Steve goes to the dinner table and sits down, cold sweat trickling down his cheek. He has never felt comfortable in an atmosphere that was artificially controlled.
Onida takes the chair in front of Steve, still toting the gun but no longer pointing it at him. Steve rubs through his hair.
"In his bunk," Onida answers, looking at the floor.
Steve starts sobbing.
"He struggled. I had to. I suffocated him after the shot so he suffered as little as possible. He died for a good cause. I'm ... I'm going to do mankind a real pleasure," Onida continues. "I'm gonna make sure they keep their sense of wonder. I'm going to prevent them from pretending to be the gods they once worshipped. When I'm done here, people are going to trust the divine once again. They are lost children, Steve. We have to give them their souls back. Going into space means the death of every god once worshipped. Not just Cornbeetle Girl and Pollen Boy. But the gods your ancestors worshipped, too."
"So what do you do? You travel into space and kill two people? What fucking difference do you hope to make here, you sick psychotic bastard? What the fuck is wrong with NASA, anyway? They spend billions of dollars on finally putting a junkheap of a ship on this piece of rock, but have to cut their expenses on psychologically screening their personnel?"
Yes, he's yelling at this man now. At this captor, this person that goes beyond all identity. Onida can't pull rank on me anymore, Steve thinks. The gun means he no longer runs the show. He needs the bloody thing. This mission, the one as we know it, is ... well ... over. He'd have to threaten me with his gun to make me do anything.
"I'm killing this mission," Onida says with a violent finality. "The radio's already dead. I'm taking off, right now, and flying this thing into space with our cargo. That financier, Musk, and his men will see that no man has ever been on the moon, and everyone on earth will know the futility of trying to reach the stars. Humankind will be better for it."
Steve looks at the gun, perfectly within his reach. He thinks about the good people on Earth, who trust their bosses and heroes and leaders and gods, who have needs that are created by the very people who provide the solution to them. His rationalizing inner self takes over: There's nothing to fight for here. Nothing to fly back to.
"You know what, Onida?"
"What?" Onida inquires, surprised he stil hasn't made his point.
"I'm outta here."
The ship leaves with Onida and Ecclestone's body in it, a tomb of iron. Steve hears the bursts of energy only in his mind.
He looks at Earth. He feels the company of his own breath.
There are still lots of options for me, Steve thinks. I can do an awful lot of things. I can take a very long stroll, a very long nap in the dust. I can try to jump hard enough to defy the feeble gravity of the moon, and swim home through the stars. This place is all mine.
This life is all mine.
Ronald Meeus is a freelance writer residing in Belgium. He can be reached at email@example.com.