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“Cheer up, old fellow,” a voice, high in pitch, cheered. Peculiarly, it harbored an accent—a British one, I
A long time ago
believed.

I set down the scissors and stared around into the dark. I couldn’t see anything save for the trees, and leaves, and dirt, and rocks around me. The only light came from those of the stars in the sky, but it was very little. There was no moon tonight. It had vanished, unexplained, a long time ago.

That was when Earth really was declared alone. Its only astronomical companion, present from nearly day one, simply disappeared for no reason. Never to be seen again. Nobody had an answer.

Nobody.

I heard a rustling in the leaves, but that could have easily been the wind. The real oddity was the light scraping noise that seemed to come from left and right in unison. I looked to and fro, certain that something was going to approach from either side. But instead, something bumped my foot. I jumped a little, surprised at the sudden physical contact.

I hadn’t felt anything since a long time ago.

There was a tiny trail in the dirt, maybe a wee bit bigger than what a bug would leave behind. And at my foot was, well—how do I describe it? It was oval in shape, with one side being flatter than the other, like it’d been scraped against a grinding wheel. It was a rock, but it… looked up at me. I can’t explain it.

There was a zipper attached along the middle, and it was open. Shiny white teeth and a flicking tongue poked out from within. It was breathing. The rock was breathing through an open mouth, whose lips were not made of flesh (rock?), but of metal.

“I told you once, now cheer up!” Disturbingly, the high-pitched voice had originated from the rock. This mysterious… rocky… thing, who rolled to me in the dark and commanded me to feel better.

It hasn’t been easy since a long time ago.

I picked up the rock—by one end, careful to avoid the mouth, which thoroughly nauseated me—and stared at it. Its mouth, at that point, was level with my eyes. The rock’s tongue still flailed behind its teeth. Suddenly, its mouth closed. I considered zipping its zipper lips, but I didn’t act on that thought.

Perhaps I should have, because the next thing I knew, the mouth opened again and unleashed a gigantic gob of spit into my eyes.

I let out a shout and dropped the rock back onto the ground. I nearly soiled my pants when it, too, screamed.

“Don’t manhandle me, you damn bampot!”

“Just what do you want?!” I was done trying to question this random thing. All questions had gone unasked, but I knew from the start that not a single one of them would be answered to my satisfaction.

The rock rolled in a circle for a bit, as if mulling over my question. Meanwhile, I tried in vain to cleanse my eyes of its rock-spit. I don’t know how long I just sat there, not even thinking about the scissors that I was so eager to…

The rock grinned widely. I shuddered.

“Isn’t it a funny thing? Now that the moon, guider of Earth’s tides, reflector of light in the night—hee hee, that rhymed—is… gone?! Ha ha ha! It’s a funny thing for me, ya bunch of sorry gormless, grotty mingers!” screeched the rock. “It’s a good thing for us rocks, you know? We don’t need any light to guide our ships! Not that we have ‘em!”

It was clear to me, by then, that this particular rock was just a bit loony. So, I humored it and its crazy exclamations.

“Yes, I do feel a little bit, er… grotty? Whatever will we do without the moon?” In all fairness, I had a pretty good idea. I eyed the scissors anxiously, hand shaking. “Looks like you rock fellas will inherit the Earth, not the meek.”

The rock licked its zippery lips and added, “You manky humans are the meek. Look how soft you all are… But bloody destructive li’l bastards, I’ll give you that.”

I reached out to poke the rock away, but it opened its jaws wide and mumbled a threat. Something along the lines of, “I’ll bite ye finger off, I will!” So instead, I nudged it with my foot, which was firmly protected inside of a white sneaker.

“Blessed are the rocks,” I said with an ounce or two of sarcasm. The rock smiled again and spit out a mouthful of dirt. Apparently, being a rock with a mouth has its downsides—namely, gulping down hefty servings of dirt wherever you roll (and rock).

“You betcha,” it said squeakily.

“So, what, exactly, are you here for, o mighty rock?”

There was a rumble in the sky. Thunder. It had been thundering night after night, but no rain ever came. It hadn’t rained since a long time ago.

“I saw a distressed li’l shite out here with a pair of scissors… Looked to me like, I mean, if I didn’t know aaaaany better…” It spun around in a circle, and then rolled back around to face me. Its mouth was curved down. But maybe, just maybe, it was still curled upwards, and the rock was just upside down.

“So, maybe I was. Do you see any reason for us, um, mingies anymore? We can’t live without certain things.” I let the words out of my mouth slowly, uncertainly. The rock seemed to be sure of itself; why couldn’t I be so confident?

“Mingers. And you’ve got a point there, po-face. You meatsacks will never last out here, with the way things have been goin’ as of late,” it said slimily, “so I think our little rock hypothesis will turn into something of a truth!”

I snatched the scissors from the ground, “Let it be that, then.”

The rock rolled closer to me, “Indeed.”

I felt a sharp sensation in my throat, warm—then my hands released, and the pain slowly subsided when the red that had filled my eyes faded to black.

I saw the moon for the first time after a very long time. It smiled at me, with a zippered mouth and gleaming teeth, and a tongue that licked its metal lips constantly.

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