Another Day, Another Blog

June 8, 2007

Melvyn goes to the moon

Filed under: elsewhere, ficlet — iamza @ 1:54 pm

Melvyn arrived at Tranquility Base at 14h17 EST. 399 minutes later, he was dead.

The journey there was long and uncomfortable for everyone. Buzz tried to get a conversation started, but it quickly devolved into a tourist-like monologue involving lots of hand-waving and finger-pointing. Michael was occupied with the disengagement routines, and Neil was too busy steering to really take note of their surroundings.

Melvyn, tired of dodging Neil’s elbows and Buzz’s fingers, had quickly retired to the back of the space-craft. The back wall was covered in pipes and wires, but there was an empty space on the floor that was just big enough to accommodate Melvyn’s tiny form, and he strapped himself to it with gratitude.

Melvyn could feel the skin of the craft vibrating beneath him as powerful rockets pushed them further and further out into space, towards a place they knew only through myth and lore.

Luna, land of the crazy and the strange. A magical realm of shadows and secrets, she also offered a promise of hope; surely, once their historic journey was complete, once they’d showed others that it could be done, their people would spread out amongst the stars, and discover the universe in all its glory?

It took three days for their ship to fly from the Earth to Luna. Three days of pre-packaged food that tasted like cardboard. Three days of fluids settling in all the wrong places once gravity relinquished her hold. Three days of endless waiting and little sleep.

Three days of air that smelled of old socks and unwashed laundry, of sweat and grime and damp and piss. Three days of never quite knowing which way was up, or what your foot would hit next.

Three days to travel a distance of nearly 250,000 miles into the galactic wilderness, knowing that there was no way out if things went wrong.

Three days of longing and imagining and dreaming of being the first to touch the surface of a new world.

They landed, and Houston told them to rest and recover from the journey down. Melvyn swore, practically vibrating with impatience, and Neil and Buzz weren’t much better. They locked down the communications, gingerly strapped themselves to eggshell-thin gold foil walls, and pretended to sleep.

At 14h00, Melvyn couldn’t pretend anymore. He got up, and checked his gear, and Neil and Buzz quickly followed suit, and by 14h55, the door was open and they were unfolding the ladder. 

Melvyn went first. He touched the ground, and his feet sank into soft brown dust, and he felt almost normal for the first time in days. There was an up and a down again, and the sky above was black, and the ground below was soft and full of dust and rocks, and he was alone. He took a step, misjudged it, and almost fell; the gravity was so low, he felt like he could fly.

Neil came down the ladder next, carefully putting one foot after the other. At the bottom, he turned, and the wonder on Neil’s face was framed in the visor of his helmet. 

Melvyn smiled. It was beautiful here. He turned away from Neil, and looked at the horizon whose amplified curve reinforced the alien nature of this new world they’d discovered.

Neil took a step. “That’s one small step for a man,” he said, as his foot came down, and he took another, larger, step, “And one giant leap for mankind.” 

Then Neil landed on Melvyn, and antkind’s visit to the moon was over almost before it had begun.

Moral of the story: “Dead ant, dead ant, dead ant dead ant dead ant dead ant…”  

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