What’s on the Moon? By Elliot Harper

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“What’s on the Moon tonight?”

I’m so sick of that question. Every single day I get asked that same thing. As though I’m some kind of expert! I’m no more of an expert than anyone else in the office. I can search online, just like everyone else can. I don’t understand why Dan always asks me, anyway. The lazy bastard.

I glance up from the cubicle and find his smiling face poking out over the rim and staring directly at me. I shrug but answer him anyway. “No idea, the same thing as always. A classic cartoon. They don’t usually play the Marvel or D.C movies these days.”

Dan seems to think it over for a few seconds before he nods his head. Why does he take so long thinking about it? “That’s true. I think I’ve seen the cartoon version of Dumbo at least a hundred times.”

He follows this up with his childish, and strangely high-pitched, giggle for a man so large. I smile and give him the thumbs up. I can’t act like a dickhead, not as much as I’d like to. Not while I’m on my last warning and not after it took me nearly a whole year to get this shit job. I can’t afford to lose it so quickly.

Dan vanishes back down into his cubicle and out of my line of sight. I suppress a sigh and return to staring at my computer screens. All three of them are filled with numbers and formulas to make it appear as though I’m hard at work reconciling, but in reality, I finished hours ago. I stare at one of the screens for a while, but I have an itch that needs scratching. Despite myself, and out of sheer boredom, I bring up tonight’s schedule. I only need to put a ‘D’ into the search engine, and it brings up the Disney-Apple Corporation, commonly known as DAC, website straight away.

The sight is filled with all the familiar faces of our childhoods: Mickey, Goofy, Wall-E, Mulan, and the rest. Right there on the front page, I can see tonight’s schedule. Well, it’s not really a schedule as such, because there’s only ever one movie on per night, but it’s right there anyway, The Little Mermaid.

This time I do sigh. It’s not that I dislike the movie, I actually used to love it, but it’s that I’ve seen it so many times now that I’ve grown to loathe it. I close the website down so that my spreadsheets are visible and begin to move a few figures around. It won’t do anything, but it looks good from afar.

My mind drifts for a few seconds before settling on that company, the Disney-Apple Corporation. The biggest merger in history. The union that made headlines around the world. The two largest companies on the planet were merging, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. They were so powerful that no country could stop them. Some tried but were thoroughly ignored. It was incredible, or so I was told. I was only young, so I can’t remember it myself, but it was taught in school, so I know the details. At the time, no one believed it could be topped. It was that big of an event. Of course, they were wrong. They didn’t know what this new mega-conglomerate had in mind.

“It’s The Little Mermaid!”

Dan must have finally gone on to the website to check it out. He took his time about it. Probably expecting me to do all the work, same as always. Technically he’s my supervisor, but he never seems to do anything. Not from what I’ve seen. Most of the time, he just sits and stares into space, only occasionally asking stupid questions.

I don’t bother to reply. Instead, I get up and head towards the coffee machine. I’m desperately tired and in need of a caffeine fix immediately. It’s not my first of the day, and it won’t be my last. I keep my head down as I walk through the office, but no one seems to care what I’m doing. And why should they? They’ve got their own things to worry about, like whether this company will go bust or get taken over like all the rest.

I arrive at the coffee machine. It’s a sleek model. All white chrome and soft edges. Classic Apple before the Merger. I press for a latte with an extra shot of coffee and wait as the old machine rumbles for a while and begins to spit the liquid out.

While I wait, my mind resettles back on DAC and what was to come. The world believed that the biggest merger in history was the gigantic news of the century, but they were wrong. What happened next sent shock waves through the whole of every society, and not just ours. I’ve seen the announcement many times while I was in school. The top execs of Apple and Disney both smiling broadly on the screen, shaking hands and looking triumphant. The flash of people using their phones to take pictures. The new logo in the background, a bitten apple with Micky’s ears. Then they told the world what they had done.

I can never remember who made the actual announcement, the Apple or the Disney guy. I suppose it doesn’t matter as they were now the same. Whoever said it was quickly drowned out with gasps and furious questions. Those in attendance were shocked, probably as much as everyone watching at home. Everyone received a notification immediately.

The Disney-Apple Corporation had bought the Moon.

#

I shake my head as I retrieve my coffee and return to my seat. Unusually, Dan doesn’t stick his head out to say something stupid to me, so I’m safe to sit and take a sip from my coffee in peace for the time being.

They bought the Moon. The actual Moon. It’s incredible, really.

The world was stunned, and rightfully so. Everyone couldn’t understand how they could do it, but they didn’t get it. DAC was, and is, bigger than any nation or superpower or union of nations. They were post-national. An uber-conglomerate that had the power to do exactly what they wanted, and they had just proved it. No country or world body tried to stop them. They had received their cut and were happy enough.

When the shock had died down, people began to ask why. It didn’t take long to find out what the plan was. The announcement came quickly on social media. DAC had bought the Moon, and they were going to project a movie on it for the whole world to watch every single night for free. At first, people were confused, but then they became happy. As soon as you hear the word ‘free’, most people will go along with whatever is being said. A lot of people didn’t think it could be done, but they were quickly proved wrong.

The Disney-Apple Corporation had made their announcement, and only a few months later, the first movie was broadcast on the surface of the Moon. It was the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the cartoon, not the live-action remake. A family favourite and, of course, people loved it. They didn’t seem to mind that the surface of the Moon was now just another television screen. Or that the sound was piped through any DAC machine they had in their house. They didn’t seem to mind this terrible invasion of privacy.

My coffee is finished, and it hasn’t made a dent because I’m still exhausted. I tried to have an early night last night, but The Jungle Book was playing, and I couldn’t get a wink of sleep after that. The light of the projection punctured through my flimsy curtains with ease. The sounds of King Louie blasting through the speakers on my microwave. The tune wouldn’t get out of my head no matter what I did.

The night before was the same, and the night before, and the night before. Movie after movie after movie. Will it never end? It used to just be a film, but now they’ve squeezed adverts in there, every fifteen minutes. At least we now know why they did it. The advertising revenue must be astronomical. Of course, it adds another hour onto the broadcast, pushing it deeper into the night. It’s not so much of a problem in the winter when it gets darker early, but right now, in mid-summer, the movie won’t finish until late.

Every morning, I wake up at 6 am with some other catchy song in my head. Every morning, I wake up exhausted. Every morning, I just want to go back to sleep, but I can’t.

I close my eyes and try to relax. I start to feel slightly better locked inside my own head when a sound drifts towards me. At first, I don’t recognise it, but slowly it takes on more form and then becomes immediately familiar. Dan is whistling in his cubicle. The song is one I know well, too well—something about wanting to be where the people are—the Little Mermaid.

I reclose my eyes and grit my teeth and pray that he stops, but I know he won’t because he never does.

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Elliot Harper

Elliot Harper is the self-published author of the dark science-fiction novella, The City around the World, and the speculative short story collection, On Time Travel and Tardiness, available from Amazon. His short stories have featured in The Wild Hunt: Stories of the Chase by Air and Nothingness Press, Black Telephone Magazine Issue 1 by Clash Books, and The Protest Issue in Popshot Quarterly Magazine.

His short fiction has appeared online in Clash Book’s Black Telephone Magazine, Storgy, Maudlin House, Neon Magazine’s Battery Pack Volume 4, Horrified Magazine, Coffin Bell Journal, FIVE:2:ONE Magazine’s #thesideshow,  Queen Mobs Teahouse, the Ghost City Review, Akashic Book’s #FriSciFi, Back Patio Press, Litro Magazine’s #StorySunday, Selcouth Station’s #2 Food Edition, Dream Noir Lit Magazine, Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones Volume 8 and Riggwelter Press. Find him on Twitter @E_Harper_Author and on his website, www.elliotharper.com.

Social media & book links:

Twitter: @E_Harper_Author

Facebook: @elliotharperauthor

Website: www.elliotharper.com

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