The Moonman pushes himself off the side of the house, running to the patio and then vaulting up over the steps, belly shaking with the impact. He tears past the sliding glass doors, goes through the darkened kitchen by way of memory and the touch of out-stretched arms, pushing off of furniture and walls until now he’s in the living room, fumbling about with the space suit which lies at the side of the couch.
He turns over the empty aquarium and lifts it over his head, its metal-reinforced lips resting on his collar bones. He shrugs on, one-two, the straps of the vacuum cleaner; and then with helmet and life-support deployed races back through the kitchen and down into the grass, the tendrils whipping to and fro with each violent change in the direction of the wind, a storm visible on the horizon, now, lightning flashing behind the clouds and making the nearest of them glow. A light, a number of lights, terrestrial and focused and constant and now sweeping over the little strip beside the house.
He goes into a crouch. Help me, Moon, he thinks, looking up at that hidden light. Too many clouds, now, too much of this overcast nonsense and I just want to pitch in and do my part, like any true patriot. I know the things I want to keep.
You should show me your shed.
He makes a false start, a physical stammer with his weight shifting forward but just as quickly reversed, bare feet skidding to a stop.
It was a good summer and I even got some money now and then to spend.
He hears someone say something, they must have heard him come barreling through the house. Is he armed? Is someone in there with him? Them taking that tone with a man who has dedicated his life.
The Moonman pushes off for real this time, no turning back as his bare feet find traction in and tear sheaves from the grass as he goes. A wild, desperate whine inside his helmet, the cloud of his own breath as he commits to this course of action, odds unkind, prospects of survival slim. You do it because you can’t live like that anymore, because your last vestige of self-respect reacts with violent detachment towards the body that would for once and all degrade it.
His arms pumping and his head down as the vacuum jostles on his back, lightning streaks in front of the clouds, illuminating him in full as briefly he swivels his head to see the mass of shadows in human form in pursuit behind him, their tendrils of light reaching out to touch and overtake him. The flashlight beams polarizing over the glass sides of his helmet and it is iridescent, just as the edges of the cops’ body armor in the back-lighting of the same is hard and chitinous.
They’re all screaming at him and there is a pop or two of sound but the thunder swallows it up just as the grass takes into its whispering mass the buzzing things that pass in front of and behind the Moonman’s face.
Someone saying, Moonman! Don’t you go in there! And some alien instructions being beamed at them through their walkie-talkies, all scrambled and static-like on account of the great distance between here and them bastard’s would-be colony, to which we are violently and hopelessly opposed, suicide missions for all, and which the Moonman, having nothing left to live for, has seized on as the only worthy cause, swearing to himself never to let such a thing come to pass, not so long as he can count on there never being a summer like that again, when she would come over and he even had him some folding money from time to time.
He yanks open the door, slides in through a space made just big enough for his body, scratching his bare flesh on splintered edges before pulling it shut behind him. Outside the cops going, Moonman, don’t you go up there! Voices drowned out in the roar of the wind.
And then as one the cops turn their heads and lift their free hands to shield their eyes from the green fire that in its brilliance seems to make the spaces between each board grow, a flash down there in the corner of the yard to rival the lightning above, the structure afterwards spectral and aglow, its crown of wild thorns and weeds emanating trace photons into the negative impression that even now is fading from the cops’ retinas, their eyelids coming down tight with each blink, shaking their heads and seeing stars.
A lurch like the moment of no-gravity when you’re about to hit the other car, and then the impact and the red-hued vision that will wear off as soon enough you get acclimated to the other side.
Moonman reporting for duty, sir.
Moonman, you’re just in time. Take these troops and go secure that hill.