“So, if you have such a dangerous condition, why did you come to Mars?” Doubry – with a smile that didn’t disguise his doubts – asked.
“The Muffins.” Tynan explained. “I am one of the doctors responsible for chopping bits off Gerhardt’s brain: I’m here to enlist their help.”
Again confusion appeared upon both prospectors faces. “Why would Martians know anything about huge brains, and what to do with them?” Jenson said. “But before you answer that – can we start walking: my boots are beginning to stick to the ice.”
So they did – in a totally random direction…
“Have you ever seen the Martians?” Tynan said by way of introducing his explanation.
Both Doubry and Jenson took a moment to think about that. They hadn’t actually seen any in the flesh: but they had seen lots of photos on the way from Earth. Both recalled the most striking example…
“Oh, I see what you mean.” They said in unison. “They’ve all had the tops of their heads chopped off!”
“Yes. But,” Tynan held aloft a freezing digit to better illustrate what he was about to say next by pointing it at his head, “they don’t wear helmets!”
Meanwhile, inside the Future Museum of Mars, the engineers responsible for monitoring the nul-space generator that supplied the power for the entire edifice, grew concerned…
“Get on the horn to Frisby.” The very important yellow engineer instructed the lowly orange engineer. “Tell him the generator’s getting really hot.”
Below, in the nul-space generator room, temperatures were soaring…
“And while you’re at it, reduce our power demand by turning down the thermostat in the habitat area.”
Of course the lowly orange engineer complied instantly, and in the habitat the temperature plummeted from a comfortable twenty-one degrees C to fifteen…
…and everyone began climbing onto things so that they could gain some elevation and stay in the warmer air.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021