Chapter 37 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

Several weeks passed. Colored leaves fell and daylight hours shortened.

On a Friday evening in mid-October, Jim was sitting in a subway train, riding home. The daytime rush hour was just about over, and the nighttime rush hour was not yet underway, so the subway car was not crowded. Jim grew bored with the newspaper he'd been more or less reading and looked around him at the other subway passengers. One in particular caught his eye.

She was a very attractive young woman, with long red hair, hair dark and deep in color, a very rich shade of red. But it wasn't just her good looks that attracted his notice; she was wearing a jacket that struck him as being odd. It was a camouflage jacket, but instead of featuring blobs of varying shades of green, her jacket had red, pink, and purple colored blobs. It was like camouflage for use in the painted desert-or on the planet Mars.

Just as Jim was trying to think of a way to strike up a conversation with her, the subway screeched into the Zephyr Heights station, and she disembarked.

After the subway had begun moving again, Jim realized that the girl had inadvertently left something behind. He went over and retrieved a piece of red paper from the molded plastic subway seat on which the girl had been sitting. It was a half-sized sheet of paper, and on it were printed the following words:

Meetings of the Children of Mars
are held at 11:00 PM
every Friday night
in New Xi City.

Behind the words was a faint image of what appeared to be the planet Mars. Jim was immediately intrigued by this, and felt he had to find out more about it, partly out of curiosity about this group and what they did, and partly out of a desire to meet the attractive girl who had dropped the flyer.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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