by Anthony McColgan
Sean liked to use his lunch breaks to watch the construction of Dome Six. When he was really young, his parents had taken him and his sister to a parade to celebrate the opening of Dome Five. He didn’t remember it, but his mother always talked about how much he loved it and how he kept asking for weeks after if they were going to move there. Dome Six was supposed to open a decade from now, if the council was to be believed. Of course, they weren’t. Even Martian politicians were politicians.
You could get a good look at the construction from the food court, which bordered the perimeter of Dome Four where Sean worked at a hospital. He could see the artisans in full environmental suits working on the beams that would make up the first circle of support.
Sean had thought about going into construction before he went to college. It was a romantic job, dangerous with good hazard pay. But the certification took five years of on-the-job training and that meant five years of paying union dues and going on strike whenever everyone else wasn’t happy. He went into medicine instead, which was a good market to get into. The third generation of Martians would be looking into retirement soon, and they had been the largest population boom for the planet since the first colonist showed up. He had become a nurse, good pay without the unions.
He was enjoying his last few minutes on break when he felt a finger tap his shoulder.
“Excuse me, man,” a voice behind him said in a forced accent.
Sean knew who it was before he turned around. It was getting close to the eighth and they were out in force trying to convert some non-believers before the holiday hit.
“Man?” the voice said as the tapping got more insistent. Sean sighed and turned around.
There were three of them, all dressed in “religious garb,” which for them meant multicolored unitards and catsuits. Usually, it was their hair that gave them away as they went to great lengths to keep it a vibrant hue of whatever color they chose. But today it was the large moons painted on their foreheads for the upcoming holiday that was the most striking.
“You digging the building?” the one who got his attention asked. “It’s cool and all, but you know it’s not really them who let us live here.”
Sean looked past the three to the exit of the food court. They formed a triangle around him, so no matter which way he tried to go they could cut him off. He weighed whether it would be easier to push through them or let them talk themselves out. The one standing directly in front of him took his silence as an interest in what they had to say.
“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard some things about us, but a lot of it gets screwed up by the media, man.”
“The television man is crazy,” said the one on the left.
“Says we’re all juvenile delinquent wrecks,” said the one on the right.
Scripture, thought Sean.
“Well,” the one at the front continued. “Everything that the council and the engineers claim came from their plans was prophesied before we even colonized Earth’s moon, man. The people were told of the struggle to come as we left our home world.”
“For here are we sitting in our tin can,” said the one on the right.
“Far above the world,” said the one on the left.
“No kidding,” said Sean.
“He knew we would struggle, but he wanted us to get here. Wants us to go further too, get up on his level.”
“He’d like to come and meet us,” said the one on the left.
“But he thinks he’d blow our minds,” said the one on the right.
“Fascinating,” said Sean.
“But hey, man,” the one in the front said, raising his hands as if showing he didn’t want to fight. “I’m just a messenger, spreading the word of The Duke. It’s all here.”
He reached into a bag he was carrying and pulled out a book printed on pulp paper. The image on the front was their major symbol, the white-skinned messiah with eyes closed and some strange slug attached to his clavicle. Sean took it and put it in his back pocket.
“Yeah,” Sean said with the eagerness that comes with the need to leave. “I’ll give it some thought.”
“Right on, man. Right on.” said the one in the front. “We’re having a big get together next Wednesday, but there’s always someone at the temple down in Dome Three.”
“Walk on by,” said the one on the right.
“Get to the church on time,” said the one on the left.
With that, the three broke off and went up to a woman who was just sitting down for lunch. Sean could just make out the “Hey man” of the leader before he tuned it out and checked the time.
He had another minute before he’d be late. He looked out again at the construction.
People built that, he thought as he looked over to the lady smiling and nodding politely at the three. He said, “People got us here, built and manned the rockets, poured their lives into making it work.”
He walked out of the food court and started a slow jog back to the hospital. He knew it shouldn’t bother him, but the nerve, taking credit from real people and giving it to some fake deity.
“How do you look at everything man has accomplished and still believe in David Bowie?”
Anthony McColgan is an English teacher, entertainment journalist, and science fiction writer from Boston Massachusetts. His work can be found at www.mmfiction.com