Ask Dr. Eldritch

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Don't fall victim to vampires! Don't get slashed by a psycho! Don't get stuck, ASK DR. ELDRITCH!

Dear Dr. Eldritch,
Ask Dr. Eldritch Mars     I'm writing from the SMC, the Secret Mars Colony, and I think something strange is going on. Perhaps you're thinking "WHAT Mars colony?", since the official propaganda doesn't acknowledge manned trips to this planet, only robotic missions. I knew nothing of it until I was brought into this project, but it's been active for almost twenty years. Ostensibly we're perfecting self-contained artificial ecosystem technology, but something doesn't seem quite right. I mean, I was a tennis pro before I was hired. I got six months of training and sent up here. All of my "experiments" revolve around setting up tennis courts in the recreation dome and giving the other inhabitants lessons. The scientists back in Houston insist that they're gathering crucial physiological data, but I've been doing this for almost a year. How long does it take?

But that's not even why I'm writing to you. I go running every day (I don't get much of a workout giving lessons. There's less gravity here, and while these people may be top scientists, they're really bad tennis players). It didn't take long to get bored with doing laps around the recreation dome, so I try to take a different route every day. Last week I noticed a hatch that was kinda behind a stack of equipment, and it wasn't locked so I went through. I found myself in a series of domes, with rows and rows of apartments. Nobody's living in them, and the entire section was dark and cold. It felt really creepy and I was going to leave, when I saw lights at the far end.

I checked it out, and there was a window to a lower section. A bunch of really high-tech equipment was in a domed crater, and everyone there wore clean-room suits. A huge machine in the center had some sort of pulsing energy field, but I didn't get a good look because I realized that around the perimeter there were guards with guns! Nobody here has guns! This is a scientific research station; who are they going to shoot? I ducked down and ran out as fast as I could. I've wanted to find out if anybody knows about what's going on, but I'm afraid I'll draw attention if I start asking questions. What should I do?

-- Call me "John Carter," from Mars

Dear "John Carter,"
    You know how a Real-Estate Agent helps you buy or sell property because the complex transactions supposedly require it? Have ever thought about who it is that's telling you it's so complex? Picking out the right frozen dairy dessert treat can be tricky too, but there aren't Ice-Cream Agents that help you negotiate the deal. I'm just saying.

But back to your question. So, you're part of a secret government project and you're surprised that there's something strange going on? Well, welcome to the world of conspiracies! You see, all conspiracies have an even more secret conspiracy hidden beneath it, and often one beneath that, and so on. They're like wedding cakes; multiple Layers of Conspiracy concealed by the Creamy Frosting of Official Cover-Up, artfully accented with the Decorative Florets of Plausible Deniability. Interesting to look at, but those who partake usually find them bland and slightly unsettling.

At one time, all a sinister plot needed was a simple cover story, like the way Westward Expansion was ascribed to Manifest Destiny. Today, the public is far more sophisticated (I know, the existence of Professional Wrestling seems to disprove that, but it's true), and it takes several more layers of subterfuge to cover up secret machinations. Each layer serves the same purpose as the magician's scantily-dressed assistant: Distraction.

In your case, most people take Mars exploration at face value; a series of expensive exploration robots looking for signs of life. If no life, then water. If no water, rocks. Those who dig into it further may find that tons of building materials were sent along on those trips, which have been used to build the secret colony. While this is supposedly for scientific research, you've inadvertently uncovered the next layer; that the site is actually a sanctuary for high-ranking government officials and their families in the event of nuclear war on Earth. Rows of waiting apartments? Recreation dome? Tennis courts? Why would a research facility need a tennis pro? It doesn't, unless it's a cover for a emergency get-away resort for the rich and powerful. (I know, there are supposedly underground resorts here on Earth built for this purpose, but that's another misdirection!) Then there's the mysterious machine in the crater. Who's behind it all? As they say, let's follow the money...

I don't know the particulars, but I suspect this trail leads to the most far-reaching cabal ever: The Ultra-Secret Council of Realtors. This secular brotherhood controls most governments, corporations and conspiracies in the world today. Their agents are involved in virtually every real-estate transaction on the globe. Think about where you are; who would gain the most from an entire planet of unclaimed territory? Billions of new acres to be bought and sold, all with hefty commissions! (See, and you thought I was just making a quirky non sequitur at the beginning!)

My best advice is to stay quiet, finish your tour of duty and get out of there! You'll probably get sucked into the mire, however, but you'll get by with this: The Truth is out there (and in your case, way out there), and Trust No One. Except me, of course.

Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!

-- Dr. Eldritch

 
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