He paused to feed more papers to the fire.
“Now we’re alone. We and a handful of others who’ll land in a few days. Enough to start over. Enough to turn away from all that back on Earth and strike out on a new line—“
The fire leaped up to emphasize his talking. And then all the papers were gone except one. All the laws and beliefs of Earth were burnt into small hot ashes which soon would be carried off inawind.
Timothy looked at the last thing that Dad tossed in the fire. It was a map of the World, and it wrinkled and distorted itself hotly and went—flimpf—and was gone like a warm, black butterfly. Timothy turned away.
“Now I’m going to show you the Martians,” said Dad. “Come on, all of you. Here, Alice.” He took her hand.
Michael was crying loudly, and Dad picked him up and carried him, and they walked down through the ruins toward the canal.
The canal. Where tomorrow or the next day their future wives would come up in a boat, small laughing girls now, with their father and mother.
The night came down around them, and there were stars. But Timothy couldn’t find Earth. It had already set. That was something to think about.
A night bird called among the ruins as they walked. Dad said, “Your mother and I will try to teach you. Perhaps we’ll fail. I hope not. We’ve had a good lot to see and learn from. We planned this trip years ago, before you were born. Even if there hadn’t been a war we would have come to Mars, I think, to live and form our own standard of living. It would have been another century before Mars would have been really poisoned by the Earth civilization. Now, of course—“
They reached the canal. It was long and straight and cool and wet and reflective in the night.
“I’ve always wanted to see a Martian,” said Michael. “Where are they, Dad? You promised.”
“There they are,” said Dad, and he shifted Michael on his shoulder and pointed straight down.
The Martians were there. Timothy began to shiver.
The Martians were there—in the canal—reflected in the water. Timothy and Michael and Robert and Mom and Dad.
The Martians stared back up at them for a long, long silent time from the rippling water …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RAY BRADBURY was born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938. His formal education ended there, but he furthered it by himself—at night in the library and by day at his typewriter. He sold newspapers on Los Angeles street corners from 1938 to 1942, a modest beginning for a man whose name would one day be synonymous with the best in science fiction. Ray Bradbury sold his first science fiction short story in 1941, and his early reputation is based on stories published in the budding science fiction magazines of that time. His work was chosen for best American short story collections in 1946, 1948 and 1952. His awards include The O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award in 1954 and The Aviation-Space Writer’s Association Award for best space article in an American magazine in 1967. Mr. Bradbury has written for television, radio, the theater and film, and he has been published in every major American magazine. Editions of his novels and shorter fiction span several continents and languages, and he has gained worldwide acceptance for his work. His titles include The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I Sing the Body Electric, The Golden Apples of the Sun, A Medicine for Melancholy, The Illustrated Man, Long After Midnight, The Stories of Ray Bradbury, Dinosaur Tales and The Toynbee Convector.