Chasing the Moon

I want to tell you some rumors about the moon.
As a child, I aspired to be an astronomer, not because of my scientific aspirations but because of my obsession with the moon. Whenever I gazed out of the window at the moon, it was always so amiable to me. The sharp corners of the waning moon resemble the slender chin of a young woman, while the full moon resembles the white, puffy face of my mother on her deathbed. Thus, the moon reminds me both of my mother and of death.
As you can see, I didn't become an astronomer because the moon was the only celestial body that could interest me. As for Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and stars billions of light-years away, they are no different from dandruff in my eyes.
I am a hobo. I am a moon stalker.
I know it is hard to explain. After all, the moon is just a celestial body to most people these days. However, I must tell you that the inhabitants of this land once had a very different attitude towards the moon. In the northern part of the ancient continent where our ancestors lived there was a tradition of killing kings in order to offer sacrifices for a good harvest. After the murder of one of the kings, the queen, who was about to give birth, fled into the forest. On a full-moon night, she gave birth in a forest clearing, the moonlight shining unobstructed on the bodies of mother and child. When her pursuers spotted them, the queen sacrificed herself and the newborn child was given refuge by the godness of the moon. The newborn, the next king, could therefore not be killed by any creature or anything that shone with light and was therefore invulnerable to sword and spear. It is said that he reigned for a very long time without showing any signs of ageing, and that the kingdom lost an important sacrifice, and the priests and ministers began to plot many times but were unable to kill him. Poison is the least desirable method, as it would have contaminated the king's blood. Finally, they tried to drown him in the river by holding his head while he was drunk, but they missed the point: the river shone just as brightly under the moon. The king came to his senses, realized he had been betrayed, and killed everyone present in a rage. It is said that he did not return to his throne after the purge but walked into the water and has since disappeared. Some say that his spirit fled by light to the moon, and that every full moon he opened his eyes and gazed down through the moon at a land that had long since ceased to be his. Since then, it has been common to hold secret rituals during the full moon to pray to this king for the resurrection of the dead or the power of immortality, causing much turmoil in the region, and if all the dead were to rise from the earth, the world would certainly be in chaos.
Our people are a moon hating people. But apart from a few people, including myself, my generation can no longer tell the difference between moonlight and urban light pollution, so some people plot to leave. Last month the local press reported a news about a defector, Mr. M, a bank clerk by trade, who set off on a night of the waxing moon and betrayed us by fleeing to the moon. The moon was like a hook at the time. Many CCTV cameras are said to have captured his sneaky figure as he left. He carried a rope dart with him so that he could use it to hook a beam of moonlight when the moon was closest and climb upwards with it. He carried a huge bathtub on his back and was seen by many in such a hurry that he looked like a large turtle walking upright on two feet from a distance.
In many places in ancient times, older people would remind their grandchildren to beware of the moon when walking alone at night, where it hides an eye that sees through everything but is not quite awake with grief. Further north in the borderlands of our country, more colorful and terrifying stories are told. Our ancesters often say that "the moon is the mirror of the dead" and that the souls of the dead inhabit it.
Presumably because the dead usually fall to the ground on their backs, so that the moon is the last thing they see before they die. The news of Mr. M's successful escape soon caused an uproar, and the city library's circulation of books on the moon increased dramatically that month. It was estimated that 80 percent of internet users had tried to search for "how to get close to the moon." Two months later, Mr. M was still missing.
Officials claimed that there was no indication that he had succeeded and that he was probably dead somewhere. The moon trend soon subsided, and by this time our fellow citizens were still unable to distinguish between moonlight and light pollution. The turnaround came the following year, one year after Mr. Rto had left us. The local moon fanns Club held a secret ceremony to commemorate his death, calling Mr. M a "great pioneer".
At the same time, what they didn't know was that the government was preparing a huge arrest to wipe out the cultists of the ancient moon tyrant, who were associates of the renegade M.
That night, I was awakened by a loud explosion. I immediately jumped out of bed, pushed open the window, and smelt a cool, charred smell. This bizarre phenomenon made me extremely uneasy and I moved out my telescope, only to find that the moon was not there. To be precise, it was not in its original position. The moon was swooping down on us at breakneck speed. Ours was a nation that hate the moon, and the horror of all those old legends about the moon was transformed into a physical, gigantic entity. The moon was tilted, cold and pale and huge like the corpse of a giant falling towards us. The radio began at that moment to broadcast a message asking the public to evacuate urgently. I fled to the town square and found many people on the road wearing hoods or wrapping themselves tightly in scarves to avoid the moonlight. Some were fleeing from the scourge of the moon, while others felt it was the perfect time to escape to the moon. The ancient peoples who revered the moon would build countless towers on their territory because it was the closest place to the moon.  Our local people still believe in the curse of the tyrant on the moon, so they built their houses extremely low in order to be as far away from the source of the curse as possible. So those who prayed under the night sky, did they receive shelter or a curse or were they simply disappointed that nothing would happen?
Soon I noticed the crowd split into two strands running in different directions in confusion: those who feared the moon scrambled into the underground air-raid shelter in the town square, the last refuge when the moon struck. The rest of the people, where they were going, I couldn't have known better. I fled with them towards the TV tower, the tallest building in the city and the closest to the moon. From high up towards the sea, the moon was still swooping at an alarming rate of speed per hour, until then we spotted its pilot, none other than the long-lost Mr. M, who had now descended to the surface and was gliding fast, holding a hook and line. The moon finally descended, and those of us huddled at the top of the TV tower saw it burst into silvery fire as it hit the ground, like someone had broken a giant thermometer. I couldn't tell if the silvery beads splashing out of the moon's gaping hole and suspended in the air were solidified moonlight or mercury.
"Praise the moon!" Someone shouted.
When the moon was the only thing in my eyes, that was the moment it was closest to me. The moon's silvery light shines on us gently without distinction.


 

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