I did this for the Café Doom Flash Challenge some time last year, and if I’d got my act together, I would have tried to get it published somewhere round about now. But I didn’t. In fact, I never got around to submitting it anywhere. So I might as well put it up here now, seeing as it will have to wait another ten years before it becomes remotely topical again. Hope you like it.

You ask me if there really is a man in the moon. Well, I’ll let you into a secret, little one. Not many people know this, but, yes, there really is a man in the moon. His name is Vassily Ivanovitch, and he was the first man to set foot there.

Who? Neil Armstrong? Ah, so you do know a little, my child. But you don’t know the whole story, do you? No, you don’t know the half of it. Vassily Ivanovitch landed on the moon in 1967, two full years before Apollo 11. The Americans didn’t tell anyone about him of course, but neither did the Russians. Why? Well, it’s a sad, sad story.

The plan was to establish a Soviet base on the moon, and Vassily Ivanovitch was sent on ahead with the main module, as the advance party. Trouble was, the day after he landed, the money ran out, and the full expedition never arrived. So he was left to fend for himself. He had enough short-term provisions for a whole crew and a fully-working biosphere, in which he was able to cultivate plants to maintain the oxygen levels and enough vegetables to keep him fed for the next thirty years.

So Vassily Ivanovitch continued his lonely life on the moon, maintaining his biosphere, occasionally cannibalising the American lunar landers for spare parts. He was last heard of during the millennium celebrations, when he used several months’ worth of solar energy to transmit a brief message giving the Communist Party his best wishes for many more centuries in power. For all I know, he may still be there now.

Oh, my child, you look as if you do not believe me! Well, you may think that this story is absurd, but is it any less credible than the notion that man – man, the great explorer! – walked on the moon for the first time forty years ago, made five more trips and then abandoned it entirely? That, surely, is the stuff of fairytales, is it not?