Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “that elusive photograph”…
It was almost an hour after the spaceship landed when he saw its door open. A ladder was lowered to the surface and, as he watched with bated breath and readied camera, an alien appeared through the door and started down towards the surface.
The watcher was a bit startled. He had sometimes imagined aliens as little green men with wide, wide eyes, sometimes as spider-like multipeds, sometimes as mere heads floating in a ball of energy.
He had not imagined them to be rather chubby, shell-backed, and with a huge head with just one large eye in the centre.
Still, that was what Neil Armstrong, as he descended the ladder, looked like to the Man in the Moon.
All his life he Man in the Moon had looked up at the stars, the teeming, glorious, millions of stars, and refused to believe that there could be only one populated planet in all of that wonderful galaxy. He had even turned the moon into a giant beacon, which he switched on at night to attract visitors (there are people who say that the moon shines at night because it is reflecting the sun, without thinking through the flaw in that theory, which is that the sun is not shining at night).
Just as Armstrong reached the bottom of the ladder the Man in the Moon took a photo. At least he would have proof to show the Missus in the Moon.
She was a dear, sweet girl, and he loved her more deeply. To him she was the only girl in the world, and that fact that she was actually the only girl on their world only reinforced the truth of that sentence.
But she was a bit of a sceptic when it came to his theories about the possibility of alien-life. She dismissed passing vapour-trails as shooting stars, ignored the obvious runway surrounding Saturn and poked fun at his guiding-beacon, calling it the galaxy’s biggest Ouija board. She fondly called him a mulder, and he had no idea what that was.
But she would not be able to argue with the photo. He walked to their small house, where she was in the front garden eating lunch (green-cheese sandwiches) and placed it in front of her.
She argued with the photo.
“Photo-shopped,” she said.
“Seriously? You think I can do that?” he said. “I can’t even change the font in Microsoft Word.”
The Missus in the Moon thought about this. It was true that her husband knew as much about IT as he knew about swimming with dolphins (well, they didn’t have any), but she knew, just knew, that there were no such things as aliens.
“Well, I don’t know how you did it,” she said, “but I’ll still need more proof.”
Half-a-second later Buzz Aldrin’s golf ball landed between their feet.
“Ok,” she said quietly. “I sort of asked for that.”
“They’re firing at us!” said the Man in the Moon. “What happened to ’we come in peace’ and ‘take us to your leader’?”
“Don’t know,” said the Missus, “but let’s get out of here.”
And they did, since she was the leader that the aliens would have been directed to if they’d asked. The pair ran to the Sea of Tranquillity and dived into it, with just their heads visible above the surface.
While they were running the Man in the Moon dropped the photograph.
Buzz and Neil found it nearly an hour later. The thought that there had been someone there watching them scared the crap out of them, which is not as good thing while you are wearing a spacesuit. They grabbed the photo, swore never to tell anybody, and went home.
Somehow, though, the picture got mixed in with all the ones they took themselves, and has become almost as famous as the one where one of them is reflected in the helmet of the other. No one ever seems to wonder who, if Neil was the first person to step on the moon, was on the surface taking the photo of him doing so.
And the Man in the Moon has no photograph, but he doesn’t care. He has the memory, and a wife who now believes in him and who now shares his interest. They sit at night and watch the stars together, guessing at which ones might hold life and from which one their visitors might have come.
They look up at their moon, a brown-blue-green rock which , because it is so grubby looking, they have called Earth. They dream of going there one day, to collect rock samples and to speculate whether it might be capable of supporting life.
And every evening they light their beacon, their lighthouse to the universe, welcoming all comers to their home. Especially since they have now built a really good ray-gun in case future visitors prove to be as hostile as the first lot.
The truth is out there. Just not as far out there as they think.