First published in the June 2009 edition of Apex Magazine.

Hideki and the Gnomes
Mark Lee Pearson

There were twelve moons in the night sky; one from this dimension, the others reflections of the eleven dimensions. One switched off like a computer monitor. Hideki watched the Space Shuttle Confronter hurtling to Earth, out of control on the blank screen.

There were eleven moons in the night sky; one from this universe, the others from ten parallel universes. One turned off like a television; digital blocks deconstructing a digital world. There was a high pitched screeching. Hideki ran into the garden to witness a Boeing 747 crash into garden next door. According to the ten o'clock news, planes were falling out of the sky worldwide, for no apparent reason.

There were ten moons in the night sky; one orbiting this world, the others orbiting nine parallel worlds. One faded slowly into the black analog tube. Hideki stood by the fishpond and called up to his mother's bedroom window. She was in bed watching the ten o' clock news. The screen showed a picture of a man in a shopping centre reeling on the ground, holding his throat in pain as if he'd swallowed his entire set of false teeth.

There were nine moons in the night sky; one from this time, the others from other times. One cut the radio signals, killing the static and the background radiation. Hideki ran into the house and up the stairs to his mother's room. He yelled at her, "We have to go, now. There are only eight moons left." She didn't see the significance, so he had to drag her out of bed.

There were eight moons in the night sky. One made of rock, the seven others, made from each of the sins. One expired like a lighthouse in a blackout. Magnetic fields moved and migrating birds lost their way. Hideki dragged his mother down the stairs, kicking and screaming. He bound her from head to toe with a 20 meter LAN wire.

There were seven moons in the night sky; one made of rock, and six made of cheese. One was swallowed up by the dark night sky. Birds hit the windows. Hideki pulled down the shutters and went through his father's desk looking for the gun.

There were six moons in the sky; one for each of the bullets Hideki loaded into the gun chambers.

There were five moons in the sky; four signifying death, and one signifying nothing. Hideki's mother lay sprawled on the tatami with a hole in her head.

There were four moons in the sky; one real, and the others symbolizing the Holy Trinity. Hideki stuffed his mother's body in the refrigerator, nailed the door closed and cleaned the tatami mat.

There were three moons in the sky; one true, one false, one neither true nor false. Hideki pulled the plug, sending asteroids hurtling towards Earth. He led the gnomes at the garden pond to a revolution.

There were two moons in the sky; one for reason, one for folly. Hideki had the switch now. He had to make a choice for his people. Men and women ran for cover as mushrooms pushed their way up through the lawns, signaling dawn.

There was one moon in the sky; Hideki and the gnomes worshipped it, but they were unsure whether it was the right one.