Welcome to R. Michael Gordon’s
The Aftermath of the War of the Worlds
presented by David Joseph
This original work of fiction will be presented in 76 parts in classic book format on this website; one part every week for the next 76 weeks. Once posted each section will remain available for review at any time.
If you have ever wondered what happened to Earth or the Martians after H. G. Well’s classic science fiction work, The War of the Worlds, now is your opportunity to have that question fully explored and answered in this first time published work.
We hope you will enjoy this story as told to all of us by a single member of a small group of survivors tasked to rebuild the world from the ashes of this interplanetary war after the defeat of the Martians as they prepare the re-built nations of Earth for the very real possibility that the deadly Martians may someday return to attempt once again to conquer the people of Earth.
So dear friends of Earth strap on your ray gun and hold on tight to your loved one for its going to be a rough interplanetary ride as we present Part One of The Aftermath of the War of the Worlds, Edited by R-Michael Gordon of the Earth Studies Directorate.
(*Author of the non-fiction book: The Space Shuttle Program: How NASA Lost Its Way)
Of the War of the Worlds
Earth Studies Directorate
In December e.y. 2028, at the end of the Terrain Wars (12,901), a highly classified electronic document was discovered along with several supporting documents both electronic and plant based by a team of Earth explorers – These and other documents had been locked away in a deep vault which had been protected by members of a long defunct organization led by men known as the Executive Committee of Twelve – This historic account, recorded by a senior member of that group, details the history and many of the inside secrets of the organization first formed in the ashes of their first modern war with Mars Prime (Terra Project).
Although many of the events recorded in this document, dated from e.y. 1901 to 1939, are generally known and are thus familiar to those interested in Earth history, it is the insider view of these events, many of which have never been disclosed, that mark this electronic document as extraordinary – This single individual seems to have been responsible for recording much of the inside secret workings of the primary command and control group from its inception and thus the history of the Committee and as such held a unique position and perspective into their operations, many of which go well beyond legal documents or written laws known to have been generally incorporated by nations on Earth at the time of their creation.
This is also a record of the recorder’s personal thoughts and how this individual eventually parted with the organization and at what cost to him – Even though this first international organization on Earth no longer exists there is much we can all learn from one who personally witnessed much of this previously little known organization’s historic efforts to bring their world together anyway they could no matter what the cost in order to do battle with their enemies on Earth as well as on Mars Prime.
Editor – Earth Studies Directorate (eESD)
Of the War of the Worlds
First Thoughts of the Day
Near Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, United States
Early Morning, 30 October 1938
I have stopped running for I have lost my strength and must rest. I know once again I am very much alone at the moment in a world nearly destroyed and I am getting too old to play cat-and-mouse with my enemies. Why I am still alive when so many others are dead I cannot say. I do not know, which is the better path – life or death on such an uncertain world as I now find myself.
The last deadly Martian machine has fallen silent, of this I am certain, yet I find myself still in a hazy period of doubt and fear. It will not be long now, for I was one of the few who know the whole story, and as such I am a danger to those now in power. As had most of you, I fought with a struggling humanity against the invaders. I was there for all of it, beginning when I wore the strange clothes of a much younger individual; from the first when humanity learned of the Martians until their final attack only days now past. Since the early days just after the end of the first war which had held all of our Earth in its deadly grip my professional career has been spent almost exclusively in service to the group working on the “Martian Problem” mostly at headquarters at the executive staff level and as such I had complete access to all areas of the work. The work held no secrets from me. This was also where I met my future wife and where our child was born. Who am I? My name is not important, but as a man of letters I may perhaps be allowed to flatter myself and state that if you heard my name it would be familiar to many who have followed the Martian War reports.
I had wanted to tell the rest of humanity the true history of these events but mine was the only voice in that confining wilderness as the others did not agree. I knew then I had to escape as dissent was not to be allowed on this critical issue. The secrets we hold had become the controlling force on Earth not the men who held them. The truth no longer matters and the only currency of value now is power. Perhaps it has always been as such. By way of this recording I now hope to report to you the people of Earth all I can recall from memory as well as from a few unauthorized notes I made from time-to-time along the way. I also hold a few official documents to jog my memory of certain events. It was a journey, which brought the world back from its greatest destruction in human history and it became our greatest victory. For the people of Earth the full journey has taken thousands of years. For me it has become an odyssey of some 37 short years and yet its secrets have made me older than my time spent on Earth.
Death is naturally the penalty for revealing this information, but death no longer holds any power over one such as I. There is no longer any fear for I am past such earthy concerns. Like many others the journey has brought to me a realization of who I really am and I have come to accept the truth of my guilt. I, as had the others, have committed ruthless acts in this dangerous world to protect the rest of humanity from the perils of the invader and have thus become less than human. We had at times become even as ruthless as our enemies on Mars. We have seen ourselves and had not liked what we have seen. The abyss is far too close.
It is certain some have come to know the general story, which is just now being taught in patched together institutes of learning still within the rubble, but as you shall soon learn the telling is not complete by such a long score. I shall tell you details of the inside story most of which is not yet available to the general public, but my time is short and the telling must be completed before I leave this world. There is much to say and I need to have this story recorded so that it will not be forgotten or forever hidden from the people of Earth. For you see, the people have every right to know the true story, not just to learn the real history of these and other world events but because it is your story. All must learn from these events and thus be better able to plan for a future far from certain. That is not to say that all secrets will be revealed, as there are still such secrets, which must remain hidden if for no other reason than to protect mankind from themselves. There are things in our universe of which mankind as a whole are not yet prepared to understand nor accept. I may only say that to the stars humans are but children wondering about in the darkness looking for a shining pebble of truth. Humans have so much to learn if only they have the time to learn and understand. That is the task I leave for all of you.
Nevertheless, I shall tell you about the aftermath of what became known as the First Martian War so far hidden behind official secrets and well-worn lies, and I shall tell you how close “we humans” really came to utter extermination on planet Earth during the Second Martian War, which has just recently come to its bloody conclusion. At least I believe this to be true – certainty holds such a fleeting embrace. You see the Martians were never content with simply winning a global war and taking the planet. They were fully intent on destroying all of humanity, and make no mistake they still are! Yet they would prove that advanced evolution in a species did not ensure a race of morally superior beings. Humans have nothing to learn from the Martians in morality. What they may have learned from humans may only be guessed at. Certainly they learned that mankind could be as brutal as their own – perhaps even more so. We have learned these lessons ourselves. It is perhaps the one great human truth.
We all remember when the Martians returned in force to once again spread death upon our fragile planet – at least many think they do, but that bloody conflict was only the latest struggle of a much more detailed story. The background of that second conflict and what we learned between Martian wars sent chills down the spines of those such as myself who had been tasked by ourselves, reformed governments and secret organizations to protect this world from enemies known as well as those never suspected and still hidden even from those few in positions of true power.
When word finally arrived that the Martian machines were falling silent around the world during the First Martian War, even as they continued to sweep all before them as one would push aside a trail of ants, our first tasks were clear: Order needed to be restored as after all wars, and lives would need to be put back together as best they could even though the losses had been staggering. Fully one half of all humanity had fallen before the Martians before they themselves succumbed to the humblest creatures on Earth. Whole cities, once mighty upon the land, had been completely destroyed, as were much of their populations. Many cities and smaller communities may not be rebuilt for generations; some will never be rebuilt, as they no longer reflect even rubble so completely devastated were they by the new and even more powerful Martian war machines. Yet even as much of Earth lay in ruins we went to work. There was no other choice.
As the rubble from the first Martian War was cleared from the “luckier” areas and the bodies were burned or buried, no one had time to think of the enemy who had been so thorough in its attempt at world conquest. Most who had survived the holocaust knew that our first work needed to focus on the living and prepare to rebuild our badly broken world. Nevertheless, before long, when nights were once again peaceful and calm thoughts turned to Mars, the certain reality came to us that our enemies on that ancient dying world had only been defeated on Earth and even then not by the hand of men – the Martians still held sway over their own dying world and they still looked with envious eyes towards this badly wounded, but still beautiful planet. Earth still held the water and other resources badly needed by the brutal Martians and they would continue to do whatever it took to take what they needed at any price, including the ‘nourishment’ that walked upright upon this world. It was soon realized that the Martians must attack the Earth again – they had no other choice if they were to continue as a species. We had to be ready, for if we were not, the next time they attacked in force, humanity might not be as ‘lucky’ as they had been the first time. Earth needed to build for peace as we prepared for the ultimate interplanetary war. Those two goals became the primary mandate of The Executive Committee of Twelve; the group of which I was to become a part.
We know now after long years of dedicated historical and archeological research the Martians had looked with murderous eyes for many millennia towards this blue planet. Their decision to attack was preceded by much effort and planning. These are beings that plan well into the future as a single unit, seemingly a single mindset. The workings of the humble ant would be a close approximation of their type of mental and civil organization yet at a much higher intellectual level. They cared not for the one, but for the whole. Water was of course the key to their many efforts as the dissected red dust on Mars continued to obscure and obliterate their once proud domain. Water that pressed every continent and every square yard of this planet be it in the air or seas or on the land must have seemed a torment to the inhabitants of Mars who needed to husband every drop they could out of the poles, the frozen ground and even their Spartan atmosphere in order to survive just a while longer. This torment made them strong. It made them determined. It also made them insane, for they never even considered asking the people of Earth for the help they desperately needed. Knowing humanity as I feel I do, it is clear that help would have come and gladly.
Now as I walk among the exhibits and other objects housed in this small underground Committee storehouse from the First and Second Martian Wars, memories flood my mind in a torrent of short, flashing, painful events, which will never really end, save for death. Like many others, perhaps yourself, I can never really escape their constant pressing on my mind. I am taken back without recourse to the sights and smells of the first dead Martians I ever saw burned of flesh, pressed hard to the cold steel of their fighting machines, tentacles limp, remembering their dead black eyes, which never showed emotion or compassion at any time even when they were alive. I recall the end days of the First Martian War when mankind was all but defeated, when nothing “we” simple and backward humans could do would end the ceaseless bloody attacks upon this devastated planet; when humanity was about to breath its last breath of hard fought freedom. Yet, the end of this world never came as the Martians began to fall – a few at first – but more rapidly as the days rolled on until the tiniest viruses on Earth took their final deadly toll on the invaders one and all. As I now glance at the cases of gas masks and other debris of war I remember the dead Martians being dragged out of their fighting machines as most were simply burned on the body piles. I also remember the packs of starving dogs and black birds ripping at the diseased flesh for a meal before their terror ended as well. Yet some, as the one before me in the elongated case much like a coffin, are still displayed; one or two of these repulsive creatures in several viewing areas around our devastated world to remind us all of those creatures who would have been our masters, but for the humblest creatures placed upon this Earth.
Humbly, I recall, it was Herbert Wells who many believe expressed it best for mere humans when writing of the First Martian War fought in 1901 as it pertained to the southern British sector of that world conflict, and of the end, which came to those first Martians near old London town. The author called it “The War of the Worlds” – a fitting title I would think for such massive devastation and terror. This tale, like many others to come out of that bloody conflict between the worlds, tells of this writer’s close personal contacts and mental battles against the Martians as he viewed such a small yet important part of a war, which had quickly, became worldwide. Of course the author could not have known that at the time he experienced the events he wrote of in his small confining area of Earth, devastated by the seemingly mindless brutality of the Martians, that this truly was a ‘War of the Worlds’. Little did this writer know that his words could not be an epitaph for the Martians, but merely a prologue to an even greater conflagration, one which would not only bring its singular death and destruction back to one world, but surely to two worlds; one as ancient as time itself, and another who’s intellectual youth had yet to reach for the stars and yet reach they must if they are to survive the struggle forced upon them from beyond this simple world of blue skies and cool water bathed shores.
This story of mankind’s titanic struggle on this and perhaps other worlds will continue and may yet have a very different and apocalyptic conclusion for all of mankind if we do not learn the lessons of the aftermath of this Second Martian War. We must learn from this interplanetary struggle and never forget that which has been so devastating and that which has cost us so much. I beg you to listen closely and remember “The Aftermath” of “The War of the Worlds”…
A member of the Committee
A Word from H. G.
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
Herbert G. Wells, 1901
Writing from the rubble of the First Martian War
The Martians: Committee Field Notebook Number One
THE FIRST MARTIAN WAR AND ITS AFTERMATH
Chapter One – 1901
The New World – Year One
Chapter Two – 1902-1905
The Earth Rebuilds from the Ashes of Planetary War
Chapter Three – 1906-1910
The Battle with the Martians Continues
The New World – Year One
“And from what remained of the past the gods recreated the heavens upon the Earth.”
Ancient Babylonian Tablet
The first day of a whole new world – What we failed to properly see – “The War of the Worlds” – What I saw in old London – The Executive Committee of Twelve – The ‘last’ Martian attack of the war – Continuing to reorganize the world – Testimony before the Executive Committee of Twelve – Early Martian contacts discovered – The rebuilding of Earth’s civilization begins again – Martial Law – The Earth’s population goes underground.
The First Day of a Whole New World
“Every organized government in the world was shattered
and broken as a heap of china beaten with a stick.”
H. G. Wells
This had truly been “The War of the Worlds”. What remained of a devastated humanity scattered widely about our ruined planet by the winds of interplanetary war would now have to face “The Aftermath” of that bloody conflict. Those of us who survived were now awakening to the terrifying first day of a whole new world remembered by damaged minds to be in the late stages of the year 1901. It had come as a thunderbolt – aliens had landed on Earth! As with most others it would be years before my nightmares of war would fade, but they have never completely left my mind.
Clearly I remember the day and the very hour when reports heralding the end of the Martian attacks were telegraphed around the world as soon as the machines and wires could be repaired. That manmade network of copper wire encased in rubber had somehow not been completely destroyed. Very few locations with operational and experimental wireless receivers were able to learn the news immediately. Most areas would be late in receiving the news; at times as much as two months after the last deadly Martian Heat-Rays had fallen silent. To many outer lying areas, reports had to be sent by ship or dirigible or even dispatch riders. In scattered areas around the world when word first arrived signaling the end of hostilities, crude single page flyers were published and posted on the rubble. Church bells often rang out when news reached the smoldering remains of cities and towns, many of which barely had any buildings still standing that the greatest war ever visited upon humanity was finally over.
This war had lasted less than eight weeks, yet it had been the most devastating social and economic upheaval the Earth had ever experienced and now we were all in the same bloody mess. Simply stated the world human beings had once known was dead, but not yet buried. The Martians had committed mass murder on a scale never before seen nor imagined by anyone on Earth. During the first days of the war the Martians had taken prisoners, but not as anyone would imagine such captives to be. They were simply ‘harvested’ as substance for the blood thirsty Martians. When that need was satisfied pure slaughter on a grade scale became the norm. They would simply ‘thin the herd!’ Inadequate are yet the words needed to describe the horror visited upon this planet. Only later would we come to understand that at no time and in no place did men stop the relentless defense of our planet. Even when all hope had gone humans continued to do battle to the death. No quarter was given and none was accepted as thousands of corpses became the only barricades against the Martian hordes. We would come to learn that putrefaction could be a welcome allied.
The Martian/human hybrids that had been brought to Earth by the Martians as part of their invasion force had also ended hostilities, although many of them had refused to fight at the onset for their Martian A masters (the ruling species on Mars) once they had arrived on Earth. But it must be said that the small percentage, which did fight, caused a good deal of damage. The deadly bacteria had not affected most of them. Yet, in the end, some of them would turn out to be more ‘human’ than much of mankind as they too endured the aftermath of the First Martian War. Others were to cause great troubles for years to come. They were all now part of our strange new world.
The Martian Bs or Grays, as they have come to be known (thought to be a less advanced species of Martian), were all either killed by Earth’s military forces during the early part of the fighting or taken as food by the superior Martian As. As with their masters none of them survived on Earth for very long.
The First Martian War had certainly brought great devastation to much of Earth. Millions were dead, many nations were completely destroyed, and many crops were devastated, with our thin lines of communication cut all over the planet. We soon realized that even though the war may have been over the battle now enjoined by what remained of humanity at every level would be one of simple survival. Scientists would later estimate that since the birth of life on Earth some 97% of all species who called Earth home had become extinct. The Martians had done their very best to add humanity to the ever growing list. Our destroyed infrastructures meant we were all equal now. To be sure, starvation and disease would soon follow, adding to our horror as mankind throughout much of the world dragged itself up from the stench of death and war in an attempt to simply continue from day to day. Many did not survive even though the threat of Martian attacks had ended, at least for the time being. Perhaps for the first time in man’s history we were as one. I could not help recalling the words of Dr. John Donne those many years ago. “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Many of the great cities of the world had been completely devastated as if from the strongest storm mankind could ever hope to endure. London, the most populated city on Earth at 6.5 million, where I found myself at the end of hostilities, was a mere shell of itself, yet tattered and torn Union Jacks could soon be seen defiantly flying upon the highest rubble to be found in many burned out areas. Berlin, which held 2.7 million, before the war and defended with what historians would later call “fanatical courage”, was not much more than a flat desert plain of blackened and burned rubble. Paris, the great “City of Lights,” once home to 3.3 million was unrecognizable, save the pile of burnt, melted and twisted steel that had been Mr. Effie’s great tower built for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, which at 984 feet had been the tallest man-made structure on Earth. The Martians could not miss seeing that. Moscow, where a final desperate push by the Martians had been stopped cold by the largest marshaling of artillery the world had ever seen, was a mere shadow of its former self. Tokyo, Bangkok and Manila along with many other cities of the old and new worlds no longer existed! Melted stone walls which had flowed like rivers of lava were the ever present hallmarks of their powerful Heat-Rays. There were no defenses against such weapons.
In the American east, Philadelphia, New York, the largest of the American cities, which before the war held some 4.2 million residents, Boston and much of Washington, were not much more than a wasteland of blackened and melted debris with thousands of fires still burning. Lord Bryce had recorded in his 1888 work American Commonwealth about some of the failures of American cities. Here he found “extremes of wealth and poverty” as well as “crowded marble palaces of the rich” whose doorways had been “haunted by beggars.” Both the palaces and the beggars had departed the scene.
A single tattered flag showing the Stars and Stripes could be seen flying from a tall twisted pipe where it is said the American Congress had once met. There was nothing to indicate that this was so. None of the familiar buildings or monuments in any large city along the East Coast of America stood on the day the Martian machines fell silent. Certainly there was recognizable debris, but not much more than that. In lower lying areas pools of solidified steal and stone had cooled to form strangely beautiful metallic-rock lakes as if time had somehow stopped all meaning in their reflective gaze. Even ‘Lady Liberty’, better known as the Statue of Liberty, given to the American people by the people of France, was now a twisted and melted relic unrecognizable all accept the arm that had held the torch. Chicago, St. Louis, Denver and many other great cities in the ‘New World’ were not much more than burning ghost towns. The corpses, representing only a small percentage of those lost, were too numerous to count.
On the American West Coast, Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego were all in ruins for they had taken the brunt of the attacks off of the Pacific as the Martians swept in from the coast seemingly aiming towards the central plains of the United States and Canada. Only the falling of the Martians from the deadly bacteria stopped them from destroying the vital central valley of California. It was only with luck that they never made it in full strength to the vast farmlands of the central United States, Canada, nor the vast steppes of Russia, which would, when combined, became literally the breadbaskets for the rest of the world, but only after we could find enough transportation to move these life giving grains to the millions of people who needed them desperately. Even with that the destruction had been vast.
The major population centers of the southern hemisphere fared not much better than the north. The cities of Cape Town, Southern Africa, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Auckland, New Zealand, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, were completely destroyed; showing only piles of rubble with burned human remains sired into the very stones with only shadows showing at times and blackened corpses now rotting everywhere. In many areas the never to be identified remains were piled in heaps entangled as if one mass. One could not imagine that humans could actually melt! In both the northern and southern hemispheres many large areas of many ‘modern’ cities were so completely destroyed they would have to be abandoned altogether.
We were shocked to later learn that for some reason, which has never been explained, the Martians gave particular attention to Jakarta, Indonesia. Perhaps it had been a test area of how much devastation they could truly inflict upon a chosen area. Their brutal attacks again and again on that once proud community left it as an unrecognizable zone of burnt, melted, and baron ground. There was no vestige remaining anywhere that human presence had ever known this place. No living thing stood upon this desolated moonscape or for that matter below the ground on that once heavily populated site. Jakarta was not just attacked and destroyed; the bloodthirsty Martians incinerated and melted it into non-existence. No destruction on Earth in recorded history by man or nature had ever been as complete. Jakarta could never be rebuilt as it has completely vanished from the surface of Earth and is now only to become a fast fading memory, as later investigations showed not a single artifact of human presence was ever to be discovered. One of only a handful of survivor’s remembered, “Never before in the history of warfare had destruction been so indiscriminate and so universal.” We had all come to learn the devastating global nature of modern interplanetary warfare as practiced by the Martians.
Records would indicate that before the war Earth’s human population had stood at a little over 1.6 billion. After the war Earth held an estimated 800 million people upon its fragile surface. This had been more than genocide. This was mass murder on a scale almost too great to comprehend. A good example of such loss may be seen in the United States which held some 76 million soles at the start of the war – estimated at around 41 million struggling survivors by war’s end. The Martians had killed half of the people living on planet Earth in only a few weeks. London’s population had been 6.5 million representing the most populated city on Earth, New York’s stood at 4.2 million, Paris held some 2.7 million, with Berlin at 1.9 million. Tokyo had as many as 1.5 million residents, the same with Wuhan, China. After the Martians ended their attacks London’s population fell to 1.4 million, New York 1.1 million, Paris was estimated at 900,000, Berlin could only count 400,000 souls, Tokyo held 300,000 survivors and Wuhan had less than 100,00 people in and around the general area of that completely destroyed city. The remaining populations were to be held as little more than human cattle to feed the millions of Martians yet waiting to ‘immigrate’ across the ethereal border to steal all they could from Earth.
Many national leaders had also fallen during the war. Britain lost its Prime Minister the Marquis of Salisbury, France had lost Emile Loubet, Germany lost William II and Japan lost Emperor Mutsuhito along with countless others. This list is far too long to recount. The war had also destroyed a great amount of railroad track and rolling stock that seemed to be a special target of the Martians as these manmade resources had represented at the time the cutting edge of ‘modern’ technology and man’s advancement on Earth. Rail systems around the world had been greatly responsible for linking mankind and developing advanced economies. Cutting our lines of communication and modern infrastructure appeared to have been two of their strategic goals. Thus the modern engines of the industrial age had been cut down to such low levels not seen for decades. Nevertheless, we still had a workable amount of rail lines and engines intact so their attempts to destroy that portion of our planet’s manmade infrastructure had been only partially successful.
When we were able to assess the damage there were many examples all around the world of infrastructure destroyed. Of the 193,000 miles of track in the United States, which at the time represented half the world’s active railway lines, the greatest on Earth, at least 130,000 had been destroyed. In Russia all but 10,000 miles of her 33,000 miles of track were laid to waste and in Britain some 14,000 of her 19,000 miles of railroad infrastructure had been lost. However, no modern industrialized nation on Earth had suffered a complete loss of track or navigable roads, and in many areas at least some of the telegraphs wires remained or were repairable in short order. In short, the Martians had failed to completely isolate large pockets of humanity still holding on to life by a thin measure, so we continued to stand as one species upon the Earth, needing each other, and, united as never before in human history if only by our fear and hatred of all things Martian. It would prove to be a strong yet fleeting bond.
With so much track destroyed many areas would need to rely upon an older system of transportation which had recently gone out of general use, at least for the movement of large quantities of goods. It was a system well known to the Martians – canals! For the most part nearly all of the world’s canals in Europe, the United States, China and many other areas were still very much as they had been before the war. It was later theorized the canal building Martians had left these waterways intact for their own use after they had completed their bloody work of conquest. There were even a few reports, never verified, that the Martians had begun transporting equipment, and most disturbing, captured humans for ‘consumption,’ on some of the smaller canals just before the end of the war. I for one would not have been surprised to have witnessed these activities even as no ‘survivor reports’ were ever found. What a strange sight it would have been. Of the world’s pre-war forestlands, estimated at the end of the past century to have been around 15 billion acres, it was thought that some seven billion acres had been lost to a series of massive fires set by the Martian war machines. Many of these fires would burn for weeks, some for months. At first we did not understand why they would attack the forests. It seemed a waste of effort and war making resources considering their overall objectives. Only later would we come to understand this destruction was also part of an elaborate plan to capture a planet, which most suited their needs. They needed a cooler world to live on and destroying the forests was part of that long-term plan. Along with the damage came the destruction of 30% of the world’s farmlands. The Red Weed they had spread over much of our farmlands as they moved in battle formation had by now died off, but in its wake millions of acres were now left as sterile deserts. The Red Weed had killed all vegetation in these areas before it too fell to Earth’s bacteria. The residue it left could still cause great harm. It would take many years and great effort to recover many of these fields of grain.
Then there was the anomaly in Egypt. Strangely it seemed at first, as we did not fully understand the significance at the time, one city was never attacked during the First Martian War. Other towns and small villages in the nearby area also suffered little damage especially as compared to the rest of the world’s major population centers. Witnesses had reported that the city had not only been over flown several times by Martian machines in full formation, but Martian ground machines had “walked through” and fired not a single burst from their Heat-Rays – Cairo! What had they seen that caused them to spare this ancient city of heat and sand?
Only Cairo for the most part would stand after, as it had before the war, and we had to find out why. It would take a team of Egyptologists, archeologists and historians many years to provide the terrifying answer that we honestly did not want to learn. Cairo, which still holds within its outskirts the hot desert grasp of the great pyramids, was originally named El-Kahira. El-Kahira comes from the Arabic El-Kahir – Mars! In fact, the recorded history of man’s observations of Mars dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Since the earliest days primitive man had been fascinated by and tracked the stars and planets – the home of the gods. Later, after viewing Egyptian records, Babylonian astronomers would record detailed observations of Mars’ movements across the darkened night skies.
We came to understand the Martians had not attacked Cairo because that ancient city of burning sands and deep mystery had once played host to Martians in a time seemingly long forgotten by humans. Clearly the Martians had remembered the city because Cairo it seemed had once been a Martian city (Ref: Martian Electric Document 02Y16)!*
* Martian Electric Documents were
* Martian Electric Documents were filed first by the number of the machine or device the record had been located, such as machine number 02. The next letter designated the location on Earth the machine had been discovered. Y for example was located in Brazil. The final two or three numbers were simply the order in which the so-called electric files were placed into the Martian records within the electric document. These Martian electric files proved to be a gold mine of information about all things Martian. For whatever reason the Martians had brought with their invasion forces a detailed electric history of their time on Mars as well as their culture and development. They also held many records of their long history of contact with Earth.
Now we were asking: Had these ancient humans worshipped them? And even if they did how could they ever hope to understand the complicated motivation of a species from another world, another civilization, thousands of years in advance of their own? How were they to communicate beyond the simplest ways? One researcher perhaps had the answer: the universal language of mathematics! With much effort we would labor to discover many of the secrets deeply held in those hot desert sands. One of my concerns was whether or not these Martians had interfered with the development of ancient humans before written history. And if they did, what damage had they been able to accomplish?
From my later notes: “Were they responsible for the pyramids and what, if anything was there still inside them waiting for the Martians or us to retrieve? When things calm down we must look into this.”
In other areas, where humanity still stood, albeit weakly, the stench of death hung deeply upon the raped lands for months. Indeed, it would be the smell of death which would most lingers in the minds of the survivors. In later years when one heard a scream someone more often than not had picked up a smell that was terrifyingly familiar. For others it was simply far too much to bear as many took their own lives. For those it had all been too much to understand and accept. That terror of the unknown – that darkness of the night – is indeed instinctive to man and part of humanity’s primal makeup. Panic would strike unreasonably no matter where on Earth the Martians first landed. All soon came to understand that no matter where they lived sooner or later their time would come and they would be forced to face the deadly Martian machines. After the fight, people, dazed and hungry, wondered around once populated areas before being gathered up as sheep to crudely built tent as well as wooden and broken stone shelters. Hell had surely made a stand upon the face of the Earth yet this was no biblical fiction. Dead bodies ravaged by scavengers were everywhere. There was much as a result of panic. There were too many stories of men and women simply running until they sank down in despair not knowing where to run or why. Surely no measure of Hell imagined in the minds of mortal man could have been as complete.
In many areas across the world populations, facing starvation due to the complete breakdown of transportation or the lack of local grains began eating dogs and cats or even rats to stay alive. Murder of the weak or sick for food was not uncommon in some outlying areas. There were even reports out of central Asia of adults eating their children! In the northern areas of Manchuria and Korea tree bark became a stable for months. Manure also became a source of nutrition in central Europe. In some areas the only local food was grass or weeds. Old leather was being boiled for soup and eaten in small pieces. Any bird within grasp would soon become a quick meal.
However, even amongst such utter despair and complete destruction small businesses soon sprang up in some areas as a semblance of order came, but to be sure it was a rough order even as flags and banners began to be seen in some populated areas. Many of us still remember the homespun manufacturing of small trade goods such as cloth, candles, shoes and other small items that would soon make their way to street venders. “The Collectors”; I remember them, no more than looters really, began to barter for all manner of goods and “services.” I remember that brick collectors especially seemed to be everywhere in many cities attempting to gain the materials for the construction they hoped would soon be underway. These newly cleared streets gave the impression of almost working towns and cities, but they were mere skeletons of themselves, only the transient shadows and fleeting ghosts of once great human endeavors. All around one could find any number of crude structures thrown together to afford some measure of cover from the elements along with military units putting up tent cities where ground had been cleared. Very soon when some kind of local control could be established rationing of any and all foods would be the rule lasting for years to come. Rivers and other waterways soon become the new roads of a destroyed world as survivors struggled to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Around the world many small surviving communities became nearly fully self-sufficient, reminiscent of times gone by. Just about everything from furniture, shoes, farm equipment, coal and just about every food source became a local commodity. With banking systems nonexistent, many of these communities printed local script to be exchanged for local goods and services. Later, when government returned to these areas more often than not the script could be exchanged for Committee notes (issued for only 12 months) and later turned in for national currencies.
In many areas where surviving members of the International Red Cross were able to organize themselves, at least locally, members were setting up tents taken from their few surviving emergency warehouses. Supplies were being transported by whatever conveyance could be found. At times horse drawn carts filled the cleared streets where there were cleared streets. Red Cross members were soon handing out food, water, clothes and small tents to as many people as they could, knowing their supplies could not last long. These would need to be guarded as would the few available horses as many where slaughtered for such meat as could be gained. They could never have anticipated this great a disaster on such a global scale, and neither could anyone else. One volunteer would later tell me, “We will do whatever we can for as long as possible, but without any re-supply there is only so much anyone can do.” There was no place from which re-supply could be obtained. There were pressing needs for just about everything one could imagine. Military guards were at times necessary to keep as much local order as possible. Medical supplies were also given out by surviving doctors and nurses. On more than one occasion it was reported that the only medical help available came from medical students doing the best they could with what they had. These students and Red Cross members were the first true heroes of those long, dark desperate early days. Traumatic injuries, which could in better times be cared for, took many lives. In many cases a broken arm or leg was tantamount to a death penalty. Countless people died for no other reason than they had simply given up. It had all been far too much for many.
For the most part disorder ruled those desperate days as an unknown fear ruled the long dark nights. Or perhaps it was not really unknown as all that needed to be said was “Martian”! One man would state as he looked upon his devastated world, “Why are these things permitted? …I was walking through the roads to clear my brain for the afternoon, and then fire, earthquake, death! As if it was Sodom and Gomorrah. What sins have we done? All our work undone, all the work – What are these Martians?”
Indeed, many would ask: What are these Martians? There would be no ready answer; no easy explanation to give to the survivors. After all, humanity had not been given the opportunity to debate the issue and discuss the sociological pros and cons of contact with off-world beings before ‘contact’ was made. That issue had been decided for us without so much as an introduction or even a declaration of war. The Martians had simply landed upon our planet and forced those who survived on Earth to learn what extra-terrestrial really meant as they taught mankind a bloody lesson in humility. We had been shown that we mighty men of Earth, we masters of all we survey, were in fact only temporary inhabitants of a tiny planet, in orbit about an average star, circling around an average spiral galaxy, in an outer spiral arm of that “island universe”, of which we would later learn our Milky Way is but one of billions of galaxies in all of space and time. We had no special place in the universe, and that was a shock to many even though it should not have been to a more thoughtful individual. As for the Martians – they had simply come uninvited to our lands to kill and take what they could from the beings that had stood weakly in their path. It was kill or be killed all over the Earth as the Martians commanded the high end of that discourse at least for a few weeks in the fall of 1901. The war I remembered seemed much longer than that. The mind plays its little tricks. Years later one well-known historian would look back upon these desperate times and write of the destroyed world and the calamity which had come as a flash of lightening to our species.
The stages of swift and universal collapse of the financial and scientific civilization with which the twentieth century opened followed each other very swiftly, so swiftly that upon the foreshortened page of history they seem altogether to overlap. To begin with, one sees the world nearly at a maximum of wealth and prosperity. To its inhabitants indeed it seemed also at a maximum of security. When now in retrospect the thoughtful observer surveys the intellectual history of this time, when one reads its surviving fragments of literature, its scraps of political oratory, the few small voices that chance has selected out of a thousand million utterances to speak to later days, the most striking thing of all this web of wisdom and error is surely that hallucination of security. To men living in our present world state, orderly, scientific and secured, nothing seems so precarious, so giddily dangerous, as the fabric of the social order with which the men of the opening of the twentieth century were contest. The precedents of history were all of one tale of the collapse of civilization, the dangers of the time were manifest. One is incredulous now to believe they could not see the dangers. Wherever there were great populations, great masses of people found themselves without work, without money and unable to get food. Famine was in every working-class quarter in the world within three weeks of the beginning of the war. Within a month there was not a city anywhere in which the ordinary law and social procedure had not been replaced by some form of emergency control, in which firearms and military executions were not being used to keep order and prevent violence. And still in the poorer quarters, and in the populous districts, and even here and there already among those who had been wealthy, famine spread.
We now realize man’s dominance of Earth is at best tenuous, and humanities’ lightly held grip holds no guarantee it will continue. In order for mankind to remain superior on this planet, guided by our local star and held in the ethereal gulf of solar space, we had learned that the people of Earth needed to be ready to fight for the right to hold on to this tiny planetary beachhead we humans call home. If necessary we would need to fight individually and then as a united planet simply to stay alive.
BLISS BEFORE THE WAR
As humanity pressed on with numbed minds we occasionally moved from this grim new reality to things of old including literature from a much earlier time, seemingly a lifetime ago, yet amazingly only weeks past. I for one had sat at my favorite coffee shop reading only weeks earlier, blissful in my ignorance of off world events. Or was I making notes for a new book or an article – it is hard to remember such simple delights of times past. The best seller before the war had been Mary Johnston’s To Have and to Hold. Indeed, there was much to read and enjoy in “the old days”. However, in the darkened rubble it no longer seemed appropriate to read or even discuss Garrett P. Serviss’s delightful fiction Edison’s Conquest of Mars (a great favorite of Dr. Robert Goddard of future rocket fame), written in 1898 or George Griffith’s A Honeymoon in Space published in 1900 in which he describes what he called the many magnificent works of Martian labor. Theodore Fluornoy’s From India to the Planet Mars also from 1900 in which a young Indian woman travels to Mars and gives a grand description of a wonderful civilization with breathtaking landscapes on Mars soon found no readers for his well crafted work of fiction. I remember reading such fiction or was it only an ancient fable that Eden had ‘actually’ been near the North Pole of Mars. Another tall tale situated that fictional paradise rather near the Martian equator. But where then may men discover our Eve? And why did these ancestors place Eden on Mars? Facts and desperate events on Earth would soon overtake such fiction as these.
I must admit my thoughts did not normally turn to subjects beyond our world as with anyone there was much work to complete. But when I was able to find a quiet place to contemplate what was thought to be the universe I remember thinking I would have been truly shocked if mankind was able to discover that our planet was the only one which held a species capable of asking such questions. How lonely it would be to have no others to relate to.
Perhaps the last great work of fiction to cross our collective minds before the war was H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon. My copy is well worn as it became an early escape from the realities of my new world. Yet, it would be years before most would be ready to take a real hard look at our only natural satellite. Reality I am afraid was just too horrific to pause for light reading about Martians and moon men so these fine works were soon forgotten. Perhaps it was for the best now that the war was over. We had other things on our minds. There was much to do and so little time to do it.
Before the Martians came many would take an evening off to see the latest play by George Bernard Shaw You Never Can Tell or sing along to A Bird in a Gilded Cage. Eric Wise (better known as Harry Houdini) was on tour of Europe and the United States amazing audiences with his marvelous escapes, yet even with his singular skills he, along with millions of others, was unable to escape the Martians. By 1900 ragtime music had become all the rage. There were Gibson girls and brightly lit music halls to help pass a pleasant evening’s delight. A year earlier, Scott Joplin had introduced the world to a new sound with his Maple Leaf Rag. We were all dancing the Camel Walk, the Cake Walk and the Monkey Glide. We were remembering the 1900 Olympics held in Paris that year where 1,330 athletes from 22 nations had attended. France would win the most medals at 102 including 29 gold. It would be sometime before we would once again be able to play Olympic Games such as golf, cricket, croquet and tug-of-war, or even purchase a new Brownie camera costing one American dollar before the war, the ‘Kodak’. It had been to Paris where the Paris Exposition had shocked visitors with the display of “non-Victorian” nude statues by French sculpture Rodin. It had also been the first public demonstration of a fascinating new device called a “tape recorder.” Much was new and exciting in this “New age of mankind”. At the time half the world’s great ocean liners were being built in Great Britain. These resources would be greatly needed after the Martians ‘departed’.
Many of the ‘advanced’ nations of the world were transforming their societies from a traditional agrarian-rural one into an urban society of much industrialization. The Martians had done nothing to stem this tide.
Internal combustion vehicles were on their way up. In America the people had been told their nation held some 8000 horseless carriages (auto-mobiles) and in the future many thousands more of those noisy, smoky contraptions could be expected to “flood the roads” (There had only been four in America in 1895). Very few truly thought that would ever happen. Although there were those who did despair of such possibilities, I recall one man writing; “The motor-cars that went by northward and southward grew more and more powerful and efficient, whizzed faster and smelt worse; there appeared great clangorous petrol trolleys delivering coal and parcels in the place of vanishing horse-vans; motor-omnibuses ousted the horse-omnibuses, even the Kentish strawberries going Londonward in the night took to machinery and clattered instead of creaking, and became affected in flavor by progress and petrol.” Steam conveyances were being replaced by electric trams for the masses in ‘modern’ cities.
Late evening rides in Hansen cabs simply for pleasure were gone now as were the coffee shops and storefronts we had come to rely upon for our simple needs. I remember a loaf of bread had cost 3 cents, a gallon of milk was 10 cents and a gallon of gas could be purchased for as little as 4 cents. It was also a time when the “upper class” expected the so-called lower and middle classes to “know their place.” Many areas in society were class ridden. Very soon there would be much fewer areas for anyone to put their noises out of place!
In Russia an unknown dissident named Vladimir Ilyich dressed in a shabby waistcoat was calling for a worker’s revolution. Very few at the time were ready to follow him. Later that would change, and not for the better, as the ill winds of a new man-made war blew across much of a still recovering world. He would become one of the world’s most infamous mass murderers well beyond the pitiful efforts of old London’s Jack the Ripper.
On 8 September 1900 a massive hurricane of tremendous power and scope struck the American coast at Galveston, Texas, with 120 mile per hour winds. This storm would be marked in American lore at the time as the worst natural disaster in that nation’s history. The storm took the lives of some 6000 residents and caused $20 million in property damage. Yet this storm, thought to have been so grave in the minds of those who were affected in so many ways, as it should have been, paled in comparison to the “Martian storm” which would crash upon our planetary shore a few months later.
It was also in 1900 that great thinkers such as Sigmund Freud and Max Planck were at work, both of whom were to survive this fast approaching planetary holocaust. It would be Planck (truly the world’s first quantum physicist) who gave us his new theory of quantum mechanics; a new method proposed to explain how electromagnetic radiation worked which lead the way to modern physics in the new twentieth century and the study of such tiny particles (quanta) of matter and energy and of how atoms worked. At the same time Dr. Freud published his great work The Interpretation of Dreams in which he described his reasons for believing that dreams were the windows to our unconscious minds and how we all viewed the world around us. He would later become known for dissecting the Martian mind. It was no small feat for a ‘mire human!’ Within a year both men would find themselves working with a new group of men from many nations determined to put the world back into some type of order and control. It crosses my mind it was early 1901 that Austrian doctor Karl Landsteiner was first able to explain there were at least three different types of human blood. The Martians had surely tasted all three. He would name them A, B and O. Medical advances would be held back for some time now thanks to the war. In that same year Mr. Wells would publish an original work titled An Experiment in Prophecy in which he wrote of his vision for the world’s future in the year 2000. In this work he saw more and faster motor cars, faster more efficient trains, and the decline of military adventurism. His work is noted not only for what he saw, but for what he failed to see which included submarines, successful flying machines, a bloody new war on ourselves and of course – Martians! He would soon remedy his flawed thinking about things Martian.
[END PART 1]
Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020
[Next week: Part 2: Some historic perspectives in what we failed to see.]
Thank you music producers; and photographer for allowing Mads&Tulle to air/display your brilliant endeavors for our premiere. C. Reid.