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.’

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