Moonman Inbound, Part 4

Nearly unbalancing himself by reaching out to pull the door closed and shut out the light, he waits as his eyes adjust, stock still all the while, listening for sounds from without. He’s sure he’s timed it right–the aliens use satellites as well as cameras in the eyes of birds to spy on us down here on Earth, but he knows that for that split second it took him to get under the house they were all out of range. That’s how he does it: timing them. Waiting for when no one is looking.

As for the birds and squirrels that stray too close to his land, well, for the most part he’s been able to dispatch them with the little BB gun he keeps next to the sliding glass door for just that purpose. For the coons he’s got a .22 rifle, but regardless of their method of death the fate these vermin share is the same: down the hatch, this soldier needs his chow. Ever since them assholes down in the city done turned off his electric and gas he’s taken to cooking out back, rustic and wild, but in truth befitting of a man who every time he goes up on behalf of his shed into the nothingness of space and the eternal quiet of the Moon wrestles with and deals out his own measure of violent death.

Troop ship takes a direct hit to its fuel cell: nothing but light and then that gentle descent of the blossom of gore, the lives swallowed up in the dazzle of photons, no other fate in the vacuum up there. But it’s all right, it’s all right; here in the crawlspace he’s safe. Nobody can see him.

Leaning forward with palms out flat to arrest his fall, he performs a military maneuver, belly down as he advances by way of the pulling movement of his forearms, the dirt beneath his bare skin fine and soft, so like the surface of the Moon. A grit that seems to permeate the air itself. His belly carves out a trail, from the side of the house to over near the far corner, by the water heater that never works. That white tube body like them old rocket ships we once used to get up to space; he knows this because he’s seen the videos. In basic training, only days into the ordeal from which he would exit on the other side as a fully fledged and competently trained Lunar trooper of the First Regiment, Eighth Calvary, Aurora Borealis Division (the patches, embroidered by a local firm, were a swirling work of multi-color art), they’d been forced to watch a number of training videos on the state of the current conflict, a core component of which was the history leading up to the same.

“You maggots need to know why we fight,” yelled the drill sergeant, a short and pink-faced little barrel of a man, scanning the faces of the troopers as he paced, searching their ranks for dissent, resentment, boredom. Having yet to feel for themselves the existential threat posed by the aliens, they were liable to be confused and unduly influenced by talk that existed in some quarters alluding to the possibility of the entire conflict being a charade, a facade patterned on secret principles of ancient schools, serving at once the dual purposes of cultivating for the elites vital energies from the casualties incurred and the general atmosphere of terror that reigned, and funneling the hard-earned dollars of decent Americans to the fat cats up on the Hill. Things having to do with archons, whom you can thank and curse in the same breath, should ever you find yourself trapped in your own shed.

How was it, after all, that them aliens could do what they did? And we got spy satellites what can hear a mouse’s fart in a thunder storm?

The initial conscription orders had been immensely unpopular and eventually violently rebuffed. Sit-ins and tear gas, students forming human chains with locked arms, chanting, pleading for peace, compassion, free money for college and birth control, every desire whatsoever of their inward-looking hearts, except for the prosecution of a badly needed war. It was more than just the Moon, or the cousins of the same–Demos, Phobos–but a need as expressed by Kronos himself, the time for a bloodletting long past due.

On some campus somewhere someone eventually got shot, and soon enough they had that dead student-boy blasted into every living room and hand-held device. Now it’s no longer daisy chains in the traditional sense but explosives lined in parallel, government troops going down in onesie-twosies as dirt rains down through the smoke on either side of the road. Then they let fly with the Molotov cocktails, the flickering tails lighting from behind the smooth contours of the glass bottles they trailed. Shattering splash. The sound of a pocket of heat as it feeds with a whumpf on the oxygen there, flames almost invisible as they course over the ground, blue heat racing up limbs and clinging to bodies, joining with flesh and the screams from therein to make yellow curtains dance outside gravity’s thrall; and all about is the movement inside the night–how the shadows resound with battered flesh and breaking bones, silhouettes limned in so sufficient a light as to distinguish the body armor from the leather jackets, the gas masks from the bandanas–but the blood pooling below being shared by all…

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