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Dispatch from the Dark Side of the Moon
By Joel L Young
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Traditional Science Fiction story of the first manned flight to the moon inspired by the movie; Le Voyage Dans La Lune by Georges Méliès
My name is Ward Coughlin, assistant to Dr. Joshua Maine. I have stood in fascination of his exploits from time to time. His latest was a testament to great will.
Where men of Imagination like Verne and Wells have delved in the artistic exploits of the thrill with their endeavors. Dr. Maine has achieved the impossible. Perhaps you've heard of at least one.
After the Wright Brothers infamous first flight at Kitty Hawk, in the Americas, Dr. Maine followed with a flight of his own across the Glens of Belle Shane, a masterful exhibition of skill over natural elements. The flight only lasted twenty minutes but he managed to fly from one canyon side to the other on sheer leg power.
His greatest test was to come. The details have been embellished to degree for reasons of plausibility. If I were to say they were true , it might do considerable harm to DR. Maine's name as well as my own.
Dr. Maine was in his Library lost in thought. The wind outside ripped through the trees. Scaring the servants in the kitchen. I was in the observatory one evening some weeks after Dr. Maine, I and our wives took an air balloon ride to the south of France on holiday.
I noticed an unusual occurrence on the South Pole of the Moon. It was like smoke was rising from stacks. At first, I thought it might be volcanoes. I informed Dr. Maine with the discovery.
I found the Dr. in his library studying a physics problem. His drawings were of a flying machine the likes I had only seen at the nickelodeon or in a book by Mr. Verne or Mr. Wells. He noticed me as I walked in as if I had made a major find.
"Ward do come in. You look as if you've seen a ghost or a monster," he said.
Catching myself trying to breathe, "Dr. Maine, I may have discovered more than that. As you know, men of science for sometime have pondered the possibilities of life on other planets. Looking at the South Pole of the Moon, sir, I saw smoke rings rising like a cyclone from the surface."
"By George, Ward that is good news! Bravo my good man. Come lets go take a look at Coughlin's Anomaly!" The name is synonymous with unusual phenomena now.
For days we studied the cyclone, the weather system astounded the world. Telegrams poured in from around the globe with congratulations for the discovery.
The London countryside looked like a carnival town. Scientists and reporters came in from everywhere. I was offered the world. I refused it. Dr. Maine appreciated my loyalty.
An American industrialist named Halloran made an offer to the scientific community. The first man to reach the moon received a Million dollar contract and all the dreams he could afford. His announcement shocked the world. He was denounced as a charlatan but he backed up his claim.
We were contacted by another American an inventor named John Miller. He had other things in mind. A sound wave device that reached the stars. He thought to make contact with people that lived on the moon first. If any existed at all.
You'd think him more a bartender than a scientist to look at him. His mind was agile and quick with a readied sense of humor. Not unlike a contemporary, Mr. Edison, there was a difference between them. Mr. Miller was a doctor of medicine and worked with the deaf.
With permission, he fashioned a device to help the hearing impaired. His first device was large as a china cabinet. One day he accidentally found an unusual high pitched tone that disturbed his dog Alfred. Almost drove his dog to madness and shattered his neighbor's window.
On the third week of John's arrival, while in Dr. Maine's lab working on a new smaller device, I turned the knob three/quarters. A high pitched squeal rained throughout the house almost shattering the laboratory and scaring the servants and Mrs. Maine.
She screamed, "My goodness, Joshua this isn't a ship to shore telegraph office! Go out to sea and let us have some peace!"
Suddenly, we knew what we were missing. Joshua apologized to his wife, gave her a kiss and a hug. Then made arrangements with a former colleague named Hollis Wiley. He ran the local telegraph office in the Northern Highlands of Scotland.
Equipment and plans were made ready and we were on a train within the month. We arrived in Wick tired but exhilarated. John and Dr. Maine were tireless with ideas during the trip. Sometimes driving the other passengers to distraction. The two were becoming fast friends.
John mentioned a man named Nikola Tesla in America who had an idea of a coil ring tower that could shoot out currents of electricity, an Alternate Current generator. Dissimilar from Edison's Direct Current generators. His deal fell through simply because he ran out of money and backers.
If telegraphs stretched from one end of the globe to the other. Why couldn't radio waves be shot into space? Dr. Maine had something else in mind. A sound cannon capable of sending sounds miles into space. Using the ideas of Tesla and Edison combined.
At Wiley's home in Wick, we set to work. With the help of local carpenters, glass workers and local farmers. A wooden tower was built tall as a ship's mast. A glass tube convexed another fifty feet in length was fitted at the top of the tower at a ninety degree angle.
The structure fascinated the town populace. It looked like a large Swiss horn. The cannon was nicknamed the Maine Sound Cannon.
A plate made of porcelain with copper wiring like triangle was set on top of a tower. It pointed directly at the moon. A telegraph wire was run through the tubing to a shack built to house the first earth to moon telegraph.
We tested the sound cannon for weeks. No results. Dr. Maine got an idea from a local diver about a diving bell. He made one for his zeppelin. He realized air is a factor the higher one gets in flight. We'd make a telegraph station in the air.
It had been a month since our arrival. Moored above the Scottish Highlands, The Maine Zeppelin arrived looking like a large silver albatross. Our luck was going to change.
She was a glorious sight to see. Several small sound cannons were made. Each layered on top of the other until shot into the unknown of space.
Some of Wiley's men were in the shack. Me, Miller and another assistant were on the zeppelin. Special earplugs were made for us. We wore special air suits as well.
A lighthouse would signal us. September 18th, Joshua gave the signal. Greenwich meantime, 9:45PM EST. The moon was at apogee. The Miller/Maine telegraph cannon was canonized.
The shack telegraph message was sent. "Ward, John. Wiley first message is 2+2, Earth welcomes you, relay message verbatem. Good luck and stay warm. Yours, Joshua."
During the months, Miller, Maine and myself had been working on the sound cannon. Other scientists had tried to make contact too.
The first to try were Englishmen adventurers Winfred and Tyler, Joshua knew them quite well. Their space ship was built without thought. They plunged to their deaths just off the coast of Morocco.
Two nights into operations. John was at his telegraph key awaiting the message for the evening. He relayed the new message as received. Five minutes later, The first one appeared slightly altered. "We greet you, 2+2."
John waved to me strangely, excited! I keyed to the shack with the news! All seven operators were interviewed for possible breaches. The messages were altered for future communications. Contact had been with the moon.
After John Miller's infamous telegraph message, wire messages were greeted back and forth between Wick, Scotland and the South Pole of the Moon for two more weeks.
A book was compiled detailing an account of The Moon people. They were called the Mydac. Their species was quite old, intelligent and had traveled the known galaxy for ages.
Dr. Maines wanted to know could they come to earth. They refused. He asked if he could come see them, speak with them, learn, create a dialogue between the two worlds. They said yes but with only a small crew. Space travel was discussed. Dr Maine said we had nothing that could reach them.
The Mydac sent detailed instructions. It took all of Hollis Wiley's operators and the rest of us to get everything down on paper. We must have keyed on the telegraph wires for days. The instructions were for a space zeppelin to be shot out of cannon like structure somewhere on the equator.
The money for the project was astronomical and the man power unsurpassed in the history of the industrial age.
Our only chance was to go to America and see William Halloran. With the proof we had, we were sure to get the contract.
Joshua wired his wife and mine with the news. They were ecstatic! We sailed the Maine Zeppelin for New York as soon as we were ready.
October came in a flourish, crossing the Atlantic was an intense experience. Joshua and his where-with-all got us through. To everyone's surprise but Dr. Maine, we had an inside man to Halloran. Dr. John Miller was Halloran's nephew.
In New York, Halloran made arrangements for us. The Waldorf Astoria and anything we desired. The women were taken on private tours of the best shops.
We scientist were given tours of our own. The meeting with Halloran lasted throughout the day and for the next three months was spent planning.
Joshua had an idea. Three stations one in Florida, another in New York and another outwest, Denver, with telegraph and telephone stations scattered throughout the country.
A special line was connected from the Observatory/telegraph station in Denver, to the Astro base in Florida, to the main office in New York. My job was to run the observation/telegraph station in Denver.
"Well, Mr. Halloran, what do you think? The Mydac are a fascinating people. There is so much humanity could learn from them. The arts and sciences we have now could out rival past generations with advancements. The possibilities are boundless!" Maine said with enthusiasm.
John chimed in, "He's right Uncle William. We have an opportunity to take humanity into a golden age. Jules Verne wrote we're on the threshold of a new world. Gentlemen, you have a chance to walk through a door only a few men of imagination dreamed of seeing. I say go!" He handed the Author's note to his uncle.
Halloran was inspired by the presentation. The Halloran/Maine/Miller moon venture was created. Winter came fast. The first project was to be in Florida. The astro base was built seventy kilometers south of St. Augustine.
The land itself was a concern because of swamp. The project took months to complete.
My wife Anne had been a saint the past six months. She stood tall as a sunflower with red hair and blue eyes a picture of devine tranquility.
"My darling genius. What are we to do for next few months?" She smiled slyly.
"I haven't a clue darling. What would you like to do? Travel the country, climb a hill, have a picnic on the Missisippi?"
"Silly! I don't know. I'll probably go back to my knitting and leave you to your science and moonmen. Delores must be thrilled for Joshua? Women in these adventure stories are always secondary." She said mischievously.
"I assure you Mrs. Coughlin. You are not a secondary character." I leaned to kiss her. She turned her left dimple. "Delores is thrilled. I'll be away for a few days. Wiley has gone back to Scotland to coordinate things at Wick."
"See, I told you so. Be careful dear." She leaned her head on mine.
"Don't tell anyone darling, least for a week. There's talk of a joint venture between America and Europe. It's a very exciting time to be alive." I said hugging her.
She hugged me,"it is a good time. We may have a little hope of our own soon."
The Denver Observatory was the last to be completed. It had been an exhaustive ten months since the first nail to the Astro Base went in.
Dr. Joshua Maine was to be the first man in space. Who was to be his second? Delores Maine was to be the first woman. The Mydac wanted them both to come.
The first chair fit her perfectly. The second chair was place behind where all the controls were. Also a small telegraph key installed next to it.
A thin wire no more than a hair, fifty kilometers in length, was to connect ship telegraph to a station on the launch bay. This was not in the Mydac instructions. If something were to go wrong, it could be disastrous for both of them.
At precisely 4:15 PM est, August 12. The Halloran/Maine Space Zeppelin was shot into space for the South Pole of the Moon.
Wick sent word to the Mydac after my go ahead from Denver, the Telegraph at the launch clicked crisply for several minutes before it snapped back to earth.
For seven days the world waited, then word came. Joshua and Delores Maine had arrived at their destination.
Joshua's first words were, "Ward, send love to Anne and Junior. Mydac, fascinating people. Description; tall, pigmented complexion, thin eyes, androgynous. Delores excited to be here. We feel like pioneers in a new age of discovery.. Will call again soon. Your's Joshua."
The following is from Joshua Maine's personal journals of his adventures with the Mydac and his time on the moon.
The Mydac are an intelligent race. They have shown me more than I care to see. Delores has been a comfort and a blessing. Her angel like grace has endeared me to love her more than I've ever realized.
My greatest trial I feel is to come. Here is why. My meeting with First Mydac went as follows.
"Greetings, Dr. Maines, are your quarters satisfactory?" He said bowing. He must have been about two and half meters tall; dark gray skin with a pale long chin, receding hairline and eyes that reminded of a deer's.
I bowed in turned with a kind greeting.
"Mrs. Maines, have you enjoyed your stay as well?"
She bowed and smiled politely
"I have something else, perhaps you would enjoy seeing? Come this way."
We were led down a dark cavern into the Moon's crust. When in a large room there was a picture screen similar to a stage curtain. It was quite cold but dry. Clothing was provided for us.
He motioned to a Mydac behind this contraption to tune us in. Delores nearly gasped in awe. It was like we were looking at ourselves in a looking glass.
On the right side of the screen, another Mydac turned a tuner like mechanism and two beings appeared on the surface of the moon. I looked at First Mydac with astonishment. He read my thoughts.
"The men you are looking at Dr, are from the America's. Some sixty years from now, men will once again come to the moon. You and Mrs. Maines are precursors of visitors to come. My race is ancient and dying out. We'll not be here to greet them. As your world grows, tell them to proceed with caution."
Delores asked an obvious question, "First Mydac, are you saying, we are looking into the future?" Her nerves shook as I held her hand.
"Yes, Mrs. Maines, you are. Come, there's much more to see."
First Mydac showed us more. Bombs that destroyed worlds. Gases that created bacterial free environments, terra ferma with edible plants and vegetables. Animals that roamed large as steam ships, docile as cattle like the Saurus once did on earth. They still roam in other galaxies this day.
My wife and I were offered an extraordinary opportunity. A planet of our own to grow, work, study, and play.
We are to return to earth soon. I don't know if I can answer yes or no. Our world has much to learn of hospitality and grace. As First Mydac said, other races may not be as kind. I must answer them within the year. When I return, I must put my affairs in order and decide.
Dr. Joshua Maine and his raven-haired wife Delores returned to earth quietly in September.
I was there in Florida to greet them. They were tired, worn from their trip. How their ship made it back was a miracle. The ship looked like a ball of fire when it returned.
Joshua had much to say. He said it in confidence to me, John Miller, Hollis Wiley, and to William Halloran. He would meet with us individually. The press's interest waned since Joshua's last message. He did it on purpose. His story made headlines across the world.
Delores became a heroine over night for women suffragists everywhere. Yet she refused to become a speaker for their concerns.
Anne noticed something strange about both of them. What had the Mydac done to them if anything at all?
Anne asked her one evening, "Del, are you alright? I'm sure you must be tired but there's something else, isn't there?"
"Anne darling we're both fine. Yes something happened up there. If I told you, you might run out screaming or stand in horror. Joshua's been offered something extraordinary. I'm thinking he's going to choose, if he does. I'm going with him.
Anne was taken aback. Women and their intuitions. "To return to the moon!?"
"More so, dear, to go beyond the stars, to a world of our own. The suffrage movement time has come. The marching must continue. My march is with Joshua and the path he's chosen." The women hugged for the last time.
In the fall of 1907, Joshua Maine went to the moon and then to parts unknown. He and Delores Maine were never seen again.
The astro base was torn down some years later. The station at Wick fell into ruin. The sound cannons were destroyed on direct orders from Maine's executor.
This word of caution he willed to the future: Hold fast to your dreams.
Aim for the moon and let the stars guide you. Dream for dreams sake and let them come to pass.
Fly with skill, dignity, and understanding of worlds greater than your own. Let no arrogant emotion cloud your judgments.
The stars are alive with the eyes of angels. They're watching and they know what has come and what will be. Travel their path wisely.
Drs. Joshua and Delores Maine
Site: Joel L. Young's Book Page
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