Diana’s Death

by Matthew Wilson

To avoid the crowds, Noriko and Mari took their places on the hill, and cheered at the moon to join the party.

How they envied men of the 21st century who were able to see it’s many grey mountains through their telescopes. Wanna be star hunters could admire the crater impacts on the sea of tranquility for $10 and have no need of torches to read the instructions.

But each year, Earths only satellite moved away at a rate of three inches. And the 21st century was so very long ago.

“Darn it.” Noriko moaned as she zoomed in the telescope at the tiny white dot in the endless dark and Mari opened the fresh sandwiches. The air filled with the aroma of cheese and onion as the crowd near the facility cheered again.

That mornings newspaper carried news the men in white coats would turn the machine on at 9.

Mari squinted at her lit hand watch and saw there was less than three minutes till the dark was burned away. There had been street celebrations when the scientists said they had constructed a machine to pull the moon closer to Earth without danger of upsetting the global tides.

Mari didn’t care how they said things would be similar to the old days. How scientists didn’t have to squint and fire rockets at the moon just to see old astronaut footprints.

Long ago, the Moon and it’s spirited American flag had wandered further than Venus’ flight path.

Mari was sick of sodium and starlight. Tokyo bathed in an ugly yellow through streetlights, but the city had promised via free pamphlets through the door that all lamp posts would be extinguished at 9.01 PM.

Diana, Goddess of the moon would shine down and Mari would watch the moths dance. The poor things had nearly died out, confused by the endless neon city lights, there was no natural moonlight crossing the great distance to guide them.

What Moths the Bats didn’t get, the rest were driven crazy by man made sodium. But now Maria would run through the grass, and watch the pretty dancers fly, guided by moon beams.

“This things suck.” Noriko put the telescope away and grabbed Mari’s wrist like a Chinese burn, ducking her head and checking her watch. “Come on!” She had to shout to be heard over the crowd holding large cardboard signs.

Smile down on us, Diana.

Light our way.

Mari was sick of using torches to walk the poorer streets and catch a late night movie. Her eyes were bad through frequent exposure to low light.

But tonight, she would see the moths.

Tonight, Diana would come down.

Noriko laughed and smoothed the red and white squared picnic blanket on the grass and started counting.

“30…29…28-”

She stopped talking when the grass stood up on their billions of stalks like Cactus spikes in the sand. She held her jaw, sure her teeth were shifting. “My crowns feel funny-”

People fired flares that shot through the sky, shouting abuse at the dark as the ground rumbled and a smell of electricity made Mari’s nostril hairs curl like pig tails.

The time of dark nights was at an end.

“It’s on! They’ve turned it on!” Mari clapped her hands and watched the moon. “Come on. Bring it down!”

Centimetere by centimetre, gravity had distanced Earth and moon over time and now in an instant, these wonderful men who could not cure cancer but could move satellites would undo four thousand years of travel.

“Di – A – Na! Di – A – Na!” The crowd chanting as if numbering the count down to new years day.

The ground started shaking as a loud humming noise came from the facility at the base of the hill. Guards ordered the men climbing the fence to back away. They had guns for anyone taking pictures of their secret project.

“Is it supposed to take this long?” Mari asked, the hum was hurting her ears and seemed to strengthen.

“They turning the power up?” Noriko replied.

She looked up when the crowd cheered like someone scored a goal at a soccer game.

The tiny white dot in the sky was getting fatter like a widening light at a tunnels end.

“It’s working.” Noriko wept with joy. She felt her eyes relax, not needing to strain as more detail of the moon became visible.

It was beautiful. A chalk white cookie getting bigger and bigger. Descending like a meteor. Soon, the men in white coats would power down and the moon would stop, held in place by Earths gravity and she could take her pictures for her profile page.

Hundreds of flashes filled the car park as young people angled their mobile phones up, capturing the moment.

Then the sky burned.

Norkio screamed as the alarm wailed and guards opened the facility gates. They were running. A man on the bull horn told everyone to evacuate, but star gazers only had eyes for Diana growing bigger in the sky.

Noriko sat stunned as the humming reached a tempo that made her ears bleed. Then the building exploded.

People screamed with fear and Nari thought she was deaf as her ear drums throbbed. The humming ceased, the facility burned and the machine seemed to have ruptured. Split itself into many burning pieces spitting across the car park.

Still, the moon came down and Noriko felt Mari slip her hand into hers. “Somethings wrong,” she sobbed with panic in her voice.

People were leaving and she suggested they run too, but Noriko had no strength in her legs.

Diana was filling her eyes with white light as it burned against the atmosphere, just before the agonising brightness took her sight, she felt she could reach up and touch the moon.

It was so unfair. This was supposed to lead to a better way of life, a safer way of life reducing car smashes through low light. But now there was too much of it. Moths fluttered their wings in fear as they headed to the diminishing dark of near by trees.

None of them made it.

Mari felt nothing as the moon struck the Earth, creating a sensation of fire that had not been seen in the galaxy since it’s creation. Then when the heat and light faded, forever more and always, there was only darkness.

The End