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Petersburg, Virginia, 2078

A worker is checking the fuel tank when a blinking light goes off. He drops everything and runs down the hallway to the management booth. He throws open the door, revealing a woman sitting at a desk with several other management officials. The officials are wearing orange jumpsuits, while the woman wears red. They all look at him, and the woman raises her eyebrow.

“Sorry to interrupt ma’am, but the Moon is dead. What are your orders?” he asks. The officials look back at the woman, waiting to see how she responds.

“Well Renae, what are you going to do?” an official asks.

“Prepare food, water, and, beds for the needy,” she replies. “I will wake the Hunter.”

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Cairo, Egypt

I awake in a dark chamber, far beneath the ground. I sit up and the earthy smell of the dirt and rock hits my nose. The altar, where the last Moon lay, is broken in pieces. I brush my hand against the runes on its side, remembering the time and pain it took to carve them. I look down at my dress. It is ripped in several places but in relatively good shape. The ruins of our last ceremony surround me. There is a ringing in my ears. Someone is trying to contact me.

“Can you hear me? Zara?” It’s Renae.

“Loud and clear,” I say.

“I’m transporting you here now,” Renae responds. I feel my insides start to bubble and the room around me grows smaller as I rise through the air. I look up to see the ceiling coming toward me, not slowing down. I panic and put my arms over my head. Then the world begins to spin as I travel up through the dirt. I’m over the ocean now, the blue of the sky blending with the water. My arms are glued to my sides because of how fast I am moving. A split second later, I am standing in a dimly lit room with stone walls. There is a table in the center of the room, surrounded by chairs.

“I turned the lights down, so your eyes would adjust easier,” says Renae. She crosses the room and turns them back up. My eyesight blurs and I feel nauseous. I start to sway, so she pulls a chair over for me.

“We need to get you out of that dress, or else you’ll stick out like a sore thumb,” she says. A few minutes later, I’m dressed in a puffy jacket with a hat and snow boots. Renae changes into clothes similar to mine.

“What is this for?” I ask, gesturing at my clothes.

“Snow. Something you haven’t had to deal with. It’s cold, wet, and there is a ton of it where we are going,” Renae replies.

"And where are we now?" I ask.

"Petersburg, a town in Virginia, which is a state in the United States of America,” she answers.

“Alright then, let’s get started,” I say.

“As you know, we have exactly 24 hours to find the new Moon, get it back here, and do the ceremony before everything on Earth dies. Since the Moon is Earth’s power source, failing to find a new one would be like not replacing the batteries in a flashlight, so it would just fade until it no longer works,” Renae reminds me. “Considering that all the other Moons have been young girls with red hair, I’m going to guess that this one won’t be any different. We’ve also managed to narrow it down to one girl and she lives not too far away, in Portland, Maine. We’ll know for sure when we bring her back here, the blinking light will stop if she is the Moon.”

“Wow, convenient,” I comment. “Why do we even call it a ceremony? It’s just a song that we have to sing.”

“I don’t know, we just do. Anyway, there’s one last thing that we need to cover, the Reapers,” she continues.

“Right, I almost forgot about them,” I say, cringing slightly when she mentions the name.

“We haven’t had any recent activity from them, but we’ll just have to be on the lookout. We should probably get going,” she says. “I’ll meet you out front in 20 minutes.”

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22 hours left

“So how are we going to get all the way to Maine?” I ask.

“We’re going to take a train from here to Portland, then we’ll rent a car to drive to her house,” she answers. “It isn’t too far from town.”

   “Why don’t we use the thing that got me here?” I ask.

“The transportation device? It can only be used to get us back to the lab,” Renae explains. We call a taxi and load up our gear, which isn’t much. We get to the train station and are seated in no time.

   “It’ll take about 15 hours to get there, so you might want to get some sleep,” she says.

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Portland, Maine, 7 hours left

I wake with a start, not recognizing where I am. Then, Renae bops me on the head, and I remember.

“Come on, you goose. Let’s go,” she says.

“We’re here already?” I ask.

“Yeah, you slept for the entire ride. It’s too bad, you missed the snow storm, flying grapes, and the alien invasion!” she says, grinning.

“Haha very funny,” I shoot back.

“Alright, let’s get going. I have her address right here and the car is already out in the parking lot,” she says. We jump into the car and take off down the road.

“What do we know about her?” I ask.

“Well, her name is Masie, and she’s almost 18. She’s got red hair and glasses.” Renae answers. “We’ve arrived.”

    We’re parked at the top of a long driveway, and as we start walking, I begin to make out Masie’s house. It’s small, with only one car, so I’m assuming she lives alone. It kind of looks like a cottage, bright colors and a small build. The trim is a light mint green, and the house is painted a pastel yellow. Her sidewalk runs from the front door to the driveway and is lined with tulips. A few of her lights are on, and from what I can see, she has a dog. We walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell.

“Coming!” a distant voice shouts over barking. “Quiet, Sandy!”

I hear footsteps, then the lock clicks, and the door opens. Masie is standing in the doorway, her hand gripping the dog whose name seems to be Sandy.

“Hello, there. What can I do for you?” Masie asks. Renae and I look at each other, then back at Masie.

“We have some, uh, big news for you,” Renae starts. “You may want to sit down.”

“Oh. Well, why don’t you both come in? I’ll make some coffee.” Masie says.

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5 hours left

“So you’re telling me, that I am a “Moon,” and I have to be sacrificed to replace the old “Moon” that died?” She stares at us with her eyebrows raised and her hands hanging in the air from quoting her words.

“Precisely,” Renae answers.

“And I’m supposed to trust you, why?” Masie asks. “Because you have my best interest at heart or something?”

“Pretty much,” I say.

Renae looks out the window. “We need to go. Now!” she blurts, looking at me with wild eyes. “They’re here.”

“Dang it!” I curse. “Masie, run to the car! Run like your life depends on it!”

“Why do I have to run, who’s here?” Masie asks, panicking.

“The Reapers. They’re demons who feed off of the Moon,” Renae answers. We run out the door and take off down the driveway. The Reapers circle around the house and come after us. Renae whips out her phone and dials the transport technician.

“This is Agent Renae Harlow requesting immediate extraction! Does anyone copy? Immediate extraction!” Renae yells, then she directs her attention at Masie and me. “Okay you two, we need to stay as close to each other as possible, so it’s easier for the techie to get us all! Zara, grab my hand!”

I speed up and reach for Masie and her hands, but Masie is falling behind us.

“Come on Masie, you have to run faster! They’re catching up!” I shout. The Reapers are mere yards behind her. I feel my insides start to bubble, and Renae and I start to rise in the air. Masie reaches for my hand, and I see the complete and utter terror in her eyes just before the closest Reaper tosses her to the side. She hits a tree and falls to the ground motionless.

“No, NO!” I scream. Everything blurs, and we are pulled back to the lab.

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3 hours left

There’s something odd about the way the Reapers disposed of Masie, almost like she was nothing to them. Then it all begins to click together. Red hair, the way the Reapers pushed Masie aside, the blinki-

“The blinking light!” I shout.

“What about it?” asks Renae.

“You said that the light only stops blinking when the new Moon is near it, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“It stopped blinking when I got here.”

“Which would mean . . .”

“That I am the new Moon!”

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1 hour left

“Alright, we’re all set up,” I say. I turn around and see Renae sniffling. “Hey, hey, it’s alright, you’re going to be fine without me.”

I pull her close to me and pat her head.

“I can’t do this. What about in three thousand years, when you die. What will I do? I can’t do this alone!” she cries.

“Renae, Renae listen to me. This has to happen,” I murmur. “Would you rather have me still here with the world falling apart around us and no humans left? Or, do you want a healthy Earth with people who live, breathe, and laugh, and know that this was all worth it.”

“I don’t want to choose, you’re my best friend!”

“Neither do I, but we have to do this, okay?”

“Okay,” she whispers. Tears streaming down her cheeks, Renae gives me a quick hug. She then stumbles back and out of the way as I begin to glow. I hear her sing the song of the Moon, and for one final time, I join her.