The Martians were keen to show them around the planet.
They arranged a day out for them at Cydonia. There they saw a big five-sided pyramid, plus of course the famous Mars Face. This, as you know, is a huge rocky mound like the Sphinx in Egypt, except its face is turned up towards the sky. The Martians explained that they’d built it a long time ago, as a message to Earth, just to say “Hi, we know you’re there.” The Martians hadn’t been at all certain there really was intelligent life on Earth. Some said there was, some said there wasn’t. But they all agreed that if there was, it would be rude not to say hello.
The Martians gave Dyspepsia, Spookie and Chuck a lovely holiday, but all too soon it was time to go home. The beam had been moved to the North Pole and switched back on and was making a hot patch on the ground beside the spacecraft. They’d been careful not to shine the beam directly on the spacecraft because that would have made it too hot inside when it came time to take off.
The night before take-off, Chuck hopped on the motorbike. He said he had a little job to do and would be back in the morning. After he’d gone, Spookie noticed that he’d taken his backpack with him. All of a sudden she remembered what was in the backpack. She couldn’t sleep all night, and lay there worrying. She woke Dyspepsia up and told her about the nuke which Chuck had secretly brought along. Dyspepsia wanted to know why Spookie hadn’t told her before. Spookie said she forgot.
“How could you forget something like that?” said Dyspepsia. “It could be important.”
Spookie shrugged and said she was sorry.
“I wonder if President Lacey Lee knew about it?” said Dyspepsia.
Almost certainly not, thought Spookie. She wouldn’t have agreed to it.
“If I’d known about it before we set off, I’d have phoned her up and asked her,” said Dyspepsia.
“That wouldn’t have been clever,” said Spookie. “I know what I’d have done if I was her. I’d have sent two helicopters full of rough tough Navy Seals to bag the bomb and sort everyone out. If you were President of the USA you couldn’t just let a nuclear bomb go walkabout, whatever excuses people tried to dump on you.”
Dyspepsia agreed she wouldn’t have wanted that to happen. Perhaps it was a good thing she hadn’t known.
So for the rest of the night they both lay awake worrying.
When morning came, Chuck was back on his motorbike, all smiles, pretending nothing out of the ordinary was taking place.
“Where’s your backpack?” said Spookie.
“Let’s just get back to Earth,” he said.
But just as the spacecraft was taking off, they saw the horizon light up with an enormous flash. “We know what that was,” said Dyspepsia. “What have you done—and why did you do it?”
But Chuck wasn’t telling.
…to be continued.