Meeting Mars Teddy - Part 4

Mars Teddy I presume?

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Meet the relatives

Four floors later, Max vowed never to trust Teddy's counting ever again. Before he could complain, Teddy grabbed his arm and dragged him to stand in front of a display.

"There!" cried Teddy triumphantly.

"Where?" asked Max in utter confusion.

"Just wait," replied Teddy.

They were standing in front of a holo display. A glass panel stood next to the exhibit, its soft blue characters probably describing the events they were witnessing. The panel was entirely wasted, as neither Max nor Teddy could read the characters. The holo display showed a small clearing in a vibrant green forest. A spacesuit-clad figure was standing in front of a group of early humans. Mouths were moving, but there was no sound. The group obviously wasn't scared of whoever was in the spacesuit. They were smiling, and, as they turned to leave, they saluted with their spears. At this point, a small figure came into view.

"A teddy!" exclaimed Max.

"Exactly," smiled Teddy, "and with such a clear picture, it was easy to remember that part of The Knowledge."

"What use is The Knowledge if you have to know what you're looking for?" asked Max, confused.

"The Knowledge doesn't quite work like that. It's hard to explain. You have to remember we’re looking at a recording taken almost 10,000 years ago."

Max let out a low whistle. "I have trouble remembering what I did last week."

Teddy ignored the obvious exaggeration and continued. "Nearly 10,000 years ago, somewhere in eastern Anatolia, a teddy and their tribe met a delegation from Mars. Quite a lot went on, I haven't been able to decipher it all yet, but that spaceship also had a teddy crew member."

"From Mars?" asked Max, completely confused.

"It seems so," said Teddy, getting more and more enthusiastic. "So I searched the Knowledge and found something I couldn't have ever imagined possible; alien branches. The Knowledge might be full of them. Who knows how much more there is hidden away? It's like finding a secret tunnel connecting your library to another library that you didn't know existed!"

"Incredible," replied Max. "So have you..."

"Probably not," interrupted Teddy, "I'd need years searching through it to even begin to be able to put it together into a sensible history. But I did manage to track down one piece of information. I know where the surviving residents of this city are. We're going to the basement."

Without waiting for a response, Teddy turned around and ran off down the main stairs. Max groaned. If this civilisation had been so advanced, why hadn't they invented elevators?

Max followed Teddy down the steps. At least the main staircase was broad and felt safe. Sticking to the middle, Max avoided even the slightest twinge of vertigo. In the now empty hall behind them, the holo display played through the remainder of its recording. The tribe and their teddy disappeared into the forest. The figure in the spacesuit moved out of view. In the distance, a small blue robot on tank tracks chased after something too tiny to see.


Bottom Floor: Technology & Sleepwear

Max reached the ground floor a few steps behind Teddy.

"Oh, there you are. I was going to wait for you at the bottom of the stairs."

"Can you pretend you're still going to do that so I can have a rest, please?" implored Max.

"OK," replied Teddy, "I’ll wait at the bottom".

"I thought this was the bottom," thought Max forlornly. Fortunately for Max's weary legs, the bottom was only another four floors down.

Max arrived in the basement just as the lights started to spring into life, ignited by the trail of flickering sparks running up the wall. Teddy stood at the bottom of the trail of sparks, looking immensely pleased. Stretching out in front of them were rows and rows of metal pods, large eggs sitting on pedestals, each egg a perfect replica of its neighbours. If there was any way of telling them apart, it wasn't obvious.

"What do you think those are Teddy? Cryo pods?" Max was whispering but didn’t quite know why.

"That's exactly what they are, Max, though I think they're a bit more advanced than anything we have on Earth. They'd have to be to keep everyone alive for ten thousand years. You don't have to whisper, by the way, we're in someone's bedroom but I don't think we'll wake anyone."

"Do you think they're all occupied?" Asked Max in a slightly nervous tone only just louder than a whisper. "What happens if they all wake up at once and decide they don't like strangers running around in here?"

"I really don't think that will be an issue, it takes a long time to wake up when you've been asleep for so long, and only one of them has started to. We should go and give them a hand getting out."

An alarm started ringing somewhere in the distance, and one of the metal pods began to glow bright yellow. There wasn't much doubt about where they were heading.

Even with such an obvious marker, it was difficult not to get lost passing between the rows of identical pods. After many wrong turns, they finally reached their destination, where they found a cross looking teddy beating on a control panel.

Mars Teddy

"It really wasn't funny to set that alarm so loud. When I find which one of you… oh, hello!" exclaimed the teddy, interrupted mid-mutter by the somewhat unexpected sight of two visitors in spacesuits.

"You weren't here last time I got up to check on everybody."

It raised an arm close to its face, peered at it. Tried to focus. Gave up. Shook its arm vigorously and stared at it again.

"Three thousand years ago."

"Give or take."

"I think."

"My cron might be on the blink."

"Oh, hang on, you'refrom Earth, aren't you?"

"This is so great. The last time I checked on you, you were just getting ready to build some big stone tombs. Well, I don't suppose you were, probably some of your ancestors. You have such an interesting little rock. I really did like it, especially…"

At that moment, the talkative teddy realised it wasn't the only teddy in the room. It paused for half a heartbeat, then threw itself at Teddy.

It was as though someone had hit the new teddy's off switch. It didn't speak or move from where it stood, hugging Teddy, who, Max noticed with some alarm, was also not moving at all.

Minutes passed, and just as Max was really beginning to worry, both teddys leapt apart, excitedly talking over the top of each other. It was utterly impossible to untangle what either was saying.

Max stood back as they kept talking and talking and talking and talking. They just kept going; it was amazing. Long after the point when Max thought he couldn't take it anymore, they both stopped.

The new teddy smiled at Max. "Sorry, Teddy and I had quite a lot to catch up on. In case you missed it, when I visit Earth, I'm usually called Mars Teddy. It's a pleasure to meet you, Max."

Before Max had a chance to respond, Mars Teddy wobbled on its feet, then collapsed. "I think I need to sit down now," said Mars Teddy, passing out on the floor.

So that is the story of how humans first discovered intelligent (and extremely talkative) life on another planet. We should probably ignore the fact that it had found us first, at a time in our evolution when sharp sticks were one of our better inventions.

Not that there has ever been anything wrong with sharp sticks, used responsibly, of course. They put dinner in bellies and warded off all manner of overly inquisitive predators. They were also pretty useful for walking with, leaning on, and maintaining a safe distance when you wanted to poke something.

Sharp sticks are pretty great really. Let's not be too quick to judge people (and teddys) of the past just because their most significant technological achievement happened to be sharp sticks. Mars Teddy thought humans were alright back then, and it was a pretty good judge of such things.

End of Meeting Mars Teddy

Meeting Mars Teddy

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Back to Stories