Author : Bob Newbell
It was July 20th, 1969 when Neil Armstrong made first contact with the Selenites. We’d known throughout history that the Moon had life. The ancient Sumerians had noted the satellite change color over time and they had theorized, quite correctly, that it was seasonal variations in vegetation. Galileo had first described the Selenite villages he’d seen through his telescope. The Europeans and the Chinese had erected gigantic structures of wood large enough, it was thought, to be seen from the lunar surface into geometric shapes and then set them ablaze in the hope that the Moon Men would reply. None did. Later, radio signals were beamed to the Moon. The Selenites remained silent.
Now, in 2015, America had six lunar military bases to the Soviet Union’s four. The Moon was the latest battlefield in a Cold War that was heating up. That’s why I was sent up here: to win hearts and minds before the Moon became yet another Korea or Vietnam.
“I do not understand,” said Tuluvnif. He was short for a Selenite: a mere eight-and-a-half feet tall. He looked like a vaguely anthropomorphic stick insect.
“Freedom,” I said. “The liberty to speak your mind. To worship as you see fit. To live the life you want to live. You’ll lose all of that if your world falls to Soviet imperialism.”
Tuluvnif sipped the sap of one of the native trees from a small cup. “I still do not understand, Mr. Fernandez. These concepts are alien to us. Even the strange habit of your people dividing into different groups with different names — Americans and Russians, Capitalists and Communists — is difficult for us to comprehend. You even apply this practice to us by referring to The People living close to the Soviets as ‘Red Lunies’.”
I put my oxygen mask up to my face and inhaled. The air is pretty thin here. “We’re concerned your people living in what we call Mare Serenitatis near the Russian military installation my be subjected to Marxist indoctrination. What would you do if you faced a revolution and had to fight your own people?”
Tuluvnif laughed. “Could your own right hand, Mr. Fernandez, be indoctrinated to revolt against your left hand? Are you not concerned that your vertebral column and your liver might stage a coup against your kidneys?”
“I don’t think you comprehend the gravity of the situation. If you could hear what the Commies are telling your people–”
“I beg your pardon?”
“At this moment, on the other side of this world, a Soviet officer is lecturing The People on the dangers of American imperialism. And at Mare Australe, as you call it, a Lieutenant Durst is telling The People about the War of 1812.”
I took another hit of oxygen. “How can you know that?”
Tuluvnif pointed at a bush a few yards away. “Do you like flowers?” he asked. The bush bloomed with a thousand petals. “Or do you find the fragrance overbearing?” The flowers all closed.
“How?” I asked.
“Our world is but a single organism. The People are just one manifestation of that organism. We have endeavored to be polite hosts. We have listened, Mr. Fernandez, to your rather narrow thoughts about freedom. Likewise, you can imagine our amusement when the Russians tried to teach us about collectivism. You’ll forgive me if I ask you how you might regard a talking amoeba trying to instruct you on the ways of the universe?”
“I can imagine,” I said, embarrassed.
“Well,” responded Tuluvnif, “at least that’s one small step for Man.”