Friday Flash Fiction – 460 – Earthrise

Susan switched on her ageing ipad, checked the time, pressed the Facetime link and the familiar face appeared.

‘Hello Mother, how are you, what have you been up to this week?’

His greeting never varied and each week she would rehearse fascinating snippets of news and intelligent comments on world events. But when it came to the moment her mind went blank; there was not a lot to tell and even less that Guy and his family would be interested in.

Three little faces popped in and out of the screen, mostly upside down. Her son adjusted the camera so she could see her three grandsons tackling their new assault course; the latest ploy by their mother to direct some of their cooped up energy. Bouncing off the walls took on a new meaning in their confined home, it was so hard for parents not to be able to take them out.

The assault course was such a success they could not be prised away to come and talk to her; after nearly a year it was only natural that little ones would not be interested, they had their own lives now. It was a marvel that she could see and hear them so easily, across so many miles, but she found herself envying instead of pitying her sister with the daughter from hell. The girl had turned up back home a year ago, with three children from different fathers and no money and had not left until it was too late to leave.

Susan was proud of her son and all he had achieved and admiring of her daughter-in-law who had adapted so well to their strange new life, but the two further years until his posting was up seemed interminable.

Who would have thought when Guy was so young, devouring books about space and science in preference to children’s stories… perhaps it was not such a surprise, but obsession was not enough, he had the brains and ambition to achieve his dreams. Still she could not quite believe that her son was leader of the first Moon colony, IMC, International Moon Colony. Seeing the boys now, totally adapted to zero gravity, screeching with delight as they crawled along the curved ceiling of their living quarters, belied the cold fear she felt that this was a remote risky venture that only grown men should be attempting.

‘Grandma, Grandma, we can see you now.’

The camera panned round to the large porthole, through which she could see the Earth beginning to rise. It was a beautiful sight that she was privileged to see and as her grandsons floated and jostled around the porthole it was some comfort that they knew where they had come from, where they belonged.

Worried on Wednesday

Human beings have always worried; what if we don’t catch a mammoth for dinner? Now it’s called anxiety. Of course I don’t suffer from anxiety… I just imagine all the things that could possibly  go wrong so I am prepared.

There are some things people should worry about such as global warming and war; is my stretch of the jungle going to be burnt down, is my island going to be flattened by Hurricane Dorian, will there be anything left of my city after the bombing.


What most of us worry about;

What shall we have for dinner when son brings his new girlfriend round / when boyfriend’s parents come to see our new flat…

Will the car run out of petrol, will the bus be late…

Should I water the garden before we go away, have I packed my hair straighteners.

Should I make an appointment at the doctors / dentists.


Most of us are not completely self centered; we do worry about our loved ones…

Will their holiday flight crash, will they be involved in a motorway pile up on their way to visit us…

Is there something wrong with the budgerigar, he’s off his food.

If you have the misfortune to be in charge of other people, or worse still, other people’s children, you may be justified in worrying. It would be best if you didn’t take precious little ones near any water, roads or firework displays. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security; think they are safe in the park? No, a stinging nettle might leap out and grab their leg or worse still, a pack of pit bull terriers… and you forgot to put on their suntan lotion…


But this blog is about not worrying.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

It may feel like the human race has more to worry about than ever. Big things to worry about like Brexit, Trump, Syria, Hong Kong, The Amazon, bees, the Whole World, failure of antibiotics, nuclear weapons, Armageddon – put in worrying order with number 1. being utter dread and number 10.  ‘Don’t Worry, be Happy.’

But our ancestors had just as many worries.

What they did need to worry about.

‘What if mammoths become extinct, what will we eat and wear?’

‘I hope we don’t get another ice age.’

‘Let’s hope it won’t take too long to get back to the promised land.’

‘What if those white men don’t get back on their big canoe and sail away?’

‘What if that volcano erupts?’


What they needn’t have worried about.

‘Thanks a lot Eve, that’s the end of beautiful gardens for humans.’

‘If we don’t sacrifice our daughter the gods will wreak vengeance on all of us.’

‘Don’t sail too far or you will fall off the edge of the earth.’

‘This great plague is going to wipe the human race out.’

‘If man ever reaches the Moon goodness knows what that will lead to.’


What needn’t you have worried about?

Have you ever said ‘I told you this would happen!’



Spaceship Earth and the Climate Emergency

In another of the occasional blogs from my sister in Australia she shares a letter she sent to the ‘West Australian’ and ‘Australian’ newspapers.



This week the media has been full of information about the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. It was an amazing achievement, and worthy of our attention, but before we get too distracted with thoughts of going back to the moon and then on to Mars, let’s think seriously about Spaceship Earth, and the lessons to be learned from the Apollo 13 mission.

This mission came to be dubbed a “successful failure” after an onboard explosion destroyed the chance of landing on the moon, and changed the mission into a far more difficult one of getting the astronauts back to earth safely. The craft was critically low in power, oxygen levels were of concern, and carbon dioxide levels mounted to near lethal levels. It took all the ingenuity of hundreds of people – scientists, astronauts and engineers – to solve the problems, and against all odds, the three men were brought back safely. During those tense days, the whole world watched and hoped, and mankind was once more united in a common cause.

Here on Spaceship Earth, we face not only the climate crisis, but also the problems of overconsumption, pollution, unimaginable mountains of waste, destruction of the environment with accelerating loss of biodiversity. The main lesson to be learnt from Apollo 13 is that humans are incredible and ingenious when our backs are against the wall. For those of us who accept that climate change is happening, we should not lose hope. The odds against the Apollo 13 flight coming home again were almost impossible, and yet they succeeded.

illustration of moon showing during sunset
Photo by David Besh on

For those in our community who deny there is a problem, consider what would have happened if, after those famous words “Houston, we have a problem” had been uttered by Jim Lovell, politicians had denied there was a problem, and instead ridiculed the astronauts. Then, when the scientists and engineers at Houston had confirmed that there was indeed a problem, had tried to silence them, preferring instead to believe those few people who asserted the whole moon landing had been faked anyway? What if, instead of using those precious hours to come up with solutions and implement them, the Americans had whittled away the precious hours by arguing about whether a problem even existed? It would have reached a stage when it was truly too late to act.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world could be united in an effort to solve, or at least ameliorate, Climate change? We already have many solutions, but are failing to implement them because of disharmony and vested interests. We can succeed, but we have to start now, because … Houston, we have a problem. A big problem !!!!

Kate Doswell

Friday Flash Fiction – Reaching The Moon

For a moment he couldn’t remember where he was, not unusual as he was increasingly losing touch with reality. The long June days and sudden spell of sunshine had made the short nights warm and dry and he had been sleeping better. If an alcohol and drug induced coma could be called sleep.

Churchyard, graveyard, still above the ground; that’s where he was, for weeks, or months perhaps. He turned his head with difficulty, had the other two already gone? It wasn’t always easy to tell. His dreams were hard to recall, staring up at the full moon in the clear sky, that could be real, but there was a little girl who loved the moon. He read her favourite moon stories; bears who couldn’t sleep looking up at the moon, daughters who asked their daddies to give them the moon. Jono hadn’t given her the moon, or much at all. His daughter, that’s right, he had a daughter once. Moon stories was all he could remember; when did he leave or was it they who left? Such a long time ago.

Christmas, he gave her a moon book. Christmas was for children. Christmas was for shelter, how many. One year they found his sister, the last person he wanted to see, he left before she could come and fetch him, left before he had even had his feet seen to. After that he just made up his name and now he didn’t even recall what his real name was.

Jono did not even recall what his daughter’s name had been. Grown up now, did she go to the moon, had anyone been back to the moon since that first time on his tenth birthday? A ladder to the moon, he told the little girl daughter he would find the longest ladder in the world and they would climb to the moon, not tell anybody, be back by morning.

People, so many people going in the church, but not Jono, he never went in there in case they wanted to help him. Most people ignored him, but do-gooders wouldn’t leave you alone. He struggled to stand, good thing about gravestones, they helped you up… one day they would push him down.

Jono found his feet taking him up the stone steps, with the people, excitement, chatter, something was happening; happening to the church, to the people going in or to him. Mostly he looked at the ground, but today something made him look up and there it was, the Moon, hanging there motionless, hanging above them all. How could it be inside the church instead of up in the sky?

At last he had fetched his daughter the Moon, but how could he show her? There she was, a little girl, but there was another child and another, how could he tell which one was his. Looking up made him dizzy, he sat in a pew and drifted into a moon dream.


‘A moon in the church?’ said Chris.

‘Yes, I saw it on Facebook, we must go and look, some kind of art installation, but it’s accurate, NASA and all that scientific stuff. I used to love the moon when I was little, that’s the only thing I can remember about my father, reading to me at bedtime. He said if he couldn’t find a ladder long enough to reach the moon I would have to wait till I was grown up and become an astronaut.’

Chris laughed. ‘My mother thought we would be living on the moon in the Twenty First Century.’


The church was humming, everyone looking up; a real moon suspended above the nave, huge, still and silent except for the Apollo voices and moon music. She was surprised how affected she was and hoped Chris wouldn’t rush her. They took pictures, posted them on Instagram and Facebook.

Chris was ready to go, they were meeting friends for lunch, she paused halfway down the aisle, whispered to him.

‘That old tramp, do you think he’s alright, he looks like he might be dead.’

‘Come on, we’ll be late for the others, he’s probably out of his head on drugs. Always a few homeless sleeping in the churchyard. One of their street team can sort him out.


Inspired by Museum Of The Moon

Read more about my visit to the moon here.










Friday Flash Fiction – On Remand

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.

Lara stirred.

‘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.’

illustration of moon showing during sunset
Photo by David Besh on

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,

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