Most of the city was built on stilts. The red Martian soil spread below on a grid of farmland. Workers descended to the surface by elevator, and sunlight stroked the ground through rotating glass pyramids that spread the light across the land like sprinkle heads rotating water across the earth.
The skyscrapers were curved and oblong shaped like anthills drooping in the sun. I liked to call Martian architecture “Poopsicles.” Windows dotted along the sides, and a mouth opened beneath the curve to allow vessels passage. Train tracks curved around, up, down and through the buildings like roller coasters. Some walkways followed the tracks, but the other walkways were curved ramps, slides and sidewalks that were layered like stacked rubber bands.
A few people moved along the walkways, mostly Martian businessmen conversing seriously about matters. There were fewer Martians than I expected. I imagined that their people were nestled below the surface, hiding and conspiring underground, waiting for their opportunity to spring out of the ground and kidnap bystanders like Morlocks.
Martians were as diverse as Earth’s people, all makes and colors of species. Gangly arms dangled from their shoulders as they slouched in their walks on wobbly knees. Almond eyes stared like blind sunglasses. They were mixed with scales, sharp teeth, tentacles, fins and long snouts.
Most of the buildings on the first level were bureaucracies, separated by glass dividers and signs with long names in many languages. Unlike Humans, Martians abhorred acronyms, so everything was spelled out, but we still couldn’t understand the meaning of the word groupings. “Office of General Assembly and Court,” “System of Interstellar Population Authority,” “Department of Conference and Ideas,” “Census Depot of Demographic Viability,” “Bureau of Labor Contracts for Children Services.”
We circled the complex of buildings and then followed the walkways to adjoining buildings. It was an endless maze that traveled in circles. Twice, we ended up in Citadel’s lobby. After the third time, the concierge encouraged us to rent a room. He was happy to help and did not seem afraid to be bitten. I didn’t think anyone recognized us as Vampires, or they didn’t care. It must have seemed odd, a parade of races traipsing in circles like an impromptu hike.
I was a little embarrassed that I couldn’t find the correct immigration office. We stood in several different lines until I translated the word groupings, and we moved on. I even returned to one line because I thought I made a mistake. My ears and face were becoming flush with irritation. We remained in the line that was marked, “Emigration and Naturalization for Long Duration Citizens,” before I decided it was the incorrect department.
We crossed walkways again, asked a few citizens for directions. Even Scruta was annoyed with everyone’s inability to direct us accordingly. It took us several hours to find, “Compartmentalization, Distribution and Instatement of New Arrivals.” Mentally, it didn’t seem to be the correct place; it sounded like something for distributing products. After seeing that several people carried boxes, I was getting more and more concerned that we were in the wrong line. Our ex-passengers were getting worried as well; I noticed their droopy expressions and their toes scratching ankles.
We waited in line, twisting and zigzagging around roped pathways, rounding columns and dawdling in corridors. The lines were endless. When I thought we would reach the end of the line and enter the office, we turned a corner and discovered another maze of pathways. When the line ended, I half-expected to arrive outside, through the backdoor and staring at a dead end.
Bored, my hands fidgeted inside my pockets, jingling the change and other random crap in there. Curious, I started pulling out the pocket’s contents, discovering several Earth coins, a button and an old receipt from Dregs retail store. I found another piece of paper of Lord Byron’s poetry: “Society is now one polish’d horde, Form’d of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.”
Strangely, it seemed appropriate at that time. My mind was becoming suspicious of the random poems appearing in coincidental intervals.
Through our first zigzag formation, we were spotted by Dwarves. I can’t say that I spotted them first because I wasn’t interested in spotting Dwarves like a hunter instinctively catching sight of a deer. They glared at us and pointed angrily while mumbling to each other. It was hard to ignore it; their facial intensity was like an ex-boyfriend glowering towards the new boyfriend.
They started with a gaggle of twelve until we turned another corner; then there were eighteen. I thought we lost them in the maze of lines, fallen farther back from us after we followed another line, but then we met their glares again. I kept dismissing their interest as prejudice, simple hatred against Vampires, but I couldn’t imagine that they could see through our masks of sunscreen, makeup and contact lenses.
My crew didn’t seem concerned about the Dwarves. I supposed my crew and refugees were accustomed to prejudice. After all, we were all sent to silver mines because of it. But I couldn’t let it go. The Dwarves’ anger was too strong and focused.
Scruta looked down and up the lines before remarking, “I hope this is a fun ride.”
I chuckled at his joke. “I wouldn’t be too surprised that this line would meld into another. We could end up in front of a parole board.”
“No glasses,” Bobby sighed.
As we turned another corner, we received a little relief from Dwarf glares as we followed a corridor, up the stairs and then down another corridor. It was after the first room of zigzagging lines that we were spotted by Dwarves, again. They had multiplied. Where there was eighteen, now there was twenty plus. I would have accused them of cutting in line but there didn’t seem to be any bureaucratic monitors along the pathways. Occasionally, we would spot a random desk with an employee but they were busy with their own work and not interested in helping or watching the people.
But the line finally stopped, and slowed even more. We started by sitting in chairs, giving us a false perception that the ride was finished, but then we stood again to wait in five different lines, one line per bureaucrat. When we finally reached the front of the line, we waited for another hour before someone directed us to an office in the back.
The office was a simple metal desk cornered in the back. There were no shelves or decorations. Three hallways exited left, right and center.
The bureaucrat was mixed blood of a Martian and a creature from Earth that I recognized as Laotion, a toad-like creature. The mixture made an ugly being, wearing glasses. She appeared bored, lacking amusement for anything in the world. She scanned our faces and then looked down at her paperwork.
We sat Glasses in the front seat, using his eccentric personality and limited vocabulary to distract and confuse the bureaucrat. Scruta had stolen some paperwork from the Weist palace and forged documents for each refugee as best he could, but he wasn’t confident that the paperwork would pass the scrutiny of an accurate-seeking, fastidious scrooge.
“Purpose?” the bureaucrat asked while looking down on her paperwork.
“Making glasses.” Bobby nodded.
The bureaucrat’s forehead scrunched, making waves across her domed head.
“Several refugees immigrating to Mars,” I clarified. Scruta sat next to Glasses, and I remained standing behind them. The refugees murmured behind us but Reese calmed them with hushes.
“Where do they come from?” the bureaucrat asked.
“Mercury,” I answered simply and definitively, hoping the follow-up questions would be just as simple.
“Odd jobs,” Scruta answered.
“Are there two Captains?” she asked, annoyed with Scruta speaking up.
“No.” I looked between my crew and justified, “He’s my advisor and accountant of personnel.”
“Glasses,” Bobby reassured.
“Ah!” She continued to scribble on documents, her brow knitting towards Bobby. She slapped papers aside before she stopped with a particular piece of paper and read it carefully. She then slapped it upside down and asked, “Name of your ship?”
“Garbazhio.” I hesitated while considering an additional measure of authority placed onto it. I never fully accepted my authoritative position.
“Captain Garbazhio.” It wasn’t modesty or humility that instilled me fear from assuming the position; I was just unsure how long I could maintain the rank while the crew followed me. I didn’t think I did anything to deserve it. I just assumed the role, and they accepted me.
“Your paperwork appears to be in order.” Her head swung back and forth.
“No more glasses?”
Her eyes looked up as she sighed. “Do you have anything to declare?”
Scruta and I exchanged expressions and then answered, “No.”
“Very well. The immigrants will be escorted to the line for Department of Processing and Assurance.”
The crowd of refugees moaned collectively. I felt sorry for them. I couldn’t imagine how long the next line would be. For the rest of us, we were quickly ushered outside. The refugees were filed in the opposite direction. We gave half-hearted waves and grins to them before we were obstructed with columns and walls.
“I hope they will be all right,” Scruta worried. “Like a meat packing factory in there.”
“Martians eat dirt,” Reese repeated the stereotype.
Written by Jax E Garson
Vampires go to Mars
Captain Garbazhio and his crew have earned their freedom through the Lord Byron, a simple and fast starship. Space is their final resting place for a ship of undead. Garbazhio deposits the last survivors from the Mercury Mine onto Earth and other space stations before he returns home to Agarentel to save Rabyutte, the boy that he presumed had died.
The Elven Houses are in decline. The Martians had suckled them dry. Even Garbazhio’s family of Weists are fighting amongst themselves to attain power and control over a crumbling nobility. He must navigate through a deteriorating house to find and rescue Rabyutte. But Garbazhio discovers another secret in his home city, a lost love reborn into an immortal.
Their next trip takes them to Mars. The final batch of refugees wish to disembark on the red planet, the last place that Garbazhio wishes to visit. After the Martian War, his feelings against the Martians are still strong. His angst over their destruction of Elven Houses only fuels his distrust of the race.
But they face another potential enemy on Mars.
The Dwarves are unhappy with the Lord Byron’s crew. After their losses on Mercury and their downed starship, they exact revenge against the Vampires. But the Dwarves have a secret weapon to disarm the Vampires. With an odd crew of zombies, vampires, spirits, androids and leprechauns, Garbazhio must defend against many enemies before they can successfully escape the solar system.
Join the Vampires as they fight away angry relatives, werewolves, jaded Dwarves and bureaucratic Martians.
This book is intended for adults only: it contains violence, blood, language, sex, nudity and very adult situations.