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MOONCAT

Dreamed 1995/11/14 by Chris Wayan
Big screen, fast connection? Full comics version

I live on the moon. It's still a desert, but with breathable air. And a border. One border, between two huge, thinly populated countries: our Lunar Republic with its hard-won independence, and the hemisphere still run by the wage slaves of Corporate Earth.

Our cameras and sensors detect suspicious activity along the border. Small flows of some liquid, solidifying. Not hot enough for lava, not cold enough for ice. And lots of standing figures near the fence--spies? Guards? Soldiers? More and more... We fear war!

A woman I know in the border-monitors invites a Vulcan she knows to come investigate, hoping his logic will solve the mystery. She invites me along. Sorry, I can't name names. You'll learn why.

We suit up--parkas, electric jumpsuits, but no masks, not any more, since the air pressure rose. We climb into the hills to investigate. From a high crater rim, we look over the line. There's ice in the crater shadow, precious and blue. A few reeds even grow round the rim of the chill little pond. War or not, terraforming goes on.

But is it war? Looming over the fence is one of the mystery figures. It's papier-mache sculpture! Not exactly a statue--a surreal, rounded protoplasmic figure, vaguely like a person, but faceless, smoothed like a wind-blown hoodoo, and varnished or coated with beeswax, to a luminous translucent bronze. Beautiful but eerie. Looks more like it grew than was made.

A squad of soldiers or border guards jumps out of hiding and storms the statue! Swirl around it madly, ignoring us. Practicing... what? Makes no sense. If these are wargames they're not for any kind of war we've ever known.

We discover the statues on the border of the Lunar Republic. Sample comix page
"Too weird to ignore," I say.

"Illogical moves by such a formidable opponent merit closer inspection" says the Vulcan.

"That's what I said," I say. And we all crawl under the barb-wire fence.

Soon we're in a grove of the things, each a different shape.. but all translucent, darkgolden, faceless.

"Like a dragon melted in a dream", murmurs my friend.

"We do not know our so-called enemy," says the Vulcan.

"Art not war" is all I can mutter, as I wander and gape.

Strange echoes fly out the mouth of a box canyon. We find a path winding up its floor, guarded by more of the golden hoodoos, like dinosaurian votive candles.

Round a boulder, and we see the end. It's a maelstrom of hundreds of creatures, on skateboards and rollerblades, bikes and trikes and velocipedes. A Lunar Skate-a-thon! We don't just watch--skates appear on our feet too! We step out and enter the chaos.

I soon lose my friends in the crazy crowd... sense and intellect gone! Luckily I spot a biker, a wise cat-man, I've admired for years. He's zooming around the cliff-perimeter. What's his name? Master... Master Cat?

The Cat Master's Skate-a-thon on the moon.
He bikes strangely: whenever he nears a cliff, he zooms up within a yard of it, then turns at the last moment. He circles the canyon several times before I figure it out--he's blind! No human could bike like this, but due to his sharp cat ears, he can steer by echo-location. The crowd, though, puts out so much noise that his sonar range is limited; he can only sense dancers and even rock walls when he's right on top of them. The loud crowd has negated his miracle--re-blinded him! No wonder sages seek solitude.

I call out to my Vulcan friend, and to the Catmaster. But as I do, my mind goes blank! I've forgotten my friend's name too! In this crowd, neither one of them can hear me unless I shout their names--and I've forgotten! The chaos of this place is getting to me, too! Did this happen to them all? I know the cat-man can explain the golden mystery figures, and though he's a citizen of the land across the border, he'll tell me the truth. But I can't reach him, can't call... Maddening.

The Cat Master, biking blind, uses sonar to steer around the dancers.
And then... I let it all go. Rebellion. Defenses. The meaning of art. Self-control. Spiritual mastery. Memory retrieval. Leave it to the sculptor of us all.

I look around with fresh eyes. Across the crowd, a girl I know is dancing alone. To reach her, I must go against the traffic flow. I wobble out on my skates, and think to myself "I'm going the wrong way," then change it to "I'm going the opposite way." I needn't go the way they do--it's custom, not natural law.

As I reach her, I slip and nearly fall. But she grabs me, laughs, and holds me firm.

We hold each other close. I'm a happy amnesiac, on the moon.

I find true love, skating on the moon.
NOTES ON WAKING

LISTS AND LINKS: other worlds - Luna - terraforming - politics - self-defense - sculpture - pencil art - a sculpture of one of the "borderguards" of the Lunar Republic - animal people - cats - bikes - mentors and teachers - solitude - menageries - social advice - love - web comix

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