No one saw it coming.
In many respects, this was quite remarkable, as at least 6 of the group were looking straight at it as it approached. Still, when something is going as fast as this object was, even looking at it would not really allow you to actually see it until it was there in front of you. They could, at least, feel it coming, feel the displaced air in front of it buffet against them with growing force as it came closer and closer.
This was a desert though, so a warm wind was not really something to get excited about, especially for people as experienced with the terrain as this group were.
So they were all just going about their business like they did on every other day, when suddenly everything changed and they saw a giant object come screaming to a halt in front of them. It did actually appear to scream, although in their language the word for scream was ‘afghar’. It was not a word they generally had a lot of use for, as for the most part they lived a sedentary life with no real cause for any urgent alarms.
Still, they had the word in their vocabulary, even if some of the younger members of the tribe had yet to learn or hear it.
The appearance of this object caused great consternation among the entire group, which is perhaps not much of a surprise considering their lifestyle. They were a simple people with simple needs, the terrain in which they lived meant that there was no real option for them to live in any other way. Although other tribes they had met on their travels had talked of strange things starting to appear on the edges of the desert, places called ‘towns’ where large groups of people were building permanent homes, for this particular tribe these were nothing but rumours, as was the talk of the machines these people were supposedly using to make their lives easier.
The tribe, to give them credit, were not fearful when the object appeared in front of them. They had no natural predators, and so the only thing anyone ever really died of was getting too old to be bothered living any longer. Because of this, the concept that they might be in danger was one that just never really occurred to them. This was mainly because they had no idea what ‘danger’ was, as none of the tribe had ever been in it before.
So they stood or sat in the places they had occupied prior to the appearance of the object and stared at it. It was like nothing they had ever seen before, although in later years and centuries when the tale of the encounter was passed on to younger members, this would be explained to mean that at the time they had never really seen anything except sand, the occasional tree, and watering holes. Small animals that tasted nice were also in amongst the list of things they were familiar with, but other than that they had always kept themselves separated from the other tribes and as such were extremely sheltered, even among the Nomad tribes of the desert.
After a short while staring at it, Shakib, who was not only one of the youngest members of the tribe, but also (according to the elders) one of those annoying youngsters who had never seemed to grow out of asking questions, decided that he needed to know what this thing was that had appeared so suddenly in their midst.
He walked toward it slowly, and then he walked around it, equally slowly. What he saw was a giant sphere, at least the height of three tall men, and the same size all around. It seemed to be made of some shiny surface that, when pressed again, was extremely hard and cold to the touch. It was, in essence, a giant ball bearing, although Shakib had no way of knowing this as ball bearings had yet to come into use in his part of the world, and possibly never would.
It was completely smooth all over, with no sign of any openings or anything that might indicate how it may have been made, as he was sure it was something that had been created by man, because nothing so great and perfectly formed could possibly be completely natural.
Shakib, although being one of the younger members of the tribe, had proven himself in the past to be one of the strongest members in their occasional tests which were a necessary part of the passage to manhood. He now used his strength to try to move the object, but try as he might it would not go anywhere.
He moved away from it for a few moments to contemplate it from a little more distance. He saw the object as a puzzle that needed to be solved, and was in no doubt that the rest of the tribe would be happy to just go around it and continue their journey, pretending it had never appeared in the first place. For now, though, they were content to humour the young man as he tried to investigate the strange item that had appeared suddenly in front of them.
After another fruitless inspection Shakib became frustrated, as young men are apt to do when there is something in front of them that they don’t really comprehend. As a result, he decided to test the strength of the orb properly. Not by trying to push it this time, but by using the axe that he had recently fashioned from a piece of wood and a rock he had found at the last watering hole the tribe had visited.
Shakib was proud of his axe and was certain that it would be able, along with the strength he knew he possessed, to penetrate the object in front of him and show him the secrets it was undoubtedly hiding inside.
He positioned himself beside the object and prepared to swing the axe. One swing, he knew, would be enough to break open any object, and as he drew the weapon behind his head to swing there was a smile on his face at the idea that he was about to uncover the secret behind the mysterious object in front of him.
None of the tribe were ever really sure of what happened when he swung the axe. All were in agreement that the axe struck its target with an almighty blow, and they were as certain themselves as Shakib was that the blow would be enough to create and opening which would reveal the treasures that were surely lurking inside the object.
But rather than seeing a rent appear in the side of the shining orb, there was a blinding flash of light which rendered all of their eyes useless for several minutes. When the first of them was finally able to see, they were greeted with the sight of the ball hovering above the ground. Of Shakib there was no sign at all, and his axe was also conspicuous in its absence.
A few moments later the object shot into the air at a phenomenal speed, too fast for even the most keen eyed of the tribe to track for more than a few seconds. But as they tried to follow the path of the sphere they were shocked to find that the day had somehow become night, and it seemed that the object was heading straight for the moon.
The tribal elders discussed the situation deep into the night, and after much deliberation they concluded that Shakib had been somehow taken inside the strange ball as a punishment for attempting to attack it. In the early hours of the morning, while the elders were still trying to rationalize what had happened, one of the children came to them and pointed to the moon, explaining that there appeared to be a face there that had not been there previously.
This satisfied the tribal elders as it was now clear to them what had happened. Shakib had attacked an object that had no doubt been a peace offering of sorts from the stars, and because of this he had been taken from them and would be forced to live out eternity on the moon as a warning to everyone else that when it came to affairs of the stars, the best policy would always be to turn away and ignore whatever was happening in front of you. Questions could only lead to misery, and so children were encouraged not to ask them, and instead to accept the world as it is and be happy for the time they were to be allowed to live amongst their friends.
That is how the man came to be in the moon, and even now, all of these centuries later, you can still see Shakib looking down on the world in sorrow at his youthful folly. You should do as Shakib’s tribe did and take this tale as the cautionary missive that it is meant to be, and know that while things may not always make sense to us down here on earth, somewhere there is a master plan, and we would be far better off not questioning it and just getting on with our lives.
The Man in the Moon
No one saw it coming.