Winter, probably 2010. Thinking about the way things could have been so I don't have to think about the way they are.

Somewhere on a parallel Earth, there is a busy colony hugging the rim of Tycho up there on the cold, dead, surface of the moon, an air conditioned jewel of atmosphere on an unstirring, lifeless rock. Domes made of exotic materials protect its inhabitants from the threat of micrometeor impact, and shuttles flit about, ferrying people and material with the ease of low gravity.

But that is a parallel Earth.

In this universe, the resources that built moonbase Tycho were traded for millions of tons of war machines in some dusty old war we only remember with cheap embroidered ballcaps and a vague sense of unease on appointed holidays. The resources that bootstrapped lunar greenhouses and seeded an ice mining economy were decided to have been better spent on killing young men with the wrong flags on their uniforms.

There must have been a single, pivotal moment where the two realities diverged. Was it the choice of an individual? Did it boil down to something as trivial as the state of a subatomic particle in the nucleus of an atom that was part of an interaction in the early state of life on Earth?

It doesn't matter. In this universe, I live on moonbase Konar. It is my air conditioned jewel of atmosphere on an unstirring, lifeless rock.

Outside, the atmosphere would kill an unprepared human in a matter of hours, or even minutes. The concrete and sand above my head, nothing exotic about them, protect me from leaden micrometeors, a daily hazard during survivable weather. Helicopters lumber in and out on irregular schedules, ferrying people and material with the sluggish chug of thin air.

It is winter. It is too cold to fight.

The enemy can't field a fighting presence during the winter. It is impossible to maintain a credible threat when you have neither coats nor shoes, when you suffer more deaths due to terrain and weather than you do to enemy fire.

We have just enough electricity to keep a single space heater turned on in the sleeping hooch. It's enough to keep it above freezing, enough that you can sleep comfortably as long as you zip up in both sleeping bags.

When the spring comes, we will watch the world awaken, marvel in the beauty of the greening mountains, and wonder when spring planting will finish. When the spring thaw has trickled to nothing, when the early planting finishes, there will be enough able bodies sitting idle to start trying to kill us again.

As another early winter night crashes down like a broken dome, I look up to Tycho on the face of the full moon and consider the possibilities.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.