Martin Coswell : April 8, 2151
Detective Log: Mars 1
It’s better to be a wolf than a sheep, but I like the sheep dog—the descendants of wolves. That’s what I am. When the wolves come, I stand up for the sheep and I chase the wolves off. They are looking for a meal and not a fight. They run when they see that I won’t be shaken, and I run after them.
People don’t know how to protect themselves from wolves. Society in the twenty-second century has turned them into passive sheep who think that nothing can go wrong, and that the great civilization and benefactor will protect them. That day that they find out different, and the wolf comes charging into their particular field, they run and the wolf takes his fill. It never occurs to them that the wolf can be defeated. They run scared, and they run hard. They scatter, and the wolf takes some. I don’t think that the wolf should get away with it. I believe the wolf should be killed. I’m Martin Coswell, and that’s why I’m on Mars.
I came in on the morning saucer. Landing on Mars was different. On mars they use an inflatable heat shield that rides down on the atmosphere. Once the the landing vehicle slows down enough, the heat shield releases on cables and becomes a drag shute. After more speed is reduced, the shute retracts and inflates into a saucer shape with computer control surfaces on its aerodynamic skin. The result is one of the smoothest re-entries that I’ve ever experienced. I watched the monitor screens on the ceiling of the passenger compartment, which showed our ship from the ground station as we made the approach. The silver skin, surrounding the super pressurized carbon dioxide glinted in the weak Martian sun. We came silently gliding in, looking for all the worlds like a UFO out of a 1950’s B-rated movie. Even if we had not landed so smoothly on the glassy surface of the melted Martian regolith, we would have bounced airbag-like until we came to a stop. The redundancy of the design was elegant, perhaps the product of previous bad experiences. Whatever the inspiration for the aerospace architecture, I enjoyed every moment of the ride. I only thought about a fiery death a couple of times, which is a new record for me.
I made contact at the space port with Constable Broderick, the local fuzz and the man working the recent slew of murders on mars that are being attributed to the first Martian serial killer in the history of the colony. That’s why I was here. To investigate and apprehend the suspect.
Broderick led me down inside police headquarters to his office. Interestingly, I found it hard to remember that we were tens of meters below ground, because the halls and windows of the offices all had hires video of downtown Olympus as if we were towering above the city streets and looking down on the live cityscape. Broderick had a fake corner office with two walls of such windows. The pale sun of Mars was setting on the dusty orange horizon when he invited me to sit in a comfortable chair across from his desk.
“Welcome to Mars.” He shook my hand and we both sat down.
He had a firm grip, but the skin was soft. No callouses. He’s about fifty, greying hair, and slight of build. His face has long lines in it. Not the laugh lines that you see in happy people. No, these are the ones you’d get if you spent your life worrying and somber. And the eyes pretty much told that story: they were serious and dull grey, not one spark of life in them. A cold and calculating gun-metal grey.
“Well,” he sighed, letting air escape in a long tired gasp. “This is pretty much what we’ve been dealing with here.” His long thin hands pushed a folder across the table.
I took it and slid the screen aside on the top. It lit up and I paged through the photos that appeared, one after the other in all thirty six gruesome scenes. Death has always been a part of Martian society, since day one of the colony, but it’s always been the planet trying to kill the Martians, not one of their own. Now there’s a killer here, blending in somehow in a way that’s eluded all attempts to find him.
“OIS said that you might know the perpetrator.” Broderick’s grey eyes bored into me, asking questions that remained unexpressed, but I could feel myself giving some of the answers in my face and body language. The inspector was gathering evidence in every glance.
“Maybe, and maybe it’s just some Martian gone psycho,” I said.
“Why now? Why wait. The colony was established in 2105, and in the last forty six years we have not had even one murder.”
“That seems very utopian, Constable. Plenty of accidents though right?”
“Yes, we have had our share of accidents, and even some mysterious ones, but murder has never been proven.”
“That’s not too good for job security,” I said.
Broderick’s face remained grave, the lines as deep as ever. “We have plenty of other problems to deal with, without adding murderers to the list.”
“Theft, vandalism, and plenty of rape. It’s a lonely place, Martin. Martians may not have an affinity for killing, but they aren’t angelic.”
I glanced at the photo spread, and thought, No. They aren’t.
I left the constable sitting in his office and headed back to my hotel for the evening. Tomorrow we’ve got a meeting with one of the prime suspects. He’s accused of murdering his own wife, but the M.O. is consistent with the serial killings. I haven’t even talked with him yet, but I’ve a hunch he’s not our man.
So that’s why you bastards at OIS sent me here. You think that I know this killer. Let’s hope I get close enough to find out without getting myself killed.
I’ll keep this file updated as per regulations. But don’t expect me to follow protocol. You know I’ve never been good at that shit.