A Martian Odyssey
|"A Martian Odyssey"|
|Media type||Print (|
|Publication date||July 1934|
"A Martian Odyssey" is a
Early in the 21st century, nearly twenty years after the invention of
Upon reaching Xanthus, a desert region outside the Mare Cimmerium, Jarvis and Tweel find a line of small pyramids tens of thousands of years old made of
As the two approach a
As Jarvis and Tweel approach a city on the canal bank, they are passed by a barrel-like creature with four legs, four arms, and a circle of eyes around its waist. The barrel creature is pushing an empty, coppery cart; it pays no attention to Jarvis and Tweel as it goes by them. Another goes by, then a third. Jarvis stands in front of the third, which stops. Jarvis says, "We are friends," and the cart creature repeats the phrase from a diaphragm atop its body, "We are v-r-r-riends," before pushing past him. The next cart creature repeats the phrase as it goes by, and the next.
Eventually the cart creatures start returning to the city with their carts full of stones, sand, and chunks of rubbery plants. Jarvis stands in front of one and refuses to move. The cart creature tweaks his nose hard enough to make him jump aside and yell "Ouch". After that, every cart creature that passes by says "We are v-r-r-riends! Ouch!"
Jarvis and Tweel follow the cart creatures to their destination, a mound with a tunnel leading down below it. Jarvis soon becomes lost in the network of tunnels, and hours or days pass before he and Tweel find themselves in a domed chamber near the surface. There they find the cart creatures depositing their loads beneath a wheel that grinds the stones and plants into dust. Some of the cart creatures also step under the wheel themselves and are pulverized. Beyond the wheel is a shining crystal on a pedestal. When Jarvis approaches it he feels a tingling in his hands and face, and a wart on his left thumb dries up and falls off. He speculates that the crystal emits some form of
The cart creatures suddenly begin attacking Jarvis and Tweel, who retreat up a corridor which fortunately leads outside. The cart creatures corner them and, rather than save himself, Tweel stays by Jarvis' side facing certain death. The cart creatures are about to finish them off when an auxiliary rocket from the Ares lands, destroying the creatures. Jarvis boards the rocket while Tweel bounds away into the Martian horizon. The rocket returns with Jarvis to the Ares, and he tells his story to the other three. Jarvis is preoccupied with recalling the friendship and bond between Tweel and himself when Captain Harrison expresses regret that they do not have the healing crystal. Jarvis admits that the cart creatures were attacking him because he took it; he takes it out and shows it to the others.