Swimming and Flying on the Moon

Blood On The MoonPeople talk about colonizing the moon but they always focus on the boring details of habitats, supplies, and transportation. Here’s something a little more fun. What about a lunar swimming pool? How about flying by just flapping your arms? There are some truly dream-like experiences waiting for us when we finally get there.

In Dinosaur Wars: Blood on the Moon, in between bouts of warfare and political intrigue, I’ve taken the time to imagine and write down what it might be like to visit a lunar hotel that is equipped with the basic facilities for pleasant diversions: cabana bars, a swimming pool, a high dive, and even the uniquely lunar ability to fly under your own power. Here’s an excerpt from the book in which the young heroes Chase Armstrong and Kit Daniels visit such a place:
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One dome-shaped building among the many edifices that covered the floor of Phaeon Crater was dedicated to recreation. Called Akanna Neesta, or Pleasure Palace, by the Kra, it was fully arrayed with attractions on a magnitude as great or greater than the finest resorts humans enjoyed on earth. Its central atrium was a huge circular dome with a glass ceiling affording a view of millions of stars overhead in the black lunar sky, as well as Illik Base’s central pyramid looming on one side. A ring of immense lighting panels lit the place like a sunny day on earth. The air had a steamy quality nearly as humid as a Roman bath. Tropical palm trees growing to full height ringed the space, which was larger than the largest domed stadiums on earth. Attractions and diversions abounded beneath the overhanging fronds. There were courtyards where Kra played ball games or, being carnivores, participated in mock hunts of prey that they consumed at the end of the event. In the middle of the dome was a huge blue swimming pool with an irregular curving outline, punctuated by thatched cabanas serving food and drinks. On one side of the pool, a quartet of Kra musicians and singers squatted on hassock-like seats and performed a song that contrasted with the warlike drum-driven chants the three humans had heard in the Temple of Death at Arran Kra. This music was more melodic and harmonic, accompanied on a pair of small tabla-like drums, a flute, and a stringed instrument shaped somewhere between a guitar and a banjo. Although the singers intoned a peaceful sounding melody, nevertheless their distinctive Kra vocalizations had a raucous, crow-cawing essence. They sounded much like the backup vocalists on John Lennon’s classic “Tomorrow Never Knows,” to which the entire composition seemed melodically and rhythmically related. Opposite the singers a high prominence of native moon rock jutted up from the floor as though it might have been a remnant of Phaeon Crater’s central peak. This prominence had been modified by the Kra to provide a waterfall, a water slide, and a high dive for the entertainment of the dome’s visitors. Water cascading from the brink of the fall descended in slow motion in the low gravity of the moon and churned up waves where it hit the pool’s surface that propagated outward in slow-moving concentric rings.

“Nowhere but on the moon,” said Chase, watching the water with amazement. “Even waves move in slow motion.”

“Naturally,” replied Dr. O. “The speed at which a wave on water propagates is directly proportional to the pull of gravity. The less gravity, the taller the wave and the slower its motion.”

“I hear what you’re saying, Doc,” Chase agreed, “but I had to see it to believe it.”

A pair of small, bright-green-bodied and orange-headed pterodactyls flew past them and soared up to land high on the trunk of a palm tree, hanging on by all fours and screeching like parakeets.

Not far from where Ogilvey, Chase and Kit stood, Gar and Gana had settled down at a poolside table, squatting on hassock-like, back-less leather chairs, typical Kra furniture. They were talking quietly about the object that Gana had brought with her and placed on another smaller table at her right hand. This was a portable incubator shaped like an Easter basket, in which she’d placed their precious egg.

Ogilvey murmured, “It’s good to see that Gar is taking Gana’s revelations regarding Saurgon’s overtures in stride, or is at least keeping his thoughts to himself. There is much at stake diplomatically and anger would only inflame the differences at a time when agreement is what is needed most.”

“Right now,” said Chase, “I’m more interested in taking Saurgon up on his offer for us to go swimming. What do you say, Kit?”

Within minutes Kra attendants had provided specially made bathing suits that had been prepared in anticipation of their arrival. After changing their clothes in cabines available at poolside, Kit and Chase walked partway up the central peak and stood at the top of the high dive.

“I don’t know,” Kit said edgily. “It’s got to be a good thirty feet down.”

“C’mon,” Chase urged. “It’ll be a slow motion fall.” He took her hand, stepped to the edge of the diving platform and said, “One, two, three, jump!” They stepped off the platform in unison and plunged down toward the pool’s surface in what was indeed a slow-motion descent. They hit the water feet first, splashing up walls of white froth that shot far out to each side of them and rained down gently on the pool’s surface. They submerged in the warm water but easily rose to the surface in time to watch the tall waves they’d made spreading slowly and gracefully outward from their landing spot.

“Whoo-hoo!” Kit cried. “Let’s do it again.”

“Okay,” Chase said, hugging her as they treaded water easily with slow kicks. “But I want to get on that water slide too.”

“Look, up there!” Kit exclaimed, pointing at a Kra who’d climbed to the highest pinnacle of the rocky hillock and stood on the craggy summit that was easily fifty feet above the water’s surface. The Kra stood poised for a moment and then launched itself into the air like an Acapulco cliff diver. It fell gracefully downward, headfirst in a swan dive, but just as it was about to hit the water’s surface, it gave a strong flap of its wings and despite the apparently insufficient length of its wing feathers—it flew!

Dr. Ogilvey, who’d come to the edge of the pool nearest Kit and Chase, called out, “Another advantage of low gravity. Even stubby Kra wing feathers are sufficient for flight.”

The Kra, rather than touching down on the water, flapped vigorously and rose high into the air of the dome. It followed a leisurely course around the upper reaches of the dome for several minutes and then returned to land on the same pinnacle of rock from which it had started its sojourn in the air.

“I’d love to try that!” Kit exclaimed.

Gar called a few words to Dr. O, which the professor translated. “According to Gar, that can be arranged.”

Within another fifteen minutes, both Chase and Kit had been fitted out with artificial wings made by attaching real Kra feathers to mechanical apparatuses that fit on each arm, approximating the mechanical wings of the legendary human flyers, Icarus and Daedalus. As they stood at the brink from which the Kra had flown, Ogilvey called up an explanation. “When the Kra pluck their wing feathers for war or other necessities, they substitute these artificial wings for their real ones. Go ahead, give them a try!”

Without hesitation, Chase dove as he’d seen the Kra do, plummeting in slow motion until he turned upward with a few vigorous flaps, gaining altitude. “Come on,” he called to Kit. “It’s great!”

She stepped to the brink and voiced a nervous, “Geronimo!” and then leaped into the air. She fell until she duplicated Chase’s feat of flapping upward just before reaching the water. Suddenly, they were flying together like a pair of birds, or like the pterodactyls they’d watched a few minutes before. The feeling of moving freely in the air, propelled only by the movement of one’s own arms, was indescribably wonderful. It was only after several minutes of briskly flying to and fro around the dome’s interior, that a sense of fatigue in muscles never before used for this purpose brought them both back to land on the pinnacle. They were tired, panting, but delighted almost beyond measure. “Only on the moon,” Kit said, concurring breathlessly with what Chase had said earlier.
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For more cool moon imaginings, you might like reading all of Dinosaur Wars: Blood On The Moon.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes medical thrillers, natural disaster novels, and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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