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Made On Mars
by Kieran Judge

‘Martians can’t build nothin’, I tell ya’, they can’t build nothin’.’

The old man in the ripped coat and shabby trousers was showing me the knock-off phone he’d bought an hour ago. It was scratched and dented, flashing warnings lights. I had been eating noodles at a highway stall because the food was warm and the rain was freezing. The man slid next to me, ordered chow mien. After a few expletives, he began his rant against our colonial brethren.

‘Maybe it’s flashing Martian-red, not warning-red,’ I suggested.

‘They’re still Earth people.’ Sauce dripped into his beard. ‘Start complainin’ about Terran interference, too controllin’, then they start peddlin’ stuff like this.’

‘I’ve never had a problem with Martian tech,’ I said. People I knew hated it, but what can you expect from a colony a few decades old? Got to start somewhere.  

‘Look, there it goes again,’ he exclaimed.

The phone was making strange bleeps and noises. The highway was full but we could hear the phone over the traffic. A board across the road advertised prospects for the new mission to the new planet, Thanos. I wondered if Thanos’ phones would work in ten years time.

‘You heard about Martian electronics damaging people?’

I had of course heard the rumours, though they were no more than Terran propaganda to stop their colony getting too up themselves. Again, I’d never had issues with the phone I’d had several years back.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘they’ve been malfunctioning. Just like this one, but worse. Cuttin’ people’s arms off, electrocution, burstin’ into flames...’

‘Then why the hell did you buy it?’ I asked.

‘It was cheap.’

Of course.

‘Does it even work?’ I asked.

He frowned. He swiped through a few screens, ignoring the red and green flashing. ‘I’ll try. Number?’

‘I’ll go over there and call you,’ he said. He ducked out from under the cover of the highway. He avoided getting knocked flat by the crowds and stood twenty feet away. A security drone drifted past, eyed him up, moved on. His filthy clothes kept people a good foot away from him.

My reliable Terran phone vibrated. I pulled up the video screen as it began to flash red.

‘What have you done?’ I mumbled.

‘Is it workin’?!’ he shouted.

I waved my hand through the projection, pixels dancing like confetti. It wasn’t co-operating.

The screen suddenly flashed and a message appeared.


I tried to clear the message. Nothing. ‘What the hell does that mean, ‘thank you’?’ I looked to the old man. He was staring at his phone in horror. It was like strobe-lighting, the grating and grinding audible from the stand. The thing was epileptic.

He looked up at me, whimpered, and his limbs left their sockets.

Spine and shrapnel rained. People screamed and scurried off on their way. After a few seconds I peered out from behind my fingers to find half a man there, blood being washed into the gutters.

A drone came along and hovered by the remains. It shook its camera disapprovingly and drifted on again.