The Blue Moon (a sci-fi romance)

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Chapter Eleven

Too tired to walk herself, Pin carried Emma back through the jungle towards the beach.

Before scooping her up, he’d stripped her of her suit and left it under the tree where they had spent the night. Then, marveling at how light she felt without it, he’d carried her out of the shelter and made his way back towards the beach where he’d left Adam, mad with delight, running along the beach like a dog let off its leash.

As they approached the tree line, Pin warned Emma to shield her eyes from the bright sunlight. She covered them with her hands and waited for Pin to tell her when it was safe to look again.

All at once she felt a peaceful heat swell across her body and rays of light peeked in through the cracks between her fingers, forcing her to squint. Then she sensed the two of them sink slightly as Pin took his first step onto the loose, white sand.

“Okay, Emma,” said Pin sweetly. “Look now and see where we’ve ended up.”

Emma separated her fingers slowly and peeked out from between them. What she saw filled her with such curiosity that she pulled her hand away quickly so she could see everything all at once.

“Oh, Pin!” she exclaimed as she scanned all there was to see. “Look at the sky. It’s blue, just like Adam’s uncle Danforth said. And the water is so clear and still, it looks like the glass on Nanny’s mirror.”

Loud chattering erupted behind them and Emma looked back to see a flock of winged creatures burst from the tall trees. They pecked at each other and squawked wildly as they flew in formation, seemingly right towards them. Emma cried out and covered her head as the whole flock swooped down upon them, and Pin laughed heartily and dropped her to the sand where they both ducked as the beasts flew low and rose again to soar over the great blue lagoon.

“Watch how they fly!” Pin cried, pointing to where the flock was now moving together in a great circle over the water. “They want to catch some fish for breakfast.”

Adam, red faced and puffing heavy breaths, ran up to them and pointed out to where the birds circled.

“Are they parrots? He asked.

Pin squinted and looked out to study the makeup of the large bird-like creatures.

“Not parrots. They’re certainly colorful like Parrots, Adam, but they don’t have feathers that I can see. And can you see how their colors sparkle in the light? I’ll bet they got scales on their bodies more like a snake. No, I’d say these are something altogether new. Something no one has ever seen before.”

“Except us,” Adam replied with a wide grin.

“Except for us, indeed,” replied Pin. “I’d say that makes us very special, wouldn’t you, Emma?”

Emma was dazzled by the not-parrots and how they flew together without knocking into one another. And the way reds, greens, and blues shimmered across their bodies in the light. To her they seemed like something altogether magical.

Suddenly, as though knocked from the sky by an unseen bullet, one of them tucked its wings tightly by its side and fell like a stone towards the water. Then, hitting the surface like an arrow it barely made a splash as it disappeared from view.

“See, they’re hunting!” cried Pin, dancing a little on the spot.

He seemed so overcome with joy to see such a thing that Adam couldn’t help but ask, “What’s hunting?”

“Everything eats something else, and hunting is when you look for the thing you eat,” replied Pin.

“Even us?” asked Adam with a glimmer of boyish devilishness in his eye.

“Yes, even us!”

At the thought of food, Pin glanced at the surrounding vegetation and knew there was likely enough edible plant life and fruits to feed an army. A fresh water source would likely be close, somewhere uphill no doubt. He would search it out in due time. For now, he would enjoy paradise.

He flung himself under the shade of an overhanging tree and watched the children chase each other along the dry, white sand and splash along the shallow shore of the lagoon.

“In all my life,” he chuckled to himself, “through all my troubles, I never imagined I’d end up in such a place.” He closed his eyes and let the sun warm his face. “The only thing missing is a pipe stuffed tight with tobacco and a tall drink of rum. But I’ll not complain about that now.”

The next thing Pin knew he was awoken by Emma, who had crawled up and sat herself next to him in the sand. He could already see her skin browning from the sun and thought she looked much stronger than earlier that morning.

Adam ran up to her, waving a large purple crustacean with three clawed arms that he’d dug out of the sea. The creature’s eyes bulged and its claws snapped as the boy pushed it towards Emma, pretending it was about to bite her.

“Take it away!” cried Emma, holding her hands out, fingers widespread, to wave it away. “Pin! Pin! Make him take it away!”

“Leave her alone, you little devil!” Pin said, waving Adam and the sea creature away from her.

Adam laughed and, despite Emma’s fears, Pin couldn’t help but laugh along at the playfulness of it all. Then he waved Adam off and hollered, “Go and put that back where you found it, before I give you a whipping!”

“What’s a devil?” asked Adam, still panting from exertion.

“I’ll answer no more questions until you get that wretched thing away from here and back into the water from where it came. Can’t you both see I’m trying to rest for a change?”

Adam moaned but turned away, leaving Emma to contemplate Pin as he rested with his eyes closed, taking long breaths of fresh air. Then a great thought occurred to her and she ran away from the beach and into the trees as quickly as she could.

Adam watched her disappear from the water where he’d let the clawed creature back onto the rock he’d found it on. He thought about following her, but became distracted by a thin worm, longer than he was tall, that swam circles around his bare feet. He reached down to grab it but, when it sensed him, the worm burrowed itself under the sand and vanished.

By the time Adam looked up, Emma had returned and was sitting next to Pin again. A small package was in her little hands. Curious to see what she’d found, he ran back up the beach to see what it was.

Pin pulled one eye open and peeked at what the girl was holding. It was small and wooden and Emma was busy brushing it free of sand.

“I see you still have your little box,” he said to her. “I should have known through everything we’ve been through you’d keep it safe.”

Just then, Adam came into view and dropped down in front of Emma. He looked at the box and made to grab it, but the girl pulled it away from him.

“Will you open it?” he asked Emma.

“It’s only for me,” she replied. “It’s a secret treasure.”

“Oh, open it!” cried Adam, mad with curiosity.

“Maybe I will,” she said quietly.

Pin sat up and gestured towards the natural world around them. “Perhaps, since we’re the only people on this whole moon, you’ll share your secret with us. What do you say to that, Emma?”

Emma thought about this for a moment and then said simply, “I will open it.”

Turning the front of the box towards herself, she undid the clasp slowly and let it hit the metal bottom with a tiny clink.

“Open it!” cried Adam, and Pin shushed him quickly.

“What’s in it?” asked the old man, becoming curious himself.

Emma opened the lid and an electric hum sounded. Adam moved in to get a closer look when a crisp blue light shot from the box and morphed into a tiny hologram of a beautiful woman.

Emma turned the box for everyone to see and Pin noticed that the woman’s beauty—much like Emma’s—came mostly from a wide smile that sang with happiness. In her arms was a newborn baby, asleep and perfectly peaceful.

“Huh,” huffed Adam in slight disgust. “I don’t care about that. I thought it might be something fun to play with.” With that the boy rose and ran back to the water where he continued to search for aquatic critters.

Pin, however, marveled at the pretty woman, so tiny she could fit in the palm of his hand.

“Well, I’ll be,” he said.

“That’s my mother,” said Emma, staring at the hologram. “And that’s me in her arms.”

“You sure were a pretty baby, Emma,” said Pin.

Emma stared at the image before her. Then, as though becoming sad, she closed the lid and the woman vanished.

“What’s wrong?” asked Pin.

“I’ll never have a baby now,” Emma said, suddenly sad.

The notion took Pin by surprise coming from a girl so young and he found he was stuck to know how to respond.

“Nanny told me doctors grow babies in science laboratories. So I suppose I’ll never have one now that we’re here on this moon.”

“Well, that’s true,” Pin responded thoughtfully. “Growing them like that is most popular these days. Only what your nanny didn’t tell you is that babies can also come from more than just doctors and labs.”

Emma perked up at this. “Is that true? Where else do they come from?”

“Well, uh, the truth is… How do I say this now? They come from a natural place. You see—” he stammered.

“Natural? Like trees and flowers?”

“Well, I suppose that’s right to a point. They grow from a seed and eventually, well, just—pop—there they are.”

Emma stared up at Pin, confused as ever, and the old man jumped to his feet in a shot.

“I’ll need to rig a better shelter for us in case we get a storm during the night,” he said quickly and called for Adam to join them. Then he looked down at Emma and winked. “But first, let’s go on an adventure to find water and food. I certainly am hungry. What do you say?”

Emma smiled and slid her box into the pocket of her already tattering ship’s pajamas. Then Adam joined them and the three entered the thick jungle to search for food and water.

Entering the jungle was like stepping into a tall and endless temple made of trees that arched themselves into holy passageways. The pale green roof above sparkled and flashed with points of light as the breeze blew the green fronds back and forth. Under it, they were protected from the heat of the sun.

They had been walking awhile when Emma asked, “We won’t get lost will we, Pin?”

“Lost? Heaven’s no. And besides, how can we get lost when there’s no one place we’re coming from?”

Emma thought about this as they continued through the jungle. While they hadn’t set up camp yet, she’d come to love their secret beach and inlet and didn’t want to lose it.

“Right now we’re moving uphill,” Pin continued. “When we want to find our way back, we’ll just walk back down again. So don’t worry about getting lost, Emma.”

Something fell from above then, hitting the dirt with a loud splat and splashing them with sweet smelling juice.

Adam cried out and rubbed thick pink liquid from his face before looking at what had nearly missed them.

“What is it?” he asked Pin and the old man knelt down to get a better look.

Examining it with his fingers, Pin could see the object had a thick hide, dark blue and covered with microscopic fibers. Inside, the flesh was bright pink with a core of small seeds.

He swiped at it with the tip of his finger and touched some of the liquid to his tongue. It was sweet like honey.

“It’s a fruit of some sort. Come and have a taste, children.”

After sampling the fruit’s sweetness, both children tore into its pink insides like predatory animals, stuffing handfuls of delicious pink flesh into their mouths and chirping sounds of enjoyment.

Pin chuckled and warned them to eat slowly or risk a stomach ache, but they ignored him, eating until all that remained was the thick, hairy husk.

Staring up into the trees, Adam saw that more plump fruit hung hundreds of feet above. He wondered how they could get more.

“Think you’re able to climb up and drop more down?” Pin asked as he watched the boy.

Adam nodded. Right about then, he’d do anything to eat more of the strange and wonderful fruit.

“We’ll make a chore of it later then,” Pin said as he continued through the jungle. “After we find us some water. Come along now, the both of you.”

Not long after leaving the grove of hanging fruit, the three explorers found themselves in a dense area where a deeper sort of twilight hid them in shadow. The trees where closer together here, their blood red trunks nearly touching to form long walls of wood and twisting vines.

Pink and yellow flowers travelled the ropes of wild vine strung tree-to-tree and Emma marveled at their long stamen, waving in the air to tempt bulbous buzzing insects that flew from each in search of tasty pollen.

Suddenly, Pin stopped and gestured towards the children to do the same. Adam made a sound, but Pin hushed him as he listened to the sounds of the jungle. Cutting through the murmur of insects and the reef’s faint song, a quiet rippling sound made itself known to them.

“Water,” said Pin quietly, listening again to make sure he had a good sense of its bearing. Then, without looking back at the children, he made for it quickly.

After pushing through another area of thick trees, the three castaways finally emerged along the edge of a grassy clearing where—fifty yards ahead and over a high rock of polished black stone—a cascade of water poured into a glittering pool below.

Purple leafed ferns grew all around and great ropes of colorful flowers hung down from the trees to kiss the waterfall’s refreshing spray.

A great tree covered in long, yellow-jacketed fruit sat at the top of the waterfall and Pin leapt forward in an instant, running up the rocks until he reached the top of the waterfall.

Adam laughed at his sure-footedness, then cried with joy as Pin plucked the fruit and tossed a few down towards them.

“Hurray! Look at Pin, Emma!”

But Emma wasn’t watching Pin and showed no delight in where they’d ended up. For she had just discovered something wedged between two black rocks and was studying it with immense fascination and curiosity.

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