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Article

Moonflower

Focus on the earth as if it is the one moving. Are you falling away? Is it rising away from you? Physics says it’s both.

White and black outlines of flowers and plants, dotted with eyes, on a dark grey background.

Sol#1

The trick is to stare between the stars and earth. Breathe deep to slow your mind, then focus on the earth as if it is the one moving.

Are you falling away? Is it rising away from you? Physics says it’s both. Watch it rise. Once you do, you tend to forget that stars are only visible from the ground you leave behind.

The earth hovers ahead of me, luminous in the darkness above the silver-grey ground. I keep staring up as I walk, my eye occasionally catching on pockets of mountains or craters. Each step sends loud vibrations crawling into my helmet.

Eventually, the Habitational Unit Base rises into view, a large dome held up by an exoskeleton of scaffolding. With its size and reflective outer shell of thin aluminium, it looks out of place against the expanse of sand and stone.

Several hundred more steps and I reach the back of the HUB. Along the wall sits a small box with buttons for oxygenation and solar. I turn them on, then round the HUB shell to the entrance, ready for sleep after the journey.

That’s when I notice the vines.

They’re the same silver as the soil, woven through the scaffolding next to the airlock entrance. At their base, dozens of unmoving cords coalesce and tangle, then tether deep into the ground. At the end of each vine sits a cluster of large disc faces, each with hundreds of flame-shaped silver scales.

They’re beautiful.

I cup one of the discs in my hand. The scales rim its perimeter in smooth grey skin. The rest of the mass is a deep purple, dark enough to reflect my own face inside my helmet.

Flowers. They really are flowers. No air, no water, no decent sunlight with no atmosphere. But here they are. Each of the large heads is angled up and out, towards the luminous blue and green orb I stared at moments ago. Earthflower? I think, but that doesn’t sound right.

 

Sol#5

The plants have a language. That’s my first instinct, from their pulses and bends of growth.

Weeks spent testing: the more seeds I plant, the stranger they become. Each one I place into the ground looks completely normal—something else is changing them.

The breakthrough comes after I finally sit still. I let the plants grow wild, hoping the cause will reveal itself, and watch them grow in their own astounding ways.

The roses sprout into rebel tumbleweeds that fling themselves into the air once agitated, leaving the unmistakable tell of tiny white rosebuds wherever they roll. The w vera patch explodes into tall trees with grey bulb leaves; their fruit sprouts as silver spheres with spiny skin, similar to the earth original. The pomegranates become silver mushrooms, tinted red-gold, fervently claiming the bodies of fallen plants.

Each day in the same spot outside the HUB airlock, I stare at the budding silver garden in front of me. Without noticing, I fall into the same trick.

Breathe in. Watch it rise. Watch it move.

The lavenders’ upward pulses are the first to catch my eye, now silver pine trees with blue trumpet flowers. As I sit, calm and still, I can faintly make out the movement and colour of a voice.

Is someone speaking through the flowers?

The lavender thrums up and out. Awake. I think that’s what it said.

 

Sol#9

The garden continues to flourish. Blooms of purple, blue, and subtle red-gold now weave throughout the growth.

I wiggle my suited feet in an unclaimed spot of ground. The grey soil slides up my foot, now glittering with the flecks of decomposed plants.

I can imagine it would look invisible from above. Just another layer to Moon’s skin, hidden in plain sight.

Streams of earthlight filter through the bulb leaves of the Aloe Vera tree above me, while a collection of adolescent rose-weeds sits to my left, rearing to fling themselves away. Ahead, one of the original Moonflowers thrives just beyond the Aloe Vera shadow, its faces angled towards the earth as always.

I bury my feet deeper into the soil, inhale the image around me and relax into the familiar trick. The words wash forward on their own.

To the same tempo as the plants, I speak by lifting my hand then lowering it to rest on my hip. I end the sentence by making a small circle in the ground using my foot: I couldn’t sleep much last night.

One of the Moonflower heads slowly turns to face me. A constellation of movement and pulses responds.

Was it a “bad dream”, as you call it? Moon asks.

Yes, I say. I dreamed I was naked and curled up in a field. But I was so small. I couldn’t tell if I was short, or if the plants were tall. They were all there above me, swaying in the wind.

I suddenly realised they were your flowers—our flowers. I couldn’t escape the fear that I was going to be swallowed. Taken into darkness. I just kept lying on the field, afraid. And then I woke. I couldn’t get to sleep after that.

Moon stays silent. Or speaks too softly for me to read it.

I risk a question. Do you have dreams too? I keep wondering.

More silence. I start to rub my forefinger to my thumb.

Do you dream about earth? Like how sunflowers dream of sun.

The Moonflower turns back to the earth. The surrounding plants eventually pulse an answer instead.

Moonflower does. We don’t.

 

Sol#13

Over the last month, I’ve noticed the Daisies starting to move away from the garden. Day by day, the small flowers with their purple triangle heads migrate a little further, until they reach the top of a distant small hill.

I sit down beside them. It’s a nice view you’ve chosen.

I thought so too, they say calmly. We agreed that Daisies would be most comfortable on the hill. This will be our spot.

There it is again. We… Our… I’ve always thought it was me misunderstanding the new language, a slip of translation.

Daisies, I venture, are you Moon?

Yes, they say.

But you are also Daisies.

Yes.

The answer rings in my mind.

Does that mean Daisies are… is Pomegranate?

Yes, they say, but different. A different change.

I pause to form my next question carefully. But if Daisies is Moon, who changed Daisies?

Moon remains silent.

Was Daisies always Moon? I try again. Even before I dropped their seeds into the soil.

Yes, Moon says, but only when Daisies decided they were Moon.

I walk back down the hill. Moon’s answers crash like waves in my mind.

Moon is Daisies.

Daisies is Moon.

Moon changed Daisies.

Daisies decided to be Moon.

I step to the edge of the silver garden, though it stopped being a “garden” some time ago. A dense forest now encircles the HUB, broken only by the path of pineapple grass leading to the entrance.

I remain still, like the first time I saw the Moonflower. It’s been so long since that surprise.

Daisies decided to be Moon.

Can one decision really make so much change?

Slowly, I kneel down, and begin to bury myself in the soil.

Turn me into Bee, I say, hands deep in the gravel.

Pardon? Aloe Vera rustles.

What are you doing? says Lavender.

Turn me into a bee. I decide to be a bee.

Moon pauses before giving their answer. The whole silver forest moves. But… Moon does not need bees, they say.

I continue to bury myself, slow hands shovelling large gravel mounds to the side.

I am being honest, Moon says. Look around. I don’t need bees—Moonflower has never needed bees.

I keep going.

It’s not how this works, they say.

Then we will do something different. Different but still Moon. Change me.

Why?

Who better to coexist than two beings who have come to understand the way the other sees?

I search for a final hook to convince Moon to my side.

Let’s start simple. What about wings?

Moon pauses, their attention caught. Wings?

Wings like a galah. And eyes like a cat.

Moon waits.

And feet, I add. Feet like a wolf.

The garden stills. No!

My heart falls.

Glands… gas glands like a fish. We can use them to create lift for flight instead.

Then legs like a frog, I say, piling soil onto my feet. Every plant in the garden rustles with anticipation.

And a tail like seaweed.

And fur like a tiger.

The dirt comes to my chest.

Teeth like an ox.

I layer the final mound to my helmet and cover my sight in darkness. If Moon says more, I don’t know. My eyes drop into the deepness.

I wake several days later. Daisies, Lavender and Moonflower look down on my body, waiting for me to rise.

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Five 2022

EDITION SIX 'RETROFUTURISM' AVAILABLE NOW!

Our last print edition of 2022 is here! This wild, visionary edition is filled with burning nostalgia, glittering hope, and tantalising visions of the future, past, and present.

Read online