Pale Moon Rising

by Dolores Esteban



A pale moon was rising on the horizon. Adonis de Clark was sitting on the hard ground. He shivered as he looked at the violet sky. Adonis had waited motionless for almost ten hours. He was still waiting for the dazzling white light that announced the arrival of the transmitter cabin. Slowly, though, Adonis realized that something had gone terribly wrong.

The transmitter cabin had brought him to Makat, third planet of the Lucian solar system in the Andromeda galaxy. Everything had worked according to plan. Makat was an earth-like planet with earth-like conditions. The transmitting had worked very well. Adonis had not experienced any problems.

He had volunteered. The transmitter technology had been developed to perfection in the past two-hundred years. It was based on quantum technology. While there had been horrible failures in the beginning – lost transmitter cabins and lost travelers or travelers coming back with their mental or physical health damaged; the unfortunate pioneers were declared heroes – the transmitter technology meanwhile worked pretty well.

However, this was the first attempt of transmitting a person to another galaxy. They had looked for a suitable planet for a couple of years. Finally, they had found Makat. They had tested the transmitting with all kind of items and various animals, spiders, rats, an opossum, a bamboo and five chimpanzees. All items returned undamaged. So did the animals. They returned all safe and sound. So they decided to transmit a human being. Surprisingly, they suddenly had scruples and therefore they looked for volunteers.

Adonis had found the call for volunteers in his message box when he had activated his brand new interface that was implemented behind his right ear. Adonis had connected to the World Wide Web to check out the latest free music streams from Earth, Venus, Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa. Venus, Mars and Europa had been shaped in previous centuries after the invention of rapid terraforming. Colonization had started rapidly and the number of inhabitants had increased considerably with the development of the transmitter technology.

Adonis signed up to the volunteer program mainly because he was feeling bored that day. He had already forgotten about the sign-up two days later. To his surprise, he received an invitation from Gamma Global Goals, the enterprise that tested the candidates. Out of curiosity, Adonis went there on the 2nd of March 2847. They tested him for a week. They tested him night and day. Adonis was enthusiastic about it and he made friends with a few fellow candidates.

A month later, they invited him again for further tests. This time, he spent three weeks in the test center. At the end, they told him he was the chosen candidate. They had found out he had a very rare and small genetic defect that would allow him to better cope with the atmosphere on Makat. They told him the atmosphere on Makat differed only slightly from Earth’s atmosphere. So there was no reason to worry.

For the first time, Adonis worried.

They handed him a bundle of papers, thirty single pages at least. They told him to sit down, read the papers and sign them. Five men sat opposite Adonis and watched him with grave faces. Three men, dressed in black, stood behind him.

Adonis looked between them and opened his mouth to raise objections. The men just stared at him. Their faces were motionless and cold. One man raised a hand and handed him a pen. Adonis swallowed hard. Scared to death suddenly, he felt that there was no going back. Adonis signed statements of agreement and various waivers, a waiver of protest, a waiver of recourse, and a waiver of the rights. He signed an already written letter that would be read to the public and his parents in case that anything went wrong.

Adonis looked at the violet sky of Makat and sobbed. It had gone wrong. Terribly wrong. The operation had failed.

They had told him he would spend five minutes exactly on Makat. Then the transmitter cabin would show up again and take him back to Earth. But the transmitter cabin had never shown up. Adonis watched the place where it was supposed to materialize. He had watched the spot for almost eleven hours. He felt exhausted meanwhile, but he forced himself to keep his eyes open. There was still a chance.

They had tested the new transmitting system several times. They had transmitted a chimpanzee to Makat without any difficulties. Adonis had watched the operation. The chimpanzee had returned from Makat after five minutes, showing no signs of confusion or damage. Adonis had entered the transmitter cabin. They had closed the door. Adonis had felt dizzy for a second. Then the door had opened again and Adonis had left the cabin. While he looked around, the cabin disappeared. They had told him the cabin was stable only for a brief time due to quantum effects. They had told him to not move around and just wait for the cabin to return. Adonis had waited for almost three hours, standing upright and motionless. Then he had sat down on the ground.

A pale moon was rising. Night had fallen on Makat. Adonis had spent the first nine hours in a dazzling light. A bright and almost white sun shone upon Makat. The air was warm, yet it was not hot. It smelled a bit of lavender. Adonis had not seen any plants. He had only seen a light gray and rocky ground.

Another sob escaped his mouth as he thought of his upcoming birthday. He would have turned twenty-two in a week. But Adonis was sure meanwhile that he would not outlive the day. He thought of his parents who had been so very proud of him. He had talked to them via his skull interface right before he had entered the transmitter cabin. They had wished him good luck. Perhaps Gamma Global Goals had already read his farewell letter to his parents, the letter he had signed, yet not written himself. Adonis swallowed again. His hand trembled as he touched the interface behind his right ear. The interface was dead.

Adonis wrapped his arms around his knees and gazed at the cabin spot. The light of the moon was faint. It was almost too dark to see. The air grew chilly. Adonis felt cold. He was hungry and thirsty. His body shivered and his mind was numb. The pale moon was high in the sky when Adonis finally gave in to his exhaustion. Adonis closed his eyes. And then he fainted. His head hit hard the ground. Adonis didn’t realize that he bit his tongue.

Adonis woke and looked around in confusion. Strong arms dragged him along. The dazzling light of the morning sun blinded him. Adonis’ body ached. He realized that someone talked to him. But Adonis didn’t understand the words. He fainted again.

They told him later that his transmitter cabin had not returned to Earth. They had waited for twelve hours, and then Gamma Global Goals had prepared the announcement of the loss that would be read to the public the following day. Omar Abda, an engineer who was left behind in the transmitter room to watch out for any signals of an unlikely return of the cabin, however, did not accept that move. He activated the standby cabin without authorization and entered it. His assistant Galan Moc pressed the transfer button. Omar Abda left the cabin on Makat. The cabin returned to Earth. And Galan Moc pressed the button again immediately. Five minutes later, Omar Abda left the cabin with Adonis de Clark on his arms.

Omar Abda, Galan Moc and Adonis de Clark were celebrated as heroes. Adonis’ cabin never returned to Earth. It had disappeared into the universe without a trace. The tests of the new transmitting system were closed down due to the incident. Only fifty years later, the tests would be resumed and another volunteer would be sent to another galaxy.

Adonis returned to his old life. And to his own surprise, he managed pretty well. He had a bad dream - not really a nightmare - only once or twice a month. It was the same dream always. He dreamed of a violet sky and a pale moon that was rising on the horizon. Adonis hated elevators. And he never really liked the scent of lavender.


© 2010 Dolores Esteban


First published at GA Gay Authors - Gay Quality Fiction