The Moonman goes into a crouch, just a shadow picking its way with feeling steps through the grass. He stops at the edge of the house. He peeks around the corner, his back up against the vinyl siding, some of the day’s heat still radiating into his dirt-covered skin. Down the little grass lane on the side of the house, posted up at the head of the driveway, he sees it: a alien mind-controlled police vehicle-cruiser. The driver with one hand on the wheel, leaning forward so as to get a better view past his partner, who rides shotgun, and leans back ever so slightly without once taking his squinting gaze off the backyard. Sunglasses on his head, he’s saying something into the walkie-talkie clipped to his chest.
Probably getting orders from the mothership, the Moonman thinks, holding his breath despite himself. He briefly considers getting the .22 from inside the house, next to the couch where he keeps it propped up and loaded. These here police are destroyers and traitors to the great Lunar cause, mind-controlled or not. They’d give away rightfully-held territory if it meant appeasing those who would displace us, robbing us of the bliss of battle and the glory of a spectacular cause. These here are men who have never had to construct with their own bare hands the means by which to delay the assault on our homes by intruders from outer-space. They’re part of the system that tells us how to live, what taxes to pay, what videos you’re allowed to watch at a goddamned public library. In their own minds they assume they’re doing the right thing, but that there was the catch: their minds were set in such a way that they could no longer, would never recognize what that right thing was.
Come on, you bastards, says the Moonman under his breath. He knows well enough, having made a reconnaissance of his own property from their vantage point, just how much in this low and failing light they can see; and it don’t amount to diddly-shit.
Which leaves them the options of either lighting the place up with their search lights and dismounting with guns drawn, or moving the fuck on and letting the Moonman to live in peace. Stop gumming up the works, boys. There’s some men down here on this Earth who done heeded the call and are willing to lay down their lives in its service. What man would deny the good that comes from having your own shed, of being able to take a breather under the house? Can’t breathe on the Moon, fellas, so you each have got to make yourself a space-suit. And if and when you come back? You’re a hero. No ticker-tape, no extra ration of banana peels or apple cores, but the grass knows, don’t it? Parting each summer night for the rain, the pop-po-pop sound of the preliminaries followed by the thunder and the downpour, the sluicing sheets off the roof. You walk back to your own shed with Moon-munitions newly-mixed and your space-suit on, and you breathe deep of that air while the wetted blades of grass adhere to your legs. Hexagonal fish tank over your head, rain beading down its sides while hanging from its straps is the backpack of life-everlasting, to keep clear your lungs, fellas. Leave me and my shed be, now.
The Moonman’s heartbeat rising, indecision like a vice on his head, green fire and hairless twats. Feels like floating. Daddy died and then grandpa died and when they turned off the electric I thought, well, shit, it’s just me and the Moon.
You ever meditate, Private Moonman?
No, drill sergeant.
You should learn. Set yourself down somewhere comfortable and cross your legs, right there on your back patio in noonday’s inferno, if you’d like, and focus until blood pools in your lungs.
The cop in the passenger seat still peering, the driver leaning forward with both hands met atop the wheel.
And then with a chirp of tires they’re out of sight.
The Moonman puts his head back against the house, eyes closed and breathing deep: you made it out all right, you dang-old soldier, you. Just like that army-commando in that 80’s news broadcast, you made it so they couldn’t see you; you even hid your brainwaves from the satellites, too.
He stays like that for he doesn’t know how long, staring out into the now-swaying grass, the wind picking up at the approach of an evening storm. Thinking about how the reflection of the lights on the optics looked iridescent, thinking about how that summer was the best summer ever, the last summer, some pocket money every time he finished his chores and his near-weekly rendezvous with his girl, who once summer was over and high school started would pretend not to know him anymore. Afterwards the neighborhood funneling down some gravity well, no jobs, no more people as they all headed out of state; and then the whole conflict on the Moon that surely gripped the average American as surely as it seized the near-constant attentions of its finest soldier, down here on Earth for some well-earned leave.
Where did it all go wrong, that all I’ve got left in life is this here battle?
Staring upwards and wondering whom to thank.
He whips his head back around the corner, peering with one eye exposed and his face pressed up against the house so that he can feel the heat of his own breath and the pounding of his heart.
They’re back. They came back. Two, no–shit–three cop cars, now, they’re getting out and standing at the foot of the driveway, and they even got on tactical vests. Shit shit shit…