“Leave.”

The word that changed everything. Written in red dust on the surface of Mars by the Curiosity Rover before it blinked out of existence. Scientists were dumb-founded at first, unable to understand their robotic probe’s actions.

Some argued the tracks were left by coincidence, that the robot had malfunctioned and that the word was just an accidental jumble of tracks left by movement.

But there it was, written on the surface in tracks consistent with Curiosity’s own tyres, in an image that had obviously been taken by the bot after it had scrawled the word. It had wanted them to see it.

‘Leave.’

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