#FridayFlash: Nearer Comes the Moon

Nearer Comes the Moon

by Tony Noland

She wasn't out. Not really. Not yet. He interrupted his long, slow, even breaths to make a small snorting sound, just the sort of sound made by a large man in a light sleep. She roused slightly and lifted her head towards his. His eyes were closed, of course; he could hear her hair on the pillow. After a moment, she sighed and lay back down. Within another half-hour she was fully asleep. He let her go deeper before he slid out of bed and floated toward the window. It was open only two inches, the compromise between her nighttime chills and his insistence on fresh air. Two inches was enough. He turned his skin to full black and flattened himself so he could glide noiselessly out into the moonlight.

Once out over the backyard, he reformed his body and rose as quickly as he dared, though that was far, far slower than he was capable of. As he always did, he regretted the limitations he had placed on his own power. As he always did, he immediately felt guilty about that regret. Sonic booms and lightning flashes did not belong in Ashland County, Ohio. Having chosen this life, he wished that he could learn to accept it in its entirety.

Once he reached five thousand feet he could open up and climb faster. He wouldn't be able to even feel the moonlight until one-fifty, but above five the crackle of his lifting power wouldn't be audible. Above seventy, there wouldn't be enough moisture to conduct electricity, and he could really stretch his legs. He would cover the last eighty in less time than this first five.

He probably wouldn't be able to linger tonight. Allison had been irritable all evening. She was bound to be sleeping only lightly. He knew he should have waited longer, or just stayed in tonight. After all, the day after the full moon tasted almost as good. He'd been so hungry, though, and the skies tonight were so clear. It had been raining all week. He hadn't even seen the gibbous moon.

He shook his head as the icy air whistled past him. Imagine! Him, not being able to see the moon! The moonlight on his blackened body felt soft, though he knew that was only an illusion, a memory of past feedings. There was still far too much air here. The feeling would be real soon enough.

He looked down at the dark and cloudless countryside. Glowing islands on the gently curving horizon, Columbus to his left, Cleveland to his right, Toledo ahead and the tiny firefly glow of Canton behind. He turned his face back to the sky, back to his true home. Lightning from a clear sky would be seen, but he couldn't wait any longer. He reached his mind within himself and pulled, hard. He exploded upwards, energy arcing outwards in all directions from the expanding volume of ionized air he left in his wake. His forehead glowed dull red through his carbon-black skin; his feet and fingers stretched out from the acceleration. When the air was gone he stopped pulling and he flew upwards on momentum alone.

Glory be to God, he thought, why do I always forget how the moonlight tastes! He turned himself over and over, the undimmed moonlight washing over every inch of his body. He stretched himself into a flattened man-like shape, then into an irregular sheet many yards across. He exposed himself as fully to the polarized moonlight as his body would allow. He rippled and twisted and coiled himself, straining and wallowing in it. He twisted into a tangled mass of threads, then flew outwards into a gossamer cloud form. In the near-vacuum, he floated and fed for hours, the joy of the moonlight making him forget everything but his hunger and the satiation of it.

When his cells were filled and he started to ache from the cold, he came back to his senses and resumed the shape of a man. With the return of his form came the guilt. He had been gone too long. Again. He spared a moment to look at the moon, her light no longer so delicious now that his hunger was no longer so keen. In the airless void, where no sound could carry, his lips moved as he said goodbye. He turned his head downward, leaving his home to return to his house.

The air was shimmering around him as he floated above the backyard, still glowing with the heat of his re-entry. He stretched into a long, thin tube and snaked out over the swimming pool. He slipped in, the water boiling off his tendril body as it went beneath. He twisted himself on the bottom at the deep end, dispersing the heat as rapidly as he could. He rose and shook the water off before gliding back through the window. His wife was still sleeping as he resumed his human shape with its pinkish-brown color. He settled gently back into bed, listening to her regular breathing. Then he heard her sniff slightly. Once, then twice more.

"Chlorine?" she murmered. "Did you use the pool to cool off again? Oh, honey, haven't I asked you to use the hose? You know I hate that chlorine smell."

"I didn't want to turn the water on and wake you," he lied. He had forgotten about the hose. "Sorry."

She sighed sleepily. "That's alright. How was it? How was the weather?" She was already almost back to sleep.

He twisted and put an arm around her as he spooned against her side. He kissed her lightly on the ear. "Everything was fine. Goodnight, sweetheart. I love you."

"mm love you too..." she murmured.

As she slept, he lay awake, as he always did, thinking of the sun, the moon and the stars. As he always did, he decided that had made the right choice.

Other #FridayFlash pieces can be found here


  1. Hi there. This blew me away. Your writing is beautiful, this is visionary and visual and visceral. I may be a bit dense, but I didn't quite get the last two lines. Does she know? Is that why he picked the right one. Then why didn't he want her to know he was going?

    My confusion in no way dents my enthusiasm for this fine piece of writing.

    Niggly bits: you have one typo in para 4 that you will want to fix. Also paras 2 & 3 both start with 'once'. Paras 4 and 5 start with 'he'. You might just want to mix up your sentence construction a little.

    Well done. Gorgeous stuff.

  2. Wonderful imagery! I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Welcome to #fridayflash!

  3. A wonderful story of a stranger-in-a-strange-land !

    Well done!

  4. What a lovely piece. The imagery is beautiful, and you convey his feeling of alienation very well. I look forward to reading more of your work.

    Nicely done!

  5. I loved the imagery. You have a gift for description, and I liked the ending. Great job!

  6. Wouldn't be easy to choose between the beauty of the Universe and a wife. I agree with the other comments, you created some very lovely imagery :)

  7. Thanks, everybody, I'm glad you liked the piece!

    As for who (or what) this guy is, where he comes from and why he felt he had to wait for his wife to be asleep before he slipped out, I'm afraid I don't know. He didn't tell me.

  8. Very original! And I guess you just answered my question. What is he???!! I thought, vampire? demon? god? Nope, your own creation. Intriguing, too, because he obviously can love and he can understand the value of human life (even above his thirst for moonlight, stars and sun) though he's not human. Would like to read more about him.
    Continuation, maybe?? :-)
    Beautiful story.

  9. What is he?

    Hen-pecked, clearly.

    He's so under the thumb he thinks fingerprints are sky.

    whip-a whip-a

    I'll stop now.

    Brilliant story. I was definitely confused, but in a good way, as if there was a bigger story I didn't grasp, or it might have been a smaller story I missed. I've re-read it five times and feel different every time. Superb.

  10. Wonderfully crafted imagery. I guess you don't have to be human to make sacrifices for love.

  11. Inventive! I enjoyed it. I found this line quite poignant: "...leaving his home to return to his house."

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. @ everyone: Thanks for reading the piece; I've so glad you all liked it. I appreciate everyone's comments. The imagery worked pretty well here - a good thing, since the plot is minimal and the characters are only sketched with a few lines. There are deep waters here, I'm sure, but I'm not sure what they are. I think this will be a question unanswered, as this is supposed to be a stand-alone piece, rather than the germ of a larger story. (Sorry Shannon Esposito!)

    What's interesting to me is the mystical/magical interpretation of the central character, when I actually had more of an alien/android sense in mind as I wrote it.

    I especially like Anton Gullly's comment about seeing something new in successive readings. That's exactly what I was hoping to achieve, so Anton, because your comment was so insightful, I completely forgive the whole "hen-pecked" thing.

    Here's a question for you all to consider: at the end, "As he always did, he decided that had made the right choice." If it really is the right choice, why does he have to keep asking himself the question? Is he just kidding himself, or rationalizing, or what?

  14. Oh, man, judy b took my point. I also really loved the line, "leaving his home to return to his house."

    At first this gave me the sense of Peter Pan. Who would not want to fly up to (towards) the moon? Then I get the sense of the forlorn. Is he blessed or is he cursed? Wonderful questions to leave the reader with.

    At least between full moons he seems to be relatively happy. Really interesting piece, and very vividly told.

  15. evocative and tightly written. well done.

  16. I found myself holding my breath. A wonderful story. I hope I get to read more... on Fridays :-)

  17. I can quite understand why he always asked the question and always got the same answer. Even before I got to the end I read him as someone who had made a sacrifice along with his choice, the night excursions are a need but at the same time a teasing reminder of what he has given up.
    Anyway... I loved your writing style and your imagination. Thanks.

  18. Nice story - good imagery, lots of unanswered questions. I like it like that. Well done.

  19. Welcome to #fridayflash. Really enjoyed this piece. A flight of pure fancy. The description of his emergence into space and the various shapes he threw himself into was vivid stuff. I also liked how he cooled himself upon re-entry. Well paced and intriguing piece of realist-fantasy. Good stuff.

  20. Thanks to all of the weekend readers for such great comments!

    This was a fun piece to write. I've been feeling a bit down lately, lost in the thickets and byways in larger WIPs. #FridayFlash was a terrific way to stretch a bit with a pure fantasy piece. Although I recognize "cleansing the palate" as a cliche (and therefore verboten), that describes the experience perfectly.

    It's analogous to how your computer gets slower and slower the longer it's been running (Mac & Linus users, you'll just have to trust me on this one). Shutting down and rebooting gets it all running as smoothly as ever.

    Oh, damn. "Pushing the reset button" is a cliche, too!

  21. I really enjoyed this one, Tony! :D

  22. I've just read your writing for the first time today - I followed @skycycler's link on Twitter and wish I'd done it before now! This piece speaks to me so deeply - I've always longed to be able to fly. I look forward to reading more of your work. Beautiful use of language and description.

  23. Thank you, Josie. There's a lot of scene poured into this; I'm glad it resonated with you!


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