Flash Fiction: Lunacy

Cool air slinks between the blankets, startling goosebumps from my skin. Tarek must have opened the window sometime in the night. I reach across the bed, expecting to feel his warm, bare shoulder. My hand meets cooling sheets.

On the nightstand, my phone buzzes and I jolt. The sound claws away the hush of the apartment.

When I pick it up, it vibrates again. My gut twists: something isn’t right.

The screen flares bright, blinding me. Half a dozen missed texts in the last three minutes.  Overlaid in front of them is a gray notification box.

Image description: notification box stating “Emergency Alert: Do not look at the moon. This is not a drill.”

“What the—”

Two more texts come in. I ignore them for now and swipe on the emergency notification. ALERT: DO NOT LOOK AT THE MOON. STAY INDOORS AND CLOSE ALL SHADES. REPEAT—DO NOT LOOK AT THE MOON.

Fear strikes like lightning through my body. “Tarek?” I call.

Twenty missed texts. The number climbs as I watch it.

Gorgeous out tonight!
check out the sky
Look at the moon!

“Tarek!” I can hear the panic in my voice.

Whoa, the moon is HUGE!!!
Guys, are you seeing this?

A message from my mom appears.

LOOK AT THE MOON

I jump out of bed, flinging the phone to the floor where it continues to buzz. The curtains are closed, but I yank them tighter, to be safe. Bright, white light beams in through the gaps. “Tarek!”

“Mae,” he calls from the living room. His voice sounds odd.

I’m halfway across the room before I notice the curtains are pulled back from the picture window. I shout, reaching for the nearest panel; it catches on the joint in the curtain rod and jerks to a stop.

The light is dazzling. The moon must be close. Big. How it must loom on the horizon, dwarfing the skyscrapers. My eyes make it to the sill before I realize.

Tarek stands eerily still, arms limp at his sides, chin tilted upward. His face, bathed in moonlight, is practically beatific.

I reach past him for the other curtain.

His fingers around my arm are steel. “Mae,” he says, eyes on the sky, “look outside.

“Tarek, get away from the window! There was a warning—”

“Mae. Look at the moon.”

Fear shudders through me.

Stella trots in from the kitchen, golden fur silver in the moonlight. I see the moment the change takes place. She loses the arthritic limp and steps primly to the window. Her pupils dilate, becoming a vast black mirror. The moon, a giant orb, shines from their depths. I tear my gaze away.

Stella starts barking.

“Look at the moon!” Tarek commands. He forces me towards the windows, bruising my arms.

“Tarek—please!” I cry. I am sobbing now.

Stella’s bark turns deeper, more vicious.

Look at the moon!

Tarek seizes my chin, turning me slowly towards the light.

“LOOK AT THE MOON!”

I look.

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