The Moon Landing

Writing Prompt: The moon landings were faked not because we never went to the moon, but what was actually filmed on its surface was deemed too terrible to reveal…

***

“Eagle, Houston. You’re Go for landing. Over.”

“Roger. Understand. Go for landing. 3,000 feet.” Aldrin replied, shooting a check-in glance back at Collins and Armstrong. They were ready, had been training for this moment for over three years now. The leg injury of Michael Collins aside, they couldn’t have been more dialed-in as a crew.

The Lunar Lander was dropping 80 feet a second as its autopilot guided them towards the designated landing zone. On approach, however, something was wrong — Armstrong noticed they were headed perilously close to the rocky escarpment of a large crater. He took the Lander out of autopilot and steered it overhead, finding a flat clearing to bring them down. Houston held its breath as the radio went silent.

The crew still weren’t in the clear. Horizontal velocity was several times greater than their vertical drop rate, and Armstrong was forced to angle the vessel such that the boosters provided offset resistance. In doing so, the allowance for landing fuel had already reached near-critical. They were running out of time. In training simulations they had usually landed by now. Still, Armstrong kept it steady; it was back in the NASA control room that the stress-levels were at their worst.

“100 feet, three and a half down, nine forward,” Aldrin said, calmly.

“60 seconds of fuel left,” Flight Control responded.

“Drifting forward. 40 feet.”

“30 seconds.”

“Engine stop. Mode control, both Auto. Descent command override, off.”

“We copy you down, Eagle.” acknowledged an anxious Charlie Duke from Capsule Control.

Neil Armstrong said, “Houston. Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

“Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground.” Duke replied, audibly relieved, “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

6 Hours, 39 minutes later

“Houston, we have a problem.” Armstrong’s voice crackled through the control room speakers.

“This is Houston. Say again please.”

“Ah, Houston, we’ll be unable to broadcast live. Unexpected situation here is not, I repeat, is not viable for television.”

“Roger, Eagle. What is it you’re seeing up there?”

“It’s hard to describe. From out of the window, the crew and me are looking at…. well, uhh, we’re looking at…”

“Houston, we’re seeing four unidentified lifeforms walking on the lunar surface,” Aldrin said matter-of-factually.

“Can you repeat that, over.”

“Four lifeforms Houston. Humanoids. They don’t appear to be threatening. Each is a different colour: purple, red, yellow and green, and they have uhh.. only way to decribe it is they have faces like human babies, which are white and surrounded by this colour. Almost looks they’re wearing a suit of some kind, Houston.” Aldrin was struggling not to laugh as he realised how it must have been sounding in the control room. Collins and Armstrong kept gazing out the window, completely rapt at what they were seeing.

“And Charlie, they have these antenna protrusions on their heads, one a pole, the other, like an upside down triangle, another a ring — can’t make out the last.”

“Reading you loud and clear, Eagle. Can the crew confirm this is what’s visible from the Lander?”

“That we can Houston,” Armstrong said.

“OK, roger that. Is that the full physical description of the lifeforms, Buzz?”

“No sir. In fact, as we’re talking, they’ve lined themselves in a row facing the Lander. On their abdomens it looks like they have…some kind of television screen,” Aldrin knew there was no way ground control would believe any of this, no matter how convincing the three of them sounded.

“Ah Houston, the screens are displaying something. They look to be words of some kind.”

“Roger. What do they say?”

Buzz paused. No way in hell am I saying that to a room full of grown men, he thought. Armstrong, the mission’s commander, knew it was up to him.

He said, “Houston, the red one says, ‘Po’, the yellow one says, ‘Laa-Laa’, green says…’Dipsy’ and the fourth, ahh, the fourth says…”

“Go ahead, Eagle.” laughter could be heard in the background.

“The fourth one says… Tinky Winky.”

The radio went silent for a moment. Then: “Apologies, Eagle. Clarification needed that what you just said, was in fact, Tinky Winky.”

“Roger that.”

The crackling hiss of two dozen men laughing like hyenas suddenly blared through. Armstrong shut off comms, and looked at the other two.

“Well, we came this far.” he said.

20 minutes later, he and Buzz were on the lunar surface. The strange creatures — who the crew soon learnt called themselves, Teletubbies — proved to be a most curious and affable bunch, and, as the hours flew by cuddling and dancing and frolicking with beach balls, poor Michael Collins could only look on, thinking to himself, “The lucky assholes.”

When they returned to Earth the next day, Aldrin and Armstrong quit NASA immediately, and made a joint purchase of an old golf course, which they landscaped into a lush wonderland replete with flowers and hiding holes and lavish little burrows. It was in this magical place that, while chasing bunny rabbits with streamers, the two men realised they were in love. They lived out the rest of the days tending to their flower garden, often looking up at the moon at night, smiling at the memory of the four friends they owed their happiness to.

The End.

***

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