The Day Moon
by Eric J. Krause
Ten stood out on the surface, staring up at the day moon. Thoughts buzzed through his mind, summing up his existence, his ten lifetimes, but out here he had no one to share them with. He'd ignored the advice to bring a voice recorder, but it was too late now to worry about such things.
A flash of movement to his left dragged his attention from the day moon. No doubt another ten out to end it all. A pretty woman, who, like him, wore no life-sustaining suit, walked towards him. He recognized the look of acceptance she wore. He'd seen it in the mirror this morning.
"Hello," he said. "Glad I'm not the only ten choosing this day moon." The words felt thick inside of him, but the radioactive dust hadn't infiltrated his innards yet.
"Oh, I'm a seven, not a ten." She gave him a sheepish grin and looked up to the day moon.
"A seven? Then why are you out here?"
She glanced at him for a split second. "Please. I'm not worth concentrating on."
He nodded. Inside the city she certainly would be, but out here? No, she was right. He turned his face upwards and focused on the day moon. They stood in silence for a few moments until she broke it.
"My five and six ruined everything. We had a good existence going. One, Two, and Four set it all up so the rest of us wouldn't have any worries. Three didn't contribute, but she didn't mess anything up, either." She paused. "I wonder now if she was a warning sign Four should have addressed."
"Why don't you head back in and spin damage control? Make a better life for your three remainders?" His words didn't hurt, but he guessed that was thanks to the day moon. The radioactive dust had made itself at home inside his lungs.
"Believe me, I tried. I slowed the bleeding, but there's no way I can stop it. I'm not even sure Eight can. And even if she does, it leaves nothing for Nine and Ten." Another pause. He wondered if he'd see a tear running down her cheek if he chose to look at her. "They'll thank me for this."
"What did they do?" Ten didn't know how she understood; he stuttered to start, and when he did get the words out, they came in a gravelly squeak.
She sighed. He didn't hear any blockage in her lungs. Maybe the radiation took longer to work on a seven. She went on in a strong voice to describe the underworld and crime dens of New Glory City. He'd have normally found it to be an interesting topic; he'd lived a sheltered existence, one through ten, and knew nothing of the darker side of life, save for what he'd read about in articles on the mind net. A day or two earlier he'd have peppered her with questions, and would have been hanging on her every word.
As it was, though, he paid little to no attention to her story. His entire focus, his entire life, was the day moon. In his reality it grew to overtake the entire sky. As this girl, this seven, talked of robot godfathers and alien con artists, he drifted up to his next existence, the one fabled to never end.