Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

A weekly series in which a man whose camera has broken takes on the WordPress Photo Challenge anyway…

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On that first day, he had wondered were they coming to attack.

They had sent ships before, weird spider-like things that had sat down heavily in the dust but had proven to be unmanned, remotely controlled like a model aircraft, or like Super Mario. But this ship was different. This time a door had opened and a ladder had dropped to the surface.

The Man in the Moon was about to have company.

He knew they were from Earth, that planet of blue and green cheese that orbited his Moon. He had watched over the years as they had sent various little machines into space – stuff that could predict the weather, or at least get it wrong more expensively, stuff that could beam radio signals around the planet.

And now they had come. Perhaps they would be wide-eyed and green. Perhaps they would be squat, brown and continually wanting to go home. Perhaps they would be Killer Tomatoes (there is a version of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes in the psyche of every species in the universe).

The Man in The Moon watched a figure appear at the top of the ladder. Yikes, he thought, they have huge heads, one gigantic eye and are enormously fat. Then he realised that that was just the astronaut’s spacesuit. He waited until the guy reached the bottom step, then walked up behind him.

“Greetings, earthling,” he said.

It is not widely known that the actual first words spoken by mankind on the surface of the moon were “what the f**k?”

The Man in the Moon hoped that that was the limit of the astronaut’s shocked reaction. You don’t want to be trapped inside a spacesuit with your own poo.

“I’m the Man in The Moon,” he said.

“We thought you were a myth,” gasped the visitor.

“Nope, I’m real. I’ve been here for centuries.”

“How have you lived so long?”

“Healthy living. No salt, no cigarettes (I’d love one, but I can’t get them to light up here) and daily swims in the Sea of Tranquility.”

“Well, my name’s Neil Armstrong. I come in peace.”

“Just as well you do. Try anything and I could zap you with my ray-gun, or pelt you with moon-rock, or set the Clangers upon you.”

The Clangers (via BBC.co.uk)

“The Clangers?”

“Yes, they’re my pets. They’re like whistling mice. Believe me, you don’t want to be caught by the Clangers.”

“Er, well, I’ve come for a visit. Is that OK?”

“Sure thing. Do you need a hand with anything?”

“No, we – well, actually, hang on a bit.” Armstrong raced up the ladder, and came back down with a camera. “Would you mind filming me coming down? We wanted to show the world the first man stepping onto the moon, without thinking it through that of course there’d be no-one here to picture him doing it.”

Armstrong went up the ladder yet again and then, with the Man in The Moon filming him, descended slowly, muttering something about steps and leaps. Then he was joined by another astronaut, a guy called Buzz. The two of them were as giddy as two kids on their first day in playschool. They jumped up and down, picked up rocks, took pictures of their reflections in each other’s helmets. They planted a flag. Buzz played golf, as men will do at every possible opportunity.

They stayed for three days, then there were long goodbyes, man-hugs, and promises of secrecy.

Five more missions arrived over the next four years, then mankind took instead to revolving around its own planet in a space station, like John Tracy in Thunderbird 5. They sent ships to Mars and Jupiter, looking for signs of life (there was no-one there, the Man in The Moon could have told them that, they’d joined forces to attack Uranus, like a galactic form of piles). The Man in The Moon resumed his solitary existence.

Except he didn’t.

While Neil and Buzz were bouncing gleefully around (on space-hoppers, of course) he had filmed the inside of their module, using the camera they had given him, and when they left he had built his own spacecraft using bits of the earlier unmanned ships. He regularly visited Earth thereafter (making sure to arrive in isolated places where anyone who spotted his craft would be written off as a crank) and slipped unobtrusively into earth life.

He wrote the song Moondance for Van Morrison. He taught Michael Jackson how to moonwalk. At the moment he is Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the UN.

People say that the moon has a great influence over us. It’s hard to have more influence than that.

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