“Can you tell me something about the moon you’ve never told anyone before?”
After a second, Kamp laughed. "Now that is a new one. I'm not sure I know what you mean."
"You were there. I'd like to know something about the moon that someone could only know who was actually on it. I don't mean anything big. But just something."
"The whole flight was broadcast. And we were pretty thorough in our report. We tried to take pictures of just about everything. Also, that's a few years ago; and we were only out walking around for six and a half hours."
"I know. I watched it."
"Then I still don't get you."
"Well: I could bring a couple of television cameras in here, say, and take a lot of pictures, and report on all the people, tell how many were here or what have you. But afterward, if somebody asked me to tell them something that wasn't in the coverage, I'd close my eyes and sort of picture the place. Then I might say, well, on the back of the counter with the bottles, the bottle second from the left—I don't remember what the label was—but the little cone of glass at the bottom was above the top of the liquor." Kid opened his eyes. "See?"
Kamp ran his knuckles under his chin. "I'm not used to thinking like that. But it's interesting."
"Try. Just mention some rock, or collection of rocks, or shape on the horizon that you didn't mention to anyone else."
"Hey here's something." Kamp leaned forward. "When I got down the ladder—do you remember the foil-covered footpads that the module rested on? You say you watched it."
"Well, now, when I was getting some of the equipment out of the auxiliary compartments—I'd been actually on surface maybe a minute, maybe not quite: A lot of people, back before the probe shots, had the idea the moon was covered with dust. But it was purplish brown dirt and rock and gravel. The feet didn't sink at all."
Kid thought: Translation.
Kid thought: Transition.
"The module's feet were on universal joints, you know? Anyway. The one to the left of the entrance was tilted on a small rock, maybe two inches through. The shadows were pretty sharp. I guess when I was passing by it, my shadow passed over the module foot. And the shadow from the pad, made by the rock it was sitting on, and my shadow, joining it, for just a second made it look like something moved under there. You know? I was excited, see, because I was on the moon. And it just isn't like in the training sessions at all. But I do remember for maybe three seconds, while I was going on doing all the things I had to do, thinking, 'There's a moon-mouse, or a moon-beetle under there.' And feeling silly that I couldn't say anything—I was broadcasting all the time, describing what I saw—because there couldn't be anything alive on the moon, right? Like I said, it just took me a couple of seconds to figure out what it really was. But for a moment it was pretty funny. Now there. That's something I never told anybody ... no, I think I did mention it once to Neil, when I got back. But I don't think he was listening. And I told it just like a joke."
Formation. Kid thought: Transformation.
"Is that the sort of thing you mean?"
—Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren