Lee’s tenth birthday, 2029, where had the years gone; so much had changed in my son’s lifetime and yet so little had changed. Here I was packing to go to the moon and yet we still hadn’t left the EU.
‘Sorry, did I disturb you?’
‘No, Lee must still be asleep.’
‘Hmm, not like when he was a baby.’
‘This time ten years ago we were deciding whether we had time to go and vote in the European Union elections before you took me to the hospital.’
‘..and we would never have imagined those MEPs would still be in power.’
‘… not exactly, they’re living on the moon.’
‘Their colony paid for with our taxes and we can’t even afford a trip to a space station.’
‘You can’t complain, work trip to the moon.’
‘If I make senior partner I’ll take you and Lee on a Lunar Leisure Break.’
‘…I wish you didn’t have to go, are you sure it’s safe?’
‘Just as safe as any journey on earth.’
I was looking forward to my trip, but nervous. Lee had chosen Zero Gravity Experience at the sports centre for his birthday treat with his friends. The moon should be lovely and peaceful after that experience. As the junior partner in the law firm I had landed the task of defending some celebrity I had never heard of, at present on remand in the lunar penal colony.
With politics on earth turning into a comedy and panic over the state of the planet, the big nations had taken their eye off the ball. Huge business consortiums had quietly started colonising the moon, starting with terrariums they progressed to bigger and bigger biospheres, plant life creating the air the moon lacked. The mineral rich moon dust mixed with human and plant waste made excellent soil. Biospheres were leased out to governments for everything from lunar laboratories to prisons. It was the prisons that proved most popular, an age old solution to overcrowding on earth and big business had no interest in who was imprisoned or why.
Despite my reassurances to Lara I was anxious as I took my berth. I had been booked on one of the cheaper rocketlines, though it hadn’t lost a rocket since 2025. They saved money by tranquilizing the passengers; I felt the powerful take off, but nothing more till I was woken by the commander’s voice warning us to remain lying down until we had locked on to the landing module.
Now I did feel excitement as the eight of us squeezed our way to the air lock, once through we were in a pleasant lounge with picture windows. To one side we could look up at the blue planet, still surprisingly blue, but that was probably due to the rise in sea level. At the other side we could look down on craters and grey terrain just as one imagined, but gradually sparkling lights of many colours appeared and the landscape changed to glittering domes and globes. I was truly living the dreams of my parents and grandparents when they had watched on television as the first man landed on the moon sixty years ago.
Our landing at the Virgin Moonport was gentle, but once in the arrivals lounge we could have been at any airport, security were everywhere. Sightseeing was not going to be an option; my papers were inspected and my grim escort took me straight to the vacuum tube where we shared a capsule with a female prison officer and what I presumed to be a prisoner.
At Amazon Lunar Penitentiary hopes that my boss had booked the luxury hotel dome were quickly shattered, prison visitors had their own economy accommodation block. Looking at my bare room I wondered what the cells would be like. I only had half an hour to refresh myself before a different uniform collected me.
Prisoner 356 was in a room exactly like mine; he was young and non-descript for a celebrity, nor did he look like a criminal. We shook hands and he introduced himself as Steve Brown, his real name. I still had no idea what he actually did.
‘Okay Steve, tell me in your own words how you came to be arrested; we were not allowed access to any information.’
‘The musical movie wot I wrote, innit; been accused of cultural appropriation ain’t I.’
I urged him to explain.
‘Kid from the underclass, never seen a field or a horizon, parents junkies.’
‘And who was in the cast?’
‘Me and my mates, I sang and directed it, got crowd funding, great reviews, no trouble till the film festival. Then someone found out.’
‘Found out what?’
‘My parents are mega rich, sent me to Eton. I can talk like the royal family if I want to.’
I began to understand. ‘Of course, the Culture Police don’t think you could possibly understand what it is like to be from such a background.’
‘But I do, I used to sneak out of school to find real life, over to Slough or on the train up to London, but that wasn’t good enough for the authorities. There’s only one chance, you have to help me. I’m adopted, parents never told me. I found the adoption papers when I was going through their drawers to see where they kept their cocaine. If I get my DNA tested, if you can find out where I come from…’
‘It’s a slim chance…’ I tried to cheer him up. ‘Perhaps you’d better write about The Moon next time.’
He managed a laugh. ‘No way, the moon’s under copyright.’
For more short stories, earthly and unearthly,
have a peek at this book.