Stories from an Alaskan Cabin: Chapter Four

Start with the Introduction.

“It must be my turn.” George looked up at the Moon, closed his eyes, and began speaking, “The Moon is tidally locked to the Earth in its orbit. It circles the Earth and shows the same face to us with little variation. The side we don’t see, the so-called dark side, was first revealed to us in 1959 when the Soviet Union’s Luna 3 passed around the Moon and took photos. Unfortunately, the photos showed something that didn’t make any sense to the scientists who saw them. They assumed that they had seen some defect in the film and only released the images that made sense with their understanding of what was up there. The rest they discarded.

“Since then, reportedly only 24 men have seen the far side of the Moon. The last mission took place in 1972. Why we haven’t sent people back up there has been the subject of conspiracy theories and horror films. What’s on that side of the Moon has been speculated and spoofed. It has included ideas from it looking not much different than the side we see to it having dinosaurs, Amazons and/or space Nazis. The reality is that it’s something that threatens the very fabric of our society.

“One day, while messing around in places people shouldn’t be on the Internet, I stumbled across a classified manuscript of a secret mission that went up before the Apollo missions. It detailed what was up there and explained why no other missions landed on that side of the moon. It’s one of the reasons I moved to Alaska; I hope I can hide here from those who would keep the secret by silencing those who know it. Still, this knowledge is a great burden to bear, and I hope you will bear it with me. That way, if anything untoward were to happen to me, I would have friends who may try to find or avenge me.”

“Huzzah!” shouted Lee. “To the end!”

“We’d do our best,” said Gerald.

“I could probably get Susan to help. The International Red Cross deals with prisoners of war; they may be able to do something,” said John.

George looked seriously at each one of us. “You still have time to back out, but once you know, you’ll never be safe again.” When no one moved, he began his story:

“Major Tom to Control, we are go for launch.” Major Tom sat in the capsule atop the rocket that would take him and his crew around the Moon. All indicators were positive. The weather looked good, and the systems were ready.

“Copy that, Major Tom. We have all green lights; you are go for launch.” The voice in his helmet sounded tinny and far away.

“Great. Starting countdown Control. Launch in 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…” The engine under Major Tom exploded beneath him and pushed the rocket into the air.

“Major Tom, we have lift off. Good luck up there.”

Major Tom didn’t respond as the g-forces bore down on him. The rocket lofted higher and higher, rolled at the right time, and reached orbit. Major Tom could see the dark of the sky through a small window. “Control, we have reached our cruising altitude of 185 kilometers. Congratulations to everyone down there and good work.”

“Copy that, Major Tom.” Static crackled through the transmission. “Congratulations to you.”

“Copy. We’re going to take this puppy for spin or two around the block and then head to Oz.”

“Copy that, Major. You are go for mission. Drop the hammer and God speed.”

“Roger, Control. Positioning now. Slingshot orbit engaged on my mark.” The lateral rockets fired once and once more; the ship rolled into position. Major Tom could see the Earth above him through the tiny window. He switched to a private channel. “Captain Lewis, Lieutenant James. Look at her. Isn’t she beautiful?”

They both agreed.

“Are you ready?” said Major Tom.

They nodded.

Major Tom switched back to open coms. “Let’s go. 3… 2… 1… Mark.” The ship’s rockets fired propelling it forward. As they curved around the Earth, they picked up speed. “Control, ship is reaching maximum velocity. We will be pushing off in 3… 2… 1…” The ship rumbled and vibrated as the rockets fired to move it towards the moon’s gravitational pull.

“Copy that, Major. Push off complete. Trajectory looks good.”

The rocket passed between the Earth and the Moon. Major Tom looked out the small windows and took pictures. He was going as fast as anyone had ever gone before. He would reach the far side of the Moon shortly and see something that no on had seen with the naked eye. There had been photos taken, but they were distorted and had poor resolution. Several were marred by a strange light flare that was probably a lens problem though it could’ve been caused by radiation.

The Earth’s gravity tugged at the ship causing it to shudder just a little. Then it let go, and the ship felt like complete freedom and desolation for a brief moment as they hurtled toward the pull of the Moon. It wouldn’t be long now before they could see with their own eyes, that which no one had seen before. Whatever was hidden on the other side of the Moon, by God or nature, would be revealed.

Major Tom switched channels again. “Lieutenant James, check your readings.”

“I’ve got green lights, Major.”

“Captain Lewis, confirm.”

“Green lights here, too, Major.”

“Alright, men. Let’s make history,” said Major Tom and switched back to open coms. “Control, we have green lights across the board. We are go for lunar orbit.”

“Copy that. Go for lunar orbit. Radio silence will begin in five minutes.”

“Copy that, Control.”

“Any last words, Major?” said Roger Stewart, who had trained Major Tom for this mission.

“Yeah. I’ll tell them to you in about 50 years assuming you’re still around.”

“Sounds good, Major. See you on the light side.”

“Roger that.”

The lunar gravity dragged the ship slower as it circled around the backside. The ship lost touch with Control as it lost sight of the Earth. The records show that the module had taken four hours to go around the Moon, which was twice what NASA expected.

When the ship rounded the other side, NASA couldn’t raise Major Tom. Communications were dead, and they had to hope that Major Tom was going to be able to return to Earth the way they had planned. The ship continued its trajectory, and other than the dead com, there didn’t seem to be a problem. The capsule lost its service module and entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

The chutes deployed, and the rescue team was sent to get Major Tom. When they arrived at the capsule, he popped open the door and attached the safety harnesses. He was distraught and talking about “his crew.” He was so wound up the doctor on scene gave him a sedative to help him calm down. Nasa recovered the capsule, and they went to the facility in Hawaii to check the tapes and see what happened.

Major Tom was kept sedated while the doctor ran tests that would determine how space and the trip had affected him. When he was finally allowed to be conscious, he asked about his crew. The doctors didn’t know anything, and called in his trainer Roger.

“Where are Captain Lewis and Lieutenant James?” He asked.


“Lewis and James. They were with me in the ship.”

Roger looked at Major Tom and said, “Son, you were the only one in the ship.”

“No, I wasn’t. James and Lewis were with me. They saw the whole thing. Without them, no one’s going to believe what’s up there. They can corroborate the whole story.”

“Major, I want you to think back to the last thing you remember before you opened the door to the capsule on splashdown. Think. Were Lewis and James in the capsule with you then?”

Major Tom’s eyes went wide. “No. No, they weren’t. Oh my God! I left them up there. I left them up there. It’ll be hell for them. It’s hell up there. They can’t be up there without a ship. We need to go back to get them.”

“They were never in the capsule with you,” Roger said. “It was just a space madness that had you talking to figments of your imagination. Maybe it was the isolation or a miscalculation of oxygen atmospheric levels, but you were on your own the whole trip.”

“It’s not true! They were good men. We have to go back to get them.” Major Tom sat up and grabbed Roger’s arm.

“Major Tom, you know that’s not possible. If they are up there, they are dead.”

“No, they’re not. You don’t understand. The far side of the Moon isn’t dead. It’s… It’s…” Major Tom swallowed. He fell back to his bed in a faint.

Roger sat there with him for a while and left when he realized Major Tom was asleep. He went into the Control Room where they were going over the tapes that had been recorded from the flight. They wound the tape back and replayed it.

“Lewis, James, do you see that?” There was a pause. “It’s not whole. It’s concave. Make sure the camera’s getting this.”  Another long pause. “Wait. It’s not concave. It’s black. Even with the sun shining on it, it’s pitch black. It’s darker than that. Lewis, what color is that?” Pause. “It’s as if it’s absorbing the light.”

“The gravity, it’s too much. It’s pulling us in. There’s a shining light, a flaming sword. Oh my God! It’s a giant tentacle reaching out of the blackness. My consciousness is being sucked in. Lewis, James, don’t look. It’s got us. We’re too close. Pull out. Pull out. For God’s sake, Lewis, pull us out.”

“Static crackles through the recording and coms go down for an hour,” said George. “There’s no record of Lewis or James, and Major Tom ended up in an asylum when he wouldn’t keep quiet about Lewis and James. NASA called it space sickness; said it happens sometimes when a man is confronted with the vastness of space, even after he’s gone through astronaut training.”

“There are reports that the person who developed the photos in the camera ended up in an asylum shortly afterwards as did several scientists who looked at a particular photo. I have the photo on my hard drive, but I’m too afraid to open it. What if he saw the Garden of Eden or the place where Satan is held captive and can yet still exert his influence on the Earth. What if he saw something much older? What if it was simply the color of black that drove him mad as it absorbed his reasoning capacity and his intellect? I’ve tried to delete the image, but I can’t bring myself to do it. The temptation may be too much for me to overcome one day, gentlemen, but rest assured the truth is out there. Maybe I’ll find a way to look at it safely.”

“Maybe with a tin foil hat,” Gerald said and laughed.

“Sure, make fun of it if you want. Sometimes, it’s easier to believe the lie than it is to face the truth. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek the truth.” George looked at each of us. “We sent the Apollo missions up to confirm Major Tom’s recordings. They orbited the moon at a higher altitude than Major Tom’s mission did. They never landed because they saw that it was true. As long as we stay away from that side of the Moon, we can survive as a society and species. If the other side ever comes to light, though, we’ll end up killing each other over beliefs that have been confirmed and denied. The government decided it was better to leave us in the same darkness as the far side of the Moon,” George looked at the Moon once more. “It’s one reason why NASA turned space exploration over to private industry. The trial and error that is required to make a functioning rocket capable of exiting the atmosphere would keep us away from the Moon for another couple of decades.”

 “Wait, were Lewis and James real?” asked John.

“No one knows. There’s no official record of the mission at all at NASA. As far as they’re concerned Major Tom was never an astronaut. If it weren’t for this leaked document, we may not have ever known about the real first mission to the Moon.” George looked in at the stove. It had cooled own considerably. “It looks like we may be able to sleep now. I’m tired.” He stepped into the cabin. “Last one in closes the door, right?”

Lee and John followed him in, and Gerald closed the door. Gerald made sure it was locked and climbed into his upper bunk. It was still hot, but he could put his nose next to the wall and breathe in cooler air. He went to sleep thinking about the stories they had told and what would happen the next day. He thought he should record them for later, but if George was telling the truth, maybe that wasn’t a great idea. He closed his eyes and drifted off to the sound of Lee’s snoring.