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Day 6: Ark

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The horizon of the Moon filled Kostya’s vision. His short breaths thundered through his helmet. Awe laced with fear filled his body and caused the tips of his fingers to tingle. Fifty-three years since the Americans last landed. And now it was Russia’s turn to see what Earth’s satellite had in store.

Vanya stepped off the ladder of the Medved lander. Pushing off the ground, he made a few light hops across the Moon’s surface that belied his large stature. Joining Kostya, Vanya looked out of the rocky, crater pocked landscape.

“Ni figa sebe.” Vanya’s voice crackled through the headset of Kostya’s helmet.

“We have made it friend.” Kostya beamed up at his companion.

A louder, somewhat distant voice broke into their headsets, “Vanya, are you clear of the lander?”

“Da, Bronislav. Kostya and I are looking out over 12, Plato.”

“Moscow, Medved has landed.”

Kostya could hear cheering through his headset. The director’s deep voice rumbled over the radio, “Continue with Mission Dark Side.”

“Vanya, do you see it?” Bronislav sounded eager.

The two cosmonauts turned to their left. One-hundred meters to their left was the definitive separation of the moon from like to dark. Kostya felt like it was a line drawn in the sand, daring the two men to cross. Beyond were voids in the stars, where giant peaks formed a mountainous skyline. While the rest of the world was content to look at the dark side of the Moon through a lens, the Russians would not stand for less than putting men on the crags themselves.

“We see it.”

“Begin.”

Just as they had drilled on Earth, the two men detached their land craft from the underside of the lander. Its massive wheels dug deep into the Moon’s static landscape, leaving a lasting trail. The two men bounced along in relative silence. Only the sound of the buggy’s wheels digging into the dirt accompanied them over the dividing point. The temperature dropped rapidly as they crossed over into the dark. Kostya prayed that the new thermal linings developed for the mission would be enough to keep them warm. Vanya turned on a rack of floodlights to illuminate their path.

Crossing over, the landscape changed drastically. The relatively flat land gave way to sharp peaks. Growing taller and more threatening as the two men navigated the terrain. They traveled as far in as they dared, before it would become too difficult to turn the buggy around. Each man disembarked and turned on their personal lamps on their shoulders.

The rocky landscape looked like dark blue rock. Kostya’s shoulder lamps swept over large black crystalline stone, protruding out of the ground. Their lights broke into an array of blue hues as they passed through them. Everywhere they turned, the rocks covered the peaks.

“Vanya, what have we found?”

“I don’t… Bronislav. Are you receiving these images?”

“Da. Amazing. See if you can pull one out of the ground.”

Vanya retrieved a set of tools and sample case from the back of the buggy and with the help of Kostya, chiseled out one of the crystalline rocks from the ground. Its face was multifaceted and as light passed through it they could see something was carved on the inside. Kostya looked deep into the stone. The shape appeared to be human.

A human with wings. Its face and arms were turned upward with its hands cupped.

“What have we found, Vanya?”

“More questions than ever, comrade.” Vanya placed the stone within the sample case. “Check the others. See if they contain the same thing.”

Kostya moved to a larger stone and shone his light inside. As with the smaller rock, it too contained a carving of a human with wings. He sped up his search, checking another and another. All held the same image. Kostya walked around a larger protrusion, when his light fell across an opening. Not far, inside a larger jagged outcropping, was a cave entrance.

“Vanya! I have found a cave!” Without hesitation, Kostya bounded across the rocks to it. As he neared, his radio burst into static. With a quick push of a button on his arm, the radio went silent.

The entrance was big enough for him to fit through and appeared natural.  Kostya carefully found his footing along the uneven floor. The lights on his shoulders struggled to pierce the darkness of the cave tunnel. Only able to see a few meters ahead, Kostya moved with slow, purposeful steps. Careful to make sure each place could support his lighter than usual weight.

The tunnel twist and turned at sharp angles, and every few paces Kostya stepped down over a short ledge. Sweat, dripped down Kostya’s forehead and the longed to be able to remove the thermal lining within his suit. But he pressed on, deeper into the tunnel.

Something tingled in the back of his mind. As if his mind was trying to remember something it needed to know. There was something it had forgotten…

Then, music.

Kostya checked his radio. It was still off. His brows furrowed at the switch. No. No it was coming from ahead of him. Kostya bounded over the rough floor. With his next step, he felt his weight increase. Another landing, and his knees ached with the extra poundage of his heavy suit. Another landing and a sharp pain surged up through his heels. But Kostya moved forward, uncaring.

The music grew louder. His ears strained to make out the tune. But it was from no instrument he could place. There were no definitive notes. Instead, just a series of beautiful tones strung together. He could discern no pattern or rhythm, but it filled him with peace.

At last, Kostya broke into a large open chamber. The music filled the great space and brought tears to his eyes. He turned in a circle, looking for its source. The lamps along his shoulders grazed something metallic in the distance. Kostya whipped back to it, his lamps landing upon the object.

Golden light burst out into the cavern, centered on the artifact before Kostya. It forced him to his knees and his hands lept to close his visor. Fear gripped him now. Unsure of what he was about to see. Kostya lowered his hand and gazed at the artifact before him. A golden chest sat upon a high, rocky platform. It radiated its own golden light into the room. Upon its top at either end, were statues of two angels. Their wings were outstretched toward one another, the tips touching. Kostya gasped.

“The Ark… The Ark of the Covenant.”

Kostya scrambled to his feet, and rushed from the room. He ascended the long tunnel, panic and exhilaration pumping into his veins. The music and light chased him upward. The chill of the Moon assaulted him and the low gravity pulled him upward.

Out on the Moon’s surface, Kostya finally stopped. His breath was ragged and his sweat chilled on his face. Kostya was wracked with sobs of joy and fear. It was true. A God does exist. But what does this mean? Should the world even know about it?

Reaching to his wrist, Kostya turned on his radio. Static crackled over the airwave.

“Vanya, come in. Bronislav.” The static remained. Kostya saw his footsteps that led him to the cave, and traced them back around the large rock formation. Trying again and again to reach his comrades. The static did not let up. He entered into the crystalline grove. The buggy was no where to be seen and the prismatic stones were all gone. Kostya took long, leaping strides and followed the buggy’s tire tracks. They were untouched and appeared fresh. But in Kostya’s mind he knew. On the Moon, there was no wind to change the tracks. Five minutes or five years, they would always appear the same.

He soon cleared the craggy, jagged terrain and saw the light side of the moon once again. The horizon was clear. No buggy. No Medved.

Kostya looked to the sky. The Earth, a blue sphere, hung in the cosmos. He was alone. Only the crackle of a dead radio filled the silence of space.

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