Excerpt from On the Moon
Published at Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
Moon colony, landing port
It’s the year 2082, and there is life on the moon – human life, hailing from the United States of America, Russia, China, Germany, Singapore.
Ships land in a separate port from the main base to minimise traffic. In a passenger shuttle docked inside the landing port, Yevgeny Kuznetsov presses the button that releases the door hatch with a pneumatic gasp.
The passengers begin to board. In the low gravity, their movements are of a child’s in slow motion: large, exaggerated strides, the concentrated stomp it takes to land your centre of mass.
“Good morning, sir,” Yevgeny says to each dazed person who clambers aboard, “good morning, ma’am!” He counts among his passengers between 30 and 40 sciencey types and a handful of tourists. Mario Rossini, one of the few true commuters, comes on board last. He makes this trip twice a month and is the only one who looks perfectly at ease in his surroundings. Yevgeny nods at Mario, and the two men exchange smiles.
Among the newcomers is 32-year-old Carina Chan, one hundred percent a sciencey type, who pipes, “Good morning!” at Yevgeny, a huge grin all over her comically youthful face. The corners of Yevgeny’s eyes wrinkle upward. He himself came over moonside at the age of 15 hoping to train as a mechanic, but found he preferred people.
Yevgeny peers down the side of his shuttle. At this hour, it’s Seng and Ali helping to load up the passengers’ luggage and water tanks, stowing some items in compartments that snap shut and strapping the larger pieces down so they don’t bump around during the journey to the central moon base.
“Hurry up, you slowpokes,” Yevgeny calls down to them.
“Shut up, you old man,” Ali shouts back, but they all laugh. The culture of the moon is one of ritual and repetition. Against the risks every one of them is taking day by day by being out here moonside, constancy is their assurance, as unchanging as the endless, chalky grey landscape. One immense metal door of the landing port grinds open, revealing the grey expanse of the moon. Yevgeny starts up the shuttle. As they roll out, grey dust sprays in a shower up from the shuttle’s huge tires. The passengers talk among themselves about the sun’s unflagging brightness du jour: what rotation the earth makes in 24 hours takes the moon 28 and a half days.