Max Brash stood in a bubble on the moon, ready to launch the most epic gender reveal party in the history of the human race. In front of him were nearly a hundred transparent monitors linked to his mission control – who was really just one person – his buddy Dave. The rest of the screens were reserved for the feed from dozens upon dozens of drones to capture every angle of this event.
On the center monitor were his aging parents broadcasting live from Sweetwater, Texas.
“Hey buddy!” Dave’s voice came over one of the monitors. “Should be coming over your position in the next fifteen minutes. We gonna get this party started?”
“Hell yeah!” Brash replied. "Just gotta test the monitors make sure they’re ready.”
Max swiped with furious majesty at his holographic interface. The screen to his left switched to a satellite feed of the near side of the moon. The moon was a dark sphere, a round circular lump that blotted out the galaxy in the background. He touched the virtual button that said, “Send test.”
The near side of the moon immediately lit up. Hemisphere to hemisphere, north to south. Pink, blue, red, green and yellow LED lights in a rotating pattern. Then the phrase, ‘This is Major Tom, to Ground Control…I’m baaaaackk” scrolled in marquee.
He checked the monitor beneath his parents to see the live Twitter feed. ‘Wat da fuq dust happened wit tha moon. #WTFMOON’ Derpmaster Supreme Tweeted.
‘Am I trippin, ballz! Did the moon just speak to me? #WTFMOON’ Little Slut Prince tweeted.
‘Can I get TV on the Moon now?” #WTFMOON’ Lee Paulsen tweeted.
He was trending…good.
Eight months and 200,000 drone years of work were needed to cover a celestial hemisphere with LED clusters. And after this was done, he was going to repurpose it to create the largest scrolling banner ad display in the whole solar system. So, what if he had technically repurposed parts from the solar shield for this purpose. He was an entrepreneur, a person Time, People, and the Playboy were calling the Emperor of the Moon and it was only fitting that his heir to the kingdom be welcomed into the universe in the most absurd way possible.
“Dave, we are in business. Everything is good to go.”
“Roger, good buddy, I’m about twelve minutes out.”
“Awesome, start venting the charged plasma when you get overhead.”
“Hey, is Brittney coming to this thing.”
“Who? Oh! Yeah Britt. Yeah, she’s around here somewhere. Said she wanted another hour in the pregnancy chair.”
Max swiped left to mute Dave’s Audio. He pulled out a very expensive bottle of Groobenhurst Champagne, popped the lid, and filled two glasses. He sat in the chair and rolled it over into the screen in view of his parents.
“Hi Mom, Hi Dad. Did you see the moon?”
His parents collectively squinted in annoyed fashion as if he’d just asked them to smell his fart. “Moon? His mom replied. “I thought you wanted us to watch this conference.”
“Can you see the moon?”
His mom shuffled to the window. “I don’t think so.”
Max typed into his virtual keyboard. “How about now?”
“H-I-Mooom.” His mother intoned. “Really, Max did you need to do that? It seems a bit much.”
“Did you invite your wife to this here reveal party,” His Dad asked.
“And really, she shouldn’t be drinking,” his mom said as she walked back toward the couch.
“Oh, I would kill for a drink.” Brittney said as she waddled slowly up the stairs. “Hi Anthony, Hi Agnes!”
“Hi Sweetie, how are you liking life on the moon?”
Brittney looked longingly at the glass of bubbly and smacked her lips. “Oh, it’s a tea party for zombies.”
Max stood up from the chair and let his wife sit into it. He downed one of the glasses of Champaign and set the other one aside.
“Did you conference my family in?”
Max puffed out his chest. “I did you one better.” He swiped a screen and almost all the monitors changed all of her family and their friends spread out over the globe. “Surprise!” They all shouted, even though it wasn’t a surprise party.
“Oh, Max,” she said, and she reached out for his hand. He took it, smiled broadly and took the other glass of Champaign. “Friends, family, guests, and members of the media who will no doubt find this on the internet later. Ever since Brittney told me she was pregnant I have dreamed of this day when we could properly reveal our child to the world. A child who will no doubt grow up to rule the solar system. Hashtag .kidding. Hashtag not kidding. So if you turn your attention skyward let us reveal our brand new baby –
“Max, Max come in. Hey buddy I got a problem. Oh, shit! Oh, shit!”
Max’s smile changed to one of a shit eating corporate executive. “What is a party without a minor hiccup. Excuse me a moment.”
He muted the party to talk to his best friend. “Dave talk to me, what’s going on?”
“So,hey how’s it goin?”
“Kinda in the middle of something. Is it important?”
“Yeah, kind of. So, I started venting the charged particles like you wanted me to right. Yeah, something sciency happened and l think one of the vents exploded a bit.”
“Warning: Catastrophic deceleration. Warning: Temperature levels reaching critical.”
“So, the computer says that’s bad. Sorry, I’m not going to be able to complete another orbit, I’m gonna have to punch out. Send someone to pick me up okay!”
Dave flipped the visor and ejected from the craft. The live feed went to static. Max glanced up and saw Dave’s space craft plunge overhead trailing a yellow plume of charged particles.
Damn it! It wasn’t supposed to be yellow, Max thought angrily.
The craft plunged past Max’s bubble toward the edge of the horizon. For a moment, there was only silence. Then shaking, like being in a bouncy castle in San Francisco during an earthquake, and the monitors rattled and a few fell to the ground. Max lost his balance and fell over. When the shaking had stopped, he stood up. On the horizon were huge plumes of grey dust and white clouds pumping out into space.
“Oh, that’s bad,” Max said upon realization the craft likely crashed into the colony. He looked around at the monitors that were still in place and as if everyone one of them blinked out at once and the feed was terminated to static.
He had no idea what to do now.
Brittney pushed herself up and walked over to Max. She took the flute of champaign, took half a drink and handed it back to him. “You know, honey, I love how big you think, but this could have been an email.”
She waddled toward the stairs and down back to their home away from home below the surface.
Max scratched his beard and counted his blessings that there was someone down there that still wanted to talk to him. It took five days of furious tech-nerding, satellite realigning, and an EV where he nearly ran out of oxygen to reconnect to one of his satellites. That uplink allowed him to connect to his corporate offices in Weehawken, New Jersey. They had finally answered him twenty-five minutes ago, though as far as he could tell there seemed to be a lot of impromptu meetings happening off camera.
A young chief financial officer with the hip sounding name of Zander De La Muerte was in front of the camera, he was sweating, and his black hair dye was running down his cheek, unbeknownst to him. “So, hey.” Zander said trying to sound nonchalant. “As you’ve probably guessed things have been pretty crazy around here. You know, with our lunar colony being destroyed and the stock dropping eighty-six percent.”
“Yeah, still, if you can send a shuttle to pick me up. I can smooth things over with the powers-that-be.”
Zander pursed his lips. “Okay, listen, real talk right now, so they’re kind of mad at you, bro. I hear a lot of talk about crimes against humanity this, and gross incompetence that. A lot of people want you in chains. Might just be safer to stay on the moon until all this blows over.”
“Hey, look, Zander this colony is too big to fail! My satellites have surveyed the damage. We can rebuild it, better, and the explosion has exposed a very valuable vein of rare earth elements.”
“Yeah, soooo it’s a touch more complicated than that. The PR is nightmarish, with the stock tanking our accounting tell me, best case, with our cash reserves, ten years to get boots on the ground. Congress doesn’t want to bail us out and to complicate matters, the Russians landed a probe on the site with a giant flag and claimed the whole area because it is technically vacant. Despite calls for you being tried in the Hague, China is willing to proclaim you a hero of the nation for your brave acts in defeating western imperialism. Bout the only good thing I heard is the CIA was interested in your lunar jumbotron as a way to broadcast anti-North Korean propaganda. So maybe some options there.”
Max covered his face with his hands. Dave walked into the bubble with his bathrobe open. “Dude, we’re out of cream for the coffee. Can you get them to send some up?”
Max turned to his friend. “Dude, not now.”
“Hey” Zander asked, “You were flying the ship that crashed into the colony – what were you even doing before the crash?”
“So, yeah, Max thought you know what would be cool. Release a lot of charged plasma atoms around the moon to create an artificial ring and when the sun reflected the light it would tell the world if he had a boy or a girl and things kind of exploded.”
Zander’s eyes grew, “The actual fuck!”
“I mean, you have to admit it’s a pretty neat idea,” Max replied.
Zander exhaled deeply. “Okay, maybe we can spin it as a science project gone wrong or something. I’ll get the marketing people to cook up some deep fakes. Maybe trying to smooth over some of this bad press.”
“Good idea. Confuse the issue. We’ll make the gender reveal party unrelated say we were testing the effects of solar radiation or some shit and suffered a catastrophic mission failure. And throw in some additional sympathetic adjectives and boom. We can get back in the game.
Max smiled. “This could work.”
Zander nodded, “Okay, I’ll get on it. Since no one has asked, are you having a boy or a girl?”
“We’re having a –”
A dweeby, anxious nerdy looking tech ran up to Zander. “Sir, we’ve got a huge problem. The satellite network has become severely compromised. We’re gonna lose feed in the next few minutes.”
“All of them!!!” The tech called out to another tech. “Give me visual on GlobeSat6.”
“Guys, guys! I want to see.” Max called out.
“We’ll patch you in, sir.” The tech called out to Max.
The visual changed to a satellite in low Earth orbit. The camera angled away from the surface, past the sun and there was a huge chunk of debris and rocks moving at bullet speed toward the satellite and then darkness.
“Jesus,” Max exclaimed. With some fancy finger movements Max was able to bring back up the last few frames before the satellite lost feed. The chunk of the debris seemed eerily familiar. It was dented, mangled, and burned but he swore he had seen it before.
“Is that part of your ship?”
Dave scrunched up his face. “Ahhhhhh, who could be sure.”
Max fell into his chair. Dave shrugged. “I guess, I’ll just learn to drink it black.”
For the next few hours Max worked furiously at his computers. It took almost twelve, hours but he managed to get line of sight with one of his last satellites in a geosynchronous orbit. And he saw it, a massive debris cloud of satellites, stations, and space hotels racing around the planet. Every few minutes a new piece of space property went down, exploding into more debris that collided with more things in orbit, that made more debris.
The stunning realization was that Kessler Syndrome had now been fully realized. Low earth orbit had been reduced to an infinite spinning tornado of debris and ruin. They weren’t getting off the moon any time soon.
That sucked, but at least his under-ground lunar habit was sustainable for long term if he was cut off from Earth. It might take a while, but maybe for his kid’s graduation they could manage it.
He flicked a button and the visual changed to large cloud of debris burning up in the atmosphere over Asia. Before it disappeared, a large brilliant white flash exploded on the Korean Peninsula. It was followed by another, and another.
“Hey, hon, we lost internet connection from Earth,” Brittney said as she waddled up the stairs, “I was wondering if you heard, anything…”
Max looked to Brittney and she to the monitor. “Oh, gosh. Um… I guess, I’ll just put on some music.” She left and returned to their home.
Max felt paralyzed and couldn’t move. All he could do is watch as more and more white flashes ripped across the surface of the Earth. Soon there was nothing. A sorrowful piano ballad came up from in the home. “Soft rains will come…”
Max stood up. Wiping out the human race wasn’t what he had envisioned when he planned this party. But, his mother raised him to be an optimist – and looking at the bright side, his kid would still be the ruler of the moon.
About the Creator
I'm an author, activist, and local politician. I write various genre's including dystopia, sci-fi, political satire, or long-winded love letters to Crystal pepsi. I've written one novel - The Butterfly and the Flame as Dana DeYoung.