Moonset
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For about three minutes, I was as speechless as anyone else. I was in the dark, just like the rest of my family who thought I work as an accountant for the state.

The Foundation showed me a world beyond the mundane existence I thought was normal. For a few years, I deluded myself into believing I was … special, somehow, one of the few to possess hidden knowledge, keep the world sane. It was all I had, after growing up in perpetual mediocrity among honor roll siblings. Die in the dark, live in the light, you know the whole thing.

Christmastime is one of the few occasions I get to see my family. It’s hard for me to get away from work now that I’m with the Foundation. We have our old family tradition, we read from the Bible together. We read about the wise men following the star in the east, a new light to lead the way. It was some kind of cosmic poetry when that December night turned to day out of nowhere.

The full moon’s quiet glow turned into a blazing fire. They tell you not to look directly at the sun. Nobody needed to be told not to look right at this thing. You could barely look out the window without your eyes watering. Pretty soon, I realized I wasn’t crazy. My parents were seeing it. The kids in the pajamas were seeing it. My grandfather is all but blind and he could pick out each and every snowflake tumbling over the cracked asphalt on the other end of the driveway.

It hadn’t even stopped before the messages hit my work phone, which I kept in the locket compartment of my suitcase.

I tried to call my supervising researcher. Busy line. I mean, at least she knew I was eight hours away by plane.

Ennui Protocol? Whatever that was, it was clearly above my clearance level when day was day and night was night. I tried calling some coworkers, all busy, because I wasn’t betting on finding some airtight box here in the middle of Cornfield, North Nowhere. I felt my pulse rising.

Then the light started fading. I relaxed my squinting eyes, and it was the darkest night of my life. I think it was because my pupils had contracted to pinpoints, but there was also that hole in the moon. Looking at it, it looked like that hole was getting bigger, and the moon just getting darker. At first, it was so subtle that I thought it was a trick of the light. Soon enough, it was unmistakeable: that was some kind of hole in the moon, and it was definitely expanding.

The bigger it got, the more I got nervous, because I couldn’t get a hold of anyone back at the Site. What were they going to do anyway, tell me that this Ennui deal is classified and wish me the best of luck? My hands and fingers were shaking. My mouth was dry; my tongue felt like so many white cotton balls.

Half an hour later, my phone buzzes: A red-eye flight back to work, leaving in three hours, which gave me about 20 minutes to throw my crap into my suitcase and leave for the airport. As my eyes adjusted, I found myself wondering why Dad thought a 40-watt bulb would cut it for this room. At any rate, no MTF chopper escort for a lowly junior containment specialist such as myself. I lugged my things down the stairs from my childhood bedroom and found my parents glued to the pale flickering of the TV.

While some have speculated that this event was a supernova, astronomers say that the evidence doesn’t point in that direction. They believe that they would have known about a potential supernova this bright years in advance, but according to Dr. Harden at the Duster Peak Observatory, nobody predicted anything like this.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I shouldn’t have been surprised that my employer could Class A the whole godforsaken planet, but life is full of surprises when you think you hold the secrets of the universe.

At the airport, I finally got a call from the Site, one of the level 0s, which was about as helpful as a matchstick in a mile-deep cave. Said he was a travel coordinator, was I expected to make my flight? I said that everything was grounded by the FAA. He stammered about making some adjustments and said he would call me back. Sure enough, a barely-comprehensible loudspeaker announcer informed us that my flight, and only my flight, had been cleared to depart. Foundation casts a long shadow, noon or midnight, I suppose. Give me that matchstick, bud.

Back at the Site, the director herded everyone into one of the big conference rooms, and with all the feeling of an unscented candle, regrets to inform us that following the explosion that destroyed the moon, the anomaly had been classified as Apollyon. The department directors on the platform gasped, while the rest of the drones and I buzzed softly about what the hell an Apollyon was. The director, apparently unperturbed by the confusion in front of him and the lidded panic behind him, carried on his monotone explaining the definition of the Apollyon object class. Yes, all possibilities for containment had been examined, and found unworkable.

He sat down and the resident anomastronomer or whatever she was stood up and explained that six fragments of the moon’s crust larger in mass than what killed the dinosaurs had a greater than 99% chance of striking the Earth’s surface. Twelve more above 95%, 54 above 90%. His voice carried nothing but a faint curiosity as he explained that the Earth would carry a visible ring as the major fragments broke down, a few hundred thousand years or so. The impact craters had the potential to drastically change the shape of the oceans. Well, book the fucking cruise.

At any rate, the veil was well and truly lifted. Even amateurs had spotted the seven-limbed monstrosity found in several pieces where the moon used to be. Outside the dutiful sobriety of the Site’s fluorescent lighting, the world had gone to chaos, like in the movies, as people tried and failed to come to terms with an XK.


On day five, I lay in my bunk, with the heat of my reading lamp making my face sweaty, the rest of my room a faint outline of a charcoal drawing. I thought I saw everything. I never thought a time would come when I couldn’t secure, couldn’t contain, couldn’t protect. I thought I was a big shot, revamping Euclid containment procedures and cutting the breach rate in half sitewide. Sometimes, when I let my ego out for just a moment, I thought myself a hotshot. Now, that meant nothing. I’d die like the rest of them, star employee or not.

What did it matter? Work was all I had, the only thing that gave me a few scraps of self-worth. If the Foundation—THE Foundation—was throwing in the towel, then the moon might as well bury me in some pitch-black crater. Or … maybe it would be easier to ask one of the task force guys to borrow a sidearm.

Is there an afterlife, under that star in the east? I was certain, once. Now, I desperately hope so. Only one way to find out.

A knock on the door. One of the seniors hands me a manila envelope without saying a word, and walks out. The white sheets glow orange under the lamp.

This document serves as notice that you have been granted 4/2000 clearance. You will be transported to SCP-2000 at 0500. Documentation containing special containment procedures and description is attached. Further orders will be given on site.

Why me? Why not? It’s a question for another time, because I have to strap into this helicopter while the sun peeks through gray clouds above us.

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