Yes, son. I saw the Martians once. They’re absolutely right, you know, when they say that the Martian race exceeded mankind in every respect. They came down in droves, after the Galactic Council was established. Our Earth government welcomed them- said it was good for the economy to have Mars currency flowing through our markets and our delis. There was only one thing on that glorious races’ mind, only one reason why their great civilization would ever take notice of our backwater world. When the “picnicking season” started on Mars, family rocket flyers would swerve out of the ancient pyramids in droves, and all the Martian families would be fighting one another- in their good-natured, enigmatic Martian way- for ideal plots of land on Earth’s public parks. For out of all of the cultural achievements of all the history of Earth, the one thing we’re noted for in the galaxy at large is our ideal picnic locations.
At that point, hardly any native Earther ever went on picnics. Oh, it was a combination of the popularity of the then-new home holodecks, and just plain not wanting to compete with all those damn Martians. Some say the government was subsidizing holodeck production to keep people happy, and keep Earth hospitable for Mars dollars. I don’t know about all that. But boy, did they picnic. Groceries had to start stocking Martian favorites during the season to compete. As boys, we would spend a bit of our allowance money and dare one another to try a bite of the nasty stuff.
And they came. And they picnicked- boy, oh boy did they picnic. They trundled on their hulking, strangely gangly Martian limbs over Earth hills and beneath Earth trees. Little Martian and big Martian, young Martian and old Martian, they came. They came with big, ornately carved Martian picnic urns chock-full of goodies. And they swam in our pools and our brooks, their strange limbs flowing and swaying in our Earth waters. And they spread their strange Martian spreads out on big Martian blankets dyed with odd, eye-deceiving Martian arabesques. They ate. The Martians picnicked.
Insects were merely interesting to them. Strange Earth curiosities. They had heard stories about the plagues caused by our Earth mosquitoes. But the Martians had built their immune systems up with painstaking genetic experimentation, allowing them to live for thousands of years. What did they have to fear from a habitat that even creatures like us could survive in? I suppose you could say it was that haughtiness, as much as the chiggers themselves, that did them in. Who could have guessed that, being immune to the bite of spider and mosquito, fly and flea, it would be the lowly chigger that would bring down one of the greatest races ever known to this galaxy?
It started simple, and slow. Floated right under the radar of even their advanced medical technology. Little red splotches on the skin, just like you might expect. It seemed a little funny that their carapace didn’t resist even that small bite. Would you have thought much more of it?
What scientists didn’t yet realize on either world is that chiggers actually contain a strange trans-dimensional isotope that all life on Earth has grown immune to over the eons. Well damn, boy, hell if I know the exact science behind it. The upshot is this- over time, in full sight of all their friends and loved ones, the Martians would just- disappear. Become transparent, and fade out of existence. And I’ll be goddamned if there was anything anybody could do about it!
They faded. One by one, they faded. Erased from existence, their very molecular substance rotted away by the dimensional instability that had been brought to their digestion, and then spread through metabolic functions throughout the rest of their body. And the great old pyramids went silent. Through halls that had housed some of this galaxies greatest minds- hell, through halls that had housed living, thinking beings, capable of forming loving family units- now there only swept a cold, bitter, lonesome Martian wind.
The last Martian faded away, and that was that. The chiggers got the Martians.
You know, boy, it makes you think. With all the achievements that those Martians made. With how beautifully their society was crafted. How healthy and strong its members. And then, all the other great, strong, healthy and just civilizations of the galaxy that had their day in their respective suns. But it was all only to meet in the end with fathomless oblivion, and the forgetfulness of time, bringing only distant and heavily distorted echoes of their great learning to races too savage and petty to even really take proper advantage of the scraps. Races like ourselves. If those societies, which surely pleased God so much more than we ever could- if even they, even the Martians could sink so easily, how much longer can we possibly hope for? Yes, boy, “the meek will inherit the galaxy.” Perhaps our place in God’s scheme isn’t all that different from that of the chigger. Perhaps mans’ greatest virtue, the thing that makes him favored in His sight- is mans’ humility.