Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sea of Tranquility...

Illustration by Louis. Acrylic on cardboard. Approx. 10x12 inches.

by Louis B. Shalako


All Rights Reserved

Editor's Note: This experimental story asks the reader to eavesdrop on only one side of a conversation. In military intelligence-gathering, 'chatter' is extremely useful in evaluating the enemy's numbers, training, preparedness, and state of mind.
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…serenity is mine, sergeant. That’s right out of Sun Tzu.

It sure is a Sea of Tranquility out there tonight. I’ll do poetry if I want to, sergeant. Let’s see you carry one of these things out there and launch it. Otherwise go punch yourself in the head. According to the sensors, nothing has moved in five hours. They have to be there.

I’ve been alone out here just a little too long, sergeant. You’ll just have to bear with it. My feet are frozen. They don’t hurt or anything. Put that on the report, too. It gets us all in the end, sergeant. My hands still work, and that’s all you need to worry about.

It wasn’t so bad before Stan got it. We could put our helmets together and shout ourselves hoarse and talk about home and family, laugh ourselves silly at some sick joke.

I don’t know sergeant.

We ran out of water a day, two days ago.

Didn’t you hear?

Something got him in his suit…it left a little hole. There could only have been one of them, or I’d have bought it too. Somehow it sealed its entry-point. The suit’s still holding air. I’m using his tanks now, and he doesn’t have any water either.

Yes, I looked. If I don’t check in, what’s the point of sending spare tanks? Don’t risk it just yet. Keep ‘em on standby. Cooper? She’s a good girl. But not just yet. Thanks for the thought though.

For some reason Stan had the switch for the interior light on. The suit switch is jammed, I can’t turn it off…he’s in there dead as a doorknob. It’s like he’s frozen in there and he’s like still screaming at me…be that as it may, sergeant. And I can’t turn off the damned interior light. I think they put them in there so the medics could give first-aid, or whatever….have a look in the manual for me sarge, will you?

Yes, sergeant. Screw you too, sergeant.

We have two or three of them left. Yes, they’re all primed and ready to go…


No, sergeant. It’s just me. Sorry about that. Won’t happen again.

I’ll just go out there and do that then.

Thank you. If I’m not back online in ten or so, ah, could you please let my folks know that I love them, stuff like that, eh? Okay? I’ve downloaded all Stan’s stuff onto a chip too. I took out the stuff his mom wouldn’t want to see.

It’s all here in the OP; sergeant, if you boys can maybe get back here sometime.

No, I broke off with her when I got inducted. It seemed like the decent thing to do.

Thanks for asking.

No hard feelings, sarge, and that’s real, okay? It don’t mean nothing. You know that, Bill. We all know that.

The boys on the other side of that crater wall will know it pretty soon, too. And now I guess I'll just go out there and show ‘em how it’s done…


Good luck to you too, sergeant.

Other than that, sure hope the rest of the company is having a nice day. Don’t wait lunch on me. It is awful quiet out there, sarge; but not for too much longer.

In about, ah; three and a half minutes, you should feel a series of small concussions through the ground. That’ll be me. If I don’t check in pretty soon after that, send Herbert.

The son of a bitch still owes me fifty bucks.

Yes, sergeant. I have good cover most of the way. It really is a sea of tranquility out there tonight. The Earth will rise in a few minutes and then visibility will get a whole lot better around here. They’ll stop and think about it. With a little luck I can be back inside by then.

Thank you, sergeant. I’d better go now.

Victor-Charlie-Tango Four-Oh-Three, out.

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