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Moon and TV

A Short Story by Chris Riker


old wooden vintage TV on the moon. Earth background. Space concept. Broadcast. 3d rendering“This? This is your project for Eighth Grade Interpolative Multi-Temporal Recombinant Quantum State Physics?” Mrs. Prenn-Bevlij wailed in a tone somewhere between fury and surrender. “This? You made a female Earth biped? You’ll be lucky to get a passing grade. Xerv, how many times have I warned you? Monitoring extra-solar audio-visual entertainments will rot your cerebral matrix.”

“But, Ma! She’s an exact duplicate. Well, a physical duplicate. I decompiled her screen pattern as recorded by the primitive Earth oculus transmission devices. I had to clean that up a zot, lemme tell ya. Then I identified, retrieved, and aligned the precise particles to get her back the way she was.”

Thpk, thpk, thpk, thpk. Mrs. Prenn-Bevlij furled one perambulatory limb, its sucker rows up-snapping curtly from the polished obsidian floor to underscore her frustration. “The power bill will be astronomical. Your fathers will be furious!”

“I mean, of course, I augmented the duplicate. I added chroma for one thing, based on estimations of Earther sensory norms. Plus, I had to dump in a whole persona construction, because the screen version was kind of two-dimensional, psychologically speaking. Again, I fudged it a bit based on research.”

“More Earth AV crap.”

“Then, I ramped up her intelligence a zot or two – nothing fancy – and added some basic knowledge because Earthers don’t possess anything near our cognitive absorption index. And here she is! Say hello, Aud.”

“Hello, Aud,” Aud deadpanned, looking Mrs. Prenn-Bevlij up and down.

“I don’t know what to do with you, Xerv. I’m a mother, not a magician. Well, you don’t want to be late on top of everything else. Just take her and hit the transpad to class.”
Xerv lovingly suckered his mother’s face, took his project by the hand, and shot off to school, leaving a rapidly fading effervescent cloud and one befuddled parent.

In the end, Xerv scored a bek-minus on his class assignment, in keeping with his generally middling scholastic performance. His professor returned the project, Aud, to Xerv, who promptly lost her in the clutter of his room. Several cycles later, his mother found and fed her.

Mrs. Prenn-Bevlij had three soft hearts for animals. “We girls always have to clean up after our boys,” she said, looking into Aud’s dark brown eyes. Knowing her son was not responsible enough for a pet, she decided to send Aud to the time and place she belonged, savage as that might be. Just to be on the safe side, she implanted a comm link under the skin of Aud’s wrist. “Be free, be strong, be who you were meant to be,” she told Aud.


It didn’t take Aud long to learn the score in Brooklyn. Watching television through the plate glass window at McCrory’s Department Store proved to be an education – especially when it came to her own origins. It made her cringe a little, truth be told, but she persevered.

She sized up her lot in life and came to realize it would be difficult to effect a change. A single girl might make a living as a secretary. A skinny girl who rode the subway to work was red meat. She managed to stay one step ahead of the wolves while earning just enough to rent a room on Flatbush Avenue, even opening a modest savings account at Williamsburg Bank.

One night, while trying to smother her woes in Junior’s sinfully good cheesecake, she noticed a pudgy man in a loud tie staring at her from across the room. Aud couldn’t say why, but her heart jumped a little when he came over to talk to her. He was a little boy in a very big boy’s body. He wasted no time asking her out on a date. She imagined dinner and a Broadway show, maybe even South Pacific; friends gushed, calling it a roller coaster ride of music and drama. Instead, Ray took her on the real thing: the Coney Island Cyclone. They shared their third date with the Dodgers; the Ebbets Field maître d smeared mustard on their gourmet dogs with a stick. Still, there was a magic there. It was as if something primal and remote had spun her in a whirlpool, only now finding the right channel. Ray. He was neither eloquent nor much of anything else, but he was honest and gentle. At least back then he was.

They married four months later, opting for a stay-at-home honeymoon.

Ray made Aud quit her job. “We’ll do fine on my salary,” he said. “I’m a valued employee at Morris Bus Company.” He also preferred she devote full-time to her new household duties. There were no vacations, few surprises and fewer pleasant ones. Life slid into drab monotony. With only a radio for company, their spartan apartment felt like a prison. Dixie Fortin from upstairs was no help. All she wanted to talk about was her husband Ted’s boring job in the sewer and his equally dull hobbies. It was if she had no identity apart from his.

Her aimless existence dragged on for months, threatening to crush Aud inside. She wanted to go to college, but there was no money. There was money for the Brooklyn Beavers Lodge for Ray, but not for tuition. She wanted to volunteer, but Ray said it would leave her too tired for housework. “There are only three rooms, Ray, including the bathroom. I think I can handle it.” It was no use. He would not budge.

Aud wanted to use her mind. She spent mornings devouring eclectic volumes within the marble expanses of the Brooklyn Public Library, filling the gaps in her considerable albeit scattershot knowledge. As her brain feasted, she developed an urge to tinker and invent things.

She gutted the couple’s radio, reformatted its components and reassembled them into something she could hold in one hand. It brought in “The Guiding Light” with crystal clarity. (Aud got hooked on the stories until that program abruptly moved to television.) She took her midget radio to RCA headquarters one day while Ray was at work, walking six blocks to ensure she wouldn’t accidentally board his bus. She got as far as the fourteenth floor. A receptionist cupped her hand over the phone’s receiver as she relayed Aud’s message to someone on the other side of polished oaken doors. A moment later, Aud heard baritone braying coming from the other room. The receptionist smiled sympathetically then quickly jammed a stick of Beeman’s in her mouth and began to chew. It was a long bus ride home.

She allowed herself a brief period of self-pity, then determined to ignore the long list of reasons why a woman could not succeed. She made a new plan. She had long worried about the state of New York’s air. It simply could not be healthy to see what you were breathing.

Taking a cue from her husband’s stagnant career, Aud set out to invent a device to make buses pollution-free. This meant diverting a few small coins each week from her grocery allowance. She was careful not to raise Ray’s suspicions. Heaven forbid he go without his precious beer!

At last, she was ready. She covered her creation with a linen napkin and called Ray into the kitchen. On the little radio, the announcer sounded worried, almost disbelieving his own words. “…object called Sputnik is now circling our planet – the proper term is orbiting – and sending back signals to Moscow.”

“Would you get a load of that! The Ruskies own space now.”

“That’s not what I want to talk to you about, Ray. I want to talk to you about air.”

“Air? What about it?” He opened the ice box door and leaned low to pull a can of beer from the back shelf.

Presented with his posterior, Aud quipped, “About how you displace so much more of it than I do, Ray. No, I want to talk to you about a way to get clean air.”

“We got all the free air you want.”

“This city is filthy. The air is filthy. This is no place to have children.”

“Children?” Ray’s jaw dropped, his mouth flapping like a trout’s in a rowboat. “What are you trying to tell me? Are you gonna have a ba—a ba—a ba—”

“No, Ray.”

“A ba—”

“NO, Ray. We are not having a baby. And we won’t have a baby unless things change. Your kind is killing this planet, Ray.”

His eyebrows shot up, oddly drawing his dark forelock lower. “My kind?”

Aud pulled the napkin away from her creation. “This can change everything. You can run a city bus on it without a drop of gasoline. It draws clean energy from the interstitial bonds between meta realities.” Blank stare. “The stuff that keeps the metaverse humming, Ray.”

“Yeah, that. Sounds powerful. Infinite even,” Ray said, trying to sound intelligent but undercutting his efforts with a hastily swallowed Schlitz belch.

“Not infinite, Ray. The metaverse only branches from existing realities every ten-to-the-four-thousand-fifty-first-times each nanosecond. Most of the new realities fizzle in less time than the Big Bang took. That’s a long way short of infinite, Ray. This trans-D unit draws power from the energy skein in-between what you’d call universes. I suppose, though, that’s as infinite a supply as humans will ever need.”

“Oh.” Belch.

It had taken her weeks to work the bugs out. Her mentor, Mrs. Prenn-Bevlij, could have done it quicker, of course, but Aud had to make do with backward technology and the personal handicap of a 314 IQ. It was good, but still not enough to decode the intangibles of human nature. Sometimes she felt her intellect was only high enough to make her feel lonely. Talking to her husband only reinforced that perception.

Ray poked a meaty finger at the unit. “It looks like an egg.”

“Size ain’t everything, tubby.”

“Hardy har har! How can this thing run my bus? There’s no whatsiehoozit to connect to the wheels.”

“The trans-D unit has its own brain. It generates a series of annular collation fields, coordinating the ionic differentials to move. Then it condenses local airborne carbon – smog! We got plenty of smog in Brooklyn, Ray! It quickly forms a solid hub, or hopper, as a source to produce dexterous filaments, feelers that connect to all parts of the bus. You won’t even have to start the engine. Just take your seat and tell the interface where you want to go.”

“I talk to his face, this Dexter Fillpot guy?”

“Dexterous carbon filaments. They splay out from the hub.”


“Sheesh. Keep up. Hub, a compact crystallized carbon matrix – basically a diamond.”

“Hamina hamina… diamonds?” His eyes bugged out a mile.

“Never mind that, Ray. Just take the egg to Mr. Morris at the bus depot. Have him stick it under the hood and it’ll do the rest. Mr. Morris should made you a vice president.”

A week later, Ray came home with a mink stole for his wife.

“What’s this? Why did you kill these animals?”

“My queen deserves no less. Baby, you’re the gre—”

“Ray, did you do what I told you with the trans-D unit?”

For a moment, he looked sheepish, then his face lit up like a child’s at the circus. “Better! I took it to Fortin. We put it in a fine mesh net and hung it in back of the bus, right over the tail pipe. You were right. That thing turns smog into diamonds. By the end of my shift, that net was loaded! And this is a mere bag o shells! I got an idea for a self-service jewelry store that can’t miss! Baby, you and me are gonna be filthy stinkin’ rich!”

“You unevolved oaf!”

“See here, woman! You can’t talk to me like that. This happens to be my castle you’re standing in, and a castle can have only one king!”

A week later, the IRS demanded to know where the king had gotten his newfound wealth. They did not believe his story about the trans-D unit, although agents hauled off the egg to a hangar at some military base in New Mexico. Aud managed to find a lawyer to talk the government out of pressing charges, but the real damage was done.

“Ray, for two cents, I’d send you to –” She stopped and blinked twice as her mind reset to a whole new paradigm. It was like stepping from the current day to one on a different calendar. Facts and figures danced before her eyes. She could see things that could be, not imaginary things but realistic projects. “Why not!”

“Aw, baby. You’re angry. I guess I deserve it. Go ahead, sock me one right in the kisser.”

“Shut up, Ray. I’ve changed my mind. I’m not gonna send you anywhere. I’m the one who’s going.”

His lower lip quivered. “Going? Where? When? You can’t leave me, baby! Going?”

“Pull yourself together, Ray. This is happening. It makes sense. It’s possible, but it will take time.” This last she said more to herself than her now blubbering husband, and she added: “I’ll need help.” She fingered the tiny implant in her wrist. “I have a call to make. Long distance.”


Ten productive years passed. At last, the sentient vessel known as Majel perched grandly on the launch pad, preparing to take Aud and her stellatrixian crew to a new world. Together, they would cultivate Luna into an enclave for superior women.

The guidance cabin was alive with activity as each woman attended her station. Majel, acting unseen from within the bulkheads, made sure everyone’s personal environmental cloak was charged and secure, though not so tightly as to wrinkle their satins and silks or muss their stylish coiffures. She then commenced the countdown. “Primary systems active. 60… 59… 58…”

Morticia, cutting a fine figure in form-fitting black, had carefully chosen a spot within the vast Ocean of Storms as their destination. “Such a charming name!” She was currently puffing on a hookah while reviewing the figures on cloned reproduction, though secretly admitting to herself she preferred the traditional method.

“Main drive to full. 40… 39… 38…”

“One-sixth gravity. It’ll do wonders for the bust,” Ethel told Lucy. The latter had made sure to pack plenty of liquid vitamin supplements. Both women now keyed in the final ascent protocols, becoming visibly flustered as the prompts sped across the display faster and faster – Majel’s little joke.
“27… 26… 35…”

Marilyn sang a sad-sweet love song to herself as she performed the orbital computations to bring them to their chosen landing coordinates. She’d read up on astral navigation, inspired by the memory of a dear friend named Albert.
“19… 18… 17…”

A voice from the main passenger section came in over the intercom. “Everyone’s hungry back here. As soon as we’re en route, I’ll be serving Crêpes Suzette, thanks to our aeroponic garden plus a zot of imagination,” Julia chirped. “Tonight, we’re having Coq a Vin followed by Tarte Tatin, so bring your appetites, ladies.”
“3… 2… 1… Uplift in joy!”

Shimmering rainbow tendrils splayed from below Majel’s deceptively slender fins as the displacement drive lifted them gently but with remarkable speed off of Mother Earth, shaking off the cold grip of men. Aud got up from her seat and walked about the pastel-hued guidance cabin. It was time to assume her proper role as leader. She also determined to assume her proper name – the one she learned through the glass at McCrory’s. No acquired surname, though, no reminder of the bonds and bondage of matrimony. Rather the plain, simple name she’d carried within her all along.

Alice smiled at her sisters, who encouraged their captain to offer a few words. She complied: “We will commit ourselves to the task at hand, to provide for ourselves and our daughters to come. There is a great deal of work to be done, but we have many advantages over the poor men who even now struggle to reach Earth’s moon. When manly Apollo flexes his muscles on the lunar surface, we’ll be careful to stay out of sight. Mustn’t bruise the male ego.” Gentle laughter filled the guidance cabin.

Alice continued, “No, we will concentrate on building our new home. Science and feminine wisdom will be our tools. With them, we will carve out a colony and turn it into an Eden. Then when we’re ready, we’ll send back ambassadors. Maybe the men of Earth will awaken and realize the value of free-thinking women… one of these days.”