Concept Art Writing Prompt: The Man and His Moon

Some people have a special relationship with the moon, one that goes beyond the typical enjoyment of moonlit evenings. What kind of tale can you cook up based on this fantastical photograph?

This photo is part of Leonid Tishkov and Boris Bendikov My Private Moon series. Head over to their blog for more magical realist inspiration, or post your own story based on this image in the comments.

Here's my story:

Peter was eight years old when he married the moon.

He looked up in the sky one night and told the moon he loved her and wished with his whole eight-year-old heart that he could spend the rest of his life with her.

His mother protested the marriage, of course. She took the moon to court, saying that it wasn't fair for a four-billion-year-satellite to trap a boy into marriage, but public opinion was against her. People thought it was just so romantic for a boy to marry the moon and Peter's mother dropped the charges before the case went to trial. And for many years, Peter and the moon were very happy. There was never a less lonely boy; never a boy safer than Peter was under her watchful glare. When he was sleepy, she would tuck a cloud over her face so he could go to bed without fear of neglecting his bride.

But when other lads were fumbling with their girlfriends in the dark, teenaged Peter could not escape the moon's naked glow. As he ran his unlearned tongue over the points of her crescent, he would wonder if she had bedded asteroids and dinosaurs and conquering Mongols. He stared down at his shrinking manhood maneuvered to her dark side.

It wasn't until he was twenty-two and had his degree in astronomy (a degree the moon had insisted upon) that he finally had the courage to tell her, "I will always love you, but as a boy loves the moon, not as a man loves a wife." Their divorce made headlines, but after the publicity died down, Peter met Stella, a fellow astronomer who thought of the moon in terms of regolith and tranquil seas.

The moon never tried to contact him, but Peter saw her following him and Stella around on dates and even trying to shine through the blinds while they made love. He married Stella on the night of the new moon; he didn't believe in inviting exes to weddings.

After the Coast Guard pulled Stella's limp body from the ocean, an official told Peter that she must have been seized by a powerful tide brought on by the full moon. Peter spent night after night weeping in the room he and Stella had shared, cardboard taped over the windows.

He lasted a full seven months before he peeled the tape back and shouted for the moon to come down to him. In their lovemaking, he was as furious as a Mongol conqueror, but his mind was consumed with drowning tides. When they were done, he lit a cigarette and, without even looking at her, said, "You watched Stella all her life, just like you watched me. How is it you could kill her?" The moon said nothing, simply rocking back and forth beneath their shared blanket. In the morning, she was gone.

When asked about her miraculous construction of the spaceship Helios, Maura would tell reporters that the design came to her one night during a full moon. Helios took Maura and Peter and five dozen other men and women to the icy shores of Titan, where they lived the rest of their days. Some nights, Peter would stare at the screen that traced the movements of the solar system and run his fingers over the path of the moon. In those moments, he knew that she had truly loved him.

Butterfly_Kid's story:

Damon Wyatt and his friend James stood on the corner of Butt St. and Kisser St. It was late, around 2 AM. The two looked down each of the streets to make sure the coast was clear. Damon furrowed his brow, sighed deep and then crossed his arms. This had been their target for about a month now. The signs were too good to pass up. They had to have them. More trophies for the showroom.

"So, are we going to do it or what?" James asked impatiently. "I want to just get this over with."

Damon shrugged a little, "Yeah, let's do it. Pass me my saw, you look out for cop cars."

"Your saw?" James asked, sort of shocked.

"Yeah, the saw. This is too perfect a target to simply remove the signs. They have to intersect for the joke to be funny."

James shook his head and unzipped the duffle bag that they used to tote their tools. He pulled out a powerful, but lightweight battery-operated reciprocating saw. "Here" He handed it to Damon.

"Does it have the metal cutting blade?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, go check look for cops."

James nodded and ran off, leaving Damon to get to work. The saw quietly buzzed to life, and he began to cut. Thankfully the city council was cheap, and opted for the flimsy aluminum posts to put their street signs on, so cutting was a breeze. Minimal sparks, minimal noise. Everything was going smoothly. Damon was down to the last inch of bar when he heard the police sirens fill his ears. Shit.

James burst around the corner, barrelling closer. "Oh man, they're onto us. We gotta go! Now!"

Damon kept cutting. The sirens grew closer. He could see the red and blue flashing lights now. "Almost done."

"Now, man. Now"

Suddenly, he heard the tinny thud of the sign post hitting the ground. "Got it, let's go." Together, they hefted up the awkward metal street sign, and ran for the alley. Behind them, two cops cars came to a squealing stop on the corner of the streets formally identified as Butt and Kisser. The two couldn't help but giggle like children, when they weren't trying to catch their breaths.

They reached a fire escape on the side of an old brick building and started the awkward ascent up the ladder and creaky iron stairs. They somehow managed to get the sign—the sputnik-like criss-cross of metal and aluminum, up the fire escape and onto the roof of the building. "We made it!" James exclaimed before he doubled over, huffing for breath. "We're not out of the woods yet, buddy." Damon shot back. "Look."

They could see two cops, now on foot, making their way down toward the alleyway. It was only a matter of time before they got up to their level. "Well, what do we do now?" James asked.

"Umm," Damon looked around for an answer, "come with me."

The two darted across the rooftop, until they reached the edge opposite to where they had climbed. Four storeys below them was another alley. No safe way down from where they stood. "Okay," said Damon, "if we want to get out of this without wearing handcuffs, we gotta get rid of this thing and come back for it later."

James nodded in agreement. This wasn't the first time they had stolen something of this size, so they knew there were ways to travel light, but still reap the spoils of their heist. "We gotta throw it up on the building there. The one opposite this alley. Then we find a way down. Or we get caught. Either way, we protect the sign."

Getting an idea, Damon grabbed a rope from inside the tool bag and tied it to the end of the sign. "Okay, stand back." He said to James as he began to spin around with the rope firmly gripped in his hands. He picked up speed, and the sign lifted from the ground, twirling along with him. He went faster now. James could barely see the sign anymore as it spun in the dark with his friend.

Damon let go, and the sign became airborne . It flew higher than either of them could have expected. They could hear it land with a muffled thud on the roof of the opposite building. It worked. It actually worked. The two shared a quick high five to celebrate.

It was time to run. James saw a rain gutter that ran down the side of the building they were standing on, and decided to take his chances by scaling down it. Damon stood and waiting for him to put some distance between them before following him down.

As James shimmied further downward, Damon's attention was drawn to a glowing, yellowish neon sign across the street. It was the Sleepwell Hotel. He was familiar with it. But most notably, he was familiar with its sign. It's glorious sign. It had been his main target for as long as he had been doing this. He just had no idea how he could get something so huge, from up there, into his showroom, without getting caught. One day, he thought to himself.

The sign itself was of fairly simple design. It was almost Art Deco, but not quite. It read the hotel's name in big, bold lettering, followed by a massive illuminated crescent moon. The moon was what he really wanted, the rest wasn't important.

"Psst!" James tried to get Damon's attention. Damon snapped out of it and tossed the duffle bag down to him. James caught it, almost dropping it, but recovered, giving a thumbs up to confirm. Damon shook his head and began his shimmying descent down the gutter pipe.

"We'll come back tomorrow for it." Damon said to James once he reached ground level. Lets go!" The two sprinted off into the night, scott free.

***

That night, back at the showroom, (which was actually their basement hangout at James' parent's house) the two teenagers sat on the floor in sleeping bags in front of the television. A bowl of forgotten popcorn sat overturned nearby. There was a half-eaten pizza getting cold it its box. The boys were watching a movie and slupring on sodas. Their way of celebrating another getaway.

"I just hope the signs are their tomorrow, Damon. That was a close one."

"Yeah," Damon burped, "we almost got nabbed. It'll all be fore nothing if the signs aren't there tomorrow. But you know, I guess I don't really care. We have lots of cool stuff down here, anyway."

"But, man. That street sign was perrrfect. The corner of Butt and Kisser? That's gold."

"Meh, I'm setting my sights higher these days." Damon said with a shrug.

"Oh no, not he hotel sign again. We are not getting that moon, Damon!"

"Oh, yes we are! We just need to devise a plan. One day, mark my words."

James decided he was going to sleep, and turned off the television. He rolled over and closed his eyes. "Goodnight Damon," He said, yawning.

"Goodnight, James." Damon too laid down his head and closed his eyes. When he did, he imagined the giant crescent laying beside him, glowing in the night. One day he knew he would have it. It was just too perfect.

Justin.K's story:

Pavel thought of his cold concrete floor as a king-sized bed.

On the night before Loatia’s bi-annual Threnody, Pavel laid rigidly in his bed next to his best friend, Metiri. Metiri was a crescent and was twice the size of Pavel. Since Metiri was limbless, Pavel draped a paisley blanket over where its brain was to keep the kind lunula warm at night.

Pavel feared Threnodies.

“Why induce death?” he thought, his face propped up by two pillows, his eyes fixed on the ceiling of his room. His breaths were shallow. Slowly, he sank into thought. Moments later, he realized he was trapped in an asymmetrical section of his mind, cornered by the old intangibles Anxiety and Dread. Pavel was frightened, so he decided to search for irony in the situation.

“How can I be cornered in a room without symmetry?”

+

In Loatia, the Threnody was a sacrificial ceremony where local governments throughout the country would select citizens at random to be dissolved with nitro-hydrochloric acid and poured into the Sea of Murnan, to the east. The Orthodox Lecheorian priests would then sing dirges until sundown of the following day.

The ritual was relatively new to Loatian culture; it was inherited and instated by Lecheorian bureaucrats in the throes of the Lecheor – Jord conflict roughly three centuries prior.

+

After a few seconds, which to him felt like an eon, Pavel broke free from the immaterial, lopsided room. He saw the ceiling again. He turned to Metiri, felt its cool white light on his callused middle fingers.

“Your feet make me feel safe. They always make me feel safe.”

The moonlight that Metiri emanated gradually placed Pavel back into a trance. He was back into the asymmetrical room. He saw Fear now. Fear stood directly in front of Dread and Anxiety, forming a triangle. It was the only symmetry he saw inside of the room. The only symmetry until he saw Metiri enter the room from the east.

Metiri’s presence was brilliant, its bright white light quickly dissolving the phalanx. The room began to shift into a gorgeous symmetry; first into a rhombus, then into a perfect square. His mind was lucid. All was as nothing.

Pavel saw the ceiling again. His hand was now pressed firmly against Metiri’s feet. He felt liberated. Kingly, even.

Mel Chow's story:

He finds himself standing at the edge of a cliff, staring down at the city beneath.

It is night and the city is silent. Dark, unlit, save for a single off-white light, shining from the top of a five storey shophouse in the middle of it all. Shining off the windows of the surrounding buildings, giving that part of the city a somewhat ethereal glow.

Breathing heavily, he looks down at himself. His clothes are tattered, and he has no shoes. How he lost them, he barely remembers. In fact, he barely remembers the journey here, it is all little bits and pieces in his mind that don't fit together.

But still, he knows clearly what he has to do.

All this aimless running about has made me weary, he tells himself. I will go down into the city, to that little five-story shophouse in the middle of it all.

There I will find the Moon, and I will make Her love me.

Easier said than done, he tells himself hours later, as he struggles to find his bearings in the mostly lightless city. Though he has Her light from the top of the five-storey shophouse to guide him, there would be times where he had to turn a corner, navigate through one of the abandoned buildings and then there would be no light.

He hears a sickening crunch underfoot, and jumps.

Looks down.

A skull. What is left of it.

He vaguely remembers some of the stories now. The whispers, the warnings.

The Monster.

He hasn't run into It yet, but he can sense It. Very. Close. By. Any moment, he expects it to jump out from around an unlit corner, drag him out of Her light, into the shadows, and reduce him into one of the many broken bones littering the empty city.

Another crunch.

The city is empty.

He wonders why.

...

And then he stops wondering.

He tells himself again, and again, as he inches through the city, following Her light, getting ever so closer to that five-story shophouse in the middle of it all. All this aimless running about has made me weary. I will go down into the city, to that little five-storey shophouse in the middle of it all. There I will find the Moon, and I will make Her love me.

And all too soon, he finds himself at Her door, at the five storey shophouse in the middle of it all. He looks up. Here, Her light shines bright from the windows. He takes a moment to look up at it, to take it all in. Never mind the Monster. He barely remembers the last time he saw light of such brightness.

And then he knocks.

The light at the top of the shophouse flickers, and then is gone.

He blinks, and he sees the light again, shining out the windows of the fourth storey. And then the third. And then..

The door is open, and there She is, in all Her crescented glory, looking down at him.

He gulps, and clears his throat.

Hello, he says. I am here, and I want to make you love me. But first you need to let me in, or else the Monster out there will surely get me.

The Moon is silent. She looks down at him. He suddenly realises that there is a certain..coolness to Her light. He shivers.

Like someone you have fallen in love with, whom you can hardly figure out.

I don't care, he says, and he says it out loud.

You may be so cold, so full of mysteries. You may never give me an answer, nor any response whatsoever. I may never feel any warmth from Your light. I may never find a way to reach out to you. We could spend the rest of our days just staring at each other awkwardly, not knowing what to do with each other.

But. All this running about has made me weary.

I have found You, and now, somehow, I want to make You love me.

And then he feels..something. As though the Moon just sighed. Which was very odd, as Moons do not sigh. He sees Her turn, and go back up the stairs. He is just about to turn around and walk back into the shadows, resigned to his fate, but then he stops, and realizes the door is still open.

And the pair of slippers at the side of the doorway.

Quickly, he puts on the slippers, and runs up the stairs, after Her, after Her light. He finds Her at the very top of the shophouse. There are pillows and blankets by the window. He embraces Her, basking in her light.

And there they lie for many, many nights, for all the days had gone away.

Until one night, when he turns around lazily, and looks at Her. Lying next to him, so bright, so round, so full...so-

..He finds himself standing at the edge of a cliff, staring down at the city beneath.

It is night and the city is silent. Dark, unlit, save for a single off-white light, shining from the top of a five storey shophouse in the middle of it all. Shining off the windows of the surrounding buildings, giving that part of the city a somewhat ethereal glow.

Breathing heavily, he looks down at himself. His clothes are tattered, and he has no shoes. How he lost them, he barely remembers. In fact, he barely remembers the journey here, it is all little bits and pieces in his mind that don't fit together.

But still, he knows clearly what he has to do.

wordworker's story:

He knew he was dying, and tonight was the night he would leave. Years of drug use had ripped him apart, and turned him into the husk nearing death now. He remained a kind soul, well loved by his community of the margins, the homeless and the forgotten.

As he had become too weak to care for himself over time, his friends had found him a quiet clean spot in an abandoned warehouse and cared for him there. As he quickly declined over the last few weeks, he had taken to reciting his favorite poetry, quietly to himself and to anyone tending to him. His favorite seemed to be a Dylan Thomas piece, "And Death Shall Have No Dominion". He often repeated the line, "Dead men naked they shall be one with the man in the wind and the west moon …". And everyone who knew him already knew how much he loved the moon and the night.

A few days back, his friends conspired and were able to steal the crescent moon portion of a local all-night drugstore sign, and set it up beside him. They draped it until he was happy with just the right amount of light it would pour on him at night. They could easily see the comfort it brought to him, especially now as he prepared to leave them.

"… though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion ..." - Dylan Thomas

MarcAlvarez's story:

Alden laid awake in his bed soaking up the pacifying rays of the empathy lamp lying next to him. It was getting harder to sleep. Alden was afraid that it was becoming full blown insomnia, a side effect that occurred in fourteen percent of the population since the empathy lamps were introduced. While the rest of the world struggled to leave the presence of the lamps addictive like qualities, Alden and the rest of the fourteen percent dealt with restlessness, paranoia, and joint pain.

Alden turned over, and put his hand up to the lamp. They were always on, they were in every habitable building, and they were even starting to appear outdoors. The lamps came in any shape and form you could desire; famous works of art, a potted plant, and could even be connected to your television. Alden's lamp was in the form of earth's moon. It was the place he once dreamed about visiting as a child. And it was the place that humanity's new masters told them they couldn't go.

Drabbler's story:

Somewhere inside the giant metal crescent, Harry tried in vain to get comfortable. It would've been easier if he could pull his legs in all the way, but his feet couldn't fit through the holes. He was definitely going to have words with the costume department in the morning for leaving him in this overnight.

Even worse, Tom was being really snippy about all this, acting like Harry had done it on purpose. "Can you get it to stop glowing?" he moaned.

"The controls are on the outside somewhere," Harry replied.

"Fine, whatever," Tom whined. "And stop hogging the covers!"

MadChem's story:

I am Elis Shepherd and I am happy. Appearances, as always, can be deceptive.

My childhood was not unpleasent, until my parents realised I was different. After that it was an endless parade of hospitals and psychiatrists and pills. I hated the pills the most. I was diagnosed with a mild case of Schizophrenia. I was too young to really know what that meant, but I knew I could see things that others couldn't. I should say, I could see things that weren't there.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear my parents did not handle things well. I Was a pariah in my town because my parents had decided to broadcast my problems like a Public Service Announcement, even though what I saw never effected anyone else. Of course I was bullied throughout school, but then again, so were a lot of kids. In high school I was alone so often that I spent most of my time writing. Through writing down what I saw, I realised that my hallucinations are a distorted mirror on my world.

My writing got me admitted to a community college the next town over, every assignment feedback I got said how creative my writing was, not realising it was really autobiographical. I went through college like a ghost. On one hand I was happy that I was no longer bullied and not everyone knew about me, but I was alone. In my final year I took advanced creative writing 305, and it was there I met Selene. In this class we all had to read what the other students wrote and offer feedback. I don't know how she knew, but she realised everything I wrote was about me, even though I changed the names and dates. I didn't know how to make friends; I hadn't made any new friends since kindergarten, but Selene and I became friends, in class at least.

She saw the change in my writing before anyone else realised there was a problem. Selene could feel the darkness in the words and knew there was darkness in my head. My parents were getting divorced and they blamed me both for splitting them up and for keeping them together until I was 21. The hallucinations were getting worse.

One week later, yesterday, just after I finished class, I got a call from the police. My parents were dead. The divorce papers arrived at the house, then my dad arrived at the house, with a pen and a loaded gun. I was supposed to drive home to talk to the officers, instead I drove to the nearest bar and drank as my world turned black.

I don't remember much of last night but there is one image I will never forget and I hope I will see it every day for the rest of my life. I was in the street and it was night time, I was arguing with one of my hallucinations, and I heard my name being called. "Elis?" I turned and saw the crescent moon low on the horizon, and Selene was standing there, with the moon lighting her up from behind. She began talking to me, about what I do not know, but I felt the darkness in my mind receding and sanity returning. That night, she was my moon, casting light on the shadows of my mind.

And so I lie here with dry-mouth and a headache, in Selene's empty apartment, while she sleeps next to me. She is my moon and I am happy.

xooorx's story:

Tony lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. The preposterous looking device he shared his bed with that night was not conducive to sleep but nor was it intended to be. Everything about the pseudolune, its size and shape, the carefully tuned and modulated light with which it bathed the room, the dull hum of its dual redundant power supplies, all of it was geared towards the device's sole reason and purpose: To prevent his transformation from human being into murderous wolf creature.

Still, outside, the real full moon was calling and Tony could not ignore it. He prowled to the windows and raised the blinds letting genuine moonlight mix with the fake. Old hairs stood up on the backs of his hands. New ones tingled beneath the skin of his palms.

He fetched a spare blanket and draped it a little way over the end of the pseudolune. Those hairs were through his palms now with more forming on his face and back. Pulling the blanket further over the device he felt his bones crack and re-fuse as less superficial aspects of the transformation began to manifest.

Enough. Covering the device halfway was as far as he dared to go. He climbed back into bed beside it.

Tony lay on his back and stared at the ceiling but he couldn't see it any more. For the rest of the night, by scent and by sound, he tracked the humans and other creatures that moved through the city below.

Renolds' story:

The moon and he. Idyllic. Beautiful. Useless.

He had tried to set an impossible task for himself—wooing the moon, with her transience and power, but even that had been too easy. Granting her a form not locked into gravitational necessity had won her gratitude. Showing her the Earth had won her interest. Illumining the outer demi-planes had won her respect. And from those three, he had woven deep magicks, binding her thrice to his side.

Now he understood his master, those many years ago. "Magic is masturbation," he had said, bringing a giggle from the city boys. Most of the girls turned red. "Magic is masturbation. Just find a corner of the universe and jerk off in it."

There was no challenge here, nothing worth doing. Politics between sorcerers was unheard of—especially with the creation of shadow-earths, the Six Pacts, the Arcanist's Oath. He had heard of people breaking these binds, unleashing their personal dreams on the earth. But the Pacts are not so easily done away with, and they were crushed beneath ancient alliances.

Luna was worried about him. Even as she slept (such as she slept), he could feel her worry. She wanted this to last. She wanted to keep feeling this way.

Even that was beyond him. She would feel devotion and love, yet he never would. Not towards her. For a moment, he considered letting her go, and working with his allies towards something that mattered. Perhaps the Pacts could be altered, perhaps the Arcane Ravages could be avoided on this world with a little forethought. But no, he thought. Why bandy words with others? He could just create anew. And besides, he deserved something for his accomplishments. He deserved the moon.

He rolled over, and found her awake. She had been listening all along. They argued, and in a moment, she threw off the magicks like they were an old garment. And as the shreds of his bindings fluttered on the breeze, as Luna turned away, all he could think about was how beautiful she was naked. And how much he would miss her.