Major Lars McCourt, special agent
Was a very tall astronaut
With the Earth Alliance Resistance Service
They called it EARS for short.
Extremely early one morning,
When the Major was still in bed
His holophone bleeped and flashed its light
From the shelf, next to his head.
He activated the tiny device
And saw an image of the Chief,
She said, ‘come straight to work, Major McCourt,
For a very important brief.’
Lars stretched then leapt from his bed,
Had breakfast and a shower and shave.
Minutes later he left on his motor bike,
Giving the neighbours a wave.
His bike ran fast and fuellessly
Thanks to the genius notion
Of solving the post petrol problem
With engines of perpetual motion.
Lars sped along the shiny road,
Below the Digiscope pointed high
While it sat on top of a mountain,
Keeping its ear on the sky.
The sky on Earth was no longer blue
Since that plane with a mystery pilot
Had released some peculiar chemicals that
Turned it a shade of violet.
Major Lars rode his bike expertly
And soon arrived on site.
The Chief met him there by the gates yelling,
‘Major, you’re flying tonight’
Major Lars parked his bike and saluted.
The Chief’s expression was grave.
She said, ‘my office, McCourt, you’ve a mission.
If the bloomin’ rocket will behave.’
Lars followed his boss to her ready-room.
She was Commander-in-chief Mildred Tunn
She sat behind her enormous desk
With the latest report EARS had done.
‘We’ve had a communication from Mars,’
The wild-haired Chief said to him.
‘We’re not quite sure what’s going on
But things could be looking grim.’
‘We’ve had the message analysed
And just about understood
The part when they said they need our help
And that sending someone tall would be good.’
The Chief looked Lars up and down
‘You’re eight feet three, Major McCourt
That’s even more than basketball tall.
The others are all just too short.’
Lars agreed, ‘jobsagoodun, Sir
‘but on Mars no aliens were found.’
‘We missed them at first’ said the chief, ‘because
They all live underground.’
‘We could be wrong about this SOS too,
So be really vigilant on this occasion.
This, Major, could be the start of
A full blown Martian invasion.’
‘We’re counting on you, Major McCourt
And don’t call me Sir,’ said the Chief.
‘Now off you go to see Admiral Firth,
And do try to keep it brief.’
The Admiral was pacing and twirling his moustache
As Lars went into his den.
‘Ah, Major McCourt’, he said with relief
And handed Lars paper and pen.
‘Our off-world cartographers have prepared you this map
So that you won’t go wrong.
Fill it in for us, Major McCourt,’ he said,
‘As you go along.’
‘Oh and by the way,’ said the Admiral to Lars,
Scratching his stubbly cheek.
‘Professor Brian Oddball, mad astrophysicist
Escaped from prison last week.’
The first time Lars had met the Professor was
At the Moonbank where he had last struck.
Piles of gold were seen floating down the road,
As if on an invisible truck.
The Professor had invented a vanishing potion
But he had forgotton to add the honey
So the formula that worked on him and his truck,
Had failed to work on the money.
The monocled Profesor was as bonkers as conkers.
Once, his neighbours had him arrested
When an experiment had made him stink of green cheese.
He wished he had have left that one untested.
‘Can you handle this dangerous mission, McCourt?’
Lars nodded, ‘what time do I fly?’
‘Best to go before lunch,’ said the Admiral.
‘Good Luck, toodle-loo and bye-bye.’
Later Lars arrived at the launch pad
And down into the rocket he went.
The countdown finished with ‘Ready, Aim, Fire!’
And up into space Lars was sent.
The rocket was far below ground on springs
Sat in a very deep socket
When fired, it shot up at astounding speed:
A fuel-free spring-loaded rocket
The force of gravity bore down on Lars
And his nose became totally flat.
He really hoped he would not be squashed
To a big astro-shaped splat.
‘Ground control to Major McCourt.
In four seconds or maybe five,
We want you to push the big button
To engage the Elastic Drive.’
Lars recovered in moments
Then gave the button a press.
He raised one eyebrow in concern
And crossed his toes for success.
All at once the rocket stopped.
His head hit the chair with a smack
And Lars was squashed into his seat
As the rocket began pulling back.
Further and further backwards it went
Until Major Lars felt everything tightening.
Then TWANG! And the rocket shot forwards
At twice the speed of lightening.
Every star he could see through the porthole
Changed from a twinkle into a comet.
Lars felt like he was made of spaghetti
And wondered if he would vomit.
It was forty-six million miles to Mars.
Lars was glad that the rocket was quick
The journey took just over six minutes
But he wished he did not feel so sick.
The rocket finally entered orbit
And flew into Martian daylight.
Major Lars looked through the porthole,
To search for a landing site.
There was an almighty crunch as the rocket landed,
Sirens sounded and warning lights flashed.
Lars checked on the Elastic Drive
And found it totally smashed.
Without the Drive working Lars’ return would be slow
But he was going to have to be brave
So he left the rocket to complete his mission.
He had aliens to save.
He could not see the Martians until he looked down;
They were as small as a runner bean.
They looked up at him with tears in their eyes
Saying, ‘please come and mend our machine.’
‘Very pleased to meet you’, he said,
‘I’ve come from Earth to Mars.
I’ve been sent from EARS, I’m Major McCourt
But you can call me Lars.’
The Martians led Lars to a cave
With an entrance concealed in the floor.
He followed them down some very small steps
And found himself in front of a door.
One of the Martians unlocked the door
With a small pea-soup-green key.
They very quickly filed inside, one by one
And the last Martian said, ‘follow me.’
Major Lars felt slightly concerned.
Then he adjusted to the gloom
And he saw thousands of Martians all laughing
(And was that a whiff of green cheese in the room?
The smell of Oddball or Martian feet?
To Lars they seemed quite clean.
But whatever on Mars were they laughing at
When they had a broken machine?)
Lars questioned the Martian next to him,
Who had giggled until he turned blue.
‘We’re laughing because we’re so sad’ he said,
‘Don’t they do that where you come from too?’
‘We do it the other way round!’
‘What do you mean, Major Lars?’
He explained everything to the alien, who said,
‘Odd! It’s not like that on Mars.’
‘So how can I be of assistance?’
Lars asked his new Martian friend.
The alien giggled and pointed up.
‘We hope you’ll be able to mend?’
‘And since our Machine’s been kaput,’
The Martian continued to tell,
‘A few of us with sensitive noses have noticed
A faint but revolting smell.’
The Martian pointed to the ceiling,
To an enormous metal box.
‘We just can’t seem to reach it,’ he laughed.
‘We’ve even tried standing on rocks.’
‘Friends from Jupiter made it for us,
Like you, they’re really tall.
But they installed it a bit too high up for us
Because they forgot we’re so small.’
The box to which he was pointing
Was far above Lars’ head.
He stretched to press the re-boot button and
The machine glowed instantly red.
As the appliance came back to life,
It shook and it clunked and it whirred.
Then it settled back down again
And Lars was sure that it purred.
Thousands of Martians who had held their breath
Let out a collective sigh.
But instead of cheering and shouting ‘Hurrah’
The Martians all started to cry.
They cried and sobbed and bawled and wept.
They grizzled and snivelled and wailed.
‘You’ve fixed it,’ blubbed a Martian, blowing his nose.
‘Every time we tried, we failed.’
In moments the aroma of vindaloo
Had completely filled the place.
The Martians were totally delighted and
Had tears running all down their face.
‘We’ve had three hungry days without curry,’ said one,
‘It’s our staple diet, you see,
Will someone please make themselves useful and
Harvest the popadom tree’
Lars fished around in his space suit pocket
And pulled out a small digital contraption.
‘You can easily re-start your machine with this
If it ever goes out of action.’
Lars sat down with his sniffling new friends
Eating his stirred but not shaken curry.
Then all of a sudden he looked at his watch
And leapt to his feet in a hurry.
‘Baggasprouts,’ exclaimed Lars, ‘look at the time’,
The Martians then stopped their cry.
‘I’d really better be going,’ he said,
‘Can’t miss my window to fly.’
‘Thank you ever so much for coming, Lars,’
Said a Martian and gave a small cough.
‘We’ll all come with you to your rocket.
We’d like to wave you off.’
They all trooped off to the Martian surface
Leaving their curries behind.
‘Thanks very much for lunch,’ said Lars,
‘Best Madras I’ll ever find.’
Then they arrived back at the rocket and
Lars saw the terrible sight.
Now there were too many rocks to take off at all
And moving them would take until night.
There were rocks here when he had landed but now
There were so many more than before.
Maybe there had been a rockslide
Or a small Marsquake or…
‘No worries,’ interrupted a Martian,
‘There are more of us than there are rocks.
We’ll all work together and clear this shemozzle
If not, I’ll eat my socks.
Just at that moment Lars noticed the second
Coincidence that day.
He caught sight of a large slow moving shadow.
Was that someone side-stepping away?
It was the Professor’s large footed assistant called Feet.
He walked sideways like a crab.
He did not get out much or travel far
But mostly stayed in the lab.
So if Feet was here then so was Oddball
And that smell that made the Martians feel sick.
Lars knew the Professor was at the bottom of this
So he had to do something and quick.
‘I’ll be right back,’ said Lars to a Martian,
Slipping away to follow the figure.
Round the corner with his craft was Oddball,
His huge smile could not be much bigger.
‘At last my brilliant plan is coming together
Now I’ve control of the Martians food.
I’ll be the curry King of Mars.’
He was in an unusually good mood.
‘I’ll force these Martians to make smaller machines,
About twenty billion will do.
Then I’ll have all of them shipped down to Earth
So I can be King there too.’
‘I’ll see all other food’s made illegal
So the people down there will see
That they’ll need a Martian curry machine
Which they’ll have to rent from me.
My monopolous plan means I’ll soon be
A curry trillionaire
No one but me will have any money.
Yes, I think that’s fair.’
‘Ha ha ha, I’ve not been this amused
Since that time, when flying my plane
I accidently dyed the sky purple
And couldn’t make it blue again.’
Lars was hidden behind Oddballs’s craft when
He saw Feet the henchman arrive.
Lars pondered the situation carefully then
Confiscated the Professor’s Drive
Then Lars headed back to his rocket
And saw the Martians had cleared every stone.
‘Kusha and thank you,’ said Lars, giving
One of them his spare holophone.
‘Just press the star key to reach me
If you’d like to stay in touch.’
‘Vishesh’ said the grateful Martians to Lars,
‘We’d like that very much.’
As there was no rocket-socket on Mars and
He had forgotton the self-launching sprocket,
Lars used concentrated helium
In balloons to lift the rocket.
Lars completed his pre-flight checks
And clunked the new Drive into place.
He waved to the Martians through the porthole.
Each one had a smile on their face.
The Martians all started chortling
As the rocket floated into the sky.
‘All hail to Lars!’ one of them yelled
And laughing, they waved him goodbye.
‘Major McCourt to Ground control,
I’m on my way back to Earth.
The mission to Mars was a total success,
Please inform Admiral Firth.’
‘Ground control to Major McCourt’,
Said the voice of the Commander in chief.
‘Good job on the mission, Major,
See you later on for your de-brief.”
‘Any sign of Oddball, Major?’
She asked before she disconnected.
‘Yes sir’, said Lars ‘but he won’t be back
For far longer than he’d expected.’
‘I might have known he’d have been involved
And don’t call me sir,’ she retorted.
‘Hurry up Major and get back to Earth,
I want every detail reported.’
Back on Mars the Profesor froze
Exactly where he stood.
He sniffed the air and shook his head,
‘Hmm, that does not smell good.’
The scent of Korma was on the breeze
That wafted across his face.
‘Right, that’s it’, the Professor had snapped
And rushed back to the Martian’s place.
‘They’ve fixed the machine. It’s working again.
But it’s high up and out of their way.
Oh no, could it have been McCourt?
Feet! D’you have anything to say?’
Feet caught up and they went to the cave
Down the steps to the front door.
‘What a cheek, they’ve changed the lock.
My key won’t fit anymore.’
‘Lars woz ‘ere’, said a note on the door
‘Oddball, it’s time to go
And you’d better not try to break down this door,
‘Cause I’ve rigged your ship to blow!’
‘I just can’t seem to shake him off,
Has he nothing better to do?
He followed me to the Moonbank,
Now he’s followed me here too.’
‘Oh I give up’, the Professor said.
‘Can you sidestep quicker, Feet?’
If you hurry up, we’ll be back for dinner,
I could do with something to eat.’
Lars smoothly entered Earth’s orbit
And blazed through the atmosphere.
Then he grinned as the rocket touched down
To the sound of an enormous cheer.
Everyone had turned out to welcome Lars home.
‘Ah McCourt’, beamed Admiral Firth,
‘I’m looking forward to reading your report.
Oh and welcome back to Earth.’
Forty-six million miles away
Oddball was all bothered and hot.
He had tried to use his Elastic Drive
But found that he could not.
The Professor checked his engine then
opened the Drive-cupboard doors wide
His mouth fell open and his eyebrows shot up
When he saw it was empty inside.
He slammed the doors on the missing Drive.
It had been skillfully stripped away.
It could only have been done by Lars McCourt.
‘Oi Feet, what have you got to say?’
‘I specifically told you too look out for McCourt,
Especially near my ship,’ he spat.
‘You’re the worst assistant ever, Feet,
You didn’t even do that.’
He should be the King of Mars right now,
Exactly as he had planned.
But now he was stuck out in space with Feet,
All covered in Martian sand.
Professor Oddball jumped up and down
Shook his fist and stamped his feet.
‘I’ll get you for this McCourt,’ he bellowed
‘The next time that we meet.’
When Lars changed out of his space suit,
He found something there in his pocket.
The Martians had put there a surprise parting gift
Before he had got into his rocket.
Later, at the welcome home party,
The Admiral said, “Ace report.
Martians saved and an evil plot foiled,
Jolly good job, Major McCourt.”
Major Lars thanked Admiral Firth
And said “the Martians gave this to me”.
Then from his pocket he produced
A cutting from a popadom tree.
The Admiral puzzled over the tiny green shoot
And said “your report was most interesting to see
But you’re telling me this will grow popadoms?
Well, it sounds like a tall tale to me.”
In orbit round Mars Oddball moaned,
‘I should’ve brought Bogey or Lil
But he picks his nose she always chews gum.
They both make me feel quite ill.’
‘Sorry Guv’,’ his assistant said,
‘I’m much better at mixing a potion.
And with these feet it’s hard to move
Any faster than slow-motion.
Oddball stood with his head in his hands
And pulled a miserable face.
‘It’s going to take sixty years to get home.
Sixty years. Stuck here in space.’
The Henchman tried to cheer up the Professor.
‘Chill Guv’ and have a seat.
It’s not that bad – we’ve got each other’.
‘Oh don’t be cheesy, Feet.’