01 Feb The moon is very angry
On December 19th 2012, the eastern Pacific Ocean began to glow.
We thought it was a freak incident, a trick of wind and atmosphere, of fog and the full moon. We were wrong. I still remember how breathtakingly beautiful it looked, how even my old TV screen couldn’t obscure the clarity and purity of that light.
You remember this as clearly as I do. You don’t know it yet, but you will. This memory is etched deeply into all of us, a permanent stain on the deepest, most immutable level of our subconscious. You weren’t supposed to remember, not ever. But trust me: You have to remember it now, because the moon is very angry.
There are memories inside every last one of us. The glowing sea is one of them, just one of a hundred thousand memories we locked away to save ourselves. Memories we aren’t even supposed to know we have. Things you were never meant to remember.
But you have to remember them now, because the moon is very angry.
Admittedly the memories are a little different for each of us. It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, just because we were all at the same ball game, or the same Christmas parade, or witnesses at the same crime scene, doesn’t mean we will all remember things the exact same way. We can’t. It’s not possible. But even though we don’t have the exact same memories, we all remember the same thing.
We remember that once – and twice – and three times – and ten times – and a hundred times – and more, so many more – the moon was very angry.
This is my memory: an earth-shaking, bone-shattering, cosmos-cracking thrum. And then light. Smooth, liquid light, bathing the earth in curtains of silver-blue, spilling and spreading until darkness ceased to exist. Until there was nothing but light. Nothing but the moon.
Think. Remember the thrum. Remember the way the ground, the earth, reality itself shook until there should have been nothing left. Remember how even though there should have been nothing, there was still you. Remember the light, silver and blue and lovely. Remember how it flooded us, and drowned every shadow in its radiance.
You can remember if you really try. At first you might only sense an echo of a dream, a shadow of a memory you don’t even know you’ve forgotten. Maybe you’ll have a glimpse, a fraction of a second, of the silver light spilling across the ground. Maybe you’ll remember a loved one desperately covering your screaming mouth as the light swells. Maybe you’ll see a hand, silvered and quick as a startled bird under the ruptured moon, reaching for you.
Or maybe you’ll see eyes: wide, dead, empty eyes reflecting the beautiful silver light.
That was the first time the moon was very angry.
The second time was different. The first time was instant, but the second time was slow. So slow we blamed it on faulty equipment or broken instruments for months. It started with the strangest lightning we’ve ever seen. Beautiful silver lightning, smooth and blade-like, with none of the jagged edges or ozonic burn of normal lightning.
Then one night, that lightning spread across the sky, a vast and tattered spider’s web knitting itself together as the world watched in awe. It grew and grew and grew, overtaking everything. Our communication systems died. Our entire grid fizzled into nothing.
And everything went dark.
When the world was fully dark, the moon broke apart and grew and spread, a shifting mandala of blinding silver that covered the sky, flooding the earth with hungry light that swallowed the ground, swallowed the darkness, swallowed everything, until nothing remained but the sea of light…and us. Only the vast ocean of radiant silver, and our screams as the light began to eat us, too.
There was a third time and a fourth time, and a fifth time.
The sixth time, there was lighting again. But not on Earth. It had learned, you see; the moon always learns from the mistakes. So this time, the lightning came from the moon itself: vast, whiplike arcs of blinding light visible from every corner of the earth, the aurora borealis woven into ropes that danced and spun across the cratered surface like rabid demons.
The lightning blinded those who looked too long, and drove the rest of us insane. When the lightning finally broke open and spilled its torrential radiance, drowning the earth in a pure silver flood, we were calmed. We were happy. A planet of the insane, soothed and quieted by a thing that existed only to swallow us.
I don’t remember that time very well. In fact, I barely remember it at all. I don’t know how we escaped, how we outran the moon that time, only that, somehow, we did.
This will sound insane to you, but it is important, and it is true: there is only one moon. One moon, but many earths. Many planes. An infinity of realities. Think of these realities as threads. An ocean of threads, endless and eternal, spreading in every direction. Like a sunset sky with a palette of colors ranging from blinding brilliance to utter darkness, the threads that are farthest apart are so different from each other that we cannot even comprehend the magnitude of that difference. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that each thread is so similar to each of its neighbors that, except for a handful of the tiniest, most insignificant of details, they are identical.
That is how we outrun the moon: by swinging our thread into the nearest neighboring thread, and sliding into it. Joining it, overtaking it, swallowing it, becoming it. In becoming it, we are able to forget the night the moon was very angry. And we are none the wiser for the change… Except, perhaps, for a letter transposed here or there. Or a half-remembered product line vanishing into the ether. Maybe a familiar logo inexplicably altered, a beloved cartoon missing an article of clothing, or a dignitary dying twenty years after you watched their televised funeral at school.
You don’t notice these things often; who has time for such tiny, meaningless differences? But when you do notice, you come dangerously close to remembering a silent ocean of silver light, and dead wide eyes as white and numerous as the stars.
And deep in your heart, you decide to keep forgetting.
That is why we outrun the moon: to save ourselves, and to forget it. It’s what I’ve dedicated my life to, me and a thousand others. Building bridges to other threads to save our reality, changing planes of existence the way actors change costumes. Clawing desperately at the threads of reality to outrun something that should not be. There’s more to it, of course. But it doesn’t matter. In the end, all that matters is that outrunning the moon is the most important work in the history of our civilization, maybe even in the history of our universe. It is the most important thing anyone has ever done.
And we messed up.
The moon was angry a seventh time, and an eighth. And a tenth, a twentieth, a hundredth, a thousandth, and more. So many, many, many more. And we outran them all. So many worlds drowned in light. So many threads overtaken, so many realities swallowed by ours. Swallowed by us.
Now, something happens when you start combining threads. Any knitter or seamstress can tell you that when you pull threads, or twist them together, or snake them around each other, they tangle. Once they’ve tangled long enough and badly enough, they fray.
And they break.
Another time when the moon was angry, the problem started with geomagnetic storms. Small ones, we thought. Barely blips on our radar. But then they kept coming, and they kept growing. Growing and growing and growing and growing. Solar storms, coronal mass ejections of sizes and impacts that until that point had only ever been theoretical. Events that wiped out everything we’d ever built, that burned holes the size of countries in our atmosphere, leaving us broken, burned, and dying.
We were so relieved when the moon finally came for us. That glorious light. Cool silver-blue, spilling through the holes in the atmosphere like ghostly waterfalls and flooding the ruined earth, like water extinguishing a wildfire. And as the light drowned the world, the moon grew. It grew into something it shouldn’t be, something it wasn’t, something that was somehow everything. Something that was not, and had never been, our moon. Something that was triumphant. Something that had won.
But something that was still very, very angry.
We thought that there would be enough threads to last forever. An eternity of realities, an endless supply of worlds just beyond the moon’s bleeding light.
But we were wrong.
We’ve tangled the threads together for too long now, creating a Gordian knot so ruined it no longer has a beginning or an end. It no longer even remembers what it was like to be threads. Now it only knows what it means to be a knot. It is insanity on an incomprehensible scale, a scale that makes our entire universe barely a cell in comparison. But as any doctor can tell you, it takes just one cell – a single, solitary, disruptive cell – to disease an entire body.
And in our panic to outrun the moon, we have diseased everything.
We all know it. We all feel it. Things are not where they should be, or they are where they should not be. Things are not quite what we remember. Sometimes it feels like they change before our eyes, in ways we can barely bring ourselves to examine. Nothing is right, and the more we try to fight it, the worse it seems to get.
And in the end, it was all for nothing. While we can outrun the moon for a time, we can never escape it. There are many worlds, but there is only one moon. And it always finds us.
The moon – or whatever now pretends to be our moon, whatever swallowed our moon – always learns. And it learned that coming from the sky was perhaps not its best option. So it decided to come another way.
And one night in December 2012, the eastern Pacific Ocean began to glow.
It shone a breathtaking silver blue. At first we all thought it was a freak occurrence, a trick of atmosphere and clouds and moonlight, that conspired to infuse the ocean with such rich silver radiance. But then the light spread down, down, down, flooding the abyss itself with light, eating darkness that had always been, darkness that was older than the earth itself. Animals died. Millions of them, billions of them. Fish, crustaceans, rays and urchins, starfish and eels, sharks and whales, all dying and rising to the surface, carried upon the tides in a gargantuan raft of dead white eyes and slick, rotting flesh. I still remember how the light bled between the bodies, outlining each bloated carcass in cleanest, purest silver.
Then one night the light came out of the sea, rising like a sphere, like a second earth, until it exploded – a great pulsating blister that burst and drowned everything in radiant silver. Something full of dead flat eyes. Something that gave those eyes to us.
I know you don’t want to remember.
I know you believe that you don’t remember.
But you have to remember anyway.
You have to remember because there are no other places for us. No neighboring thread that can absorb our reality. We’ve gone as far as we can go. We’ve tangled every thread we can. This is our last thread. Our last plane, our last reality. Our last hope. We’re at the end of the line. And the moon is waiting for us.
You have to remember that where there were once threads, there is only a knot. You have to remember this, because within the knot are strands. Small, hidden places big enough for one, or two, or ten, or a hundred of us. Broken, twisted pieces, frail rope bridges swinging over the bright and howling silver chasm of reality. You need to find those bridges, and you need to get out.
But you can only find a bridge if you remember.
So do what you have to. Lucid dreaming, regression therapy, meditation, even drugs – just whatever it takes to remember. Whatever it takes to find a bridge. Whatever it takes to remember.
Some of you will find good worlds. Happy lives in safe threads hidden deep within the knot, so deep that the moon might never find you. Some of you will enter bad worlds, old worlds, nightmare worlds. I’m sorry for that. I can’t help you. I would if I could, but the knot is always shifting. There’s no way to predict which bridge you’ll find. But trust me: any world – yes, even a nightmare world – is better than a world where the moon is very angry.
Now the moon is angry again. One night, very soon, you will look up at the sky in awe because the stars will be beautifully bright. Pure, and clean, and lovely. And then they will begin to bleed. So will the moon. Their blood will be silver. It will be radiance. It will cover the earth.
And when it has flooded us for the final time, as we scream and drown in its sea of light, the moon will open all of its eyes.
I know you don’t want to know this. I know you have decided that it isn’t true. But it is true. It is.
And it’s time to remember that the moon is very angry.