This story is my first (possibly only) submission to this week's Flash Challenge over at Chuck Wendig's blog, and it's inspired by the blue moon that will occur tonight!
You know, for someone who prides themselves on being able to write entire stories in just a few sentences (um, that's ME), Chuck's challenges are giving me some trouble. "Blue Moon over Gigi" is 1000 words, which is the limit. I guess it's because of Chuck's wickedly detailed prompts. This week, for example. "science fiction/fantasy. So, that’s what you’ll write. But that’s your only parameter this week." What an asshole, right?! So many limitations! Anyway, here's this thing:
Blue Moon Over Gigi
Blue Moon Over Gigi
“They say the moon will be blue tonight. And we're all doomed.”
Gracie never believed much of what Skyler told her, not since she was six years old and gullible. But the sky did look darker than usual, and the moon's color was a little off. She told herself it was just her imagination worked up by one of his lies, like when he said her doll was eaten by a dog and she had nightmares about dogs for days.
“This is nothing like that,” Skyler said. “I'm telling the truth. When the moon turns blue, we're done for.”
“Yeah, I'm sure a dog will show up, too. A sharp-toothed scruffy dog all the way from Earth,” Gracie snorted.
“Fine, don't believe me. But don't come crying when you look up tonight and see a blue moon,” Skyler replied. “Actually, you probably won't have time. It'll be the last thing you see.”
He left her on the edge of the pond to wonder whether he was just trying to scare her for his own amusement. She'd heard stories about brothers and sisters on Earth: the bickering, the lying, the confusing battle to deny the other happiness. Gracie thought that if there were such things as brothers and sisters on Kdani, she and Skyler would fit the bill. Then again, Earth was a little backwards. Their moon didn't even create its own light. But by Earth's definition, Skyler was rather “brotherly.”
He was no longer her Keeper, but he still hung around her: something she often threw in his face when he claimed she was annoying him. If she annoyed him, why did he meet her at the pond everyday? Why did he tell her stories from the Star Fields, secret tales to which only the Keepers were privy?
She started to wonder if she was even supposed to know that the moon would turn blue that night. Was that knowledge a gift he'd given to only her? After all, he'd been the one to hold her hand when they witnessed Gyrta's moon melt into cobalt hues five years before—and the one to hold on when the neighboring planet was destroyed. He'd been the one to build her shelter in the days following. He'd stood between her and the gales laced with shards of Gyrta's pulverized moon. He'd held her hand and told her everything would be all right...as long as the same thing never happened to Kdani. As long as their moon never turned blue.
Gracie swam in the pond to avoid looking at the sky. After feeling how cool and comforting the mud was against her bare skin, she dreaded getting out; her armor was too tight and itchy of late, and she hated putting it back on. She imagined living naked, the way she felt most comfortable, but Skyler had told her many times the risks of living without a suit. That, she had to believe. Kdani's atmosphere was always dry and oppressive, and armor was always encouraged, but since the explosion of Gyrta's moon, it had become necessary. An hour of exposure would cause the skin to flake away. At two hours, the extremities would start to crack, and most toes and fingers would fall off completely. No one had reached three hours yet.
Those thoughts made Gracie look at the sky again as she pulled herself out of the pond. The cobalt tinge on the moon was as faint as before, but this time, she did not think it was her imagination.
“Put your suit on.” Skyler's voice caused Gracie to shriek in shock. “Sorry...but put your suit on.”
“Is there really going to be a blue moon tonight?” she asked him, wiping the mud from her pink skin.
“I already told you—”
“But is it true?” Gracie asked.
“I think so,” he replied. He lowered his eyes and exhaled. “Yes, Gigi, it's true.”
Gracie lost herself in a sob. Skyler only called her “Gigi” when he really wanted her to listen. So she had to listen. There would be a blue moon over Kdani that night, just like there'd been over Gyrta. Then, the wind would come, and the moon's color would intensify. The light would eventually blind them, but they wouldn't die until the explosion—and from hearing Gyrta's broadcast during those last days, she knew death would not come quickly.
“No,” Gracie said. Skyler ripped her armor from the ground and marched it to her. “No,” she barked. “I'm not putting it on. What's the point? Let's be free, Skyler.”
He stepped back and dropped the suit. “You're right, Gigi,” he said. It was the first time he'd said those words to her, and Gracie thought he actually looked happy about it.
Within the hour, what was once faint blue grew to an inferno of cobalt light. The people of Kdani panicked, screaming and crying and tearing themselves apart on the fear of never being together again. But two people sat silent, on the edge of the pond they'd visited every day. Silent—and naked. Their armor wasn't important anymore. By the time the moon was burning blue, the first layer of Gracie and Skyler's skin wasn't important either. It was only flecks of pink amidst the dust of the crumbling moon. But Gracie and Skyler believed that they were still important, especially in the end when their hands clasped and their disconnected fingers became indistinguishable from one another. They agreed there was little time left for the things they'd waited all their lives to do, and there was little sense in wasting a second of it.
The dust of destruction seared their throats, but their smiles held strong. Naked under a blue moon, they came together before they fell apart, no happiness denied. And in the last kiss of consciousness, Gigi realized that Skyler had never been “brotherly.”
BY THE WAY, "Play the Way Home," contribution to the EJ McCain middle grade horror series "The Blue Moon Crew of Sawmill Falls," is now available in ebook and print. If you dig (or your kids dig) Goosebumps, get a Blue Moonin.