I haven't done one of these in ages, and it's not my best, but I had to write something. Our prompt was to write a story involving a full moon, and its effect on the characters in the story. I took a slightly different twist on the idea, but I hope you find it at least passable.
“It's a full moon today, you know,” Julie said. “‘From the Ocean of Storms to the Southern Sea,’ just like the song says.”
Jack Hamilton wasn't listening. He had other things on his mind, and if he were to be entirely honest with himself, he would admit that this was the last place he wanted to be. He and his daughter had found shade under a large boulder, which hung precariously atop a small outcropping. They were within one of the personnel-only areas (his police card had allowed them access), under a pressurized carbon-glass dome encompassing an area about a mile square, not far from the compound at Sabine Crater.
He raked his fingers lightly through the powdery, grey-white regolith. Somewhere far off, he knew that Planet Life was preparing to pull out the big guns. The HumInt division had reported than an attack was being planned for sometime in the next twenty-four hours. Exactly where and exactly when was not clear, but it was sure to be big. If he didn’t do his job, and do it properly, a lot of people were going to die.
It was Julie’s birthday, and he hated to cut their outing so short. He excused himself awkwardly, patting the dust from himself as he explained to his daughter that he had other places to be, things to deal with. He apologized profusely; wished he could stay a while longer, he said, but he would see her for dinner. Her mother was making a roast, she had said. Yes, he would definitely see her for dinner.
“Happy birthday, Julie.”
A mile away, at Ritter Station, he stepped from the platform and into the oh-nine-hundred tube, swiping his ID wrist band against the sensor before settling into a seat near the back of the train. The station had been deserted, but the tube itself was loaded full of passengers; mostly from the other stations on the route, he reasoned. The train would take him over twenty miles in less than five minutes. There were no intervening stops, so government workers would be deposited directly at the far eastern end of Sabine, just a short walk from his office at the Police Headquarters building in Glennan Plaza.
When he sat down, he was assaulted immediately by the stench of what he thought was gasoline fumes. But it couldn’t have been gasoline, of course; fuels like that are unheard of in places like this. No, it wasn’t gasoline. He decided it was most likely a leak of some mechanical fluid or another. He wasn’t far from the rear engine where he sat, so that must be it. He would mention it to the driver when he disembarked, and made a mental note to himself to remember that.
The airlock in the station terminal disengaged, and the train began slowly to lurch forward. It pulled out of the dark confines of the enclosed station and into lunar daylight, beginning to pick up speed. Jack Hamilton surveyed the bleak grey landscape, dotted here and there with boulders and craters, and found it entirely unimpressive.
The moon was supposed to be a great romantic place, full of mystery and adventure. That was what the ads for the colonies had said and probably what he had believed, but it wasn’t so. Maybe for some it was, but not for Jack Hamilton. For him the moon was a dull and uninteresting hunk of rock that had brought him nothing but trouble; he had suffered a heart attack last year just as his circulatory system began to adjust to the decreased gravity, but even that hadn’t been enough for the damn corporate doctors to grant him a wavier to go back home.
And today was Julie’s twenty-second birthday, which made it three years since Mother Earth had vomited him and his family up onto her less-attractive sister. Two years to go, he thought to himself, Two entire goddamn years, if I’m not dead by then.
The man on the seat beside him fidgeted and stood up, his shiny thermal coat wrapped tightly about him. Without warning, his hand shot up from the coat’s pocket, clutching what looked like a butane lighter, its burnished metallic surface glimmering with a dulled brilliance in the UV-filtered sunlight.
Hamilton stood up, alarmed, and grasped for the man’s hand, the pieces of the puzzle fitting themselves together inside his head. The gasoline fumes; the lighter; Planet Life. But it was too late.
“Do you think it’s Planet Life, sir?” the lieutenant asked.
The news had just come in at Glennan Plaza. A young lieutenant had answered a call from the Transit Authority’s headquarters, out on US One. A “catastrophic vacuum emergency,” they had called it; three cars gone at once, and the rest all quickly overheating; passenger totals weren’t certain, but it was sure to be five hundred at least.
“Of course it’s Planet Life,” the general snapped, “They’re the only ones with the infrastructure to pull something like this off.”
The lieutenant nodded and turned back to the screen, watching as further data poured in from Transit. Still no video.
“God damn it!” the general screamed once more. He had repeated that phrase at least half a dozen times since the lieutenant had entered the office. It was all he could think, probably, unable to fully process the audacity of this attack; the insanity.
“I need to get Hamilton on this,” the general said now. “Sabine-Ritter is his beat; he’ll know how to--”
“Sir,” the lieutenant interrupted, “Hamilton hasn’t checked in yet. He’s still off-duty.”
“Well, where the hell is he?” the general asked, clearly agitated.
“Oh,” the lieutenant said, “He called in last night and reminded us that he’d be an hour or two late. It’s his wife’s birthday or something. He said he cleared it with you on Monday.”
“Well, he didn’t,” the general replied. “When he gets here, let me know.”
The general left the room for another part of the building, muttering something like, “No damn work ethic,” under his breath.
The lieutenant turned back to the screen.
An hour later, the screens of a thousand terminals, personal computers, and public display screens across Luna flickered to black. After a moment, a face appeared. It was a man; he looked about thirty, with sandy blonde hair that reached the collar of his blue colony-issue jumpsuit. He sat in a small, nondescript room with white walls and looked downward, away from the camera. From the side of the frame the barrel of a rifle could be seen, aimed unambiguously in the direction of his head.
“My name,” he began, licking his lips, sweat running down his forehead. “My name is Lawrence Carmen. I’m a captain in the Luna Police Force. I was a passenger on the Sabine-Ritter tube that was attacked this morning.
“I’m being held by an organization called Planet Life. I am being treated well, and they have asked me to read a short statement to the government of this colony.”
He held up a piece of paper, crumpled and folded at odd angles. He began to read: “‘For more than four decades, the colonists of Luna have lived well while the inhabitants of Earth have begun to starve. To this day, radiation victims go without treatment and war refugees remain homeless.
“‘At this moment, several thousand tons of explosives are wired throughout the major cities of Luna, wired to explode in forty-eight hours. It would be prudent at this time for the colonial leadership to arrange for the transportation of Luna’s 48,000 resident citizens back to Earth.
“‘Signed, Julia Hamilton of Planet Life.’”
The man looked back at the camera now, an expression of pleading on his face. “I implore you to comply with the demands. Or the consequences will be dire for us all.”
The video feed was cut.