(A/N: This was a piece for an “experimental fiction” assignment in one of my creative writing workshops, thus the peculiar format. I had a good bit of fun with this one. Stream-of-consciousness is really entertaining to write.)
Well, I mean, it’s not like I tried to shoot the moon.
[The woman stares up at the stars, leaning over the edge of the balcony. Red hair, red dress. Crickets and dubstep from the party inside blend together, muted]
You think I’m talking about cards, don’t you. Or maybe you don’t, you’re not the card type. No, no, I do mean the moon. Big, shining, tarnished silver in the sky. Or gold. Maybe bronze. Depends on your eyes. Like that blue or white dress.
What was I saying? Give me a moment. [Sips from her glass]
Right, right, shooting. Not with cameras, either. You think I’m being metaphorical. Crazy lady on the balcony, disheveled hair, flimsy polaroid with a hole in it. Must mean something else. Not cards. Not cameras. Maybe it’s the hole. [Waves photo at the night sky] I shot it out like those Old West gun tricks. I mean, that’s Earth right there in the corner, isn’t it? Funny, who would’ve thought to bring an old Polaroid camera into space? I must have shot out the moon in the picture. No moon, just a hole. Maybe it’s a metaphor for my soul or depression or some psychobabble. You’re only listening ‘cause you’re curious how I’m crazy. [Sighs, takes a gulp. Stares into the empty glass] At least you’re listening.
Well the hair is because it’s humid and frizz has always been the least of my problems. Even before Gunny gave me the order and everything went south. Or north. Or left. Directions are funny up there. It’s like being in the ocean, except the surface and the bottom don’t exist, just floating forever in any direction, and some spots are brighter than others, and there’s… things. Swimming with you. Strange things… Slimy. Blue. Really a lovely blue. Also like the ocean, funnily enough. Maybe the ocean is a metaphor for space. Or space is a metaphor for the ocean. Do we even know what’s down there? Are we just exploring the Final Frontier to get away from the more terrifying, more unknowable mystery that covers two-thirds of our planet?
And no I am not drunk. It’s hot chocolate. Larson! [Holds the cup out for a silent blonde man to refill with a thick, brown liquid. The man goes back inside] See? Smell. Chocolate. Fair trade. None of that slave market stuff. I can’t touch a Snickers these days. All those horror stories… Anyway, space. I am getting away from the point, aren’t I. The surgery will do that to you. They say I’m recovering nicely. My partner over there still thinks bubbles have antlers. He’s right, he’s just not explaining himself well.
They shot us first, you know. No, you wouldn’t, it hasn’t happened yet. New York went first, which, well, all entertainment for the past two centuries have conditioned us to expect New York to go first in any major catastrophe. But London went, too. Fifty years, at least. Only a few noticed. Their tech is tricky like that. We probably wouldn’t have realized anything was wrong until we’d all stopped existing, which, I mean, kind of too late at that point. Then the blue ones would have the whole place to themselves.
We shouldn’t have tried to make the same tech. All that messing with particle physics and time fractures, what’d we think was going to happen? The aliens never came? Okay, maybe. That’s what we’re doing now, isn’t it? Go back far enough. Shoot again from behind. Maybe it’ll cancel out. Maybe it’ll never happen. Maybe we destroy everything. Maybe this conversation doesn’t happen. That’d be unfortunate, this is excellent hot chocolate. You sure you don’t want some? [Offers her glass, then swigs it back] Never mind, you wouldn’t appreciate it. The world’ll only end once for you.
Funny thing, moons. They control the tides. They keep the planet fresh and alive. You need a moon. So when the beam goes too far, when it hits the bad guys and keeps going – did you know lasers can cut time? Did you know that lasers that cut time act kind of like normal high school classroom lasers? Like, they just keep cutting through to stuff behind the stuff you’re pointing at if you don’t watch it? If we’d just moved a few degrees, probably nothing happens, maybe some star loses a few decades. But we didn’t, and then the bad guys were never there. And then the moon wasn’t, either.
Nobody blamed me. Everybody blamed me. I’m still undecided on how much of me is to blame. Maybe the part they cut out to put in the implant. That’s a nice thought. The rest of me still feels pretty bad about it, though.
You know, I was a kid one time. Misfire. That was awkward. Almost happy when we only lasted a week. Hurts like blazes to jump. But we have to fix things. That’s more important. I had so much acne. She had so much ache. I may have ruined a date for her by bailing out the window. His face was hilarious, though. You gotta find times to laugh, right?
Sorry, I’m rambling again. It’s the new tweak they made to stop the misfires. I think I’m tasting colors. It’ll wear off, but in the meantime, that’s a lovely shade of apple pie you’re wearing.
[Boom rattles glasses on table, pond ripples on front lawn] Oh. Oh boy. Didn’t expect it this soon. Mind if I wrap this up? [Holds up the polaroid, grabs your hand] Stick your finger in the hole. Right there. See that? Not a hole, right? Just a black emptiness. Void. Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out!
…Yeah. That’s what we did. It’s spreading, farther and farther back. But we’re going to fix it. I have to fix it. [Another boom]
Is it a New Moon tonight? I don’t see it up there. Maybe we’re too late. I didn’t think about that. Gunnie says we’re in the zone. The weapon’s ready. We have to beat the pulse, or go back farther. Always farther, never far enough. So many times seeing the world go dark. The moon, have you seen it?
Do you remember it?
[Clutches your arm suddenly, tightly] Have you seen it?!
…Okay. Good. If we mess up again, you might not have. Seen it, I mean. Ever. We’ll have to jump again. So many tries, so many lives… I won’t be as rich in the next one, I bet. Or as pretty. I look like my mother back home.
[Booms thunder high overhead, closer. Larson returns]
It’s time. I have to go. Thank you for listening. Remember the moon. I won’t know you if I see you again. This me, anyway. She has her own life. I’ll get out of it soon. If you see her, give her some hot chocolate. It helps the headaches go away. [Hands you the glass] Her headaches, not mine. Mine only get better with time. Ha. Time. Hopefully this is the last time.
Excuse me. Have a good night. I have to go unshoot the moon.
(You can read all of my posted short stories by clicking “Writing Shorts” in the top Menu. Thanks for reading! – Jenn H.)