[Record Button On]

Note: This short story was my entry in the Shaastra Science Fiction Writing Contest, and it won 2nd place in the Short Sketch Writing Category. However, I was soon to realize that there is no prize for 2nd place.

——————————————————————————————————————–

[Record button on.]

“Hello! I hope my voice is clear. This microphone is so tiny I doubt if I can adjust it in any way.”

(Static, then silence.)

“Today is the 28th of September, 2035. This is Captain Sharma, in the Martian sands. The atmospheric temperature is approximately 42 degrees Celsius below zero. This is our first attempt to locate and recover the 20 different Mars rovers that have been lost in these wastelands after having landed here. I am near the predicted approximate location of the Opportunity rover, with which all communication was lost 26 years ago.”

“The mystery of what happened to all of those rovers is, as of now, unsolved. Many people have come up with theories about why all contact was simultaneously severed with them. Today, we attempt an answer to that question.”

“Did you record that, Yuri? Good, store it.”

(Footsteps.)

“The Martian surface is much like conditions simulated in the testing area- there seem to be no major surprises. Wait- the sand in this part is rather interesting; it appears significantly less grainy than elsewhere, besides having a darker red colour. Such sands have never been reported from Mars before. Are you receiving the visual feed, Yuri? OK.”

“The sand here is extremely loose and happens to be unlike anything on –AAAAAAAH!”

(Thud. Static.)

“Uggh! Yuri. YURI! Do you hear me? Ah, thank god you can. I seem to have fallen down through the loose sand. Don’t lose track of my location, I may need you or John to come down here and rescue me.”

(Tapping sounds.)

“(Gasp) My god! I think I have stumbled upon an advanced civilization below the surface! This is astounding, I’ve never seen anything quite like this, it’s- it’s wonderful! This mission is giving me goose bumps all over again; it’s like my first flight training at the Indian Air Force, all those years ago in 2008.”

“Yuri, are you getting this visual feed?”

“WHAT? The feed isn’t coming through? But this is a huge discovery, the discovery of the century. We have to get this.”

“Alright, nevermind- I’ll record this and bring it back to the capsule.”

(Static.)

“I wonder what all of these devices are for. There seems to be a rather large collection of advanced alien technology here, but I can’t find any aliens.”

“No, wait! I’ve seen this before, this device- in fact, all of these. I’ve seen these somewhere. This is all high tech equipment for manufacturing robots and stuff, I’m sure. I might just have stumbled upon a Martian robotics workshop! Wow!”

“Yuri, this is a glorious find- we’re going to be more famous than Armstrong’s crew! These devices are astonishingly similar to the ones I’ve seen on earth. In fact, I saw these sorts of things at NASA, in the Jet Propulsion Lab where they manufacture rovers.”

“Wait, this thing here has something written on it- whoa, it’s in English! I wonder if Martians evolved the same way as we did. This is massive; it’s such a big discovery!”

(Silence.)

“Yuri, this cannot be a coincidence. I have a very bad feeling about it. I want to get out of here now. Yuri! I need you, answer me! Are you alright, are you still there? John, what’s going on? Oh, please, don’t do this to me- say something!”

(Sudden noises, the buzz of electric engines.)

“No, stop! No, please, DON’T! Yuri, do something, help me! It’s them – it’s the Mars Rovers! Help- there’s a hundred of them, they’re surrounding me. No, no, no- they’re coming after me, help me, they’re evil! They have screwdrivers, they’ve got soldering irons! They’ll kill me with their screwdrivers!”

(Rapid footsteps, sounds of a struggle. Thud.)

“Ugh! Not the hacksaw, no- AAAARGHH- MY HAND! Help, they’re coming at me! Save me, they’re going to drill a hole through- AAAAAAR- no, not over there, don’t cut me over-”

(Static.)

“CADET SHARMA! Stop fiddling with your flight suit’s recording equipment and GET BACK to your training!”

“Sir, Yes Sir!”

“And drop down and give me 30 push ups before you go.”

“Sir, Yes Sir!”

[Record button off.]

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