Haru and Reiko – two Japanese astronauts – were living their childhood dreams. Staring up at that glowing orb had always captured their imaginations – what was up there, what was gravity like, would humans one day live there? The questions seemed endless.
Reiko was Japan’s first ever female to walk on the moon. With a background in engineering, she graduated top of her class and went on to become an astronaut for Japan’s space program. Haru took a more nontraditional approach. He was a tech billionaire who lived for adventure and bragging rights.
“This is incredible,” Haru said, staring into the cave.
“We should wait for the others,” Reiko said. “It may not be safe.”
“Send them our coordinates, I’m going in.”
Reiko looked down at her communication device, which didn’t seem to be working.
“Something’s wrong with my…” As she looked up Haru was gone. “Haru?” she called out.
Haru had broken one of the cardinal rules: never leave your partner. As for Reiko, she now had a choice to make – follow Haru into this unfamiliar moon cavern, or leave him to go find the others.
Not wanting to disobey an order, Reiko reluctantly entered the cave. The two lights mounted on the sides of her helmet illuminated the way as she cautiously descended further into the cavern, taking small bouncing steps. There was no sign of Haru anywhere. She glanced down once again at her communication device. That’s when she heard a rumble. ‘A moonquake?’ she thought.
Before she had time to process what was happening, Haru was bounding toward her, telling her to move.
“We’re not alone!” Haru shouted, panting into the microphone. “We’re not alone!”
There was another rumble, this time louder and more violent than the last. Rocks and debris started falling slowly to the ground – crashing and exploding on impact.
Turning back the way she had come, Reiko made her way toward the opening of the cave. This time taking large leaping steps. It was like she was trapped in dream and couldn’t move fast enough.
Reiko exited the mouth of the cavern first, many paces ahead of Haru. Looking over her shoulder she caught a glimpse of the glowing eyes, but could not make out the rest of the head or body. Not wanting to stick around and find out, she continued to run toward the pod.
The ground continued to shake. Beneath their feet, large cracks in the lunar surface started to form, which quickly spread and turned into gaping chasms making it difficult to cross. A large opening formed in front of Reiko and she had no choice but to jump. Using her momentum, she leaped in the air, but it wasn’t enough to clear the gap. Her boot slipped, and she fell into the pit. Fortunately, she was able to grab onto the edge and save herself, but she knew she couldn’t hold on for long. Just as she was feeling her grip begin to slip, something grabbed her. She screamed in terror, but then saw Haru standing over her.
“You okay?” he asked, extending a helping hand.
She didn’t answer.
“Come on, grab my hand. We’re getting out of here.”
Photo credit: https://www.artstation.com/thebrave