Dan hates the moon.
I didn’t understand why, but then again I’ve always been a night owl. I don’t think I’m allowed to judge, and on the Space Cruise, night owls are the only passengers not itching for antidepressant supplements to chase their synthetic shots of Vitamin D. I guess I can understand, they yearn for humidity and hot sands beneath their calloused feet. They would rather look out their observation window and see evergreen trees rooted in lush grass next to glimmering ponds. Rather than the unknown blackness of the cosmos, glittered with shooting stars and distant uninhabitable planets.
I, on the other hand, have always hated the sun. I hate its global inclusivity, and how many are invited to its “party.” The sun is a friend to all, and in my opinion, the most liked friend is almost always the enemy in disguise. Skin cancer, sun poisoning, sunburn– why is the sun so desperately loved when it kills you over time? For my duration on our ex-home planet, I used to schedule my work hours during the sun’s 12-hour rager, all for the chance to lounge with the moon. The moon is exclusive, as many are too tired from the sun’s attention-hogging qualities to wait for the club’s main event. As its invitation is only open to a select few. The few who put their dreams first, knowing that no dream can ever come true without the hard work their dream deserves. So when I step out of my office each night, graced with the moon’s regal presence, I know that I’m one step closer to my dream, my dream to live there, on the moon. Anywhere but here.
I applied to NASA’s new and improved moon immigration program frequently, setting aside fifty percent of my weekly paycheck for the past 15 years. I thought it was hopeless, staring at my overflowing bank account and wondering how many five-star meals my lifelong dream is worth. I remember the moment I received my E-Ticket, just seconds before I clicked the “purchase” icon on Buyapenthouse.com. It was fate, I thought. I was meant to live on the moon.
It wasn’t till our departure that our captain and fellow astronautical flight attendants made it clear that we were not inhabiting our moon, but one of Neptune’s, Triton. Many were confused and instantly shaken by the turn of events, but I was simply excited about the adventure.
I met Dan during orientation. He was a pessimist, undeserving of this once-in-a-lifetime trip. However, when we were assigned to the same dorm and adjacent sleeping pods, I knew I would have to look past that fact. He had artificial green eyes and unnaturally bleached platinum hair, claiming to be an influencer of some sort.
“Yeah, I didn’t pay for a ticket. My sponsors recommended that my followers would want to see something other than galas and Coachella. Crazy, right? Either way, I’m taking the window pod, hope you don’t mind. I won’t get paid by my sponsors without a decent vlog by the end of this trip,” he went on, fixing his bleached hair in the reflective, curved white walls of our dorm, failing to even ask for my name before spewing his life story.
“Hey, uh, roomie, you think they have tanning beds somewhere on this ship? Or a spa, at least. There’s no way I’m recording my face without a decent tan…”
My eyes drifted from his tacky designer luggage, before bubbling off into space. Literally. The window took up the entire wall, and as Dan went on and on about how many of his items were confiscated at the spacecraft’s entrance, I truly couldn’t complain about anything with a view like this. The ship was slicing through a glittering nebula, vibrant with hues of blue and pink. Earth was a marble on a black tablecloth, shrinking with each passing minute. I was blessed to be here, I thought. And I wasn’t going to let an annoying roommate destroy my lifelong dream.
I unpacked my bag in five minutes, giving me ample time to slip out of the circle airlock door and into the zero-gravity hallway before Dan had a chance to notice.
The door hissed as it sliced down from the ceiling, puffing white smoke which breezed through my freshly buzzed hair. A leash of some sort ejected from the ceiling, attached to a railing that ran far down the hallway’s domed ceiling. After snapping it onto the belt loop the flight attendants provided to each passenger upon boarding, the hallway lights dimmed. Blue neon lights beamed down the hallway acting as a navigation system.
My feet slowly began to lift above the floor, as if my intestines were inflated with helium. I was a fish swimming down an empty, futuristic sewage pipe.
As I bubbled down the hall in search of the cafeteria, I noticed a hallway unattached from the ceiling’s railing. My curiosity got the best of me.
Why can’t the passengers access this hallway?
I bounced upward, unsnapping my harness from one railing and onto the other, following the growing whispers down the dark hallway.
“…I almost feel bad for them,” one flight attendant chuckled.
“You think they’ll put up a fight? Most of these people would kill for this kind of opportunity,” rebutted another.
“Yeah but…once the others arrive, and the payment is secured, what will stop them from taking the rest of the crew?” the first voice droned with unease.
“Don’t think like that,” the other consoled. “We have a deal, I don’t think they’ll take more than they asked for. It’s a win-win situation. The Neptunions need indentured servants, and Earth needs to be depopulated…”
It was at that moment when I, too, desperately yearned for the sun. I wished for hot sands beneath my weightless feet, and evergreen trees next to glimmering ponds. I wished for anything, and everything, beginning with an escape pod to get off this ship.