Goombeldt’s body suit is finally on. He is preparing to open the door and step
onto the Moon surface. No one has done it before. Will anyone do it again.
Perhaps not. The air supply has been activated. The suite protects him from
the freezing cold of the vacuum. He presses several buttons on the dashboard.
He must go by the book – failure to do so may result in truly catastrophic
consequences, and has cost many a space traveler their life.
The spaceship door is now lifted, the ladder is fully functional. That yellow dust! The surface shown to him thousands of times in all sorts of courses and training manuals – and in his dreams, within various plots and storylines. Is this what it really looks like.
Goombeldt flexes the muscles of his left leg, sending his body into a leap. He is floating – it seems that the flight will never end, but it does, although much later than one would expect. Nothing surprising about it. The Moon’s gravity is only one sixth of that on Earth.
This promenade has every chance to be enjoyable. Leaping lightly, he heads for an intricately delicious crater some five hundred yards away. He feels completely comfortable, as if all concerns have been left behind.
“I don't think I’m responsible!” Zungvilda says.
“You never think that,” Goombeldt replies.
“You never think that either.”
“Do you remember if the little child across the way was a boy or a girl.”
“What little child.”
“The little child across the way.”
“Remember that time when your friend showed up. You talked for a very long time, and then he left, and he’s never come back,” Zungvilda says. “What was it all about.”
He is finally there, by the crater – he leaps around a gigantic boulder that seems to obscure the best view. But how can this be. It’s a park: grass, trees, birds, people…All this here on the Moon. This is impossible! And yet he knows that it is completely real. He must be still on Earth, still in training, even though he was lead to believe that this expedition was for real! But what about the gravity! How did they manage to reduce it. What if he is indeed in training, yet it is on the Moon, not on Earth. His body is on the Moon, but his mind is elsewhere, and his perception is communicating with that other place. Is this conceivable.
Goombeldt slows down, uncertain how to proceed. He is the only one wearing a suit. Is there air here. He did not have to study the Moon as extensively as he did to know for sure: this is impossible, unless all the conceptions people have about the Moon are incorrect.
Passing by, a little boy asks Goombeldt why he is wearing a funny suit. Goombeldt is puzzled. Should he take it off. Is there any point in wearing it.
“Do you suppose the grocery store owner had anything to do with the old lady,” Zungvilda asks.
“What old lady,” Goombeldt responds with a question.
“The old lady that lived next door.”
“I’ve no idea,” Goombeldt replies. “I don't think I ever saw the two of them even talking to each other.”
“I don't mean outside. She used to shop there very often, didn't she,” Zungvilda explains. “Yet, she didn't project an image of a shopper.”
“I never saw her there,” Goombeldt says.
“You may have looked straight at her and not noticed her.”
Goombeldt raises his hands to unzip the helmet. Like a hissing snake, the air inside the suit slips away, blowing up the images in his head.
When Zungvilda regains her consciousness, she finds herself on a sofa of snow,
her face gently veiled with armies of brand new shiny snowflakes. She attempts
to touch her face, but she cannot move her arm. It’s frozen. She starts with
the fingers, the most remote body parts whose capitulation is likely to occur
first. The fingers reanimate, but she is not sure about the parts to which the
fingers are attached. She is persistent. Does she have it in her to stay
alive. “We’ll just have to see!” she thinks. “Who are we anyway.
Personally, I might never see.” This is what she would have thought in her
former past before the new past that is the case now, and she is surprised to
catch herself thinking that way at a moment like this. She remembers her early
years. Traveling around in a hot air balloon driven by two elephants. Her
father would wait for her to tie the knots on the net. These memories have not
lost a smallest degree of brightness, as though they were sustained as still
shots, permanent still shots superimposed on a myriad of moving images.
She seems to be unable to take command of the parts to which the fingers are attached. Snowflakes land to rest on her face, and she realizes that she may end up buried alive. Is there any point in breathing anyway. This is one more of those questions she might soon have an answer for.
Will they be found. When the expedition got off the track, they were certain that the Center would send a rescue group. They all thought it would be just for a day or two. But the rescue group themselves must have gotten lost. And when they started running out of food, the optimism was no longer in full supply. Needless to say, there was never a shortage of drinking water. Cold white powder of water. Quarrels began, everyone coming up with their own ideas of how to save themselves and completely unwilling to listen to one another. It was too late anyway. The Communication Module went out: dead batteries, and no means to recharge them. Any direction was equally right yet equally dangerous. Finally they just stopped.
Zungvilda looks around: all of her crew are sitting in a row, side by side, facing the same direction. What kind of Mecca are they facing. Who positioned them this way. It is as if someone had shipped them here, unconscious, and then carefully adorned the iceberg with their cheerfully aligned frozen statues. Too much to be a coincidence. Zungvilda breaths out, trying to melt off some of the snow on her face. She is able to clear out a small area.
Then she hears a sound…what is it. An airplane! No, a helicopter. She can see it hanging right above her, as though it had just materialized from a hope in her mind. She tries to wave, but all that moves are her fingers. There is no need to wave: she is sure now that those above can see her. What are they lingering for. Why don't they drop that blissfully simple symbol of life – the ladder. She strains her eyes to see what is taking place aboard that dream machine. The cabin is filled with film cameras! It’s the camera crew! They have no plans of saving the people sitting in the snow – their job is to capture them on film!
“But we are not actors!” her mind implores. Her lips remain motionless. Maybe they are actors! Maybe the film was what had brought them here, and then something went amiss, but the camera crew did not get the news. Are they actors. Or maybe just extras. Stand-ins. Stunt crew. Are they here as contractors or permanent employees. Do they have families. Will it be clear from the film that at the time it was shot some of these people covered with snow were still alive.
Contact A. Molotkov