The Art of Being Alone- a novella (5th installment)

SelenitesInspired by the writing of Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut, The Art of Being Alone is a novella about a lost soul living on the Moon and what he found there. You can read the earlier installments here. Our narrator is a member of the 5%s, wealthy individuals that own a majority of all of the resources and economy on the Earth. The rest of the planet is in turmoil, with the environment and the poor (everyone else) struggling to live or fight back. It is under these conditions that our broken narrator moves as far away as a human possibly can…

18- I Am THE Selenite

Jules Verne and his two books about traveling to the Moon (From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon) always seem to get misremembered. This is mainly because people confuse it with the black-and-white silent film that was loosely based on the series, Le Voyage dans la Lune by Georges Melies.

In the film, our heroes land on the Moon and meet some Selenites, which is the name for moon dwellers in most scifi (the name comes from the Goddess Selene). They have an escape and bring one of the poor creatures back to Earth to show to all of us humans, traumatizing that poor creature forever for science. Hurrah!

In the actual book, this is not really how it works out. Our heroes never even land on the Moon!

In typical American fashion, they decide to solve the trip to the Moon problem with a giant gun. For what in an American’s mind is better for solving a problem than a gun? It’s certainly solved the problem of my grandmother. (More on that country and guns later.)

So the heroes of the story, who by the way are obsessed with the military because of the Civil War, shoot themselves out of this giant gun at the moon. Bang! And in the sequel of the book, it is described how they make their way back, I believe it is by using the gravitational pull of the Moon to pretty much fling themselves to the Earth. So at no point does a Selenite make an appearance.

There is a dog in it though. It, of course, dies, starting our grand tradition of killing cute animals for the sake of space travel.

There is a chance some readers might confuse Jules Verne work with a short story by HG Wells, which also involves a Moon-traveling adventure. In “The First Men in the Moon,” the Selenites don’t even look humanoid at all. They are spider-like creatures. Again, nothing like the Earthlings in makeup that was see in the masterpiece my Melies.

The truth of the matter is though, besides all this fiction, the only Selenite is the one who is writing this right now to you the audience. And I am doing so lying on my back in my little habitat next to the imagined corpse of my father.

Sometimes I wonder, as I look up at my black sky, why Jules Verne never bothered to have his heroes land on the Moon. Is it because he had no way of getting them back once they landed and that was too dark a story? I mean while they were Americans, the capability of building a gun here on my rock and then shooting it back at the planet would be pretty impressive even for that gun-obsessed culture. In actuality, they would have landed here, stepped outside and died pretty immediately, joining their dog in the afterlife.

Of course, the silent film never bothered to deal with any of that stuff. It is all one grand adventure. Whoppie!

And… wait. .. I am hungry.

19- “For Date Night… or Tuesday”

I am going to continue to write as I eat. I feel like I have a certain amount of energy for it and it helps pass the time.

Now, by the time I left that destroyed planet, there were few natural things left on it. Animals and plants were all harvested years earlier for the growing mass of humans (we are all so good at making more, and it is unfortunatley fun to do). Food was mostly stuff made in a lab with giant machines… and mostly pink.

There was this commercial that was on a lot before I left. It showed this middle-aged man getting dressed up. A tie, nice jacket. He then makes up a table with a candle in the center.

The man then runs almost comically to the kitchen to cook up this outrageous looking pink goo to eat. The announcer is now talking about how healthy the goo is, but you don’t want to hear that. The man certainly is not listening to the announcer, so why should we?

Finally, the food is done and the man puts two plates on the table, then he goes and answers the door. Here the camera tricks us into thinking someone is on the other side. He sits down at the table. He takes a spoonful of the goo (yum!) and the camera pans back to show us that there isn’t another soul at the table with him.

In the chair opposite from him is just a plush brown bear.

The man continues to eat and while he is eating he is laughing. He is laughing at the toy sitting across from him as if it is the greatest joke in the world. It is then that the announcer uses the tagline for the food company: For date night… or Tuesday.

i’m sure a lot of people at that company thought it was very witty. There probably were multiple mini meetings and customer testing just for this ad. I, however, didn’t think it was sweet

I thought it was sad and the food looked gross.

19- More Gun Talk

I am done eating the potato and vegetables grown here and I want to return to what I was going to say about guns.

Here is one of the things I found interesting during the trials for my grandmother’s killers. All of her killers bought their guns legally. They even had licenses! They put them up on a screen for all to see, even us watching the trial, hiding at home.

What this means for me is that even if I had a time machine and I could go back, rush into a police station with proof that these people were going to destroy my grandmother’s body with their weapons, the officers could not take the guns away.

Because of the backwards gun laws and obsession with killing, her death was inevitable and unavoidable like cancer or a heart attack. I wonder if that would have given her some peace during the terror of the moment, knowing there was nothing she could do and it was destiny?

I… I think I am going to stop writing for today.

20- Bang!

I heard a bang yesterday. It was like a gunshot- surprising, sudden and loud!

This is the first time I have been able to write about it. I will walk you through what I discovered and the sheer mystery of it all.

It took me two hours of exploring to find where it came from, and it was something connected to my oxygen regeneration tank. I couldn’t explain how it works, nor do I want to waste the pages in one of my journals explaining it. (I am writing on paper now.) There are a series of fans and “balloons” that grow in size and decrease in size over and over again, this device pumps the air and recycles it for future use and that is all you need to know.

One of the balloons had popped. This is fine. Thanks to the manual it was easy to repair and the system could easily run without it (they had built the system very well with many backups). It is mysterious though because there is no wind, nothing there to pop the balloon. A piece of regolith cannot just decide to jump up and pop the balloon.

It should have been easily possible for that balloon to exist for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. So what made it pop like a children’s red balloon at a carnival?

I spent much time of my time this morning walking around the mystery.

Why does it bother me so much? I feel uncomfortable and I am not used to feeling… anything. This should not have happened.

That night I fell asleep on the floor near the air vents. I listened to the breathing of my home, timing my breath with the inhale and exhale of the habitat.

In… out…

What popped the balloon?

In… out…

I am alone…

In… out…

What… do you know, my quiet and imagined reader? Can you tell me?

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