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Look At Those Cavemen Go!

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Dear Dr. Fermi,

They are here.

Kind regards from Mars,
Mark Watney



Look, I know I'm not the first one to say "maybe the Martians we can't find are actually invisible!" and maybe I've just been too long by myself, but we put all these instruments on Mars that detect things that we can't actually see because human perception is too small, and these machines are all telling me: I'm not alone.

I've probably never actually been alone the entire time I've been here.

That's... really creepy.

I'm calling them the Old Ones, since if they're Martian ghosts, I probably have to. There's gotta be some rule somewhere. Same reason no one has the guts to land on Europa.

I first became aware of the Martians after noticing some odd readings from the potato crop. No, not a crop circle, don't give me that. But the nitrogen spiked, and then it un-spiked. After a few cycles of this, I started writing it down.

Yes, me and NASA had taught Morse code to the Martians. Laugh it up.

Their first message was: storm.

Guess we taught them English, too. The xeno-anthropologists are going to kill me.



Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the warning about a storm, but my instruments (you know, those that are smarter than me and can see things I can't) told me it wasn't going to come near me. Seems the Martians are either unstuck from geography or unstuck from time. They might be laughing at me getting stranded here from a storm. Maybe they've named me Storm because of it. That'd be a kick-ass nickname. I'd sign all my autographs as Mark "Storm" Watney. I'd form a band named "They Call Me Storm". I'd be insufferable about it. It would be epic.

But before all of that happens, I need to actually confirm the discovery of intelligent life on Mars. All of my communications with NASA are public property. I can't just tell them: found life, ttyl.

Well, I could, but NASA would probably want some warning before I did that. But, man, would it totally be worth all that money they're spending to rescue me. I'd get so many Mars missions approved.

It takes a few days to figure out how to communicate with the Martians. They can manipulate the physical world to an extent I can't (well, I can't without a lot of help) and they must have some perception of what things look like or else they wouldn't have been able to learn Morse code.

I thought about it for a couple minutes and then wrote out on the floor of the Hab with Martian rocks: I come in peace.

Hey, there's a reason the classics are the classics.



We get a dialogue going, me and the Martians. I tell them that I'm from the third rock from the sun, the one that's blue (I wasn't going to try to describe its spectrum or chemical composition using rocks, thanks). They tell me they've been trying to communicate with us and have been thinking we're very stupid. Their term for us humans has been 'water creature'. So that's why I'm Storm, I guess, if that's actually me and not some kind of foreboding warning. I'm not able to get an answer from them on if they have physical forms or if they did once and have managed to transform into beings of pure energy, which I've always thought would be a cool thing to be. You'd get to fly!

I ask them if they've been enjoying the radio and television shows we've been sending them. They say they like Abbott and Costello's Who's On First. They think it's the greatest example of our genre of Greek tragedy. I may have read that one wrong. Maybe something got lost in translation? Also, they really like Galaxy Quest. That makes more sense.

But anyway, I tell NASA all of this, and that's what gets into the history books.



The problems really start back on Earth. I'm boiling some water for potatoes (don't judge) and I look down and the bubbles spell out, in large friendly letters: HELLO.

I am so FUCKED.