Dirt… From Mars!

ENTHUSIASTIC KID: Hey! Let’s eat some of this dirt from Mars!

[1950s sitcom incidental music. Happy children crowd around one gleaming white plate, piled high with red-brown stuff—granular, coarser but also somehow smoother than sand. The children clutch forks in their sweaty hands, both hands, as if they intend to shovel the dirt two-fisted into their mouths.]

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: Yes, dirt from Mars. The after-school treat that’s really dirt, from real Mars, the planet we’ve all been hearing about so much lately.

ANOTHER ENTHUSIASTIC KID: Mars is cool!

A THIRD ENTHUSIASTIC KID: It’s, like, really far away!

A FOURTH ENTHUSIASTIC KID: We’ve got robots on it!

A FIFTH REALLY ENTHUSIASTIC KID: Our dreams told us not to go to Mars, but dreams ain’t the boss of us!

SEVERAL KIDS IN A FRENZY: MARS!

KID EXHIBITING A BIT OF RETICENCE: But how did we get dirt from Mars?

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER (quickly, with a “small-print” inflection): We did not get the dirt from Mars, the dirt from Mars chose us.

[The kids plunge their forks into the dirt from Mars and carve out hunks, which they shove into their mouths with enthusiasm, except for the KID EXHIBITING A BIT OF RETICENCE, who hangs back, suspicious.]

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: Dirt from Mars tastes like cherry-chocolate cake, with just a hint of ancient horror.

HONESTLY OVER-ENTHUSIASTIC KID: Mmmmm, it gets all creamy when you put it in your mouth!

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: Dirt from Mars is jam-packed with minerals.

AN ENTHUSIASTIC KID: And vitamins?

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: No.

[The kids all cheer.]

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: You can mold the dirt from Mars to make fun shapes.

ENTHUSIASTIC KID (holding a cube): I made a cube!

ANOTHER ENTHUSIASTIC KID (holding a pyramid): I made a pyramid!

A THIRD ENTHUSIASTIC KID (holding a dodecahedron): I made a dodecadammerscammer

A FOURTH KID (enthusiasm waning): I made a… [he holds in his cupped hands a non-euclidian shape. The shape appears to move but is not moving.]

A FOURTH KID (looking at non-euclidian shape): My eyes hurt.

RETICENT KID (now distraught): Don’t look at it, Timmy!

TIMMY (gravely): I have been named.

[Viscous black membranes slide over Timmy’s eyes. Wind roars from the corners of the room. The dirt from Mars screeches. The other kids dance and eat more dirt—the pile never diminishes—as lightning spiders across the ceiling. The light in the room shifts to red.]

RETICENT KID: Oh no, what have I done!

TIMMY (his voice pitch-shifted low): Sally.

[SALLY, the RETICENT KID, gasps. Now she has been named.]

TIMMY: I can’t hold back this force much longer. I am lost, but your mind holds the key to its defeat. Listen to your dreams, Sally, they will reveal the secret to you.

SALLY: I don’t understand, what’s going on?

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: What’s going on? Dirt from Mars, that’s what’s going on!

ALL KIDS BUT SALLY (enthusiastically): DIRT FROM MARS!

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: Dirt from Mars—a yummy snack and so much more.

TIMMY: Run, Sally!

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: Dirt from Mars—fell, capricious, a taste that’s delicious

[The kids chant “dirt from Mars”, red-black mixture of dirt and saliva dripping from their open mouths, staining their lips and faces. More lightning, more wind, the screeching intensifies. Sally runs to the door, struggles with the knob.]

MOM (unseen, downstairs): Kids?

[Everything stops.]

MOM (unseen, downstairs): What are you doing in there?

KIDS (in unison): We’re just eating some dirt from Mars.

[The kids stand motionless, wide-eyed, languid tendrils of dirt-drool hanging off their chins. Sally, crammed in the corner, paralyzed.]

MOM (unseen, downstairs): Oh, alright then. Don’t spoil your dinners!

[The lightning, wind and screeching resume full-tilt, the children dance and eat the dirt from Mars. Sally gets the door open and runs out of the room. The wind slams the door shut behind her. The kids shorten their chant to “DIRT”, yelling “DIRT” faster and faster, the PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER joins in, room light like a heat lamp, deafening screeches, face stained with dirt and spit—]

[Silence. The kids, wild-eyed, ravenous, clutching forks. The gleaming white plate, the deathless pile of dirt.]

PATRIARCHAL VOICEOVER: …from Mars!

 

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