Johnny's Creative Writing

MARTIAN CAFE. A sci-fi story in progress.

Home
Jakita
SHORT STORIES
DIATA 001 & 002
DIATA 003 & 004. WARNING! Contains controversial sex scenes.
DIATA 005 & 006
DIATA 007 &008
DIATA 009 & 010
DIATA 011 & 012
DIATA 013 & 014
DIATA 015 & 016
DIATA 017
KYLIE. Complete story. 8811 words.WARNING! Controversial and sexually explicit material.
ZENITH. Complete story. 17900 words.
MARTIAN CAFE Chapters 001 & 002
MARTIAN CAFE 003 & 004
MARTIAN CAFE 005 & 006
MARTIAN CAFE 007 & 008
MARTIAN CAFE Chapters 009 & 010
About Me
Favorite Links
Contact Me
SCUDDAR Chapters 001 & 002
SCUDDAR chapters 003 & 004
SCUDDAR Chapters 005 & 006
SCUDDAR Chapters 007 & 008. WARNING contains sexual explict scenes!
SCUDDAR. Chapters 009 & 010. WARNING! Chapter 009 contains sexually explicit material.
SCUDDAR Chapters 011 & 012
SCUDDAR Chapters 013 & 014
SCUDDAR Chapters 015 & 016
SCUDDAR Chapters 017 & 018
SCUDDAR Chapters 019 & 020
SCUDDAR Chapters 021 & 022
SCUDDAR Chapters 023 & 024
SCUDDAR Chapters 025 & 026
SCUDDAR Chapters 027 & 028

Martian Cafe.

Martian Café.

 

Chapter One.

 

Basha.

 

 

 

Ralph Connor pulled off the dusty road and into the parking lot of the Half a Mo transport cafe. He chose a spot where he would have no difficulty in driving out the nuclear powered Titan truck with its four trailers when he wanted to leave. As he parked the road train, he noted three other trucks and a dust covered sedan parked close to the cafe.

 

“Darn place is getting popular again,” he muttered to himself.

 

He waited while the cloud of red Martian dust, disturbed by the passage of his vehicle, settled. He had been stopping at the transport cafe whenever he used this road for over five years. When old Tom Biggley was the owner all the truckers used to stop for a rest and a meal prepared by Daphne, Tom’s wife. Some would stay overnight and have a good hearty breakfast before moving on. Old Tom kept his customers laughing with an endless stock of jokes and Daphne’s old-fashioned cooking had been voted the best on Mars by those that ate there. No one knew how old Tom or Daphne was but it was common knowledge they had come Earth to Mars for health reasons, the lighter gravity being the main attraction, and had built and maintained the transport cafe. Daphne died a year ago and old Tom decided to sell up. The new owners, the Henderson’s, was quiet and not as sociable and most truckers stopped using the café, preferring to continue a further two hundred kilometres to the next one.

 

Ralph eased his six foot two inch brawny frame out of the driving cab and climbed down from his truck. After making the usual check of his tyres, he pressed the remote that locked the doors, immobilised the power unit and activated the alarms. It would require an eight-digit code to get into the truck if anyone attempted to steal it and another to start the power unit. Even on Mars, hijackers were always on the watch for loaded trucks and his was crammed with the latest household goods and scientific equipment that could sell on the black market and disappear in days if thieves got hold of it.

 

Satisfied all was in order, Ralph walked toward the entrance of the café. As he approached, the garish sign flashed and flickered as coloured laser beams danced over the facia advertising home cooking, Martian brewed beer and comfortable sleeping quarters. Popular trucker's music blared from speakers attached to either side of the facia. The cheery sight and sounds had lured many a weary trucker after a long and lonely day on the road.

 

Ralph pushed open the door and entered the brightly-lit dining room and bar. Two truckers sharing a table and eating meals looked up. Recognising him as a fellow trucker they acknowledged him by pointing at him and then striking their shoulder with their fist. Ralph returned the sign with a grin. Experienced truckers had their own slang and sign language. One other trucker was trying his luck at a computer gambling game and was too engrossed to notice him.

 

The kitchen door opened just as he reached the counter and a girl he had never seen before emerged carrying a tray with a steaming meal on it. Ralph watched with widening eyes as she took the meal to a table close to the gaming machine. Her slim, shapely body was encased in a purple figure-hugging cat suit currently fashionable among the young girls on Mars and Earth. On her feet she wore black, calf-high, skin tight boots.  Ralph estimated her height to be about five foot ten. Jet-black, wavy hair tumbled over her shoulders and back almost to her waist.

 

He glanced quickly at the two truckers at the table. They were looking at him with big grins on their faces. One made a sign that clearly indicated what he would like to do with the girl if given the chance. Ralph smiled and looked back at her.

 

“Can I help you?”

 

Ralph swung around at the sudden question. Henderson, the new owner, had appeared and stood with hands on the counter. He was a tall, skinny man around fifty years old. The shirt he wore went out of fashion two years ago and his shorts that should have clung to his thighs hung loose. His clear, hazel eyes looked into Ralph’s unblinkingly.

 

“Yeah. I’ll have the meal of the day and a room for the night.” Ralph saw the girl return with the tray empty and re-enter the kitchen.

 

Henderson tapped at a keyboard for a minute then turned back to Ralph.

 

“Cash or credit?” He accepted the plastic card Ralph offered him, slipped it into a slot and typed some more on the keyboard.

 

“D’ya wanna drink while you’re waiting?”

 

“A Martian will be fine,” replied Ralph, nodding.

 

“That’ll be 32 in advance.”

 

Henderson tapped at the keyboard again then held up a small screen with an amber light blinking. Ralph pressed his thumb on the screen and the light turned to green. His credit was still good.

 

“Take any table ya want,” said Henderson, handing back Ralph’s card and giving him a Martian brewed beer. “Ya credit’s good so you can order more and pay when ya leave.”

 

If the light had remained amber, it meant he was low on credit and Ralph would have to produce his credit card each time he ordered anything.

 

Ralph chose a table next to the two truckers and sat down. The older of the two, a man with a paunch, brown hair greying at the temples and aged about fifty nodded to him.

 

“Running heavy?” asked the man.

 

“Axles dragging,” replied Ralph. “You?”

 

“Semi-light.” The man shrugged and shook his head negatively. Semi-light meant he didn’t even have half a load on his truck and that could be costly for him if he didn’t get another load for the return trip to Mars City. “He’s running heavy too,” he added, nodding toward his companion.

 

The other man was about thirty-two; lean, lanky with fair hair. He grinned at Ralph revealing perfect teeth that were the whitest Ralph had seen on a male for a long time.

 

“You got a dad?” he asked.

 

“Connor. Ralph Connor. You?”

 

“Mick Hewitt. This is Ernie Bridges,” he answered, pointing his fork at the older man. “What do ya think of…”

 

Mick stopped talking as the girl in the cat suit came with Ralph’s meal on a tray. As she placed the knife, fork and spoon in front of him, Ralph saw the cat suit was made of Cosmoslene, a very expensive woven fabric that stretched and shrank to perfectly fit any shaped body. It clung to her like a second skin. He caught the scent of her perfume as she leaned over the table and he guessed that too, was expensive although he knew nothing much about such things.

 

She placed his plate before him and arranged the dishes of food then turned and looked at him.

 

“Is there anything else you would like,” she asked. “Another beer?”

 

“Another beer would be good,” he replied with a cheerful smile and looking into her eyes. They were deep brown. So dark a brown that one might even think they were black. A slight frown briefly creased his brow as the girl left to get the drink. There was also something else about her eyes. Something he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

 

“…her?” finished Mick after the girl had gone.

 

“What?” asked Ralph.

 

“What do ya think of her?”

 

Ralph nodded in approval. “Very nice. Who is she? How long has she worked here?” He hadn’t been on this road in over a month and had not stopped at the Half a Mo in more than three.

 

“Her name’s Basha. First saw her here six weeks ago" answered Mick. He leered at Ralph and added, “Can ya just imagine being in bed with her?”

 

Ralph ignored the question. He had no doubt that every trucker that saw her had the same thoughts. The girl probably knew it too. She couldn’t be more than twenty-three but the sensuous way she walked gave Ralph the impression she was older.

 

“Did you notice anything about her eyes?” he asked as he put a forkful of beefsteak into his mouth.

 

“Yeah. She’s got a purple ring around them,” contributed Ernie. “Maybe contact lens. Purple suit with purple ring round her eyes to match. I dunno.”

 

“Purple lip paint, too,” offered Mick, finishing his beer and pushing the empty glass away from him.

 

Basha returned with Ralph’s beer then began clearing Ernie and Mick’s table. Ralph watched her from the corner of his eye. The fine material of the cat suit revealed every curve of her body like it was purple body paint. If she was aware of the affect she had on the three men, she didn’t show it as she wiped the table with a cloth.

 

“Can I get you anything else?” she asked.

 

“Bring them a beer each and put it on my slate,” said Ralph. There were grunts of approval from both the other men. It wasn’t often a trucker turned down a free drink and this occasion wasn’t one of them.

 

“Two beers or three?” asked Basha turning to him. Ralph had a chance to look into her eyes again. Now he saw the deep purple ring around her irises. They didn’t look like contact lens to him but he couldn’t be sure.

 

“Just the two for now, thanks.” The three watched her carry the tray laden with soiled plates and dishes to the kitchen, calling to Henderson for two beers as she passed the counter. Ralph shook his head.

 

“She’s out of place here,” he said. “That suit must’ve cost a few months of her salary. It’s made of Cosmoslene.”

 

Mick looked up at him and grinned. “Yeah? I hadn’t noticed.”

 

“And the rest,” said Ernie. “My daughter wanted to buy a top made of that stuff. When I checked the price, I told her when I made my first million I’d but her one.” He chuckled as he recalled the incident.

 

“So what’s a waitress in a transport café in the middle of a Martian desert doing wearing a suit like that for work?” insisted Ralph.

 

“Ya know?” Mick dropped his voice to a whisper and leaned forward as if to confide in them. “I heard that Cosmoslene is so smooth and stretchable that when…”

 

“… You make love she don’t need to take it off.” finished Ernie. “I’ve heard that too but I ain’t ever heard of anyone trying it, though.”

 

Mick leaned back, his face showing disappointment that Ernie already heard the rumour.

 

Basha returned with the two drinks for Mick and Ernie; placing them on their table with her back to Ralph.

 

Mick gave her ass an affectionate pat and she turned her head toward him. The smile on Mick’s face vanished and a momentary look of fear came into his eyes. Basha then turned to Ralph and smiled.

 

“Will there be anything else I can get you?” she asked as if nothing had happened.

 

Ralph shook his head. “No thanks,” he replied. He waited until she had returned to the kitchen.

 

“What was that all about?” he asked, looking at Mick.

 

“What?” asked Mick.

 

“When you touched her ass you looked like you were gonna shit yourself.”

 

Mick laughed out loud. “Me touch her ass? Don’t I wish?”

 

Ralph frowned and looked at Ernie but he hadn’t seen anything. Maybe I imagined it, thought Ralph. He’d had a long and tiring day.

 

“Forget it. I’m gonna clean up.” He rose from the table, bid them a good night and went to his room.

 

Ralph spent the evening in his room writing his daily report and then watched an old documentary about the hazards that faced the pioneers that first set up a base on Mars. The days when the air was too thin to breathe normally and oxygen masks had to be worn constantly. During the early days of colonization, oxygen and food had to be brought to the pioneers from Earth because Mars was a barren planet. Their difficulties in building the first dome that protected them from the harsh environment. Then there were problems of beginning the hydroponics within the domes to provide food and oxygen.

 

The documentary was one of many that continually reminded the inhabitants of Mars of their heritage. Ralph, as did many others that came to Mars during the two hundred years since those beginnings, viewed them as political propaganda to keep the people from becoming disheartened and returning to Earth. It also served to make them feel proud of being the first millennial Martians. He endured it merely because it was one he hadn’t seen before. By the time it had finished he was ready for his bed and sleep.

 

 

 

Ernie and Mick were already in the dining room when Ralph arrived for breakfast. The other trucker he had seen playing the gaming machine was at a table next to them sipping coffee and listening to something Mick was telling him.

 

Henderson emerged from the kitchen as Ralph approached the counter to order breakfast. He wore the same clothes as he did the evening before. He went behind the counter, placing his hands on it in the same habitual pose and waited, unsmiling, for Ralph to speak.

 

“Breakfast?” asked Ralph.

 

Henderson pushed a menu toward him.  “We’re out of eggs but got everythin’ else.”

 

Glancing quickly through the menu, Ralph chose synthetic cereals, imported bacon and hash browns, along with Martian bread and coffee. He didn’t mind forgoing the eggs. Martian laid eggs were almost tasteless anyway.

 

“We got imported coffee if ya want,” said Henderson, raising his eyebrows hopefully.

 

Ralph nodded. “Yeah. I’ll have that.”  Anything imported from Earth was three to five times more expensive but, unlike the Martian beer, it tasted so much better. He shoved the menu back to Henderson then made his way over to the other truckers.

 

“Bright dawn, Ralph,” greeted Ernie. “Kip well?”

 

“Bright dawn all. Better than kipping in the truck, thanks, Ernie.” He nodded to Mick as he answered.

 

The trucker he hadn’t met pointed at him and struck his shoulder. “Bright dawn, roader,” he said with a smile.

 

Ralph returned the sign to the trucker and gave him a friendly nod. “Ralph Connor. You got a dad, roader?”

 

“Ashworth. Arnie,” replied the trucker.

 

Arnie was around forty years old. Like most truckers, his face was weathered through being in the open for many hours a day for many years and his body toughened by the heavy lifting a truckers’ work entailed. Ralph judged him to be about six foot tall give or take an inch.

 

“Going in or out?” asked Ralph.

 

“On the way in, roader. Axles dragging, too.” He looked very pleased with himself. It wasn’t often a trucker got a full load on a return trip. The big loads were usually from Mars City outward bound to the towns and settlements spread over the planet.

 

Ralph wondered what Arnie was hauling but didn’t ask. It was considered bad taste for a trucker to ask another what he had in his truck. Sources of work were jealously guarded by truckers. It was also dangerous to reveal such information to anyone. If hijackers found out a truck had a particularly valuable load, they wouldn’t hesitate to kill the trucker for it and blast their way into the truck. The Martian Mafia was ruthless.

 

Henderson came to the table with Ralph’s breakfast.

 

“Where’s Basha?” asked Ralph of Henderson. He had expected to be served by the cat suited beauty. He was rewarded with an unblinking stare from Henderson before getting a reply.

 

“She ain’t here this morning.” Henderson left before any of the truckers could ask him any more questions.

 

“I was wondering the same thing myself,” Mick announced looking around the dining room. “This place is dead without her around.”

 

Ralph recalled the evening before when he saw Mick touch up Basha. He couldn’t help feeling that something was not right. Apart from Basha being out of place working in the café, there was the fearful look on Mick’s face and his denial of touching her. Henderson, although always quiet and uninformative, was unusually sullen. Then there was Henderson’s wife, Maggie. She usually made a point of greeting customers but Ralph hadn’t seen her at all although he had no doubt she was working in the kitchen.

 

Ernie arose from the table gulping down the last of his coffee. “Gotta get moving, roaders,” he said. “Time’s getting on.”

 

Mick also stood up. “I’ll keep ya company as far as the next fork unless you’re going east too.”

 

“I’m going out north but the company will be fine to the fork,” Ernie replied.

 

The men said their farewells, paid their bills and left. Minutes later the two road trains hummed out of the parking lot leaving clouds of red dust in their wake. Ralph knew the rearmost truck would be dropping back several hundred meters once on the road. When a road train got up to speed it caused a mini dust storm that made it impossible for anyone following closer to see.

 

Ralph finished his breakfast, joining in the conversation with Arnie when he felt a comment was appropriate and then announced that he had to be on his way.

 

“Yeah, me too,” replied Arnie. “Safe roading, Ralph.”

 

“You too,” said Ralph over his shoulder as he went to pay his bill. Minutes later Ralph was on the road.

 

Chapter Two

 

Hijacked

 

 

 

Ralph set the controls of the road train to a steady three hundred kilometers per hour and settled back in his seat. Once on the move there was little he had to do. Martian roads were nothing more than worn tracks made by the passage of road trains over many years and, more often than not, the roads became invisible due to the frequent dust storms. A computerized compass, once synchronized, kept the road train on course for the chosen destination.

 

Ralph had seen videos of the truckers of old and didn’t envy them. They had none of the refinements modern trucks have. The surface of Mars was far from smooth. It was dotted with hazards such as rocks, craters and crevices and the ride must have been exhausting and rough. Modern road train driving seats were fitted with hydraulic shock absorbers. These, combined with the latest suspension systems on the wheels, prevented a driver being bounced all over the cab once the train gathered speed.

 

Forty-five minutes later, he passed the next transport café. As he sped past, he noticed there was only one vehicle in the parking lot. He couldn’t be certain but it looked like the dust covered sedan he had seen at Half a Mo café when he had parked up.

 

“Now who does that belong to?” he muttered to himself. He had forgotten all about the sedan when he entered the Half a Mo. Now he thought about it, he hadn’t seen any other customers there apart from the three other truckers. He knew the Henderson’s had a vehicle they kept in a garage at the rear of the café. Ralph was certain it didn’t belong to them. Could it be Basha’s? He wondered. She was the only one not there this morning. Once again the niggling thought that something was not right came into his mind. A sleek sedan like that cost a lot of money. All sedans were luxury items on Mars and that model was more luxurious than most. Hell. It’s none of my business, he thought. He mentally shrugged off any more concern.

 

A further three hundred kilometers and he saw one of the huge man-made forests in the distance. These were scattered all over Mars. Forests of genetically engineered trees designed to grow in the thin Martian atmosphere and thrive on the sparse nutrients in the Martian soil. The trees, designed to shed their leaves four times a Martian year to serve as mulch and further nutrient for the trees roots to feed on, were successful in producing oxygen to make the atmosphere more breathable for humans. One unforeseen characteristic was their ability to reproduce twice a year and grew faster than bamboo. While this was hailed by the scientists as a bonus, there were some that were not so happy. The trees matured in two years and there were fears the forests would be unstoppable. One fanatic group of people was campaigning to poison the trees before it was too late. They likened the threat as the opposite to the spread of deserts on Earth but no one took any notice of them. Most believed the benefits outweighed any risks to humans in the far future.

 

Ralph slowed the truck as he approached the forest. The road he was on passed within two kilometers of the forest and small settlements had already sprung up around it. Settlers often didn’t realize that a road train needed time and distance to stop even in an emergency. He had heard reports of settlers driving onto roads in front of fast moving road trains and had dying as a result.

 

As the truck slowed down a screen above Ralph’s head began to clear. It was his rear view screen that when at speed usually just showed a red mist of Martian dust. Now it was clearing he saw another cloud of dust about a kilometer behind him. He switched the rear radar camera on and checked the speed of the vehicle.

 

“Holy shit! Four hundred and twenty-three k’s an hour!” he exclaimed aloud. “I hope you ain’t a roader!”

 

He had a brief vision of a road train smashing into his rear trailer, wrecking it and its contents.

 

He kept his eyes on the screen and realized with some relief that the cloud of dust was made by a much smaller vehicle than a road train. His radar showed it wasn’t slowing as it bore down on him. The vehicle sped past him and he just managed to see it was the sedan being driven by Basha before the cloud of dust obscured the vehicle.

 

“Stupid cow!” he yelled at the red dust cloud. “You’ll get yourself killed!”

 

Ralph slowed to eighty kilometers an hour as he passed the forest and a couple of settlements. He wasn’t in any particular hurry and he could always make up time by driving at maximum speed of five hundred kilometers an hour when he knew it was safe to do so. He enjoyed seeing the green contrast of the trees to the arid red landscape that was the regular scene on Mars. An early morning mist amid the trees showed the forest was already producing moisture and doing what the scientists hoped. One day that will be a rainforest, thought Ralph. It seemed incredible that such a phenomenon could happen on this once barren planet.

 

An hour later he came to the fork where the road branched. Straight ahead was the northbound road, to the right would take him east behind a mountain range that prevented a direct run to his destination. Ralph turned east and increased his speed to a comfortable three hundred kilometers an hour, confident he would reach the next transport café before evening. He always ate lunch on the move. All road trains had a small refrigerator and microwave fitted as standard. They also had a small sleeping compartment that was reasonably comfortable.

 

Ralph had traveled about four hundred kilometers on the eastbound road when he saw the stationary road train and began braking hard. He came to a halt just past the truck. It was off the road and Ralph saw the side doors of the trailers were open. He sat in the cab for several minutes scanning the area for signs of life or an ambush although on this part of the road there was nowhere anyone could hide. He reached for his handgun clipped beneath the console, then changing his mind, unclipped the carbine above his head, climbed out of his cab to the ground and walked warily back to the truck.

 

He checked the trailers first in case there was someone hiding in them. All but one was empty. What he saw made him feel sick. Mick was lying on the floor of the trailer, eyes wide and with a hole in his forehead. His lips curled back revealing his white, perfect teeth and a frozen expression of fear on his face.

 

Ralph turned away and gagged. He was glad he hadn’t eaten lunch. Sitting down on the ground and leaning back against one of the huge wheels of the trailer, Ralph waited for his nausea to pass. It was obviously the work of hijackers but why did they have to kill him? He was in a trailer so they must have already got what they wanted. Did he recognize one of them?

 

He got up and checked the locks of the trailers. As far as he could tell, none had been forced open. Either Mick had opened them or the hijackers had forced him to give them the code to unlock them. Maybe he thought they would spare his life if he gave the code to them but once they had what they wanted; they had no need of him anymore. He became disposable.

 

Deciding there was nothing he could do, Ralph walked back to his truck. He was just about to climb back into his cab when he noticed tire tracks in the red dust. There were three different types of tire tracks apart from Mick’s train. One was of a road train, another that could have been a light truck and the third was made by a smaller vehicle. Ralph frowned. A sedan, he wondered? Basha had been in a hell of a hurry when she passed him.

 

After climbing back into his cab, Ralph called the Mars Central Police and reported the crime. He requested permission to bury Mick but was refused as it might ruin forensic evidence. Ralph shook his head in disgust. He knew it would take the police days before they arrived at the scene. Outside of the six major cities, Mars was practically lawless.

 

Ralph made his way back to the trailer where Mick’s body lay. He hesitated at the doors for a moment before climbing the fold down steps and entering the trailer. Doing his best to avoid looking at Mick’s face, he searched through his pockets and found his wallet. The hijackers had not bothered to take it. No one carried cash anymore and the contents of the train would be all they were interested in getting.

 

In the wallet Ralph found Mick’s identity card which had his address on it. He read it several times, memorizing the details then replaced it and returned the wallet to Mick’s pocket.

 

“There ain’t anything here to say if you had a family, roader,”said Ralph, “but I’ll sure find out and let them know what happened to ya if ya did.”

 

Bracing himself, Ralph raised his eyes slowly to look at Mick’s face. A trickle of blood had run from the bullet hole down the side of Mick’s nose to his lips. On his lips there was a purple smudge. Ralph rose to his feet quickly as he realized with horror that it was lip paint. Basha wore purple lip paint. Was she Mick’s killer? Did she kiss him before killing him? The evidence indicated that she was involved in the hijacking in some way.

 

“Young lady, there ain’t many creamers like you on Mars. I’ll be looking for ya,” he muttered.

 

He gave Mick a final glance before leaving the trailer. “You’re on ya last trip now, roader. Happy roading.”

 

He got back in his truck and headed for the next transport café where he would spend the night.

Enter supporting content here