Tuesday, 13 September 2011


It is a curious thing, walking on the Moon. Space is silent and vast, as you would imagine space to be, unless your whole experience of space is defined by cheap afternoon sci-fi filler. A word to the wise - not only do laser blasts not make a sound in space, but no-one actually fires lasers in space. There's no-one to fire them at, no evil alien despots, no roving interstellar pirates, no time worms. We are very much alone out here.

People say "journey to the edge of space", but the edge is right where we are. For all practical purposes we can't get very far, and as such we are sat on the edge of a vast swimming pool, utterly unable to dive in. "One day," we think, and then we dream and strive and invent and spend to make that day a reality.

But if you tip yourself ever so slightly closer to the edge and dare to dip your toes in the murky yet infinitely clear waters of the galaxy, you might find yourself on the Moon. I dared, I dipped, and here I am.

And it is breathtaking. Not least in the literal sense, as you are surely aware, even if you're one of the ones listening out for percussion torpedo explosions and ion cannon windup. Imagine yourself as far away from home as you can possibly be, then double it, then double it, and keep doubling it. And then imagine that you're that far away, further than any distance a human can reasonably comprehend, and imagine that home still feels so close you could stretch out your arm and touch it.

I am alone out here. A single step out of the lander and I am further from human civilisation that almost anyone has ever been. If I walked a hundred steps I might very well be the furthest.

I say walk, but we all very well know that it is more like a peculiar, loping bounce. An enormous, slow motion hurdle. That's a bit romantic and lush though - it's basically a waddle. A space waddle, the most expensive waddle in history.

And so here I am, waddling about. There's a mission, some reason for being here, but right now I can't completely recall it. Vast, breathtaking, alone, and so very, very far away. All these sensations cloud my thoughts, and I can't remember what it is I'm supposed to be doing. Something about Moon rocks. Of course! The scientists want Moon rocks for a thing.

I drop, again in slow motion, to my knees. I gently and gracefully lower myself to the ground with a silent thud. A pool of dust whirls out from under me and I know that the shape of my bottom will be forever etched in the surface of the Moon. That's something to tell the grandkids about.

But I don't have any grandkids, not yet. Better get on that. Not right now though. That would be inappropriate given the serious nature of the mission, and I don't think they make two person space suits. At least not yet. It would be inappropriate, but nice. A good zero gravity screw is what I need right now, help me focus. The mechanics, ha ha, would be tricky, too. Little science joke for you there, did you get it?

Better get moving on those rocks. Can't let down the human race by not picking up rocks. There's a good one, over there. Probably the best rock I've ever seen. Got it. There's another one! That one's even better. Of course, the previous 5 sentences passed in about 10 minutes, such is the nature of life on the Moon, but I don't want to bore you with the finer details. Tell you what, here's a taster. Lift left foot up, move left foot forward, place left foot down. Concentrate really hard on not falling and not floating away.

But I know I won't float away, that's silly! You're silly. Why do you think I'll float away? Because I won't - I don't want to and my mind is better than yours so I'll win this battle of concentration. That's why I am an astronaut and you're not. Unless you are. That would explain what you're doing up here with me.

Are we even up? I mean, I look up and I can see the Earth.

That would explain what you're doing down here with me.

But that doesn't sound right either. Sounds like we're in Hell. Imagine if everyone in hell wore a space suit! They would be hot. Although a space suit is supposed to regulate body temperatures and protect you from the harsh environment of space. So perhaps we should start a campaign to get space suits to those poor souls trapped in Hell.

Think I've got enough rocks now, best start heading back. I can't really carry all of these. But wait till I get them back to the lander, the other guys will be so proud of me! Where is the lander? I can't see it. How long have I been here? I do have a lot of rocks, at least ten. Must have been a while.

Maybe there isn't a lander. Why would they send a space rocket all the way up here with a bunch of guys for me to prance about and collect rocks? That's stupid. Maybe this is what I do. I can't really remember anyway. I'm tired. Wish I could lie down. I can lie down! I'm master of my own destiny out here, no-one controls me. These rocks aren't going anywhere. Maybe then I'll take a nap.

And so I lie down, and make dust angels in the silence.

1 comment:

  1. Yaaay! You have finally started posting stuff here again! I knew you hadn't abandond this place! c: