Footprints is copyrighted by the author and is not to be used or modified without permission. All rights reserved.
INT. ZHONGNANHAI, BEIJING – LITTLE RED BOOK ROOM – 2023/EVENING
The PREMIER and nine members of the standing committee, PRESIDENT of the National People's Congress, and CHAIRMAN of Central Military Commission are gathered in large, secure conference room that also serves as a shrine to Mao Zedong. The weight of history permeates the entire space.
The men and one woman are seated around the table, the head of which is symbolically left empty. Decades after Mao's death, the shadow cast is as deep as ever.
PREMIER, standing up and capturing everyone's attention, triumphantly
The momentous occasion draws upon us, brothers and sisters: children of Mao walk on the Moon. Shenzhou is currently docked at the International Space Station and departs towards history in a week.
CHAIRMAN, abruptly slamming his fist on the table, roaring
It is not enough!
Murmurs break out and the only one not rattled or surprised is the man representing the military's interests in this venture. The CHAIRMAN allows a small smile to crawl onto his lips and leans forward, immediately commanding respect and silence.
We take what is ours.
PRESIDENT, feeling the need to contribute in spite of his lack of actual power, weakly
We claim the moon?
CHAIRMAN, ignoring the man in his repeat, in lower tone but with utter conviction
We take what is ours.
CHAIRMAN, smiling wildly
We land near the Lunar Module Eagle, put our shoe prints next to the Americans and plant the flag. Half a billion watched laowai visit in 1969 and quit shortly thereafter. This time, the larger world will watch the chosen people take the mantle for good.
EXT. MOON – SEA OF TRANQUILITY – WEEK AND HALF LATER/DAYLIGHT
A solemn procession of CHINESE ASTRONAUTS is filmed by one of their own approaching the site of the first manned visit. They ignore the various, made in USA artifacts, and head straight for the flag, theirs being far larger, par for the course.
What started as the change of the guard becomes chaos when they abruptly stop and start chattering excitedly in rapid Mandarin.
The lone CHINESE ASTRONAUT with the live footage of the rest approaches and focuses on their unexpected discovery.
There are dozens of satellite news feeds on the solid wall of monitors, in different languages. They all show the same thing.
The American flag, plaque, and NASA regulation-shoes impressions all belong. What do not are the trace of landing craft nearby and a set of footprints leading to and from the American flag. They are not human. Another species beat the Chinese to their grand photo op.
INT. WHITE HOUSE – SITUATION ROOM – MORNING
The place is pure chaos, with everyone from PRESIDENT on down arguing in twos and threes. Into this, past increased security, walks a NASA ADMINISTRATOR.
NASA ADMINISTRATOR, approaching the PRESIDENT, insistently
Mr. President, a word.
NASA ADMINISTRATOR gets no reaction or acknowledgement of his presence. Stronger and louder measures are called for.
NASA ADMINISTRATOR, throwing his head back, shouting at the top of his lungs
There are no aliens!
That gets the ringing silence along with strange looks.
NASA ADMINISTRATOR, into the sudden quiet, hoarsely
We put it there.
STAFF, excited, shouting over each other
The PRESIDENT raises his hand, parting the objections into oblivion. He motions for the NASA ADMINISTRATOR to continue.
NASA ADMINISTRATOR, proudly
NASA faked the other set, precisely for that very reason. No one tops us; no one.
FADE OUT:THE END
Return to the Academy of Bards
Return to the Author's Page