Zealotry

Author : Bob Newbell

As the sun went down over the giant dome that covered Mesogaea on Mars, moisture condensed on the dome’s inner surface. Soon, it was raining over the enclosed metropolis. Detective Vogt had read that rain was common on Earth before the Great Asteroid Collision. But he knew the cities of ancient Earth had been opened to the sky and so he felt certain that terrestrial rain was just another of the thousand myths that existed about humanity’s ancestral home.

Vogt marched down the hall of the police station to the interrogation room. At last, they’d captured one of the militant Gagarinists. Two police officers handcuffed a thin man to a chair and left Vogt in the room alone with him. Vogt sat down in the chair opposite the man.

“So, Mr.” — Vogt glanced at the datawriter on the table — “Corlew. I understand that–”

“I won’t tell you anything!” the prisoner interjected. “I won’t be here very long anyway.”

“You’re being detained without bail,” replied Vogt. As soon as he’d said it, he realized he had misinterpreted Corlew’s statement. “Oh,” continued Vogt, “you meant you won’t be on Mars very long.”

“Today is the day!” Corlew said giddily. “It’s been a thousand years!”

“A thousand Earth years?” asked Vogt.

“A thousand years!” insisted Corlew. “Today is April 12th, 2961! One millennium to the day that the Blessed Gagarin ascended into space.”

“The date is 21 Libra 718,” Vogt said flatly.

“The Martian calendar doesn’t matter,” replied Corlew defiantly.

Vogt ignored that. “Only archaeologists go to Earth. It’s uninhabitable.”

“Unbeliever!” screamed Corlew. “The Blessed Gagarin will renew the Earth and his acolyte, Neil of the Strong Arm, will transport the faithful there in a giant leap!”

Corlew struggled in vain against his restraints.

“I don’t care about your Earth cult, Corlew,” said Vogt. “I care about the claims some of your fellow Gagarinists made about planting bombs in several cities around the world.”

“People don’t belong here,” Corlew replied. “Is it natural to have to live under giant domes or underground? Is it right for children to grow up in a world with a pink sky instead of a blue one?”

“A lot of those children won’t get to grow up at all if your friends succeed in carrying out their threats.”

Corlew seemed to consider Vogt’s words. He ceased struggling against his restraints and sat back in the chair. “Alright,” said Corlew at last. “It won’t make any difference.” He looked at the clock on the wall. “The faithful will be on Earth any moment now anyway. I overheard Costa and Reddy talking about planting a–”

There was a low rumbling sound in the distance. The rain was now falling at a sharp eastward angle instead of straight down. The building’s centuries-old emergency bulkheads slammed down as the sound of dozens of decompression alarms overlapped each other.

Vogt tapped furiously on the datawriter. Pavonis Mons, Schiaparelli, Solis Planum, over a dozen others: the ring of domed cities that belted the Red Planet was bleeding atmosphere from a score of wounds.

Corlew turned pale. “I shouldn’t still be here,” he muttered.

From out in the corridor, a hundred voices roared. A few were police officers trying to restore calm, most were enraged civilians demanding that the Gagarinist be handed over to them. There was a violent pounding at the interrogation room door.

Vogt drew his pistol and aimed it at the door. “You didn’t want to live on Mars,” he said over his shoulder to Corlew. “Looks like you’re going to get your wish.”

3 Comments

  1. wothbora

    Very nice tie-in with the date… Of course this nerd had to look it up to verify that Gagarin was Yuri. Awesome corruption of language with “Neil of the Strong Arm” was great as well.

  2. Jae

    “Neil of the Strong Arm”. Classic.

    Fun piece.

  3. SimonJM

    Guessed where it was heading, but a nice read.

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