An Alien Hand is written by Jayant Narlikar.
The chief objectives of the Viking Mission to Mars were to get pictures and samples of soil to find out if there were signs of life there.
Tilloo and his parents lived beneath our planet under artificial conditions. They were not allowed to go on the surface for two reasons. The air was too thin to breathe and the temperature was very low.
Tilloo’s father was a part of that team. He used to go to work daily through a secret passage. But it was a forbidden route for the boy. Tilloo was curious to know about and see the sky. His mother would not let him go.
That day Tilloo’s father was enjoying a short sleep at home. Tilloo managed to pick up his security card. He went along the forbidden passage. The magic card helped him open the door. He marched along an upward slope. But he had underestimated the security arrangements. Invisible mechanical devices photographed him and sent his picture to the Central Bureau. Soon he was caught and sent back home.
Father decided to explain everything to the boy. He said that he could stay alive on the surface because he carried oxygen to keep himself warm. His special boots enabled him to walk easily. There was a time when their forefathers lived on the surface safely and naturally. But a small change of climate upset the balance of nature on that planet. All birds, fish and animals lost their exitence. Only man managed to stay alive in underground artificial conditions. They produced power from sunlight. Father’s job was to keep the machines on the surface in working condition.
Next day Tilloo’s father found a crowd watching the big TV screen. The computer showed something from the other planet heading towards them. It was a spacecraft. They wondered who the strangers in that craft were.
The President made an announcement. It was reported that two spacecrafts were approaching them. They were to decide how to deal with them. Number one said that they could easily destroy those spacecrafts, but that would be unwise. He suggested that they should let them land. They were unmanned. They contained only instruments.
Number two favoured the policy of wait and watch. They must not reveal their presence. Number three supported the views.
Just then the news came that the first alien spacecraft had landed. Tilloo watched the funny thing on the TV screen from the Control Room. He noted some movement in it. A mechanical hand came out and touched the soil. Tilloo lost self control resistance. He pressed the red button. This created excitement. Father restored the red button to its neutral position. The mechanical hand stopped working.
A press conference on the earth was held. A scientist told the press about sudden defect in mechanical hand. But it was made to work again. Soil samples were collected. But the scientists were in great disappointment. The Viking Mission found no signs of life on Mars.