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       Snow Wonder, p.2

           Michael Carter
 
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  Fourth Spiral Arm

 

  Radio Comm. No. 67538578539b

  16th March, 2413 [unrecieved by recipient]

  Essex,

  You must leave Wampet 6, or death will take you all. I have had our best men researching your predicament and we have found some strange truths. It seems that there is already an account of sentient rock on the planet Cradless, mere light-years from the Wampet system. The report says that an unmanned probe landed there back in 2274, and during the darkness it was covered and eventually usurped by the very earth itself. Sensory reports suggest that the very soil, the ground itself was alive, and that it made itself known only in darkness. Our best brains believe that, get this Essex, the ground of Cradless was annoyed that our probe [and you know how big they can be] had blocked the sunlight from getting to it, had created a shadow over a large patch of the earth. We believe that such primitive yet undeniably sentient life had somehow deified the sunlight. As with Wampet 6, on Cradless there was nothing else but rock, earth and dust. There was nothing superior to the living earth itself for this proto-life to worship, so it chose to have the sun, or perhaps just the sunlight, as its God. When our probe got in the way, obviously, something had to be done.

  You must leave, Essex, immediately on receiving this communique’. We believe that the snow, bizzarely, may have deified the sunlight, and when night falls it is slowly getting rid of the threat which blocks out contact with its God. It is possible that, the one night you did not lose a man, this was somehow a day, or rather a night, of rest, when any movement, "work" or anything of that sort was religiously disallowed. Like Sundays used to be like, here on Earth.

  Wampet 6 is deadly, my cousin. Leave immediately; there will be no ugly red tape when you return and your mission will be garnered a success. At least we know to avoid the place in the future. You may even get that promotion you`re after, for services rendered.

  And Essex, belie the order to bring back a sample of the snow and the bush. You must not allow any of it inside your ship, especially if you are returning home. We have no idea how sentient snow would react if brought to the Earth. Just get inside your booths, and come home. Quickly.

  I will see you soon, and the dinner-party will be full of your favourite dishes.

  Hurry home,

  Major Reggie Thewliss.

 

  Major Reginald Thewlis

  Dragonfly Hotel

  Militario

  Durham

  England

 

  Radio Comm. No. 246637684a

  Captain Peter Thewlis-McGrain

  Suite 14

  Militia Grand Lounge

  London

  England

 

  Radio Comm. No. 25468df

  21st June, 2413

  Dear Grandfather,

  It was nice to see you again last month, but I constantly worry about your health. I regret deeply that I cannot disclose this news in person, but the war effort is taking all of my time.

  Your grandson and my cousin, Essex, I am sorry, is dead. You may remember me telling you about his recent escapades on Wampet 6 and his imminent return. Well, it is three days ago now that the Noble Steed landed safely at our Yorkshire spacestrip. It appears to have autopiloted for most of its journey, and had only three remaining crew members aboard. Sadly, the other fourteen are believed to have perished on Wampet 6.

  I am afraid my tale worsens, as there are no bodily remains of Essex to be buried or mourned over. All that we discovered, and do not think me sardonic or uncaring, in a cryobooth with Essex`s personal belongings in it, was a limbless greenish figure built from the snow that Essex had unwittingly brought on board. Grandfather, it brings me no sarcastic joy to tell you that the figures face was a parody of my beloved cousin, and that, otherwise featureless, it bore a lunky jaw and a twisted nose, somehow moulded from the snow.

  I apologise for the shock, and for the frankness and brevity of this letter, but all my time is being sucked into the war with the omnivores.

  Lots of love, and my regrets and sorrow.

  Major Reginald Thewliss

 

  [2800 words: 3/3/03]

 
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