"A true story"

Part 2

“PHAETHON” he said. "He's the king of the Sun people. Termite terminator Folks live there,of course, just like they do in the Moon. There's been a war on for ages. Here's how it started. Once upon a time, I collected all our poor people, and promised to give them a new start on the Morning Star - it was totally undeveloped and no one lived there. Phaethon, out of sheer spite, ambushed us halfway with his Termite Terminators. They use ants as horses, but but they can be up to 2000 feet long, with wings, and very nasty feelers. So we lost, and went home. But I am sticking to my plan. We are off to war again, and this time we shall found our colony in the new world. Please, accompany me: you can be Hipporaptors, with a royal Vulture each, and a full suit of armour. We ride out tomorrow."

"Fair enough", I said. "You're the man".

We stayed the night as his guests: but we were woken at dawn to take up our positions. Our intelligence told us the enemy were very close. Our army (the cavalry, that is) was 100,000 strong (not counting our batmen, or the sappers, infantry and foreign allies). Of them the 80,000 Hipporaptors were mounted on Vultures, while 20,000 were on Veggie-copters. The Veggie-copter is also a huge bird - it has greens instead of feathers, and its wings are uncannily like lettuce-leaves.

[Lucian goes on to describe the forces on each side, in true tradition established by Homer in Iliad Book 2. The Lunese infantry numbered 60,000,000, and was drawn up on an artificial plain, built by local spiders (each far larger than a Greek island). They'd been made to spin a web between the moon and the Morning Star, and this was the battlefield. Against the bird/vegetable forces of the Lunese, the Sunsters went in for insect/veggie combinations. Like, for example, the Aero-jivers, who used radish-mortars, that killed people with their stink. The battle was a glorious victory, though, for Endymion and the Lunese - a short lived one, though, because just as they were celebrating, the Cloud-Centaurs arrived - allies of Phaethon's who should have turned up earlier. They are half man (torsos the size of the Colossus of Rhodes) and half horse (bodies the size of merchant-ships). Lucian refused to say how many there were, on the grounds that no one would believe him! Led by the dastardly Archer (Sagittarius himself), they routed the Lunese, killed most of his birds, and chased Endymion back home to the Moon.]

As for us, we were taken prisoner - our hands tied behind our backs with spider's web. The Sunsters built a massive wall of cloud in the air to stop the sun's rays reaching the moon, causing a permanent total eclipse.

Alarmed at the prospect of living in complete darkness, Endymion sued for peace. He had to promise never to make war on the Sun again, and to allow the Stars to keep their independence. He'd have to pay an annual tribute of 10,000 gallons of dew to the Sun's king, deliver 10,000 hostages. The Morning Star would be colonised jointly, and would be open to all.

And so peace was made, and the cloud wall was taken down. We and the other prisoners were released, and what a fantastic welcome we got from Endymion when we returned! He begged us to stay with him, and promised me his own son in marriage (there's no such thing as a woman-in-the-moon). I was tempted, but said I'd actually rather go home, if he could get us lowered back down to the sea. Reluctantly he agreed to let us go , if we stayed to party for the next seven days…

WHILE living on the Moon, I observed some curious practices, which I will describe for you.

SEX: First of all is the fact that they are not born from women, but men. They marry men, and have never even heard of the word for woman! Everyone is a wife until age 25, and after that they are husbands. When they get pregnant, it's not their bellies that swell, but their leg below the knee. They don't go into labour, but just cut the dead foetus out of the calf: they bring it to life by propping it up in the wind with its mouth open. But here's something even more amazing; they have a kind of man called a Treen. They are conceived like this. They remove one of a man's nuts - the right one - and plant it in the ground. From it grows a big fat pink tree-trunk, like a huge erection. It has branches and leaves - and it produces nuts the size of a man's forearm. When they are ripe, they crack open the shells, and take out the men inside. Another thing: they use prosthetic willies when having sex, made of ivory - though the poor sometimes have to make do with wooden ones. [Splinters can be a problem. ed.]


A flying frog!BODY PARTS & BODILY FUNCTIONS: Old Lunese do not die, they simply fade away, like puffs of smoke. They all eat the same food, barbecued frogs. (There are always plenty of frogs flying around in the air.) They don't actually eat them - they all sit around the barbecue sniffing up the smoke; to them, that's a real banquet. To get a drink, they squeeze air into a cup - it gives a dew-like liquid. They don't piss or crap like us - they don't even have suitable apertures where we do. And for boys there's no bending over - instead they use the back of the knee. A good-looking man among the Lunese is bald and completely hairless. They can't stand hairy people. [Lucian has a joke here about comet-dwellers: comet in Greek means "hairy" , and a comet was so called because it was a hairy star. Hence you'd expect long hair to be fashionable among Cometians]. They do grow beards - just above the knee, and they have no toenails - in fact no toes, or rather just one big one. Every man has an elongated cabbage leaf growing over his bum. It's always green, and never gets squished if he falls over on his backside. Their snot is honey, but it really stinks. When they exert themselves, they sweat milk - good enough to make a delectable cheese if a few drops of mucus-honey are added. They use a delightful sweet-smelling perfume as a deodorant - made from onions. They have a lot of water-vines; the grapes are like hailstones, which probably explains why we get hailstorms. It must be when the wind whistles through the vines and blows the bunches off. They use their stomachs - which they can open and shut - as pockets to keep things in. They haven't got any guts or messy bits inside - it's all soft and furry, and their kids love to snuggle in there when it's cold.

CLOTHES & APPEARANCE: the rich have theirs made of flexible glass, poor people wear clothes made of spun bronze. There's plenty of bronze there, which they wet with water and weave like wool. If I told you what sort of eyes they had, you would probably accuse me of lying - so I won't be revealing this information. Oh, all right then. They have eyes which are removable. They take them out and put them away until they want to see something; then they pop them in and have a squint. The eyes easily get lost, so they often have to borrow other people's. The rich keep a box full, just in case. Their ears are plane leaves - except for the men who came out of the nuts - theirs are plain wood. In the royal palace I saw an incredible thing. There's a big mirror fixed up over a well - not a deep one. If a man climbs down into the well, he can hear everything that's going on on Earth, and if he looks up at the mirror, he can see every city and every country - just as if he were hovering over it. When I tried it, I saw my family and my entire homeland - I'm not sure if they could see me! If anyone does not believe this, he will find if he ever goes there that I am speaking the honest truth.

To get back to where I was. We gave the king and his friends a hug, said good-bye, got back on our ship, and set off…