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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 716

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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 not see the historic Tranquility Base landing site. She laments to Karen about missing the only tourist attraction in the area. She continues westward, racing the Sun. She passes south of Copernicus, picking her way past jumbles of rock. She tells nonexistent companions that the footing is tricky, so they should pay heed to her foot placement.

Later, jogging through the smoothness of Oceanus Procellarum, Trish looks around to see if Karen, who died years ago, is there and notes that Earth is low on the horizon. The space suit chafes; it is unfair that she has to wear one and Karen does not. Karen tells her she does not wear one because she is dead. Trish asks how Karen can be here if she is dead, and Karen replies that she is not actually here but present only in Trish’s imagination. Trish looks, and there is no Karen; she asks her sister to come back. Distracted, she stumbles and falls. Frantic, she stays face down to protect the fragile solar arrays on her back. When she gets up, a long scratch mars her faceplate, but it holds. One strut of the solar array has buckled, but she is able to bend it back and splint it.

The terrain has turned mountainous again. Karen tells Trish it is about time she woke up. Trish starts to get overconfident, but Karen warns her that the hard part is yet to come, her suit is damaged, and she cannot afford any more problems. She passes beautiful scenery but has to keep going. Karen tells her she cannot rest now. The Sun starts gaining on her. After more slogging along, her air system malfunctions. She has to spend more than half a day finding and fixing the problem. She resumes walking, with Karen walking beside her. Karen tells her she is dead, but Trish denies it. They converse about childhood memories. At length, Trish agrees to try to say goodbye to Karen.

Eventually, with darkness overtaking her, Trish reaches the crash region but cannot find the crash site. She climbs the tallest nearby mountain, to get the last bit of sunlight. The rescue mission arrives at the crash site, having heard nothing from the stranded astronaut for a month. They see her westbound footprints, then they hear her suit radio. She has seen their lights. Finally, rescued, she makes her peace with Karen.

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