Sense of Unity

SENSE OF UNITY:
In Which Luna Exerts a Different Sort of Gravity.
by Electric Keet

I once irritated an architect-in-training – my friend Jantje, in fact – by suggesting that Luna doesn’t have a style of its own, that it’s defined by a complete lack of style. We argued for thirty minutes, right there in the centre of the common campus of my old school. She finally gave up trying to convince me, and insisted that I’d understand if I ever visited the place. She couldn’t have known that years later I would find myself on Luna, in one of her domes, in one of those domes’ many automats, surrounded by precisely the lack of style I spoke of. At the moment, I was also surrounded by thirty mooncats, Yaz, Falda, and the sandy-maned human she’d just leapt up to embrace.

The wolfess’ tail thumped the cushioned booth rhythmically, and she grinned to us. “Can you see the family resemblance?” she teased with a giggle. “Lárus Flosason, meet Bell Gloeckner and Yaz Lenslight.”

“Honoured to meet both of you.” The human nodded to each of us with a grin and a hand held up, palm out. Yaz returned the gesture in that awkward way tourists do. I made a passing motion of it. Lárus nodded. “I hope my little sister has not given you too much trouble.” After I first met her, It took me a long time to get used to the way Falda spoke, conversationally but without contractions, some quirk of the Callistian dynasties that she’d clung to after discarding all else. Lárus spoke with the same quirk, but somehow it annoyed me again.

“Quite the opposite,” Yaz gushed. “She’s given us just the right amount.”

Falda slid into the other side of the booth and playfully tugged her brother in after her. “Have you been in touch with Mom?”

“I have. First, though, we’re in an automat for a reason.” Lárus motioned to the table-side conveyor. “See anything you like?”

Lunarian food thus far seemed to consist of myriad configurations of nutritive paste ranging from liquid to solid, treated with synthetic flavourings, all equally palatable. “Well, I… don’t really know where to begin,” I admitted.

“The cuisine is a bit strange at first,” he admitted, “but there’s a certain minimalist appeal to it.”

The word is “ascetic”, perhaps? I thought as I lifted a passing plate. The red edge meant it was a hot dish; everything on Luna was colour-coded. The contents smelled strongly of carrots but looked like a cylindrical parody of such. “Let me know if you spot any raspberry food-cubes, eh? Those are my favourite.”

If the human picked up on my sarcasm, he showed no sign of it. “Mine also. So, sister, you asked about our house. The pack is well, though apparently Sigfús is at that… difficult age, just at the edge of adulthood.” Falda and I nodded with the understanding that only freebirths have. Yaz never suffered puberty, having been grown in a tank; he was born at the age of sixteen. “The family… is as always, perhaps worse. You have heard of the recent troubles?”

Yaz nodded and swallowed. “The territorial scuffles, yeah? No offence, friend, but I don’t understand how there can still be arguments this far down the line.”

“To be honest, nobody really does. All of it is posturing to give the houses something to do besides watching the ems trickle in. A waste.” The way he said it was emphatic, but the disgust didn’t reach his eyes. I trusted him less by the moment. “Mom went on about it for quite some time, but the details are of no consequence. I believe she was attempting to convince me to return home in her awkward way.”

“When will you?” Falda asked.

Lárus fingered the edge of his putty-coloured jumpsuit. “The research collaboration I started here four years ago has been fruitful, and… I would rather not lose those opportunities.” He smiled with satisfaction. “I have decided that this will be my home. I consider myself to be a Lunarian now, as do my colleagues and comrades.”

The wolf didn’t seem to know whether to be disappointed or approving. She looked to me, then to Yaz, then back to her brother. Approval seemed to win out. She wagged her tail within the confines of the booth and motioned toward him. “Will you be…?”

He grinned. “I’ll be going into the tank two weeks from now!”


“Rubin?”

I didn’t answer my father just then. I simply stared at him, terrified of his cautiousness, infuriated at his composure, trying not to admit any of it.

He rubbed his jaw. “Son… it’s obvious that we need to talk.”

“I’ve said enough. I’ve explained enough. I can’t beat that sort of programming.”

He took a single slow breath. “We haven’t been programmed. This isn’t a snap decision or a fad. It’s a choice, a valid choice. Your mother and I have searched ourselves carefully and found the truth… the truth for us. We waited until now for your sake. You don’t have to accept it for yourself, or even understand it, but respect it.”

“Respect? This is a mistake. Another mistake. One you can’t just clear up with a visit to a body clinic and a fresh start.” I resisted the urge to snarl at him, to mock his previous decision.

He closed his eyes and shook his head like I was still some sort of uncomprehending child. “We gave you every opportunity to choose your own path—”

“—and what?” My voice took on that snarl anyhow. “What child wants to be different from his parents? What child wants to stand by and watch his parents become something he’s not? Well? What child wants to watch his parents get brainwashed into some cult without following along just to be with them, eh?” Words tumbled from me. “You’re right. I’m no child anymore. Go ahead! Go fly to the edge of the System, get those other religious psychotics to turn you into whatever, play your horsey games and worship your new horsey heroes.” It wasn’t an afterthought, but it sounded like one when I added, “Forget about me.”

The last I saw of my father was his silent form turning, walking, disappearing toward Charon.


In all honesty, I know those memories are probably more pungent than what actually happened, but it did happen, and it’s all I could think about as I listened numbly to Falda’s brother’s obsession with Luna. After a time, I excused myself and left the automat. As I navigated perfectly rectilinear streets, I walked past so many steel and concrete buildings, so many boxes and domes and boxes with domes, and stared at the cryptic, colour-coded numbers affixed to each. I began to understand. There was a style in Luna, but it had nothing to do with people. It had to do with systems and ideals which swallowed people. The flight off-world couldn’t come fast enough.

  1. Channing’s avatar

    I forget, Bell, were you human during the flashback bit and only later did the lynx thing, or do you come from a lynx family?

    Reply

    1. Rubin "Bell" Gloeckner’s avatar

      That flashback bit was after we all went lynx. Maybe I’ll talk more about that later, but you can probably guess how that went from how this went.

      Reply