Moonshadow, never meant to be a landing vessel, crashes on the Moon. Trish Mulligan, the only survivor, tries the radio, but Earth is behind a mountain range. She inventories her assets: Her solar-powered vacuum suit works, and plenty of food packs remain unbroken. The lunar maps are gone, except for a small, global map that was meant to be used as an index to the others.
To call for help, Trish needs to get the radio and the three-foot antenna dish to a mountaintop with a view of Earth. Climbing is easy in the low gravity, but the dish is awkward to carry. She has only five minutes before Earth goes below the horizon, but that is enough for communicating her situation. It will take them a month to launch a rescue mission. Lunar sunset is just three days away, and the Sun is her only source of energy for life support. She starts loping toward the Sun.
After just eight hours, Trish’s voltage monitor warbles. She cleans the dust from her solar array, but has to find a walking pace that avoids stirring up dust. Fighting boredom, she talks to her late sister Karen, commenting on the pretty but dry terrain. She bounds over the small hills and craters and detours around the larger ones. After twenty hours, she stops and finds a way to sleep without damaging her solar arrays. They can be detached, but their cable is short. She dreams that Karen is not really dead but just playing a joke on her. When she awakens, Earth is just a hand span above the horizon. On her way again, she feels her feet starting to blister. When alive, her sister Karen had hiked on blistered feet and had no patience with those who complained and lagged behind.
On about the sixth day of her trek, Trish passes through Tranquility but does...
(The entire section is 716 words.)