Noir 7

His memories usually spare him the worst, but not today. They have developed a life of their own.

For hours he has been rolling around in his bed. What he suddenly remembered has been haunting him for days. He has become reclusive and has even avoided the smile he had already grown to like.

Some rust-like substance growing like mushrooms, only at a speed at which you could watch it creep up on you, and were it not for the incredible fascination of the process, of all colours gradually fading into a light reddidh brown, you would probably run away. But the sheer beauty, the mesmerizing colour patterns that happened during the fading and almost made you want to be part of this giant, unifying change …

Screaming, he wakes up. The sun suddenly starts turning funny colours, and at the slightest hint of the all too familiar reddish brown tint he grows fascinated. He is here, on the moon, so this can’t be happening. He allows himself to be sucked in by the beautiful colour, to be fascinated by the strong sense of unity that suddenly overwhelms him, to the point where he shudders with joy about being part of an irresistible force, so strongly that 


Head first, he has fallen out of the top bunk of his sleeping cabin he shares with a few other men. He has gone from sleeping to unconscious, but luckily the loud noise of him hitting the steel floor has woken up one of his roommates, who in return alerted all the others who properly secured his neck and carried him to sickbay. No lives lost unnecessarily, the mantra was going strong in the whole station, so everyone had training in emergency medical procedures that made the moon the safest place to ever be.

The irony of the situation was that there was no safer place than the moon. Even the moon could not be considered safe – there was no atmosphere that could catch space rocks getting sucked in by the moon’s gravity, and whenever efforts were made to dig down and excavate a subterranean moon base that would provide a safer place for all of the refugees from the great cataclysm, quakes from giant boulders hitting the moon would make some of the new tunnels collapse. After two occasions of this and some losses, somebody had set up a monitoring system, and research for quake-proof tunnel support structures was underway but with the expected flashbacks from the moon always being pummeled by rocks, some tests had to be written off as the tested material kept getting buried under miles of a very new kind of rock whose properties they had yet to get used to.

Another reason for going underground on the moon was that some cases of a very peculiar madness had been reported after people had looked back on earth. They had yet to put together some very strangely shaped puzzle pieces to determine the cause, but someone had discovered that if left alone to express their thoughts, most people had taken to drawing with some shades of dark red, some even experimenting with mixing what little colour remained to achieve a certain shade of dark red, bordering on brown. Interestingly, although there was not much of the colour available, not one of the patients turned test subject would turn on another, and while not yet displaying signs of a collective spirit they were isolated. Tests were ongoing to determine if seeing their earlier home had any influence on this peculiar behaviour …

While his health was slowly making efforts to stabilize, he was visited frequently. After noticing a lack of apparent progress, his visitor had started to take his hand, and she had also started to, before she left every day, take pictures of her looking at him with the now already familiar smile, leaving the now very expensive printouts of every one of them on the table next to his bed.


Noir 6

Frantically he looks inside the drawers of his desk. He turns up page after page, after having searched roughly for two hours he just gives up and goes through all the papers sheet by sheet.
Anxiously awaiting an ever so slight bulge in the papers on his desk, which is cluttered with documents, he has been sitting like this for hours. The stacks of paper on his desk have long since turned into a heap, the heap has somehow managed to spread to the floor, and because of the despair caused by his frantic search his hair looks unkempt, although even on the moon, where nothing really matters anymore, at least not to him, he tries to stick to at least a minimum of „style“.
The melody he has been humming to distract himself has experienced an ever so slight crescendo, having developed a life of its own. It resounds in the office, which is empty at this time of „day“. If he didn’t keep the time server up and running, he keeps reminding himself, life in this base would so thoroughly break down they might as well all have stayed back on Earth and died …
He shakes his head. Someone would have come up with some way to redefine a time structure that would enable the people to live a somewhat normal-ish life. What is normal if you keep seeing your home from afar, utterly destroyed by their fellow people’s carelessness and even madness?
As he is about to break down in despair, in the last corner of his eye he notices a speck of a familiar colour. Next to the colour there is a bright, radiant smile, one he has grown accustomed to, if not even developed a liking for.
Celia stands there, behind her left ear a neon-yellow pencil.
„Were you looking for this?“

Noir 5

Again, he sits at the window of the station. He looks out at the construction site which has made some, if not much, progress since the lucky chance encounter with his colleague Celia.

He looks down on Earth, on what is left of it. He decides to go to the telescope somebody brought. They built an observatory around it since due to the lack of atmosphere, they could use even the smallish hobbyist ones for research. Not that they had much of a choice. The big catastrophe had left earth in shambles, the person who brought the telescope first got a lot of flak, but now it was put to whatever use they could get out of it.

He looks on his former home planet, and on maximum zoom he is able to see quite some detail. For some reason, somewhere in middle Europe they have left lights on which are still burning, although no one is there to enjoy the view – not that anyone would survive it anyway. A futile beacon of vain hope, he thinks to himself.

Evenings like this happen only when he goes all nostalgic. He has recently started to settle in. It was not easy for anyone, and there were a few occasions when some people thought it would be better for everyone if they vacated their space in the station. Some brilliant mind had prepared security well, though, and to date no losses had to be mourned.

Once they were almost too late. One guy hacked an airlock so it would not require him to wear a space suit on the outside. He went out, and as the door slammed shut some security system noticed a flaw in his hack and sounded the alarms. Quickly, the women and men arrived, all properly suited up, and with the manual override the door was opened in mere seconds. They immediately pulled him in and gave him oxygen, and then emergency procedures were followed so that the desperate person who had wanted to run outside would sustain no further damage from wrong timing of the rescue measures. They pulled it off, though, and he remembers that since that day, the station hasn’t been the same. The guy was still in sickbay, and everyone had made efforts to improve the general mood and tweak the grey-in-grey design, with varying success.

He is way too numb to even consider wanting to run out. But recently something has started to chip away at the shell of hard rock he had built around his heart. He isn’t quite sure, but it might have something to do with a colleague who made a point in giving him the brightest, most genuine smile every time he looked over.

Celia …


Noir 4

Walking around in the station, he suddenly hears a melody in his head. A melody he had already forgotten, he does not even remember the name of the song anymore.

He arrives at the office, greeted by a smile that is slowly becoming more and more familiar. He sees that she is sitting behind a big stack of paper, so he just smiles back and goes to his desk to start working.

There is some interesting stuff today. One of the servers is acting up. He tries to log on but fails, so he switches into work mode and concentrates. Without noticing, he starts to softly hum the melody.

After a while without success he is still humming. His PDA beeps. It is an email from a colleague asking him to stop because it distracts him.

After another while, he is now sure that the server has a cooling issue but is still planning a way to fix it. They cannot yet build computers from scratch on the moon, he reminds himself. On earth, that system would have been disposable, but here …

Suddenly the PDA beeps again. It is a text from Celia. She asks what the beautiful song was that he hummed. You hear so little music up here, she writes. Why did he stop?

Oh, they took a big catalog of music to the moon. One guy brought a collection he had assembled over years among his personal items. News made the rounds, so did copies, and someone even managed to set up kind of a radio service that grew into a pretty varied offering. It had even inspired some to make their own music. So, technically, Celia was wrong. But he does not correct her.

Technically. What a word.

He proceeds to fix the server’s cooling. The machine is down for about two hours, and he manages to get it back up again. This time it runs smoothly, after a while it warms up enough that the fans kick in with a soft purring.

A purr? That sets off the melody again. He still can’t remember the name of the song or any of its text. Again, he asks himself what Celia wanted to actually say. She must know about that radio station, right?

The purring is still there. So he checks on one of the major fans, only to discover that the sound becomes louder. He suspects a problem with a bearing, and he switches the server off again to look at the malfunctioning fan. He starts humming again. Quickly, the PDA beeps. 

From: Celia

To: Gabriel


He takes the fan apart. A white cloth serves him as a base, the bearings keep rolling away on paper. The high amount of fine motor skills required make him continue the humming. No more mail from his colleague. Just the knowledge that in the next room, someone is sitting at her desk, with a little smile on her face, while he hums his melody.

He notices that the radio has never played it.

He fixes the fan and switches the server back on again. A small particle had found its way into the bearing, causing the purring sound. The fan was running slowly most of the time, so it had sounded like a purr. Now he just hears some slight whooshing. He is quite happy about having fixed this old piece of machinery. When they manage to actually produce spares, he thinks to himself, he will exchange half the system, but for now it falls to him to keep it all patched up and floating. God forbid anyone brought a needle …

When he finishes everything, he notices the morning has already passed and it is time for lunch. He looks outside but cannot find her. So he heads off to a „cafeteria“, more like a gathering room with a kitchen corner and someone working as cook/waiter. She is not there either, but since he is hungry he decides to simply stay around and eat something.

On his return to the office, he still finds her chair empty. He works until the end of his shift and heads back to his quarters.

He lies down. As he closes his eyes, he smiles. What was the name of this song again? With that question on his mind, he drifts off to sleep.

Noir 3

His steps resound eerily in the walkways.

He realizes how long he has been alone. He cannot put an exact number on how many days, but since he had had to leave it all behind, he has kept to himself most of the time, only seeing others for work.

He looks out of a window. Ah, they are constructing a big living complex over there, he thinks to himself. You never hear the workers, but then again we are on the moon. No sound, because there’s no air outside.

As he is trying to make out details of the scaffolding, he notices that a very faint reflection has appeared on the thick glass. He focuses his eyes away from the construction site, on the image that has appeared. Weird, it looks somewhat like a face. Oh, I am so alone that I am happy about seeing my face in the mirror. Great.

He looks at the glass again. There is also his own face. He turns around. Behind him, the woman from his office has stopped, curiously looking at the construction site too. What was her name again?

Some anxiety starts flaring up inside him. Again, she is smiling, changed from the focused look outside she had before. He tries to smile back, managing only a somewhat artificial expression.

„W…what are you doing here? You just really surprised me,“ he says. „I thought everyone was sleeping?“

„Well, I did not have such a good day at the office today. First my computer kept acting up, then I ran into trouble with the data from the measurements last week. I only now finished, and that’s because the engineers need that data processed so quickly. I was on the way back to my quarters when I saw you standing at the window.“

„Oh. But that construction site is really boring. I just needed something to distract me, and I like to watch the workers create things out here.“

„Yes. Finally they are starting to build facilities with people in mind. Finally, years after we all had to come up here, after living and working in a place that is not exactly great for staying in a good mood. Can you imagine? They are even building a small garden somewhere in there!“ she says, smiling as she is looking forward to the completion of the new structure.

Something in her expression makes him unable to keep his indifferent face. He, too, finds himself smiling back for real. They lock eyes for a moment, but he suddenly feels very insecure and quickly looks  at her chin to regain his composure.

„A garden in a moon station. Pretty sure you have to walk through an airlock and a quarantine shower to ‚enjoy‘ a few square meters of plants, then back through the shower to not contaminate the rest of the station.“

She starts laughing. His attempt at being cynical did obviously not quite have the desired effect.

„That was a good one,“ she says, still shaking from her laughter. „You know what, I’ll go back to my quarters, I’m in dire need of a good night’s sleep. Gabriel, right? Call me Celia. Sleep well, and see you in a few hours.“

„Good night, Celia!“ he replies with a bright smile on his face. As she walks away, he turns and watches her disappear around a corner.

„Thank you.“

Noir 2

Alone he sits in his quarters. He looks out of the window, and the all too familiar view of Earth, his old home, welcomes him. Like an old flame who is still in his life, he is reminded of what once was, of times when he could go outside to enjoy the fresh air, to breathe the forest air, …

Instead, he broods over the view he has from his new place on the moon. There is no more outside to go, no more fresh air to breathe. The joys of his former life are gone, and he finds the adjusting process to be still quite daunting.

Every now and then, his thought process is interrupted by a somewhat familiar, smiling face. Everytime it pops up in his mind, he pours himself another glass of moonshine.

Ah, moonshine. The stuff that legends are made of. Legends of people who would evade the law to bring people what they wanted, what some of them needed. Just like him.

Someone had come up with this name for the only spirit they had on the moon. It was one of the few distractions here, one of few sources of happiness.

One more sip. He is alone, and he gazes at the stars that he sees in the window. Still he cannot get used to the stars which appear bright and colorful, on earth they were all white spots in the sky. Here, all is vibrant and full of color. He starts feeling happy, then he reminds himself of how far away all the stars are.

Some happiness stays back, lingering unseen in some dark corner. Sometimes it peeks out of the shadow. The happy sound of his computer today, that face in the office …

He feels he cannot drink anymore. He has to be alert again tomorrow, and he cannot imagine sitting at his desk with his head feeling like a moon that keeps getting hit by meteors. But the memories of a better time, interspersed with unwelcome thoughts about the present, keep coming back to him.

So he drifts off into an uneasy sleep.

Noir 1

There he sits, in a diner, looking up from his drink.

He looks at what remains of earth, of the ancient home of his people. He sees a barren wasteland of brown and black earth, of greenish water, all with the slight bluish tint of the earth’s atmosphere, as if Mother Earth would sarcastically smile back at him.

He leaves and goes through long, empty corridors, getting back to his office. His work is not done yet, and in fact it may take him years to complete. But he accepts his lot and goes on, because what choice does he really have?

One of his colleagues looks up and smiles as he enters the office. For a split second, he catches himself smiling back, then he goes to his desk to continue his work, suppressing even the smallest semblance of emotion.

As he always does after he gets back from a break, he checks his messages. His computer beeps as a new one arrives, and before he even sees the subject line he asks himself why his computer sounds so happy today. Computers are electronic, utterly incapable of feeling joy, he says to himself, so why should mine be different?

It is a mail from an address from his department. He does not recognize the name.

From: Celia
To: Gabriel
Subject: Lunch break

Hey! Did not know you were able to smile 😛

Tell me when you have lunch tomorrow. We have been working together for quite a while now, and you are the only one I have never talked to except for the minimum required for working. I would like to change that.


He looks over at the woman who smiled at him. Celia, right. She catches his look and smiles back at him again. Although he does not know why, he has to smile too.

It is hours later that he looks back up from his screen. She has left without another word.