Sunday, April 24, 2011

Farewell Spaceman

They had explored three fourths of the grid without finding anything more interesting that a rock or two that might have had a minute trace of mineral deposit, but not much else.

The search was slow going in the cumbersome suits, but neither Roger nor Harold minded. For, anytime the monotonous movement in the sifting through of the ashen gray dirt became wearisome, all they would have to do is look up.

Up above them was the inky black sea of space, with its stars shining brightly around the blue globe that was their home; the Earth.

So far away, its constant presence above them reminded the both of them that they were on the surface of the moon; another world. And that thought would re-energize them for hours more.

Harold marked sector 7-I off as 'searched' and they moved on to the next sector; bounding gracefully in the low gravity.

Roger was commenting on a piece that he had picked up which looked to be a meteorite that had impacted with another indigenous rock, when he landed on the ashy surface and kept falling as a sink hole gave way under weight.

A distorted shout came through Harold's helmet intercom and he looked over to see his partner disappearing into an enveloping hole.

He moved cautiously to where the opening seemed to stop and peered down into the darkness, calling out to Roger over the radio. After a few moments of tense silence, Roger responded that he was alright and had only got the wind knocked out of him.

The lights from his helmet flashed up at Harold so he could see that it was not a very deep hole. However, Roger said that it opened up into a cavernous tunnel that went on for some ways under the surface.

After an argument on the proper protocol, Harold used his jet thrusters to lower himself gingerly down to join his partner and then he could see that Roger had been right. It was quite a cavernous space with arched stalagmites and stalactites hanging and reaching from the floor and ceiling

They walked around the stone pillars, noting they must have been form eons before as they were now completely dry of any moisture that had formed them.

The large cave seemed to have a flow to its layout and it led them to the far end of the massive open area to where it narrowed into an alcove. Taking up most of the alcove was a big slab of ancient stone that seemed to be both naturally occurring and somehow, sculpted.

Harold dusted the surface of the top of the slab off and roger gasped with surprise.

Around the rim of the big 'table top' object, there was the straight line of a crack, only it was too level to be natural. It ran the length of the rectangular slab a hand's span from the top. Harold ran his gloved finger along its groove and traced it around the circumference.

They both stood back in silence and stared at the stone altar until Roger said that they should try to open it.

After another discussion about the unknown microbes that could be laying in wait under the lid, it was decided that their suits' filtration system would have to suffice as protection.

They both positioned themselves to push on the right end of the 'lid' and on the count of three, gave a mighty heave.

Expecting much more resistance, the two astronauts were caught off balance when the top slab moved easily to the side and a cloud of dust erupted from within.

Unable to see in the upturned cloud, they backed away trying to wave away the ancient partials that threatened to clog their helmets' filters.

The dust settled slowly and after a few moments they looked to the alter-like stone, its top laying askew across its opening.

And in front of it, standing before them, was a tall, cape-clad figure.

Roger and Harold gawked in awed shock as the figure flourished their long, black cape from around their hidden face to revile a pale, handsome man dressed in an impeccably tailored suit.

The tall man looked from Roger to Harold in their white space suits, himself not protected from the zero atmosphere by anything but his black, vested suit, and smiled a toothy grin. A sharp, toothy grin.

Good evening, gentlemen.” He said with a thick accent. “Allow me to thank you for waking me from my long slumber.”

Harold looked from the man to Roger, whom did the same; the shock mirrored on each others' face.

Dracula.” Roger whispered.

Oh the moon.” Harold stammered as the cape fluttered and all became black.

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