The infrared cameras and fruit are in place. No one believed him, but now he’ll have proof. A rustling in the high branches lowers toward the bait. The monkey comes into view, its fur dark brown – for now. Trotter checks his watch. At precisely midnight, the fur luminesces blue, then indigo…violet…red…each primary color in turn. Then brown again till midnight of the next vernal equinox. A new species. His discovery. Should he call it the Rainbow Simian or Trotter’s Monkey?
Why would a monkey change color? Why only at midnight of the vernal equinox? Are any monkeys nocturnal?
A tear in his spacesuit. A thousand years from now, with the terraforming complete, the sky would be blue and oxygen plentiful. But it’s now, and he has only minutes. And his life is in the hands of a monkey instead of another human. What was Earth Control thinking? He can only hope the beast will remember its training and initiate the rescue protocol when it hears the code word. He opens the com link to the landing module. “Nikki, listen to me: Midnight. Midnight, girl.”
Why would they send a monkey? Why even send a human? Why not robots?
Detective: Tell me again, M’am.
Woman: I said a monkey did it.
Detective: How can you be sure. It was midnight. Dark.
Woman: Detective, I’m trying to help you.
Detective: M’am, when you’re ready to tell the truth, call the precinct. Ask for Blue. Detective Blue.
The monkey did it? Sounds familiar.
After tonight he’ll be renowned, his monkeys more famous than Skinner’s ping pong playing pigeons. How many hours of positive reinforcement? How many bananas? But he did it. A bass player, guitarist, keyboard player, and drummer. All monkeys. Fully capable of playing 12-bar blues. They take the stage at midnight.
OK, that’s just stupid.
Dead monkeys. Rotting. Roaming. Ravenous for living flesh. He thought if he waited till midnight to scavenge they’d be less active. Wrong. He was still shaking from what he saw this afternoon. The blue dress. Her blue dress.
Zombies? Who doesn’t?
Midnight’s blue moonlight
unknown to the monkeys –
5-7-5. Harder than it sounds.
He remembered the first time he saw her. Those blue eyes. Green with orange specs, she had corrected him with a smile. Then he thought back to that midnight on the beach. Moonlight dappled the water. He’d told her that she made his heart leap like a –
“Philip, I’m home.”
That time already? I look up from the keyboard as my wife comes into the room.
“How’s it going?” she asks.
“Just a minute.” I finish typing and hand her the laptop.
She scans the screen, hands the computer back, and stares at me stoically. The corners of her mouth turn up, and her lips start twitching. Oh no, she’s trying not to laugh. Finally she reaches down and rubs my shoulders. “Honey,” she says gently. “You make my heart leap like a monkey, too.”
David Henson lives in Peoria, Illinois with his wife and their dog. His work has appeared or is upcoming in two chapbooks, Literally Stories, 365 Tomorrows, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Eunoia Review, and Dime Show Review, among others. Find out more on his website.