Author: Stephen Dougherty

The faint light of the Crab Nebula lingered in the eyes of Franc Dreyfus for just a second. He turned off the telescope and swivelled his chair to face the exit of the tiny observation room.

He pushed himself gently through the doorway that led to the similarly compact space that was laughingly called the lounge. Settling into a chair, facing the only window of the outpost, he pulled across himself the strap that would keep him from floating away. From here he could see the Earth-lit edge of Shackleton Crater, and the enormous black abyss of its depths.

Beneath this lonely observatory pulsed the lifeblood of the Lunar South Pole. Here, ice was continually and automatically extracted from the freezing rock and converted to water before being pumped to the surface. It was then sent via pipeline to the observatory.

As Dreyfus took in the view something caught his attention: a small object seemed to be tumbling slowly above the crater. Squinting, to try and discern what it was, the tired astronomer released himself and floated through the doorway back into the observation room. He powered up the externally mounted telescope and pointed the powerful instrument towards the anomaly. He located it, shook his head in disbelief and tried refocusing.

What looked to Dreyfus like a human body – without a spacesuit – tumbled end over end toward the immense mouth of Shackleton Crater. It just couldn’t be, he thought. And when pushed to the highest resolution it seemed to be translucent. He switched views from optical to infrared, then x-ray. Nothing. It only registered in visible light.

He immediately thought to contact the control centre on Earth. They might be able to make sense of it. He flipped a switch and cleared his throat.

“Control, this is Grissom Observatory.”

A few seconds passed with a quarter million miles of static.

“Go ahead Franc.”

“I’m seeing something very odd above Shackleton. Is there any activity in orbit? Any accidents reported?

There was a long pause with more static.

Dreyfus continued. “I’m seeing what looks like an unsuited figure moving above Shackleton. Only registers in visible light.”


“Control? Do you copy?”

“We copy, Grissom. Standby.”

Dreyfus turned back to the monitor to check he was still tracking the apparition. It wouldn’t be long before it went into the permanent shadow of the crater.

“Hey, Franc?”

“Yes, Control?”

“We just heard from our European partners.”


“They just lost one of their guys in an accident.”


“They report an explosive decompression on their lab out at Jupiter. A young scientist named Vanidestine was blown out of a failed hatch.”

Dreyfus thought for a moment. “Vanidestine? Wasn’t that the name of one of the crew lost whilst constructing the water extraction plant?”

“Yes. Someone here tells me that was his mother. How is the figure dressed?”

“The figure is blue. He’s stopped tumbling now.”

More silence.

“Franc. I’m told they wear blue on that station when on duty.”

“It doesn’t make sense. That station is four hundred million miles from here!”

“We don’t have answers, Franc. We’re not picking up anything in your vicinity from here. Keep watching, check your instruments and get as much data as you can. Over.”

A dumbfounded Dreyfus floated over to the monitor. Impossible as it seemed, he could see what looked like a human body where there shouldn’t be one. The telescope was tracking it, which gave him hope for his sanity.

He whispered, “Rest in Peace.”

Inexorably, arms outstretched, the ghost of Vanidestine dove gracefully into the darkness towards his mother’s grave.