The Audio Book:
Weather: Clear skies.
Encounters: Some of the most important to date.
Pull of the moon. Pull of the moon. Pull of the moon.
I walked to the center of the village, drawn by those words playing over and over in my ears. It sounded distant like the radio ads that blasted from the vendors in Urban Center. The buzzing in my ears was faint, but burrowing deeper like growing roots.
Standing in the center of town was The Hearing letting the sun pour down over their faces and robes. My boots struck the ground as I marched toward them. The shield walls towered around us.
“What is it?” I started to yell, “Why are you here!?”
I was met with white-eyed stares. The group shifted silently, opened up so one man could walk forward. He walked straight to me with an outstretched hand. His long fingers reached out to me, moving down the length of my arm until he grasped my hand. In unison we lifted our hands, he pressed my fingers down so my first finger was outstretched, and together we pointed toward the satellite dish.
Home Base Communications.
My heart thumped. “What does that mean?” He replaced my hand and walked back to his robed brothers who were starting to slowly sit, as if waiting for the next step. My eyes darted from them to the satellite.
There was a ladder, ascending the side of the beams that lifted the satellite. My feet moved before I willed them to, running in the direction of the ladder.
“Sarah Jane!” called The Healer from behind me. “Hey! Where are you going?”
I did not stop, did not turn around to answer. My breath was laborious as I scaled the shield wall and pounded across toward the ladder.
The Healer was running behind me. “Sarah Jane! Wait! Talk to me!”
My fingers gripped the cold metal of the ladder and I began to ascend, higher and higher. Above me I saw a platform, I pulled myself up and stood. In front of me was a door, a metal door rusting with age. I vine was creeping around the satellite, threatening to cross in front of the door.
I reached my hand out and knocked. The Healer was climbing the ladder below me.
“Sarah Jane!” The Healer panted, “This place hasn’t been used in years!”
The door in front of me opened with a creak. I met eyes with a uniformed man, the look of shock on his face must have mimicked mine.
“You aren’t… Who are you?” He asked and pushed his glasses up his nose.
“I could ask you the same thing.” I said and walked up to the doorway he was blocking.
“You can’t come in here.” He stammered still reeling from the shock of my presence. It was if I had awoken him from a deep sleep, a living dream. I threw my shoulder into him so he was thrown off balance and stumbled backward. He grabbed my arm as I pushed past.
“Let go of her.” The Healer said and stood over the man. He instantly released me and I walked into the room. Monitors and electrical panels covered the walls, another man sat in a chair facing a screen. He wore headphones over his ears, drowning out our commotion. He must have seen me reflected in the screen, he spun around and stood.
“Hey!” He shouted, “You can’t be in…”
“What is happening in here?” The Healer scanned the equipment around us. He pointed toward the microphone positioned in front of the chair, “Who are you trying to contact?”
The man who answered the door collapsed into the chair. He rested his forehead on his hands.
“Earth, we are trying to contact Earth.”
His partner bristled, “Why are you saying anything?”
“I think we are too late for secrets.”
I walked up to the dials, saw the flashing little lights. “It’s frequencies, isn’t it?” It was clicking together. The buzzing. The reason The Hearing showed up. Home Base Communications. The frequency was drowning out the pull of the moon.
I turned my eyes to the man in the chair, “The frequencies are causing the hysteria, but you know that don’t you?”
The Healer’s eyebrows pulled together as he watched me talk.
The man with the glasses looked up at me, I saw the deep purple shadows under his eyes. “It was a sacrifice we had to make.”
The Healer started to shout, “Power it down! Shut it all down!”
“I’m not giving up!” The man screamed back, jumping to his feet.
“Why?” I asked, pushing in between the men. “Why are you trying to contact Earth?”
“Look around you!” The man cried out, face red and eyes wild. “This place gets more overgrown each and every day! We carry machetes to keep it at bay. We can’t stay here, but we can’t leave! We lost that technology hundreds of years ago. This place is not our home!”
My eyes whipped toward the man, he felt my glare. I asked, “Our what? What did you say?”
“We don’t have the ability to leave this moon.” He was calming down a bit, confused by my tangent.
“No.” I demanded, “The last part. Say it again.”
“This place is not our home?” The man glanced around the group to see if anyone else knew what was going on. He didn’t receive any confirmation.
“Why are we going on about this?” His partner asked. He was trying to keep himself from yelling at me, he knew that was a bad idea with The Healer beside me. But, his voice was rising nonetheless.
“Home!” I practically shouted. “What is home?”
Jasper spoke up from the doorway, “That’s a fair question, it is.” He and Bullet must have followed us in our mad dash across the village.
The man pulled his glasses off and sat them on the control panel, “I think it was always Earth. We should’ve never ventured out here.”
“Why do you get to decide that for all of us?” Bullet snapped, but The Healer held his hand up.
The man looked on the edge of tears, “Why did Earth decide to sever ties with us? Leave us stranded on this moon? They brought us here! They have responsibility!”
“I don’t feel stranded.” Jasper shrugged, “Don’t think I do, at least.”
“Why did they sever ties with us?” I asked.
“Travelcorps United, the group that founded the expedition, ran out of money. The shield walls were too expensive to maintain.” The partner spoke up, he wore matching purple shadows under his eyes.
“You need to stop this! Your efforts are pointless.” Bullet slammed her palm against a wall. “You are hurting people. You are driving a wedge between the government and the people. This is bigger than you.”
“You think I don’t know that?” He roared, “You think I enjoy watching those people? It’s far worse watching this place succumb to the growth. The constant chopping at vines. We can’t have a livelihood.”
“You’ve just gotta live with the moon.” Jasper sighed.
The Healer turned to the door as if to leave, “Pay attention to what you have here. Looking outward is driving your people mad. How can you live with that?”
With that we followed him out and back down the ladder. My heart was thumping hard in my chest.
The Healer hit the ground and pounded toward the center of the village.
“Are we just going to leave them like that?” I asked.
Bullet sighed, “They know their secret is out. They are probably already powering down.”
The Healer pulled to a stop in front of The Hearing and wheeled around to me. “What do you know that we don’t?”
My blood turned to ice. I stole a quick glance at Jasper and he nodded as if to say, “Time for the truth.”
I willed my eyes to look straight at The Healer, “I’ve been speaking with your brother. He helped piece everything together.”
The Healer looked like he had been slapped. “The candle?” He asked faintly.
I nodded. The buzzing in my ears was already beginning to subside. Bullet was correct. It seemed strange to me how quickly something could resolve, after so much worry and so much preparation. This whole thing, the hysteria, could be ended with some electrical switches.
The Hearing rose behind us, the robes fluttering and shifting. The humming started, deep from within their throats. Faintly, but growing in strength- the sound of moon. The pull of the moon. They shifted again, and we watched as Beta emerged from the men.
The humming grew louder as his neared us, standing directly in front of The Healer. The tones of the men pummeled us, sinking into our skin, becoming our vision. Beta flickered, his spirit faintly visible.
The Healer reached out to steady himself on his brother as Beta began to speak, “Brother.”
His voice was of both the physical and misty Beta, the two voices forming a strong singular voice.
The Healer did not stop the tears from dripping down his face, “Brother.”
“I’ve heard every word these years. I’ve seen it all. I want you to know I hold no blame over your head for what happened.” Beta said assuredly, flickering like a flame.
“I’m so sorry.” The Healer put his hands on Beta’s face. “I’m so incredibly sorry.”
Beta pulled The Healer close and whispered into his ears, the words caused The Healer to tremble. After some time they pulled apart and nodded. Beta walked to Jasper, hugged him tight. He walked to Bullet, pressed his forehead against hers as she cried.
His eyes locked on me, “Sarah Jane.”
“Beta.” I whispered, tears pooling in my eyes.
“Thank you for finding me.” With those words he crossed back to The Hearing, submerged within the middle of the group. The men filtered through us, carried their song through the village, and out the shield wall. The silence of their absence covered us like a blanket.
The Healer collapsed to his knees. Jasper, Bullet, and I joined him forming a little group. We sat in the silence for a long time. The sky above us slowly faded into night. Jasper took my hand and threaded his bony fingers through mine.
“Well,” The Healer sighed and looked up at us. He clapped his hands together and smiled faintly, “Who is ready for our next adventure?”