Highly Commended Story - Our Exodus to Mars
“Our Exodus to Mars” by Candria Misha D’Souza, Vargas Elementary School, USA, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Candria D’Souza is a 5th grader at Vargas Elementary School in California, USA. She loves to read, write, play her piano and immerse in art. Her four favorite contemporary fiction authors are Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini, Katherine Coville and Chris Colfer. As you can tell, her favorite genre therefore is ‘fantasy’, because she finds it prodigious how these authors weave simple story lines into artistic and marvelous stories. She is also a Brown belt in Karate and has won first place in essay competition in her school district. Candira is concerned about the rising pollution, and wants to create awareness and possible solutions through her story.
Our Exodus to Mars
My name is Anna Nabisco. I am not an alien… but I lived on Mars. I am still a human… and part of me is alien. This story affected my life and many lives of my generation. And this story is worth listening to. It comes from the future and delivered to you from advanced alien technology. I was born on Earth, grew up on Earth, used to work on Earth; so you’ll be wondering how I ended up on Mars. I’m a scientist by choice. A CSO (Chief Scientific Officer) at Nabisco Labs. Humans were dying because of new illnesses, the Nabisco Syndrome!
One night, I was walking home when our robot-maid ran out the front door to me. “What is it, Becky?” I inquired. Becky answered, “Mr. Nabisco has developed, what he discovered was... well… umm… the Nabisco Syndrome. And as you know our fine doctors can’t do anything about it. Mr. Nabisco wants to see you, immediately.” I raced home and ran upstairs. I found Dad lying on the bed with my mom sitting on a chair nearby. I sat on the side of his bed and looked at him. He looked at me. “Anna! …” he wheezed. “... Remember, you are a scientist. You must find a solution to save humankind. I will have to leave this body now.” Tears filled my eyes. “No!” I cried. He replied, “Bye Anna. Bye Fiona. Anna, keep Fiona company.” I looked at Mom and nodded. My father’s eyes closed. NO! I was filled with grief. I looked at mom and knew what she was thinking, just by looking at her eyes which were filled with the sight of death taken over her husband. We had to save all people, once and for all.
You see, how the Nabisco Syndrome started is the fact that humans’ bad choices have caused this upon us. Right now, here in the year 2119, the skies are greyer than before. I have seen colored photographs my grandmother took in the early 21st century. Skynet has a repository of images all well organized, documented, indexed and archived. The skies were soft baby blue and the trees are forest green and there were flowers of every color in the photograph. The ocean used to be a sapphire blue and I could tell that the soil there was rich and healthy and it swirled in that beautiful brown color and sweet as cocoa. My mother has told me that in spring, 100 years ago, it was described cheerful. When everyone went to the park, birds would sing sweet songs. Flowers bloomed everywhere and lakes and rivers bubbling. Summer, 100 years ago she told me, was relaxing. People went to the beach where they could go snorkeling underwater and see rainbows of color in the coral. It was hotter, but the bell of an ice-cream truck got kids to start running towards it. Winter, she describes, was snowy and dazzling. But children built snowmen. And they sipped hot rich chocolatey hot chocolate. A steaming chocolate sea. And autumn, where the leaves are almost every color: red, orange, yellow, some green, and yes, some even purple. You can see butterflies frolicking around then.
Not anymore. That was my grandmother’s time. That was 100 years ago. Literally. Today, the smoke in the air turned the skies hazy. The oils poured into the ocean turned the sea murky. The pollution everywhere has ruined the earth. Even after we have picked up after it, the soil remains rough and rocky. About 80% of every species of life is now extinct! Out of those, many are mutated via gene editing! Some of these have become grave dangers to mankind. We have caused our own havoc. Profiteering without caring for our fellow beings, or mother earth. Barely anything grows. Not even trees. Trees take in what we breathe out. But now we rarely see trees so that it has become that whenever someone sees one, they always take a picture to have its memory. Not enough food to grow, now. The animals are dying. Many have gone extinct. Even nematodes have become extinct. The hazy skies and murky waters and rocky soil have now been causing diseases. Even the flowers are wilted, saggy, and droopy, devoid of color and life. The Nabisco Syndrome was born. It was named after me as I discovered it.
You are probably wondering what exactly the Nabisco Syndrome is. Well, it is a loss of ability to recognize objects, persons, sounds, shapes, or smells while the specific sense is not defective nor is there any significant memory loss. It is usually associated with neurological illness, particularly after damage to the right parietal lobe. It is a rare degenerative disease, characterized by an acute onset of severe convulsions leading to rapid intellectual and bodily breakdown. Other traits are blindness, deafness, myoclonus, spasticity, choreoathetosis, cerebellar ataxia, growth retardation, plus terminal decortication. Almost half of the brain’s cells die.
Everything was dying. Scientists predict the sun will burst, destroying the earth anyways. But we are dying out around 400 million years before that assuming the prediction is correct. I can go on describing how woeful the planet earth now is. Hazy, misty, foggy, clouded, murky, overcast, smoggy, dreary, bleak, and so on and so forth. But then one day, I thought of an idea that would change the world. “Let’s take everyone and go to Mars. Soon after Dad’s death, I decided we needed to move to Mars. We didn’t have enough time on us to experiment and discover any new cures. “Are you crazy?” asked a colleague. “Well, it’s better to take a risk than let humankind go extinct!” I argued. We, scientists, debated for a day. Most of the scientists that worked under me agreed about are these 3 reasons: to ensure the survival of our species, to improve the quality of life on earth, and to grow as a species. The decision was finally unanimous among the scientists among my control!
The next day, we found ourselves announcing on all networks that we will be moving to Mars. And we organized practice rounds for all people who wished to join us. The company, Falcon built us tons of rockets, too. As we tried to fit into the rockets, an old man cried out, “I wish we could just fly to Mars on a luxurious plane. I wanted to survive this disease so I thought going to Mars would be a good idea… but I’m squished!” He elbowed the person next to him, very irritatingly. Luckily, the person next to him was cooperative. I talked to the uncooperative old man. “Listen, sir, please cooperate. Would you rather be a bit squished or die by this disease?” He walked away in anger.
Then, we continued our practice for our Mars trip. Of course, not everyone in the world came to our practice. But many did come from our city. When we were done with our orientation and practice round, I went to the park to collect some donations for our trip. Scientist Emma asked different countries for donations. And they were all sent to us! We assured them that we would definitely pick them up and send them to Mars when the time comes.
On April 2, we asked everyone to pack… we, scientists, were on T.V. talking in all languages of the world so everyone would understand. Then on April 21, we picked up our first batch of people for Mars. I remember counting throughout the day: “5… 4… 3… 2… 1…” At the end of the day, Mom and I ate dinner, packed quickly, and came back to the rockets. “Sigh!” It was our turn to go to Mars. As we settled into our seats, buckled up, and got our oxygen mask ready for when we leave the rocket and take foot on Mars, we heard a voice. “5… 4… oh wait, I almost forgot! Please wear your seatbelts and get your oxygen mask ready. Well, you have ten days so you could do it tomorrow. Now let me resume counting. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… blast off!” And off we soared, into the night sky.
Mom squeezed my hand. “Ten days?” she whispered. “Don’t worry,” I told her. But I was worried myself. I slowly closed my eyes and fell asleep. I dreamed that I was in a forest, and a paper plane whizzed by. The paper plane suddenly crashed into a boulder. I shuddered thinking it meant that our rocket ship was going to crash. Then, I dreamed that I heard a bear’s growl. It got louder and louder. Then I woke up.
But, I still heard the growl. “Did you hear that?” I asked Mom. She smiled. “You’re hungry.” So she handed me an apple. As I bit into it, I felt better. It turns out, I was hungry. Anyways, ten days passed and we reached Mars. When we got there, I put on my oxygen mask and handed Mom hers. After everyone put on their oxygen mask in the rocket ship, we stepped out.
An astronaut leaped toward us. “Let me show you to your domes for now,” he offered. We followed him into a white dome. “This is where you will stay right now...” he said, taking off his oxygen mask. “Well, take a look around… have a nice night.” He popped a baby carrot stick into his mouth, and put on his oxygen mask and headed outdoors. Soon, we found the beds and set up the blankets.
That night, Mom looked at me and said, “Did you see that? I think it was a red face.” “No, I didn’t see it.” I mumbled, sleepily. In the middle of the night, I heard Mom gasping. Her condition deteriorated swiftly. Then I saw aliens. In the room, though I didn’t know why. Four of them grabbed mom and took her away. All went dark and oblivious.
In the morning, something tickled my face. I opened my eyes… and shrieked. I had come face-to-face with a martian. Its red face was in the shape of an upside-down egg with three, black beady eyes, nostrils (not a nose) and a small mouth. It also had tentacles instead of feet.
After waking up, I put on my oxygen mask and headed outside. Martians were on a cliff and humans at the bottom. Suddenly, my friend, Professor Greenwald ran back to his dome. “Hat-way o-day ou-yana ant-way ere-hay?” asked one of the Martians, in the Martian language. Tim Greenwald ran back to us yelling, “I’ve got it! I know what they’re saying! Let me speak to them.” After a while, Professor Greenwald said, “They’ll let us live here if we promise them that we are friends.” he said. The alien muttered gibberish. Professor Greenwald nodded his head gravely. I whispered into his ear about what happened last night. Then I told him a plan. “All right.” he replied.
That night, Professor and I went to save Mom. We found her tied to kind of laser bonds that we haven’t seen before. But they weren’t hurting her. The aliens around her looked like they were trying to be helpful. They (somehow) removed the bonds and pushed her into a box-like thing. It was advanced technology that we haven’t seen before. A huge burst of light appeared in the box. Then out stepped Mom with mist at her feet. She looked about the same, except slightly more alien. And she didn’t need an oxygen mask. They had mutated her genes so she would be able to thrive on Mars as well as Earth. We thanked in our hearts, grabbed Mom and headed back to our domes.
The next day, the aliens were furious. Professor spoke up. And after 2 long hours of discussion, he said, “We’re friends! They’ll teach us how to survive on Mars! They forgave us!” Everyone cheered. Then the professor addressed me. “Anna, they were trying to save Fiona. She couldn’t breathe because the oxygen was reducing. They saved her life.” I looked at the aliens and smiled. Tim told the aliens, “He-say orgives-fay ou-yay. E-way ill-way ake-may eace-pay.” And the aliens nodded seeming pleased. After a few months, everyone had their genes mutated. We could live on Mars now. But of course, we tried to get back to earth. Not all of us at once. Remember, all of the people of Earth were here.
We built robots with help of Martians. From time to time for a decade, we kept sending these three types of robots to earth in a Galaxy ship. A Galaxy ship is basically a starship that the aliens had improved. It can fly five times faster its original speed. They communicated via satellites. The first type of robots was ‘Roboctopuses’. They had robotic tentacles. They helped care for marine life and the ocean. The second type was called ‘Nanobots’. They had robotic arms that were good for gardening, caring for the plant life, improving soil conditions and enhancing fertility. They had guns to shoot seeds into the soil. Lastly, we built ‘Dronogons’. They were flying drones that helped clean the air. All these robots, had the capabilities, using sensors to provide detailed real-time status of the life on earth, and they could make the right decisions to help plants grow. After another decade, we were convinced that Mother Earth was fast healing!
The data showed that the earth was recovering swiftly to its former glory! It was like springtime! Everything was springing back to life! The sky peppered with clouds and rivers of blue. Using the Galaxy ships, we traveled back to earth. Everything was aesthetic! Just like the photographs hundreds of years ago. Even better! Again we could see Mother Nature back on her heels, full of life and thriving. All the diseases disappeared; even the ones that existed 100 years ago! There were deer wandering in the meadows and colorful birds in the sky singing sweet songs as sweet as honey. Which brings us to the bees pollinating the plants. Everything was amazing. Of course, groups of people would travel back to Mars to visit the Martians. Just not the whole civilization. At Thanksgiving, we usually celebrate the friendship of the Pilgrims and the Indians. Now we celebrate the friendship of the Earthlings and the Martians! Now the earth is like an Utopia. But it is up to us to take care of it.
This is a story from the future. I am still a human… and part of me is alien. This story has traveled back in time for you to read. And a reminder that you should take care of the present.