by Josh Barsky
“Excuse me sir?”
“Yes, how can I help you officer?”
“Can I see your permit for this ladder?”
“No disrespect officer, but...there are no permits for ladders.”
“License and photo registration please.”
“Officer, I don't want my colleague to fall.”
“Do you have any identification?”
“Yes officer. But I'm afraid you will have to wait until my colleague returns from the top. I have given him my word that I would not stop holding the bottom of this ladder until he returned.”
“Let me ask you something, where did you get a ladder this big?”
“Well officer, you see, we built it officer, my colleague and I, we built it.”
“It's sturdy? You checked every step?”
“Yes we did. It took us four years to build this ladder.”
“Very well then.” The officer stood there for a moment. He was amazed that the ladder was so tall, he felt as though he had never seen anything like it. As he admired the ladder's height, a small drop of what he thought was rain fell onto his bald head.
The officer touched his bald head with his finger and then he said, “so what's he doing up there?”
“We are attempting to cut the moon in half.”
The officer looked upward.
“Did you guys check the weather forecast? Maybe you should go on home once he gets down. You never know, it might storm, and I'll bet that ladder would attract a bloody hell of a significant amount of dangerous lightning.” The officer felt two more drops on his bald head.
He touched them both.
“I don't think that's rain officer. I think it probably means my colleague has cut the moon.”
“Well I'm going to be frank with you. It's damn near impossible to cut the moon open. It's solid as a rock. I mean, it is a rock isn't it?” He looked at his fingers. They had a strange tinfoiled glow.
“I assure you that, neither my colleague nor I, are at all unfit to perform this operation.”
“I suppose I'll be on my way then. Don't make a mess. I dropped an egg on the linoleum this morning. It took me almost five goddamned minutes to clean it up.” The officer laughed.
“I appreciate your concern officer.”
Lucious was so close to the moon he could almost touch it. He took a few more steps up the latter, and then took a rest. I've gone far enough, he thought. If I go any further this ladder is going to tip.
It had been quite a while since Lucious could see the ground. He had no doubt that Francisco was still holding the ladder steady back on the ground.
Lucious opened his jacket and reached into his inside pocket. He had forgotten that he had forgotten to put the safety guard on his penknife, and cut his thumb. He cursed and then put his thumb into his mouth and sucked on it. Realizing that he didn't have time to waste on such an insignificant wound, he took out the knife and reached to the moon.
The moon felt hot on Lucious's face, he wiped his forehead dry with his coat sleeve. Lucious couldn't reach the moon. He took two more steps up. Francisco had warned him not to touch the moon with his hand.
Usually Francisco had a reason for everything he told Lucious, but for this he didn't. Francisco just said that he had a bad feeling about it.
As Lucious finished wiping his face, the ladder began to rattle. This had happened two times already. As they had not accounted for passing airplanes, all that Lucious could do was wait and pray. The rattling had not been this loud before.
Lucious carefully put the penknife back into his pocket and held the ladder tightly. He could see the airplane beneath him. His only hope for survival would be the chance that the airplane would go between the legs of the ladder and not touch them.
Lucious wiped his head with his coat sleeve and watched the plane fly away into the distance. He was safe.
Lucious took out his penknife took two extra steps and then he stabbed the moon. He pulled the penknife downward and opened the incision as far as he could. The moon felt electric, rubbery, like squid or jellyfish.
The moon began to bleed. The blood was not red, it was a silver so saturated that Lucious could not help but watch it fall on top of the cloud below him. He stood at the top of the ladder with his hand up in the air.
The silver dropped and splattered and poured and covered the clouds. Some of the blood did not get soaked up by the clouds. It fell all the way down to the ground.
Lucious continued to cut the incision deeper until he had made it as big as he could. He noticed his entire arm drenched in the silver moon blood. To his surprise, it didn't feel like anything. He put the penknife back into his pocket and began to climb back down the seventy hundred thousand nine hundred and two step ladder.
The climb down the ladder seemed faster than the climb up.
On the sixty fifth step down the ladder, a big drop splattered on top of Lucious's head. He somehow likened it to a linoleum floor on which an egg had fallen onto and broken.
• • •
Approximately seventeen hours after the moon was cut, it lost so much blood that it began to fall. The moon could no longer sustain itself.
The moon fell to the earth very quickly.
The moon always found that the going down seemed faster than going up. It hit the ground very hard and destroyed the entire city it landed on.
The city then ripped out through the earth and began to fall. As the city fell, the earth began to deflate. The hole that the city had ripped was the biggest hole that was ever made in the earth. The earth lost all of its air and flew around the universe like a leaking, popped, helium balloon. It made a sound like this:
weeeeeeoooooooooooo weeeeeeooooooooo wub wub wub weeoeoeoeoeoe weoeeeeeowoeoeeeeow oxoxxoxoxoxwow eoewoew ox oxoxxoxoxwwowoweeoeeeeee
The earth kept falling until it landed on the floor of the universe. It shattered and broke into as many pieces as there was numbers to count them.
The constellation Orion, being the only employee of “The Caretakers Association of the Universe” was called in to clean up the mess.
Orion swept the pieces up with a dustpan and broom and it took him almost five minutes to clean it up.
He bent over with his cloth and wiped up the remainder of the moon blood off of the floor.
When Orion received his pay cheque for the job, he could not help but approach his employer. His employer was named God and had a huge white beard and wore a little gold crown.
Despite the fact that Orion was very intimidated by his employer, and he was very nervous to bring it up, Orion knew that he had been shorted.
His employer showed Orion the paperwork which detailed the value of earth. Though Orion was disappointed at first, he quickly remembered why he took the job in the first place.
Nobody else would have done it if he didn't.