A Momentary Lapse of Reason
-Edwin, Houston! I’m going to walk forward 10 metres and face 45 degrees from the shadow,- said Armstrong.
-Alright,- answered Aldrin, as he was fiddling around with the “Eagle” and picking rocks from the surface of the moon and stuffing them into a plastic bag.
-OK,- answered the operator in Houston, with a four second second delay, as always.
Armstrong approached the crater, a little clumsily climbed onto the lightly sloped ridge around him and was dumbfounded.
At the bottom of the crater, right in front of Armstrong stood a little house. It was an ordinary wooden house with a terrace at the door and a small chimney on the roof. Smoke came out from the chimney,
In disbelief, the American cautiously walked down the sloping surface of the crater, towards the house.
-Edwin, Houston…,- he began, but could not continue as he was shocked.
-Yes?,- responded his partner.
The door of the house then opened and out came a man with a ginger beard, dressed in a suit and cap. He held a leash in his hand and attached to the leash was a green giant lizard.
The man looked at the American, waved friendly, and said to the giant lizard:
-Finally, we have visitors.
It seemed that the person wasn’t speaking English, but for some reason Armstrong understood everything.
-Come on inside, don’t be shy,- said the person. – By the way, are you by chance, a stove mender*?
Armstrong shook his head.
-That’s a shame. But it’s alright, I’m used to it.
He disappeared into the doorway.
-Houston, we have problems,- said Armstrong and followed the man into the house.
-Well that’s no good, you haven’t even had a cuppa. Though I do understand that it’s hard for you. In your spacesuit.
Once again Armstrong and the host stood on the terrace.
-Although, young man, I wasn’t expecting people from your country, either way it’s still nice that you’ve made it to the Moon. Please pass on to the Soviets, that even if they won’t be able to make it here, at least send some sort of transport. Something like a lunokhod**. It’s not even for me, I’ve enjoyed walking since childhood, when I lived on the Volga river. My comrade Marx has problems with his legs. Rheumatism. It’s hard for the old fella to go for a walk. So do pass on, that without fail, the lunokhod is sent to the founder of Scientific Communism. The comrades in Moscow should put this into consideration. To tell you the truth, old chap, just between you and me, they are poxy Marxists. If they continue this way they will ruin the country. But this of course, is only between us! Top secret!
Armstrong shook the Russian’s hand and began making his way up. Something clicked in his head and he didn’t even try analyse what had happened. Though, one thought was going through his mind: “No one will believe it!”.
Armstrong and Aldrin returned to this spot in a couple of hours and couldn’t find anything. There were no traces of a house or person.
NASA classified the case as a brain fog, but strictly and immediately stamped it as confidential.
A year later, the Soviet Union sent a robotic lunar rover to the moon.
* here a reference to a well-known short story ” Lenin and the stove mender” by Mikhail Zoshchenko, learnt at school by many generations of the Soviet people.
** Lunokhod – the Russian word for a robotic lunar rover
A translation of Aleksander Kommari‘s short sci-fi story.