Catch up on previous episodes:
Meanwhile, aboard the MoonShip Waist of Space…
When our intrepid explorers awoke the following morning, it was dark.
“What’s happening, Merry? I’m frightened,” Tarquin bleated. “It’s supposed to be light here, isn’t it? What happened to the sun?”
“Hard to say, Tarq,” Merry replied. “We don’t have any electricity yet. The battery stopped working yesterday, and we haven’t worked out what we have to do to make it work again. I was planning to talk to Arty about it; see if his people know what we have to do. They have lights – look.” Merry pointed in the direction of the aliens’ village, which was rather well lit, albeit with deep red lights.
“We can’t go out there, though, Merry,” Tarquin reminded her, “because we won’t be able to breathe.”
“We have our space suits, Tarq,” she replied, “We can put them on to go outside. Besides, if we have no light, how long before we have no air, too?”
“Cripes. Hadn’t thought of that. Good job we met these big fellahs, perhaps they can help us with that, too.”
Having thus decided how to proceed, the pair donned their EVA suits.
“How do we get out?” Tarquin asked.
“Should be in the manual,” Meredith replied.
“No joy, old gal. Manual’s blank, remember.”
“What about this lever by the window thingy? The one marked ‘Do not pull during flight’.”
“Not in flight now, though, are we?” he asked, “but why couldn’t we open the window in flight? Like to have the jolly old window open and air coming in when driving.”
“But have you ever known a window to be open in an aeroplane when you’re flying?”
“Never noticed, you know. Odd, isn’t it? Probably too busy studying the hostesses. Jolly fine fillies, some of them. Ding dong.”
“You know, Tarquin, the more I get to know you, the more unsavoury you become.”
“Jolly kind of you to say so, Merry.”
“What? It wasn’t nice!”
“Yah; sure it was. If I’m unsavoury, that means I’m not savoury, so I must be sweet, and that’s a jolly nice thing to say,” he replied, followed by, “I like you too, Merry. A bit bossy sometimes, but a jolly good egg for all that.”
I don’t know how to spell the sound of exasperation that came out of Meredith’s mouth at that point. She threw the handle open, resulting in the total evacuation of the air that remained in the capsule.
“Get out, Tarquin,” she said.
“You coming out too?”
“Yes. I’m coming out, too.”
“Hee hee. You said you’re coming out. That means you must be gay.”
“Sorry. Zipping up.”
“I said, ‘good job’, Tarquin. Now let’s see if we can find Arty.”
When Trainee Drone Artivon Grumpblast moved the MS Waist of Space with its occupants, he carried it for a distance of more than a kilometre before setting it down again. That meant that Tarquin and Meredith had to walk more than a kilometre across the lunar surface in total darkness, save for the small lamps built in to their helmets. The journey took well over an hour, by which time it was light again.
“It’s light again, Merry,” Tarquin said at last.
“Yes. I spotted that, too,” Meredith replied without the slightest hint of sarcasm.
“So what’s happened?”
“There was some talk of an eclipse, before we left.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means, dear boy, that we have been eclipsed.”
“What fun. I used to have that done to my dog. Can’t wait to get back and take my helmet off; see what sort of job they made.”
“Tarquin, what on earth are you talking about?”
“Nothing. We’re on the moon, remember?”
“Okay. What on the Moon are you talking about?”
“You said we’ve been eclipsed. I used to do that to my wiry terrier; stop his hair getting too long.”
“Eclipsed, not clipped; moron!” Yes. Merry’s patience was wearing thin, very thin. “The Earth came between us and the Sun, so the Sun’s light couldn’t reach us. That made it dark. Now we’ve moved out of the Earth’s shadow, so it’s light again. Geddit?”
“Yah. So; erm; it’s like when the Sun goes dark, but sort of the other way round, yah?”
“If you like.”
They walked the rest of the distance in what was, for one of them at least, a comfortable silence.
“Okay, we’ve arrived,” Merry said, when they reached the buildings. “I’ll knock on the door. If anyone comes, let me do the talking, Tarquin. You’ll confuse them.”
“Bet they’re not half as confused as I am, eh?”
“You’re probably right there, Tarquin. You’re probably—”
The very large door on which Meredith had knocked creaked open and a suited individual, whose height was at least twice that of their new friend Arty, appeared at the opening. A voice came from inside. It sounded roughly contralto, at a pitch and volume that would be in contravention of noise abatement laws in most countries on Earth.
“Who is it?” the voice asked, “We’re not expecting anyone.”
“Dunno. Can’t see anyone here,” replied the alien at the door, in a voice that, in its timbre and volume, bore a close resemblance to the local detonation of an extraordinarily large weapon of mass destruction, “must be pranksters.”
The individual in question took a step out to look around, flattening the hapless astronauts in the process.
“Oh look, another eclipse,” Tarquin said, excitedly. Meredith didn’t answer.
I wrote part one of this tale in response to Kreative Kue 39, issued on this site earlier. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.