by Dennis M. Myers, 04/8/2020
Monday, September 20, 3288, 12:15
Tony Renard, a well known comedic reporter on Luna appeared at his studio desk. The triumphant music ended with a heroic flourish as the title graphics dissolved over his head. "Hello. I'm Tony Renard. Today, instead of my usual show, I have a short story for you." He grinned. "Something I've been working on for a while now."
He spun to another camera angle. His grin was gone. "This story is one that doesn't have a happy ending, so I do apologize in advance if you don't laugh. It starts with a small fire in a remote data storage location near Gullstrand crater. The damage was very minor. All that was lost was about an hour of raw surveillance footage for one platform at the Wood Shuttle Station in Landau crater. No big deal, right? That's just for backups."
He spun to another camera angle. "Fine, let's try this story. It's about two young women from Brighton, a small city on the plateau above Schrodinger. Late last year their parents and close friends all received text messages from the two girls, telling everyone they had fallen in love with each other, and were going to run off to tour all of Luna. While this was a big surprise to everyone, it was an even bigger surprise to their boyfriends. It seems no one had suspected that either of the girls swung that way. Even more strange, none of their family, friends, or anyone at all involved could figure out how these two people had ever even met. Sharon was five years older than Tami. They lived on opposite sides of the city, liked different foods. Tami was a sports fan, loved hopper matches and whiskey. Sharon was a literature student who went to arts festivals and drank meade." Tony shrugged. "Tami, last seen on November 8th, left home to meet with her boyfriend and never showed up. After that, Sharon attended two plays and spent the holidays with her parents, then failed to meet with her boyfriend on New Years Eve. On January tenth those text messages went out. System records show the two travelling randomly around Luna for several months. Then, on June sixth came the bad news. The two girls had been on the jump ship Buffalo, which had misjumped a few weeks earlier on it's way out to Jupiter. All hands were lost. Official video shows the two getting on the local shuttle that took them out to meet that ship."
Tony sighed heavily, turned to another camera, and spoke slowly. "Then it gets weird. See, similar stories have come in from all over Luna. In total, last year, six young women had suddenly decided to run off and tour the world. Are you ready for it? Yea. All six were on that ship. All six rode the same shuttle to orbit, and all six, apparently, boarded the shuttle between eight fifteen and nine fifteen at Wood Station. Now, when you look at the video, it's easy to see them all, one by one, boarding the shuttle. But take a look at something." The displayed video stopped and rewound quickly. "See this footage from the previous hour, that woman in green greeting the passengers, nodding to each one. Big welcoming grin. Now look at this. See how Sharon walks on, and the woman isn't looking at her? No nod. Nothing. Sure, once is nothing, right? Here's Tami. Same thing. Nothing from the woman in green. Now, how about all six times?" Tony shook his head. "In fact, the only six people the woman in green doesn't nod to and welcome, are these six young women.
"Obviously, I think this footage might have been tampered with. So I want to go right to the raw footage. Raw footage is encoded, supposed to be unalterable." Tony nodded. "Stored in a variety of secure locations around Luna." He paused and shook his head. "Yeah, remember that little fire from before? That's right. The hour that went missing is exactly the hour at exactly the platform in Wood Station that these exact young women supposedly boarded a shuttle to a destination from which the chances of recovery are exactly zero." He sat back and sighed. "Exactly. Security thinks I'm daft. And they're right, I really am. But what do you think? Giant coincidence? Or could there be a bigger problem? Could there be a serial murderer on the moon? It's happened before. It could be happening now. He could be watching this show. I hope I don't piss him off."
He changed cameras one last time. "I'm Tony Renard, and I hope you got something out of this. Bye!"
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