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Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part eighteen)

Mulleon Cleets had lost count of the number of hours he had been wandering through endless tunnels beneath the ground upon which the Future Museum of Mars had been built…

He’d assumed, wrongly, that there would have been one or two tunnels that led from the Martian City to the subterranean sea. One there: One back. It made perfect sense. But that was not how it was, and he began to seriously doubt Maverick Fossil-Hunter’s assertion that a sunken sea had ever existed. He was also very tired and hungry: now all he wanted was a way out – of the catacombs, or whatever they were: and of his deal with the dopey cork. But then his tired eyes detected a distant light…

“About bloody time.” He snarled angrily. “I’m down to my last bottle of iced tea: and that tasty fig-based nibble bar is just a distant memory. If it wasn’t for the lingering stench, I would have forgotten it completely.”

But it still took him another fifteen minutes to dig his way to freedom…

“What a load of rubbish…” he was grumbling to himself as he emerged into…”What’s this?” He cried in alarm. “A huge snow drift? How the heck did that get there?”

But when he emerged into the light fully…

…he realised that the drift was wind-blown, because the nearby plain had been scoured.

“Ooh,” he said – his anger dissipating like a fart in a colander, “what have I missed?”

Of course poor Maverick was beside himself with worry as he paced to and fro outside the wall of the snowed-in citadel…

Had he sent Mulleon to his death in some tragic pot-holing accident? Did the heroic little earplug have an emergency pack of toilet tissue if he got caught short and couldn’t locate an ancient Martian lavatory in time? He was wracked with unanswerable questions and self-loathing.

Nearby, just outside, Mulleon heard the plaintive calling of his name…

 

“Oh, there he is – the big dope.” Mulleon said. “I suppose I’d better put him out of his misery.

So, having traced the source of Maverick’s voice…

…Mulleon tore a verbal strip off its owner…

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re safe.” Maverick gushed – his sense of relief and bonhomie increasing tenfold with every passing second. “When we get back to Earth with the the proof of my theories, I’ll share half the profits of my first book on the subject with you. How does that sound?”

That sounded just great to Mulleon. He even smiled. But, unfortunately, he’d found no proof whatsoever. And until he’d had a huge meal, a bath, and a change of underwear, he had no intention of seeking that proof. Maverick’s offer would have to wait.

He said as much to Maverick.

“Of course,” the huge cork replied, “with this winter storm, all bets are off right now. But when the sun comes out again, we’ll give it another go.”

Looking around him, Mulleon doubted very much that the sun would come out again – ever. “Whatever.” He said.

Whilst Maverick had been seeking out Mulleon, the Ice World immigrants had used their Ice World Sky Scooters to find stragglers in the snow field. Now they were returning to the museum with them in the passenger seats…

Inside the museum complete nobodies studied the landscape for signs of other survivors through regular windows…

…whilst museum staff – such as Frisby, Tangerine, Lillie, and Charles – did the same by watching drone pictures on their big screen…

“That looks like a glacier.” A worried Frisby said as he squinted at the scene. “How far out is the drone that’s relaying this?”

Lillie consulted a pad. “About a half-hour.” She replied. “But if that’s right – that glacier must be on the move. That can’t be right.”

“Damn these mini-ice-ages.” Frisby groaned. “They’re so unpredictable. I’m going to eyeball it from the roof.”

So, a couple of minutes later…

“Oh cripes,” he stuttered in the bitter cold, “it is a glacier – and it’s headed this way!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021