The ground shook once more and, in her mind, Carla could hear it rumbling. The Moon’s thin excuse for an atmosphere, however, dulled whatever sound the quake may have been producing, so the cracks, which appeared in the ground in its wake, were an unpleasant surprise. Astronaut Eriksen held her balance as well as she could as the vibrations travelled up her bones and frightened voices rang in her headphones, both down from Houston as well as from her own similarly struggling colleagues.
A few seconds ago, the voices from Earth had been triumphant and congratulatory, echoing snippets of toasts being raised all over the world in the honor of the first three “Women on the Moon.” The operator had even almost put a call through from one of the most prestigious feminist magazines, but the boss had halted them in the last second.
Now, one small moonquake later, all was in turmoil. Carla took a ginger step towards the others and the headphones crackled and died, leaving an oppressive silence in their wake.
The shaking ceased for a moment and Carla drew a nervous breath. The sudden stillness weighed unsettlingly on her mind, and she started to shake, feeling, for the first time, the deadly silence of the frozen world around her. She spun around, panting, the stiff hand of awakening claustrophobia cinching her throat.
The hair on the nape of her neck stood suddenly, as if an electric current had just passed through her. Carla tried to scream, but no sound came forth, even within the tight confines of her helmet. Her entire body was prickling, as if nano-thin, sharp fingers were gently prying her flesh from her bones and pulling her tendons apart, tugging at the very molecules that made up her body.
She tried to shake the feeling off. She gritted her teeth and turned towards the module which had brought the three of them to this wasteland, mere – she checked the red dial blinking at the corner of her eye – fifteen minutes ago. It already felt like hours. The other two astronauts had already made it to the entrance and were motioning for her to hurry. A mere shell of human genius hardly seemed a safe haven amidst this inexplicable behavior of Earth’s faithful satellite, but it was still better than nothing.
Carla lurched forward – and froze.
She couldn’t move.
Her feet were glued to the ground. She tried lifting them with force, her panic deepening as the ground began shaking once again. She cried out again, her expression of terror mirroring itself in the almost-invisible faces of her colleagues, hidden behind their own domed masks.
Then, before their very eyes, the ground opened up beneath Carla Eriksen’s feet and one of the first women to stand on the Moon disappeared in the gaping black chasm.
A second later, the communication channel popped back on. The head of the operation herself was speaking.
“What the hell just happened?”
“It’s Eriksen. She – she fell.”
“She was sucked inside a crack… I’m sending you the visual data.”
“That’s a nasty chasm. Eriksen? Report.
I repeat, report.”
“She ain’t answering. I think she’s dead.”
The creature, formerly known as Carla Eriksen, was, however, anything but dead. She – it? – now understood, in the light of her new existence, that the human body, which now lay sprawled on the bottom of the crevice, had been a necessary sacrifice. As a matter of fact, she could now hardly understand why she had clung to it so, as it had been sucked dry of its concoction of genes, chromosomes and other biological whatnot and merged with the dried husk of a being that had been asleep for millennia. Her consciousness – or at least a part of it large enough for Carla to still think of herself as Carla – had been adopted as well.
Carla flexed herself – itself – and the Moon shook again, the chasm into which her former body had fallen, closing with an inaudible snap. She trembled with glee and the two strangers, whom she recalled only faintly, were catapulted off the face of the satellite, their ridiculous little spacecraft following in their stead.
Free of all unwelcome parasites, Carla turned towards the splash of brilliant blue in the distance.
The author is an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, and devotes much of her spare time to spreading word about the wonderful steampunk movement in her little country in the middle of Europe. She also happens to be an art historian in training, who delves into the practical area of the field by helping out with archaeological excavations and guiding tourists around castles, and lives in Prague, Czech Republic, with her partner and one rather grumpy dog.