I Know What the Moon Looks Like by Jenn Hopkins – FREE STORY

Journal Entry for Sakura Jovanović: Entry for Day 35, Year 2253, Cilix Station

It’s cold here. Papa needs a suit, but I don’t need one, though Mama still makes me wear it. We live at the bottom of the ocean in Dome 35B (Mama calls it Worker Central), far below the ice that Papa goes up to mine for Earth Prime (and that’s what we call the Original Planet). But that’s not the one I see when Papa lets me Go Up Mission with him. (Sometimes he’s Down Mission, that’s ocean drilling, or loading for the IPS, that’s an Inter-Planetary Ship.) That one is all red and white clouds boiling and rolling and sparking and the Big Eye watching us. Petra Mikhailov says I’m dumb, there’s no eye that’s just the thousand-year hurricane and the planet is not heaven just Jupiter. I think that Petra is dumb, but Mrs. Litxuli tells me to be nice and that constructive criticism is the only thing that contributes to the optimal classroom experience.

But right now, I’m mad! Mama says that as soon as Papa gets his next paycheck from the Omni – something something Corporation, that we will have to board a Star-Mover Ship (not an IPS we don’t want Earth Prime to know we’re going) and go to Titan. But I don’t want to go to Titan. It’s just a boring terra-dome and its surface is dry and dark with no indigenous creatures.

Here we have giant glow fish the size of a Europa-shuttle with black and bright green stripes and all flappy like the deep sea sails that generate the electricals and the duodecipus which is black with glow-y orange suckers that kiss the glass like big, sloppy lips and has big, mean, black and shiny eyes with a beak like and Earth Prime toucan (I seen it in books on my Pad). My favorite are the angel-jellies, these ginormous jellyfish that glow brightly  like ghosts and pulse like floating gowns straight from a ball, which is big dance-y party from Earth Prime olden times where ladies wore wigs and giant skirts and squished up their middles (Mama says those women didn’t like themselves and calls the angel-jellies gossamer). Here we have light from Sol reflected by the Chain of Mirrors, but there they don’t even have a proper base! Everything is ‘sperimental! And what will Papa mine? There aren’t minerals there according to Petra, just farms and settlers.

Mama tells me that there will be plenty to do because they need people to help them out. She says that living will be hard out there. “Everyone will need to contribute.”

I ask why we need to go – all of my friends are here! But Mama just tells me not to ask questions and to get my things packed, but take only what I need. (Which is it, Mama!)

But I won’t go! That’s why I ran away and am hiding here just under the Main Pump with my Pad and my Teddy. I have plenty of sushi to keep me fed and when I turn one years and four months old (which Mama says is sixteen in Earth Prime years), I’ll join the Crew.

But then Papa finds me. Guess I shouldn’t have told him that this would make a good hiding place. But he doesn’t pick me up like he says he’s going to. I tell him how angry I am. I cry a little. I tell him that I don’t know why I have to leave Europa and the seas and Petra and all of my friends and my pod that we just got pink pillows for (my bed is all like a big, Jupiter, swirly cloud now just like I wanted it). He just frowns for a second. I’m worried that he’s going to yell at me, but instead he kicks out a foot and settles down to the ice to sit beside me.

“You didn’t bring a suit, only a breather,” he says to me. “How long do you think the oxygen’s going to last?”

But I don’t answer, because I’ve got nothing to say to him. In the distance a geyser blows up all big and ‘splode-y into the air, the regular one the American Sector calls Big Bessy. They hooked up a geothermal capture unit to get their electrics from her. A cloud of mist floats by.

He goes on, “You know how your mother has dreams that sometimes come true?”

I nod, but don’t know what that has to do with anything.

“She was taking the suppression pills, but she keeps having the dreams and she knows that there are those that hear them, the people watching her with… with their thoughts I guess. There are people coming from Earth Prime. They’re going to take her.”

“But they can’t take her!” I yell out. “That’s not fair! Mama lives with us! We’re going to Titan!”

“Well, that’s why we’re going to Titan. It’s out of range, at least, that’s what she says (though I thought we already were). Listen, turnip, there are people who are afraid of Mama’s dreams and that she has to serve Earth Prime if she has them and the suppression pills don’t work. They think that if they let her be with us, we’ll confuse her, so they won’t let her be with us and serve them. So, we have a choice, stay here and they take her away, or go to Titan and we all stay together as a family. Which would you choose?”


Journal Entry for Sakura Jovanović: Entry for Day 39, Year 2253, Cilix Station

I don’t want to choose. I want Mama with us! And I don’t want to leave Europa. This is my home, the only home I’ve ever known. The big, scary, red Jupiter up above. The ocean glowing around me in pulses and whirls like a haunted house and the ceiling made of many glowing hairs and the furniture that grows up from the floors, People Movers conveyors that take me to school and the shops and the parks (I like the arcades) and every month we have Founders Day and I play the flute for the entire school and we have Jupiter Cakes.

But worse, Papa says that I’ll never get to see Great-Grandma on Earth-Prime. I talk to her once a week on the Ethernet Pad – even though there is a week delay, it’s almost like talking. She says something to me and I say something back to her. She shows me pictures of Earth-Prime. It is very different. It has many, many big oceans, but everybody lives on land and it’s dry and brown, dusty and it is all green and sometimes wet and slimy, but doesn’t glow. And they only have one moon with only a couple of settlements.

Petra doesn’t believe me. She says that Earth Prime is just a fairy tale, that everybody messed it up and there’s nobody there. But I know. Great Grandma has sent me all the pictures – it’s there with all its lands and creatures and wind (though Great Grandma says it’s sorta like a fan).

But as the lights dimmed to Night and I laid down in my pod, I knew what I’d rather choose, even if it’s a bad choice I want to have Mama with me. Papa got his check and we got ready to leave.

And as I hug Petra goodbye (she promises she won’t cry and I do too, but we do anyhow), I show her where my grandma lives on the moon.

“You see it’s there,” I tell her.

She smiles. “What a good gift,” she tells me, “now I know what the Moon looks like.” It’s the only moon that is just named Moon (which is kinda weird when you think about it). It’s as pretty as Europa in its own dry, moon-y way, but looks so lonely.

I nod. “I’ll meet you there someday.” She nods and we make a pinkie promise just before Mama, Papa, and me board the ship.

I wave goodbye as Petra becomes smaller and smaller inside the big, port dome. I will miss Europa. Mama says because I was born here, I’ll be taking a bit of Europa with me all the way to Titan, my tears are the same stuff as the oceans that swirl and whirl a circle around our old dome. I hope that that’s true. Life on Titan will be very dry and Mama says that we may have to go further all the way to Pluto Science Station or even on a Pioneer Ship all the way to another star. I hope not, I’m not even 1 years old (though Mama says according to Earth Prime years I am nine) – I will miss you very much, Sol, our only sun, a star both Petra and me and everybody shares.

[Author’s Note Europa has an 84-hour cycle – it takes 3.5 days to orbit around Jupiter – which gives it 42 hours of light approximately. I made an authorial decision to have the inhabitants structure their days around Europa’s orbit, despite the fact that they use Jupiter’s orbit to calculate their years – well, at least, the natives do. A month on Europa would be a year on earth and a year on Europa would be 12 years on earth.  I also assumed that work days would mostly be structured around what an earthbound corporation calls a day (they’re working on a 24-earth-hour schedule – but might extend it a bit given that Europa’s day is much longer). Workers are expected to do eight earth hours of work, but since they have almost twice the amount of “daylight” (most of their light would probably be manufactured given their distance from Sol) as earthlings. I decided to assume that most Europans would work a normal nine-hour shift (eight with an hour’s lunch) those teaching classes, or running restaurants or doing office work, but the miners might work a 12-hour shift due to the hard physical labor – 3 hours on, 2 hours off, 3 hours on, 2 hours off and then 2 hours on – and since mining is the primary economy people will tend to center their day around whatever the miners see as a day. I believe that they might extend their day to a 15-hour day – I‘m assuming that the human body still will work pretty much the same still needing mostly 8 hours of sleep, though Europans might sleep 9 or 10 hours given that half their days and nights will be dark and half will be light.]


Edited by Lloyd Penney – Published by Amazing Stories, LLC.

Previous Article

CLUBHOUSE: Review: Pulp Literature Magazine#36

Next Article

War Bodies: Cover and chapter one of Neal Asher’s sci-fi revealed

You might be interested in …

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.