The hardest things to talk about are the ones we ourselves can’t understand.
–Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter
359,160 hours. That’s how long it’s taken me. An elliptical trip I keep repeating around the source of most everything. But I’m not steering this vessel. I’d be hard pressed to get off it even if I wanted to. Do I want to? Honestly, the time passes so quickly I’m not even counting. Each moment is supersaturated with mysteries I could spend a lifetime unraveling. If you peel the onion that is me, you’ll find nothing at the center. If I’m incinerated into ash, it will be the same ash left behind by a burnt log. What is this to you? What is this to me? I can’t say. I started off with the premise that this was all building toward something. To be neatly wrapped up by the shimmery bow of aggregate knowledge. But it’s an unraveling. Each successive picture snaps from behind a lens accumulating scratches and smudges. The order once held by these snapshots effaced by the slip of the hand, scattering the narrative across these well-worn floors. That’s my history now face-up/face-down. 359,160 hours.
The moon spoke to me the other day. One of those early evenings where the sun hasn’t set, but the moon got tired of waiting. Maybe you want to know what it said, yes? OK, well, it’s probably not going to make all that much sense, but the moon told me: ZX7-399. What? That’s what I said. I’m not saying that’s your response. That’s all the moon said to me. I tentatively glanced over my shoulder just to make sure no one else was around. No one capable of that sort of weathered stentorian delivery. Not a soul in sight. How can I be sure? Well, I was hovering in space. Not a lot of places for somebody else to hide. You’re probably thinking the same thing my second cousin Janx was thinking when I told him this very same tale: How do you know it was the moon and not the sun? I’ll roll my eyes at you just like I did at him. I’m not crazy–the sun hasn’t spoken to anyone in 473 years. But the moon’s outbursts, peals of wisdom, and cheesy jokes are well-documented.
It took me a few days but I figured out that this was a license plate on one of those mobile, metal boxes used for transport on the planet closest to the moon. Think of this as target coordinates. I now had a mission from the moon. And so, like any good asteroid, I aimed myself using the ZX7-399 coordinates. Used some quick calculations to adjust for the pollution index and the evening rush hour and headed for what the planet’s dwellers call Atlantic City. The device marked ZX7-399 would have been destroyed had it not been for a local politician whose parents were fond of alliteration. He had part of this bridge shut down on purpose to retaliate against some other politician. This altered the traffic pattern and sent me off course. So, instead of obliterating ZX7-399 as the moon instructed, I crashed through solid earth and into some sort of giant pipe that started leaking black liquid.
It turns out this pipe was connected to a whole underground of related pipes. The owner of these pipes realized they had suddenly been made useless by this accident. He stood to lose a fortune. He hatched this scheme where he would become president and have the federal government purchase all his land through imminent domain before anyone discovered how useless this property was. It was a mostly benign scheme as mass defraudings of the public go, but to complicate matters, unbeknownst to this wealthy tycoon, he had been under Russian mind control for several years. Every day he attempted to send a coded series of cries for help through some short messaging platform the humans called Twitter, but these cries for help were misinterpreted.
People were very confused. Small mammals began to commit mass suicide in protest.
And the moon? He just smirked crescently.