A Return Visit

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A Fenspace Story by Dartz

They called it a long trip, but in truth, the flight to Australia had taken longer than the trip to the Moon. A day around the planet, a half hour to the Moon. Funny that.

A converted bus had driven him up to the Space Station... Stellvia it was called. Far more comfortable and spacious than what they had in his day, that was for sure. Someone recognised him, despite him not using his more well known first name. That got him a free upgrade to first class, but he felt slightly awkward making a fuss. And the people...the strange cat-people.

He preferred to keep this trip quiet... a desire to which the station's staff gladly acceded. After a day or so in orbit, he joined a tour to Port Luna hiding amongst the throng of visitors heading to the Moon for the anniversary.

It was July.

As the tour bus landed he glanced out the window beside him. He could see the mottled greyscale landscape outside. It had a stark beauty all its own.

Magnificent desolation.

Going through immigration on the Moon, was much the same as going through immigration at a small American airport back home. One made out of shipping containers. It was cramped, hot and not too comfortable. Now that was more like the space he remembered.

The gravity was wrong though. Of course, they'd installed some sort of plotanium gravity enhancer or something to keep the tourists comfy. Lunar gravity had been reduced to a theme ride for the comfort of every random tourist who thought he was pushing the frontier.

A few more knowledgeable people recognised him. Most respected him enough to give him his privacy... which he appreciated. A few said hello, or asked to shake his hand. The girl in the Sailor suit had been kind when she asked for his autograph, even if her skirt had been more of a belt. He asked them all to keep it quiet and not tell to many people. He didn't want to be mobbed, this was a private visit.

The actual commemoration ceremony was nice... a few speeches about how many of the fen had been inspired by the landings... how the sheer 'awesomeness' of flying to the Moon in a tin can, propelled by a barely controlled bomb dwarfed any of their achievements with handwavium. The idea that man could leave the Earth and stand on that big white thing in the sky that had for so long seemed impossible to reach. Anything was possible if we tried.

They then replayed the Moon landings in real time on a specially set up screen.

“That's one small step for a man, but one giant leap for mankind.”

The same TV pictures that had been sent back and recorded in 1969. They all watched in wonder at the grainy pictures of two space-suited men bouncing across the surface, even though many of them had probably done the same thing themselves at some stage or another. There were even excursion tours run to some of the Apollo sites.

The ceremony ended and the crowd started to thin, fen and mundane alike returning to their lives. He waited until it had thinned enough to let him get close to the glass.

At the heart of Port Luna was the original Apollo 11 landing site. It was kept safe by a ten meter high wall of modified glass. Even though the actual lander itself was nearly two miles away from him, he could still see the descent stage clearly. He could see the flag standing beside it. He could see the footprints preserved in the lunar soil.

“Excuse me sir,” a Coast Guard interrupted him, “Do I know you?” The guard looked to be barely twenty years old.

“No, no... probably not.”

“Well... uh Sir... forgive me for asking but can you tell me? What was it like to watch?”

“I didn't see it on TV.”

The guard raised an eyebrow.

“Oh...Well. Radio then?”

“No, I didn't hear it on the radio either.”

“Too bad,” the guard frowned, “My father told me how lucky I was to be up here for the anniversary. He wouldn't stop going on about how amazing it was.”

A smile crept across the traveler's lips.

“It was, wasn't it?”

The guard nodded. “This your first time on the Moon?”

He shook his head with a smirk “No.”

“Well, have a good day sir,” the guard left him.

The man chuckled to himself. Poor boy will kick himself when he figures it out. For long minutes, he stared out at the landing site beyond. And the plaque on the lander's leg.

“Here men from the planet Earth, first set foot upon the Moon July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

He could remember Neil reading it aloud a half century ago. For an hour, Buzz Aldrin stared out across the landing site, losing himself to the memory of that momentous day. It had taken billions of dollars and thousands of people to get himself and Armstrong to the Moon.

And now... anyone could go.

For roughly the price of a second-hand car.

Sure the Saturn V had been awesome... but something about the ordinary person being able to reach for the stars in his Winnebago was far more exciting.