Fiction – Do Not Look at the Moon

I woke to the sound of an emergency notification on my phone, reading, “Official government message: DO NOT LOOK AT THE MOON.”

“Don’t look at the moon? Alright,” I thought to myself, “I’ll just go back to sleep and see what’s going on in the morning.”  I checked some of the other notifications on my phone before I went back to bed. I had received hundreds of text messages from hundreds of unfamiliar numbers, all more or less saying the same thing.  “The moon is so beautiful tonight,” “Come outside, look at the sky,” “You have to see the moon right now.”

“I’ll just delete them in the morning,” I thought, though I was a bit worried how tons of people suddenly gained access to my number.  Before I went back to sleep, a thought popped into my head, “check on Jack.”

Jack, my best friend, was crashing at my apartment for a while after his parents had kicked him out.  He was probably fast asleep after his exhausting 10-hour plane ride, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to check.  

I got out of my bed and walked into the living room.  The windows were wide open, and Jack was sitting up straight in a chair, gazing directly outside.  As I entered the room, he turned to me with a blank, unnerving stare.  

“It’s a beautiful night out tonight,” Jack said dreamily.

“Uh, that’s cool I guess,” I said, trying to sound nonchalant, “I’m just getting something from the fridge, you want anything?”

“No thank you,” he declined, “I’ve just been staring at the night sky.  Are all nights this gorgeous here?”

“Uh-huh,” I said, my voice muffled by the glass of milk I just poured for myself.  

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” Jack continued, “come over here and look at the moon with me.”

“No thank you,” I refused, finishing my glass of milk, “I’m going back to bed now.  You should do the same. You’re probably exhausted.”

“I’m not tired,” Jack said with a whimsical tone, “just come look outside with me, just for a minute.”

“No,” I said bluntly, trying to rush back to my bedroom.

“You will look at the moon with me,” he threatened.  He blocked my path and pulled out his pocket knife. Before I could run, he grabbed me and pushed me towards the window.  

“It would be such a shame for you to miss out on this beautiful sight,” Jack continued.  He had a menacing glint in his eyes. He stopped pushing me once I was in front of the window. Before I could even see what was outside, I squeezed my eyes shut, but Jack noticed this and pried them open with his fingers.  He forced my head so that I was staring directly at the moon.

I was confused.  The moon looked the way it always did, there was absolutely nothing special about it.  It was just a simple, silver sliver sitting in the sky. From behind, I heard Jack burst into laughter.  He laughed so hard he crumpled and started rolling on the floor.

“What?” I demanded.

“I got you!” Jack cried out, “and I got you good.”

“Of course,” I thought, shaking my head.  I should’ve known that he’d pull one of his “epic pranks” on me sooner or later.  

“You should’ve seen your face when I pulled out the knife,” Jack cackled, “ooh that was too good!”

“You scared the shit outta me dude!”

“Hah! I bet,” Jack continued laughing, sitting up, “did you get the messages?”

“Was all of that seriously you?”

“Yup!” Jack beamed, “including the ‘Official government notice: DO NOT LOOK AT THE MOON.’”

“You’re the worst Jack,” I grumbled.

“I love you too,” Jack sang, “nighty night.”  Immediately after those words left his mouth he flopped over from where he sat onto the ground.  He was fast asleep.