Two scenarios on a premise by John Thiel:
Life had existed on the outer planets but had not lasted longer than the year 1 CE. Earth seemed to be the only survivor of this mysterious judgment.
Perhaps there is a meaning in that mass extinction...
On 21st-century Earth, a reporter for a supermarket tabloid journeys to Mt. Ararat to interview a crackpot searching for Noah's Ark. While reviewing photographs he has taken all around the mountain, the reporter notices some strange, oblong shapes.
He is secretly incarcerated and his photographs confiscated by the CIA. Meanwhile, government scientists scrape at the half-exposed cylinders: "Alloys unknown to Earth science!" they exclaim, looking guiltily over their shoulders to make sure no clandestine ears or science-fiction film writers are listening.
But it is true. Astonishingly, DNA testing is what provides the key clue to the origin of the mysterious cylinders. Centuries of painstaking scientific detective work eventually reveals that all life in the Solar System is a unity; it had originated on an unknown planet and was descended from a single ancestor. Aliens from Pluto had evolved into the tubular "worms" of undersea vents, undoubtedly seeking a warmer abode. The primordial ancestors of dolphins had flown in from Mars, for the water. In some prehistoric form, Arctic seals had come from Venus, for a cool breath of fresh air.
Future exolinguists were finally able to ask these noble creatures: "Why did your ancestors come here?" The answer was always the same and eerily reminiscent of humanity's history at an early stage: "Legend has it that our early ancestors worshipped a rather ill-tempered deity. When they acted really, really bad, the deity got totally ticked off and punished them. Pluto was tossed into a far orbit and froze. Mars dried up. Venus was made too hot. Some of us were allowed to escape to Earth on ships we called 'arks'."
When asked why the same thing had not yet happened on Earth, they answered only, "We think the lesson is clear."
Perhaps the extinction wasn't so massive, after all. And parallel evolution may create strange coincidences. The first scenario was no picnic; this one is.
In the far, far future, a new technological society emerges on Earth, one not based primarily on metals. Verdigris, chief coordinator for spaceflight, surveys his crew's handiwork: "Balloons in place... supplies... habitats... all is green. Let us waft into the stratosphere and thence beyond, through space, to bring verdant life to our rusty neighbour, Mars." And so the intrepid pioneers set forth on a long and leafy cruise between planets.
One fine Martian day, some evolved lichens sleepily extend ocular pseudopods to witness a long series of strange objects descend gently onto the surface of their planet.
"Spaceships!" exclaims a lichen telepathically. "Truly something out of Bewildering Stories!"
"But dig that strange green color. Not unlike that of the photosynthesizing aliens that Heinchen imagined in 'Red Hummocks of Mars.'"
The lichens ogle with fascinated orbs as strangely mobile creatures emerge from the alien vessels.
"Do you think they'll be friendly? Or bug-eyed monsters who'll want to enslave or eat us?"
"You still haven't gotten over Bearson Waterhole's 'Invasion from Earth,' have you? Where are the shovels? The sharp and scrapy tools, the fire-breathing insects?"
The lichens goggle attentively as the aliens seem to stretch their spindly appendages and then set about spreading a strange surface on the ground.
"They brought their own lichen? Aww..."
"No, it's some kind of fiber. And what is in those objects..." A lichen strained telepathically. "I can make out a word: 'bass-kits.' And the aliens are in need of sustenance. One of them in particular..."
At that moment, one of the newly arrived Earthbeings wandered over to a spaceship, broke off a piece, put it to an orifice and started to munch.
Copyright © 2002 by Don Webb