into the fearful frontier

It is on July 20th, 1968, that the American astronaut, James Killjoy, becomes the first human to walk on the moon. The success of the risky and accelerated program brings with it a brief optimism to a public that still fears the fallout of further off-shore meltdowns. And so when the live footage beams into their every home, the dazed suburbanites roll with glee and stir their swizzle sticks on the glass-sides of drinks with names like the "Atomic Delight" and the "Space-Age Smile".

And so, it's the moment they've all been waiting for: the former fly-boy Killjoy plants the flag and flashes that classic smile at the camera, and the footage clicks off. The public's elation, however, is short-lived. With their parties growing silent save for the record spin, even the giddiest of the civilian spectators can feel the unease seep back up before their last drink is through.

Beneath the stargaze shimmer that scrapes the flight home, Killjoy suffers a violent breakdown; a shattering glimpse, sliced through from the end of the world. The spaceship's rockets still hiss white steam when he's pulled down and stretched out across the runway, all a-gasp and desperate for air. The hospital trip follows, bringing with it the unsuccessful interrogations. By the next after-summer, James Killjoy recedes from the public eye altogether. Using the unspendable accumulation of wealth he is given in return for his complete silence, Killjoy retreats from the surface of the planet altogether, and spends his remaining years in seclusion aboard his spacestation, the Tin Utopia.

And so, the years pass, and on the earth's surface, wars are waged and walls are razed and towers crumble into diamonds, and scientists develop new bombs; cold bombs, empty bombs, foul and sickly bombs. Up in space, the years tick down, but not the hours. Killjoy succumbs to his moondust addiction, and in a metallic haze, watches down on the restless earth below. The constant loop of movies and television shows echo through the empty halls, and our star spaceman scrawls notes in the margins of the only book upon the station, a pulp science fiction novel titled The Fearful Frontier.

With knobby fingers still holding his place in the worn-out novel, Killjoy's attention remains fixed on the flood far below when it finally pours up and over the cities of the earth. The buildings wash down under the crimson, and the black sky hangs flat, and our lost cadet burns his eyes out on the splendor of the world's red end.