Bighead Moon Stories
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Imperial Earth
Bighead Moon Stories are in the tradition of classic hard science fiction.
Mars Landing
Peter Thorpe's Rocket Paintings - high quality reproductions as well as current originals - are available through the Peter Thorpe page at Novaspace Graphics. Also, Rocket Paintings are on various products at the RocketZoom Zazzle store.
UFOs Over Woodstock
Upcoming stories: UFOs Over Woodstock, The Girl with the Yin Yang Belly Button, Fan the Ember Moon.
International Association of Astronomical Artists
Member International Association of Astronomical Artists
Anderson Farms
Anderson Farms, circa 2195
Bighead Moon
text and illustrations copyright © 2002 - 2020 Peter Thorpe
uncorrected proof
for review purposes only

Chapter Three
Dee Anderson rocket
Dee Anderson
Bear was a man with a specific view of the universe. It was, he contended, an imperfect machine, an awkward, problematic job that was bound to go bust. The birth to death race that men and suns run may be considered by some to be beautiful. Bear did not agree. Maintenance was not art.

Bear’s father, Original Bighead Franklin Lee, pretty much saw it the same way. The elder Lee had died in bed. Cause of death was smoke inhalation from an electrical fire in the conduits under his cave. Machines break down, people break down. Frank Lee had been one of Bighead City’s first electrical engineers. Ironic, but the accident was not directly related to his work.

Bear’s wife, Maggie, had been taken soon after while on a business trip. A shuttle she was on from Bighead City to Goddard had gone down just before landing. Hux was ten at the time. The shuttle had lost a retro, and the pilot had overcompensated in panic. Eventually everything breaks down.

Bear’s world, the lower letter halls, were breaking down too. Once the ‘roots’ of Bighead City, these halls, along with the caves and drops, had been jammed with life. But they had passed their prime with the advent of a surface construction boom, made possible by the development of the Mag shield. Deep dark tunnels could not compete with a safe, breathtaking surfacescape. Homes and businesses mushroomed in tiered crystal forms along the Bighead crater rim, no longer fearful of the solar wind. Early Bigheads had to drop deep to avoid extreme solar events. Now artificial magnetic fields took care of the radiation. Bear knew that wasn’t the end of it either. There was serious talk of terraforming Luna.

The property he owned was built in cubic space that his father had left him. Part of N and O hall right off the Main Drop, and some undeveloped space that had been formed into the side of Kondo Cave. As businesses moved to the surface, Bear bought up deep space at prime prices. He was not attracted by the new, ‘open’ spaces of the surface halls, nor did he long for the starflung view with Earth spinning low in the black sky. The surface made Bear nervous.

The sidehall off O that led to his door was narrow enough for him to reach out and touch both walls, and this was how he thought of himself, an atom of flesh between two atoms of stone. A solid molecule deep in the body of Bighead City.

"Dad, you want to take a look at this?" The hands of Hux Lee filled the screen of the kitchen com. Bear focused on the small object that his son was holding. It looked familiar. "Where did you find it?" he asked.

"In the doorway of the old Farm Store on N. Right up from Charlie’s. Found it while cutting back the leafage. It was in the soilbox corner, on the left, right there where it turns toward the corrugated door. The vines were really out of control. I had a lot of trimming to do."

"OK, Hux, why don’t you bring that around. Lunchtime anyway." Bear moved back to his washbasin and continued loading into it the potatoes he had been preparing. He set the temp, added a measure of cayenne oil, and hit the cycle. Boiling water filled the basin and the potatoes danced noisily in the turmoil.

Bear had made two promises to himself that morning. One, take option on the most current O hall franchise renewal, namely the industrial warehouse cave currently rented by Just Add Water. They would fight him on it, but it was his right. Two, no heroics. The pretty young girl with four escorts had intrigued him. When he was in bed with Katie last night he could not entirely remember the girl’s face, but he did remember the feeling she had given him. A very young and beautiful girl. A lot of energy. She had stirred an old spark in him as he thought of her and Katie had noticed. "Calm down, remember your age, and go to sleep," she had said. But Bear was not worried about the girl, per se. Katie was all he wanted. He just didn’t like being distracted.

Hux put the field detector into his pocket after breaking the connection with his father. From where he sat at the N hall hydroponics com, which was on a raised station at the end of the cave, he could survey the rows of greenery with one glance. Hux was a proud grower, maybe not as studied as Katie, but effective nonetheless. His instincts made up for a lot. The wheat, corn, soybeans and tubers were his first love as a child. After his mother’s death he spent more and more of his time in the ‘garden’. Serious commercial growing in Bighead City occurred in the Farms complex, located on and just under the surface, southwest of the city. It was a huge operation and Hux had toyed with the idea of working there eventually. But he inherited a need for isolation from his father and so stayed with their modest garden.

The hydroponics cave was for him what church was for others, but without the dogma. As he moved through the rows of plants he held out his hands at arm’s length, closed his eyes, and brushed the tops of the stalks. The pure sensations of scent and touch were not debatable ideas. They were real.

Hux closed the lock to the hydroponics cave. As he walked up tunnel, he reached into his pocket, pulled the field detector out, and flipped the device over in his hand. He had seen security wearing these on their arm straps. The top of the clip would flash red if the wearer entered a security field. It was cousin to the standard radiation detector but was keyed into detecting only the narrow band of electromagnetic waveforms used for security fields. It allowed one to know if they had entered the area of an ‘off’ field. Entering a field that was on would be self-evident.

As Hux passed by the AnyPoss he held the detector out, close to the security doors. Sure enough, it picked up Katie’s field. He palmed it as he slid into the open drop just down tunnel. His free hand automatically reached for the center pole and for a moment he fell slowly down the tube. What, Hux thought, would security think of a ‘dive bar’ with a fancy guard field? A cushion of air slowed him at the bottom of the drop. He pushed off the pole with his heel and turned up O hall. The few people he passed were local merchants and workers. He exchanged almost imperceptible hellos with then in the quiet formal manner used within the lower halls community. How long, he continued to ask himself, can Bear keep security in the dark?

The answer stood staring him in the face as he entered Bear’s side hall. Heading towards him, puffing and out of breath, was Chief Baker. Hux quickly pocketed the detector, a motion which was not lost on the older man.

"Ah, the younger Lee," said Baker. "Just who I want to see." He smoothed down the front of his jumper as he took a deep breath. "Your father, ah, is not opening the door..."

"Perhaps he’s not home."

"You seem to think he is."

Hux squared his shoulders and tried to look hurt. "I’m here all the time anyway. Did you let him know you were coming down?"

"No, it’s a surprise visit. So. Can we go in?"

"Well, OK." Hux put his hand in his pocket as he approached the door. "Com, it’s Hux." House com responded by opening the door. Hux stood aside. Baker went in with one eye on the floor and the other on Hux’s pocket, where something was faintly blinking red.

Bam Lyle’s head was spinning. She had just had a very brief conversation with Senator Makavitch. He had brought her some clothing, actually a robe, and had said two things. "You have gone through all of this for the sake of necessary political maneuvering," and, in a softer tone, "I hope you are all right. Your comfort was of prime importance. When you get dressed, please come down the hall."

Bam thought about the word ‘maneuvering’. Coming from the Senator, it could mean several things. He was here on Luna to finalize NorthAm’s purchase of port options, including ownership of two newly opened orbit lanes. Debate on the issue had been heated. Commercial expansion versus Lunar pride. The Senator had played both sides against the center.

She slipped into the robe. The fabric was coarse, but comfortable. She rolled the sleeves up, tightened the belt, and pulled her hair up and out of the collar.

The Senator had provided her with many surprises in the past. This was something new, though. The political game was, as he put it, a dangerous one. But she wanted very badly to be a part of that life. "You’ll want it till you have it!" he had told her, "Then things will be different." Standing on the cold floor of the cave in her bare feet, she certainly felt different.

Out in the hall a woman in skintights silently greeted Bam and led her to an archway bright with light. The hall had rough hewn walls lit by dim embankment lights. She noticed a flat area of rock above the arch that had been etched with an inscription. It said: Die Young or Don’t Die At All. Oh, good, she thought. And how young are we talking?

Inside the room the Senator was talking to a very old woman. Her small frame was supported by a glide chair, and Bam could see that the room was arranged for access by that chair. It looked much like an Earth library, with real bound books in cases with glass doors. No shelf or cabinet rose more than a meter off of the floor. In one corner stood a harp. The floor around it was covered with sheet music.

The Senator seemed truly enamored with this woman. He held one of her delicate hands while she spoke to him in low tones. Bam could have watched indefinitely but for the coldness of the floor. She slapped her left foot against her right ankle in an attempt to quicken the blood flow.

The old woman heard her, looked at Bam’s slender feet, and then sharply at the girl in the tights. "Why haven’t you gotten her any slippers? Please!" The girl went out the door, brushing past Bam.

Bam put her left foot back down and said, "My name is Bam Lyle and this is a really interesting room."

"I know who you are," said the woman, "and thank you, but, you ain’t seen nothing yet."

Bam immediately liked her.

The Senator stood up and held out his hand to Bam. "Come here and meet a legend. This is Diana Anderson." As Bam approached she thought that she knew who the woman was. A legend, indeed. In school she had seen a younger version of that face. Bam had stared at the holo for a long time. A beautiful woman with a necklace of moonstones and pearls. A woman of power.

"Very nice to meet you, Ms Anderson. Does this mean that I now find myself ‘Deep in the Moon’?

"Don’t believe everything you read, honey. And call me Dee.


"Yes, Dee for dinosaur. For an old dinosaur, older than Dee hall, which I think they named after me." The woman smiled.

"OK, and how old a dinosaur are you?"

"123. Luna since 2045."

The Senator watched the verbal exchange with his mouth slightly open. This was going better than he could have hoped for. "Bam," he said, "have a seat and let me explain a few things."

Bam took the only empty chair, hiking up the robe over her knees as she sat down. Diana pulled her thick white hair back and looked at the Senator expectantly.

"I have," he said, "been working on the Lunar project for some time now. It is a very complicated and far-reaching venture, as you know, involving more than the current port options.

"My personal concern is of course with the NorthAm role. Our stake is high. And maybe too high to risk adding to the mix something as outrageous as what has happened to you...a kidnapping."

He paused to adjust his coat sleeve. "Bam, you have been swallowed up by the Moon. The longer you can manage to help me, the more I can do with this."

"That would mean what?"

"Well, we already have a good headline out of it and could easily explain your absence. The lower letter halls have a bad reputation. But, if you are willing to hole out for a while we could probably tie it to the miner’s union or even the mass driver interests."

Bam looked at Diana and asked, "What do you think?"

"Bam, honey, the Senator is good for a couple laughs, but the real reason your are here is because I want you here. I am, you see, especially interested in you. I am...your ancestor.

Bighead Moon
| chapter one | chapter two | chapter three | chapter four | chapter five |
More chapters of this novella are coming soon.
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