Trewin took a wrong turn.
‘This is the inner strata of the moon.’ I said.
‘I know,’ he said, ‘let me just do a u-ey.’
Fucking bundles of particulated rock and bits everywhere. All grey and no light in there. We’d stumbled into our new network of anthill tunnels thanks to our little computerised map, which told us to turn right at Dulwich and then shoot four-hundred-thousand-kilometres-into-the-air and smash into the nearest ancient bag of rock we could find.
Trewin was reversing.
‘You’re OK my side.’ said Jeb.
The gear in the back fell down with a clang.
The rear corners of the van were being smashed in now, struggling against the compact force of the fucking moon.
‘What are we doing here?’ said Seryn.
‘I don’t know,’ said Trewin, ‘but luckily Tim has this habit of lazily backing out from the interesting aspects of these accidental psychological investigations and introducing lazy post-modern excuses for meta-plots that suck all tension from the story faster than Niles Crane’s psychological probe.’
‘I understand that reference and what you’re trying to say.’, said Ed.
I stayed quiet. The audiences here on Luna were of a greater size than those up and down our regular stretch of bum. The architecture here was better, too. Still large swathes of post-war influence, but post-‘year-of-Los-45-intergalactic-bosonic-mega-conflict’, rather than the whole 1945 thing. Rather more parochial, that one. Turns out from one of the markings that this old thing is a fragment of the skull of one of the animated rock giants who fought on behalf of the Emperor Beeg Chonsn.
‘The tour’s going well.’ I piped up as glass smashed around us.
‘Where are the babes?’ asked Seryn.
‘They’re at the other gigs, for now.’ I said. ‘And mainly on Earth.’
‘I don’t want to go back.’ Said Jeb.
‘We don’t have to, if you don’t want to.’ Said Trewin.
‘Let’s fuck off into space, then.’ Said Ed.
The van by now looked like a piece of over-frozen vegetable. Its well pencilled lines, its once ripe and bulging wheels, had given way to a wrinkled old prune; disastered in assuming that all this old dust would budge.
We reached the moon’s surface, but not before having to get out and push. It was surprisingly easy, in zero gravity.
A large silver bird with square blue wings swooped around us.
‘Hello.’ It said. ‘I’m your satty-nav-sat.’
‘Oh!’ said Seryn, ‘You’re a stimpsons!’
The bird turned toward us.
‘How’s the tour going?’ It asked.
‘It’s difficult to say, really.’, I said. ‘The drives are long but fun, the crowds vary between thin and thick but are always friendly, we’ve had a few upsets, we’ve had a few pleasant surprises, we’ve had a few strokes of luck and a few attempts to buy our legs at half-price. Some people have been good, some people have been bad. We’ve been up and down like a yoyo (though nobody’s thought of cutting the string), and sometimes, sometimes, we sit quietly as the landscape strokes our sides, thinking about how sweet all of this really is.’
‘Do you want to be friends, then?’ It asked. I got the impression it wasn’t really listening.
‘What, after you took us all the way out here? Is that why you brought us here, to ask if we want to be your friend?’
‘More than that.’ It said, as five tiny holes appeared around its reflective belly.
It grew larger as its atoms trickled down to the moon’s surface. Far away, the Earth turned into a giant, judging eye.
The bird put its vast, hot wings around us.
‘I thought we could just…you know…hang out for a little while?’
Cindy was crying.
Green emerald dress and smooth blonde, curled with precision and a new, natural maturity.
‘But Dad!’ she whined through bubbles of black liquid, ‘It’s my birthday! Why do we have to do what you say all the time? I got all dressed up for nothing!’
‘Just a second, dear.’ He said, his fingers smarting from loading Cindy’s chair into the boot, but still tapping furiously on the little blue screen that illuminated the cabin of the car.
He’d texted Cindy’s mother, already.
‘Gna b l8.’
She’d received it as the last few invited guests had arrived, flustered.
‘We had a little trouble finding the place.’
‘Dad! Daaaaaad!’ through tears and tears.
Her fist thumped against the rear window.
The car now rocked with frustration.
‘Just a second, honey!’ he said.
Then, under his breath.
‘Fucking sat-nav’s gone.’
Oh, and someone else, taking in the scent of the forest, their fingers hovering lightly over the bark of a crumbling tree, watched all of this, trying to make out in the dim light if the driver’s side door was unlocked.