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The Truth

I had to swear an oath never to tell anybody about it. I am going to keep this oath. This may sound strange, as I will write down what I found out. I will even add all the documents I found and kept secret so far, so you will know I tell nothing but the truth.

Somebody will find this when I am dead and he or she will not be bound to this oath.

They offered me money, everything I could ever wish for would be mine, so they said. Though this is not the reason why I’ll keep quiet. No, the threats against the people who are dear to me convinced me in the end. Nothing else. I do not tell you this, because I am concerned about my reputation, God knows. A dead man does not have a reputation to worry about — or has he? I do not think so.

Anyway, before you begin to think I am just an old waffler who does not really have anything to tell, I will start my story.

Two years ago I was part of an expedition to Mars. This was the first time they sent men and women in the shuttle. Every member of the crew — five men and seven women — were chosen because they had a special skill. I am very good with languages. Not just that I speak seven languages fluently, I am also skilled in all commonly used programming languages. It is not that different to learn a programming or a normal languages, it is just a matter of understanding a general concept. My other advantage is that I had a formal training in coding, decoding and encrypting messages in the army.

The others were a historian, a biologist, a geologist, a mathematician, who was also a professor of physics, a chemist, a philosopher, a sociologist, a psychologist, a professor of anthropology, a doctor and a biochemist. We all were of good health and quite young. This was fairly important as the journey to Mars takes — even with the new shuttle — three years. To study everything which could be of use for the planned civilization of Mars, we were supposed to stay three years.

Actually we left after five years and every single year was worth it. Don’t misunderstand me, I really enjoyed the trip. Mars is nothing like most people expect it to be. Of course, there had been strong winds, stronger than you can even start to imagine. The kind that just blows anything away to nowhere. True, that there had been short summers and long, freezing winters. The winters are still cold and the summers are not very long, not yet. But during the five years we have been there — living most of the time under the surface — we all did our best to prepare Mars for mankind.

We — or better the biologist and the chemist — started with carefully planted micro organisms in the big water reservoirs below Mars’ surface. Myself and the others didn’t have very much to do other than thinking about the sense of life in general, eating food which came out of a purposely designed machine and, of course, considering the events back on Earth. This soon became boring so we began to explore the, as yet, uncharted surface of the planet, but Mars was still as hostile as its name suggests. So we finally looked for other ways, preferably under the surface where the vulcanos had created a rather pleasant and warm climate.

Yes, you guessed correctly, we stayed in the area of the Elysium Plateau. I’ll never forget my last gaze of Mars. — I had always liked its eroded desertlike look, but when we left it did not look had welcomed us five years earlier. It wasn’t an oasis, but it still could become one, in another fifty years or so. The ice was melting and the bio-organisms did their part to strengthen the atmosphere. The winds were decreasing in their strength and you could already see what there will be one day. What could have been, I better say. I am not so sure anymore that Mars ever will be civilized, not after my discovery.

That’s the reason why I had to swear this oath, never to tell anybody ... Never! How could I not let people know? Manhood has a right to know. I had always understood that science is for the people and so are the governments in democratic countries. So they should be! Since then I’ve learned they are not, otherwise I wouldn’t sit here writing about all this. I would give interviews on TV and probably prepare another trip to Mars to find out more.

However, things are as they are. I am going to tell this story — literally from the grave — and the dead speak the truth as they say. [...]

Copyright, Sybille Sterk 2002, 2003
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