The Girl from the Moon

Luna sat in the shade of the mountain, in the small, dusty yard where she lived, as she honed a stone down to a sharp point. The intense heat of the moon's seemingly endless day was gradually fading to a biting chill.

She looked up. The sun had finally set, something she had never seen until now, but Earth still hovered in its usual place several degrees above the horizon. The planet stood out against the black, star-freckled sky, watching her like a brilliant blue eye.

I know Dr. Moray wouldn't want me to leave, but she can't keep me here forever. Luna mouthed the words as she thought them, yet no sound emerged.

She stood and stretched. Her long hair floated everywhere against the faint gravity. She brushed it aside and used her makeshift knife to saw away at the mesh enclosure that imprisoned her, forming a dome over the yard. Each ropelike strand pulsed with colorless light.

Why can I touch it, but Dr. Moray can't? Luna wondered as she slid her stone knife back and forth across a tendril as thick as her wrist. If she even gets close to it, even in her spacesuit, she grows weak and has to back away, return to her lab.

Luna hadn't been alive for very long. That much she knew. She was an experiment of Dr. Miriam Moray, a scientist originally from Earth who lived in a lab that had been built into the base of the mountain. Luna only saw the woman when she emerged from her quarters, garbed in a thick suit, her head encased by a bubble-like helmet. All Luna could make out was the woman's striking white hair, which matched her own, and the wrinkles that webbed her pale blue eyes. She would take samples of Luna's hair and sometimes draw her blood before disappearing back into her lab, a place where Luna wasn't allowed.

During these times, Luna would ask about Earth. Even though she knew it should be impossible, her mind was filled with memories she couldn't quite grasp and the names of things she had never seen.

There was not much to do on the barren moon but see how high she could jump without becoming ensnared by the imprisoning mesh and toss rocks around. Sometimes, in the distance, she saw people, garbed in the same suits that Dr. Moray wore. Some disappeared down a large crater and, at times, others would emerge from it. Dr. Moray had once let it slip that the crater was a portal leading to and from Earth.

Luna often looked up at Earth and wondered about it. Why did it hold so much life and color while the moon was nothing but a vast expanse of endless gray-white dust, rocks, and craters?

She somehow held images of many of Earth's wonders in her mind and knew their names: seas, trees, flowers, countless species of animals, and even people like Dr. Moray and those she viewed at a distance in their spacesuits. Am I like them? Luna had often wondered. If so, why did they need those special suits and she didn't? Dr. Moray would never tell her.

I want to go there, Luna had insisted more than once as Dr. Moray drew her blood for one of her many experiments. She spoke through her mind, not her mouth, but Dr. Moray heard her. It is so beautiful, so full of life.

It's an ugly world, and has been for countless eons, Dr. Moray replied, her voice an eerie echo in Luna's brain. That's why I left. Even though humans have invented so many wonderful things, including portals that can take us from the Earth to the moon and beyond in an eyeblink, they still have a little evil in them. They always have and always will. It is in their nature. That is why you must never go near them, but stay here, under my protection.

But don't I resemble them? Luna looked up at Dr. Moray and saw her faint, distorted reflection against the glass of the woman's helmet. Am I not like them?

You may look like them, but you are very different. That's why I have to run experiments on you. We humans cannot survive here without our suits and it is doubtful you'd survive on Earth.

This didn't stop Luna's curiosity about Earth. She had a feeling deep down that Dr. Moray was lying since she was certain she had lived there before. Her vague memories couldn't be wrong, could they?

Hours passed as Luna cut and cut. The internal glow of the viscous mesh-ropes gradually faded, and turned a dull gray when a part of the netting fell away. It crumbled into faint wisps and fluttered to the ground like ash, mixing with moondust.

Luna's arm ached and she felt exhausted, but she whooped soundlessly with triumph. She dropped the stone, slipped through the large hole she had made, and leaped several feet above the ground.

I'm free! her thoughts shouted. She landed gracefully and, without looking back, leaped again. I'm free, I'm free . . . echoed through her mind. Her inner voice was mixed with that of Dr. Moray.

Luna's euphoria smothered any concern as she bounded toward the crater-portal, leaping and running. She practically flew over rocks and craters streaked with earthlight and shadow.

What is that? she thought she heard someone shout in her mind as she reached the crater and plunged into it. That inner voice sounded deep and masculine, so it couldn't have belonged to Dr. Moray.

Before Luna could question that, she was away, falling into heavy blackness. What have I done? she wondered just before she lost consciousness.

She came awake slowly. Something heavy and mixed with strange smells was pressing against her. Without opening her eyes, she drew the subtle pressure into her. In and out. In and out. Strange. She never had to do this on the moon.

Luna remembered that Dr. Moray had once told her that Earth was covered with something invisible called "air." All life forms that lived on land needed air to breathe, unlike Luna who was able to survive comfortably in an airless environment.

Dr. Moray was wrong and I can survive here, Luna thought as she lay still. The woman had told her that Earth's atmosphere was too oppressive and would crush her. How is it that I am not crushed if my original home is the moon? She could already feel her body adapting.

The next thing she was aware of was the sounds: beeping, whirring, and a distant humming. Luna had never heard sounds with her ears, only her mind. The moon seemed more silent than ever.

She forced her eyes open and sat up to find she was in a small metallic room filled with blinking lights.

Dr. Moray's lab? The thought confused her. Didn't she just leave the moon?

And, if that was the case, then where was Dr. Moray?

Luna crawled forward on her hands and knees. A part of the metallic wall slid aside as she approached it. She crawled through it onto a stretch of grass dotted with bright yellow flowers. A narrow path wended through it, leading to a structure she somehow recognized as an Earth house. Overhead, the sky was a vivid, starless blue. White, puffy clouds scuttled across it.

I'm on Earth, Luna thought, a part of her wondering if she'd awaken at any moment.

"Who's that, Eric?" piped a childlike voice that rang in Luna's ears. "Did Dad bring her back from the moon?" Something soft and tipped by a cold wetness nudged Luna's arm.

Her heart roared; her unaccustomed breathing grew rapid. She turned.

A shaggy black creature she recognized as a dog was sniffing her. A boy whose hair was as black as the dog's fur, as the moon's sky, crouched beside it. A small girl with a long ponytail and large green eyes stood behind the boy, peering around him to stare at Luna.

"Tippy, leave her alone," the boy, Eric, said, tugging the dog back. "Are you okay? You look a little stunned."

Luna swallowed and stared up at them. She recognized them as humans, even without the spacesuits. But they were much younger than Dr. Moray. Children, was the thought that came to her. Eric appeared to be a few years older than the girl, but still quite young. I believe I'm also a child. I'm not very old.

"Are you okay?" Eric repeated, holding a hand out to her.

She reluctantly took it. His hand felt warm, the palm slightly moist. He stood, pulling her to her feet.

"I . . . I . . ." Luna nearly jumped at the sound of her own voice. It was strange to her ears: soft and slightly raspy. "I think so."

"What's your name?" The green-eyed girl, who was a head shorter than Eric but the same height as Luna, stared straight at her. "I'm Wendy Garcia."

Luna felt her lips tug into a smile, a sensation she had never felt when she was living on the moon. "Luna." Her cheeks burned. She felt she should add another but had none to give. Did all humans have two names?

"Where did—" Eric started to say when the door to the metallic shed she had emerged from opened with a whoosh sound. "Dad! It looks like you brought someone back." He indicated Luna.

A tall man, still wearing a spacesuit but holding a helmet in his arms, stepped forward.

"So I did." Luna shrank back as he stared down at her, his dark eyes prying. "You are the mystery girl one of my colleagues claimed he saw. He thought he'd run out of oxygen and was hallucinating, but you fit his description."

"Dad works at a moon base but comes home when he can," said Eric. "That's why we have a portal in our backyard. Every scientist who works there has one."

"Carlos, you're home early," a woman called from the doorway of the house. Luna froze. "Who is this?"

Carlos hurried toward the woman, clumsy in his spacesuit, and whispered something to her.

Luna glanced back at the portal-shed. These people seemed nice enough, but would they send her back to Dr. Moray if they know the truth? I want to stay here on Earth where there is color and air and people don't have to wear spacesuits.

The woman approached her with caution as the man disappeared inside the house. "You two take Tippy for a walk," she said to Eric and Wendy. "I'll take care of the girl."

Luna stiffened. What did she mean by that?

"Does that mean we're getting a sister?" Wendy jumped up and down, her ponytail bobbing. "Her name is Luna."

"We'll discuss this later." The woman looked down at Luna with eyes that matched Wendy's. Her face was round and freckled. A pleasant scent that reminded Luna of flowers emanated from her. "Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you."

She took Luna's hand and led her inside. Luna's steps felt heavy and cumbersome. She missed the almost weightless grace she possessed on the moon.

It took a few seconds for her sun-blinded eyes to adjust to the sudden dimness. Luna gasped. The interior of the house was filled with plush furniture and decorated with framed pictures and knick-knacks. Shelves filled with books lined one wall. The carpet in one room was cluttered with toys she guessed were Wendy's.

Memories she couldn't quite grasp touched her mind, but then receded like fleeting dreams as they always did. She felt as if she'd lived in a similar place before. But that was impossible, wasn't it? Her entire life had been spent on the moon, beneath that enclosure.

"Carlos, my husband, thinks you might be some sort of experiment from one of his colleagues." Luna gulped. They do know. The woman reached out and touched her brilliant tresses. "I've never seen such white hair on one so young. Do you have any parents, Luna?"

Luna shook her head. Dr. Moray perhaps counted as a parent, but she didn't want to reveal that. And she had never mentioned working with others, so how could she know Carlos?

"My name is Olivia and I'm going to run some tests on you."

"No." Luna violently shook her head. Were all humans like Dr. Moray with their endless tests and experiments? What did they want from her?

"I promise I won't hurt you. I'm a doctor and just want to see if you are healthy." She pulled a small metallic rod that was attached to a flat, tiny device from her pocket. Luna tensed as Olivia ran the rod up and down her body, then peered into her eyes and ears. She was much gentler than Dr. Moray.

"You appear to be perfectly healthy." Olivia smiled, which made the edges of her eyes crinkle. She tucked the device back into her pocket. "You'll be staying with us for a while." She led Luna to a room she somehow recognized as a bathroom, although she couldn't figure out why. "Go ahead and freshen up. Dinner will be ready soon." Olivia shut the door, giving Luna some privacy.

Dinner. The word had a pleasant tone to it and caused a queer emptiness to stir in her stomach. Dr. Moray had fed her at random intervals, but only dry, flavorless crackers. She couldn't help hoping these humans offered something different.

Luna gazed into the bathroom mirror, fascinated. She had seen her reflection several times against Dr. Moray's helmet but it was always faded and distorted, difficult to make out. Her features were pleasant, her skin a deep golden-brown, which created a startling contrast against her hair. But strangest of all were her eyes. They were shaped the same as human eyes, but her irises glowed a deep incandescent blue that was mottled with gold, green, and brown.

My eyes match the Earth, she thought. Why? Is it because I have stared at it for so long?

Luna never had to bathe when she lived on the moon. Not that she could have, since any water would instantly evaporate in the airless environment. But she somehow knew what to do. She slipped out of her shift and stepped into the shower.

She sighed with pleasure as warm water rained over her, soaking her skin and hair. The scents of the soap and shampoo she lathered with were intoxicating. No wonder Olivia had smelled so nice.

This, too, brought back brief memories that she was sure couldn't be hers.

When she was finished, she found that someone, Olivia most likely, had left her some neatly folded clothes. Wendy's clothes, she thought, picking up a pair of small pink pants and a matching shirt with an emblem of a cartoon princess.

More memories she couldn't explain flooded her mind as she dressed. Am I sure I never lived on Earth before? Why do I feel as if I have? Where are these memories coming from?

As Luna joined the family for dinner, she could see the sun sinking low on the horizon, through a window, painting everything a deep reddish-gold. She had learned from Dr. Moray how fleeting an Earth day was, but now seeing it slightly unnerved her.

The scents of something unfamiliar filled the room, causing hunger to tug at her stomach. As Olivia brought out steaming food, Luna found herself suddenly longing to gobble the morsels down. There were steaming vegetables, sauce-covered meat, warm bread, and a pitcher of iced tea that Carlos poured into glasses.

Luna fumbled awkwardly with the strange utensils. She fought an urge to pick the food up with her hands and cram it into her mouth but the watching, curious eyes of the family members stopped her.

As she ate, the variety of flavors bursting in her mouth created a pleasure unlike any she had ever experienced. I definitely don't think I could ever go back to the moon now, she thought. Not after this.

She jumped when something pawed her arm and softly whined. Tippy's shaggy face peered up at her with round, pleading eyes. Uncertain what to do, Luna patted his head. His fur felt soft and springy.

"Tippy!" Olivia chided. "What did we teach you about begging at the table? There's a full bowl of doggie food in the kitchen that you haven't touched."

Did Tippy understand her? Luna wondered. Olivia speaks to him as if he does.

"He likes our food better than his own," laughed Eric. "You should know that by now, Mom."

"Over here, boy," Wendy whispered to the dog, holding a piece of meat under the table.

Tippy padded over to her and gobbled up the morsel.

Carlos cleared his throat, causing everyone to look at him.

"I contacted my colleagues," he said, his tone serious. "None of them know anything about an experimental moon girl named Luna." He fixed his gaze on her. She swallowed and set down her fork. Dread squeezed her stomach so tightly she feared all the food she'd just devoured might come back up. "Where on the moon did you live, Luna?"

She placed her hands in her lap so none of the family members could see how much they were trembling.

"I . . . I don't know. Dr. Moray did experiments on me, but I think I might have come from Earth. I . . . I sort of remember being here before."

"Dr. Miriam Moray." Carlos leaned back in his chair and rubbed a hand over his eyes.

"Y-you know her?" Luna managed to stammer.

"Not exactly, but I've heard of her. Many years ago, not long after the portals were perfected, she moved to the moon with her young daughter." Chills danced across Luna's skin. "She was a brilliant scientist who had ideas about terraforming the moon."

"Terraforming?" Wendy looked up. "What's that, Dad?"

"She wanted to make the moon suitable for life, like Earth. But that wasn't feasible just yet. It still isn't. Rumor had it that her desire was to genetically engineer life forms that could survive on the moon, even with its current climate. Her expertise was biology and, despite the naysayers, she was determined to create such life, able to withstand harsh temperatures and didn't need oxygen to survive. People laughed at her seemingly foolish ideas.

"As far as we knew, at least until now, she never created such life. Instead, she murdered her daughter."

The tightness in Luna's stomach squeezed even harder.

"Why?" asked Eric. Tippy had placed his head on the boy's knee and was looking up at him, his eyes pleading.

"No one knows. Some say it was an experiment that went terribly wrong. But she was punished for this and imprisoned in a cave at the base of a mountain. Eventually everyone forgot about her."

"So that's why the area around her lab was enclosed." Luna didn't realize she was speaking aloud until she noticed the entire family staring at her. "I was able to see through the enclosure but no one from the outside seemed to see us. And I could touch it where she couldn't. I often watched people enter and emerge from the crater-portal that brought me here."

Carlos nodded. "That explains it. The imprisoning dome was something she could see through, but no one else could see through it. Maybe it was a modicum of kindness, or perhaps even cruelty, to allow her a view of the Earth, a planet to which she could never return."

"So, she's stuck up there forever and ever?" Wendy asked, her eyes wide.

"That's the story," said Carlos.

"But how did you escape, Luna?" Eric asked.

Heat touched Luna's face. "I cut a hole in the enclosure and slipped through. The portal to Earth wasn't that far away." Tippy returned to her and placed his head in her lap. The warmth of his body softened her unease.

But it returned when she saw the family members exchange worried glances.

That night, Luna shared Wendy's bedroom. It was large, filled with toys and books, and had a pair of twin beds. "So when friends sleep over," she had explained.

"You can stay here until we figure out what to do with you," Olivia said to Luna as she turned off the overhead light. "But, for now, get a good night's sleep. You too, Wendy. Don't keep her up."

"I hope my parents adopt you," Wendy said sleepily. "I've always wanted a sister. How old are you?"

Luna shook her head, but then realized Wendy couldn't see her in the dark. "I don't know." Should that bother her?

"You look to be about my age. I'm eight, and I'll be starting third grade in the fall. We're on summer vacation now. I hope we can be in the same class."

She's talking about school, Luna mused. I know about that somehow. But how?

Wendy murmured something more in a groggy voice that faded, to be replaced by heavy, steady breathing. She was asleep.

Earth humans must go to sleep when it gets dark, which is quite often, Luna mused. That's something I kind of already knew but had forgotten. On the moon, with the lengthy day all she knew until the sun finally set, she had slept when she was tired. There was nothing else to mark the time.

Although the bed was soft and the sheets and nightgown she had been given were silky against her skin, she could not sleep. It was so different than the hard, dusty ground she was accustomed to.

Through the open window, she viewed the moon, hovering in a sky that was more of a dark blue than the pure black she was used to. The stars appeared faded. The moon was nearly full, but, compared to the Earth, looked tiny and pale. She squinted, struggling to make out craters and mountains, but couldn't. The moon was too far away.

Dr. Moray is up there, perhaps staring at Earth.

You can never escape me, said a disturbingly familiar voice within her mind.

Luna blinked, and found Dr. Moray standing before her. They were in a vague, shadowy place that seemed to be neither Earth nor the moon. Dr. Moray wasn't wearing a spacesuit.

Luna's heart lurched. Dr. Moray's wrinkles looked even deeper than they had behind the helmet, like crevices carved into her leathery skin. Her white hair and pale eyes faintly glowed.

I'm dreaming, Luna thought, slightly relieved.

You may perceive it as a dream since you are asleep, but I am really here. Dr. Moray leaned close and stroked Luna's hair. Luna winced as her bony fingers snagged a tangle. No matter how far you go from me, we are still connected through a mental bond. That was how we were able to speak to one another on the moon, where there is no sound.

Luna struggled to awaken to find she couldn't. The air around her was thinning, causing her to breathe harder. Strange. She never even thought about breathing until she came to Earth.

But she couldn't think about that at the moment. Did you have a daughter? A child before me? That question had been burning in her mind ever since Carlos had mentioned it at dinner.

Shadows filled Dr. Moray's eyes. I did once. Her silent mind-voice was a whisper. Long, long ago. I had named her Luna.

Luna's blood chilled. Was I her?

Dr. Moray bowed her head. Her white hair tumbled forward, curtaining her face.

No. You were her replacement.

How? I don't understand.

I loved my daughter. She meant more to me than . . . well, almost everything. Except knowledge. I needed to know more. She was born on Earth, where she lived for a few years until the portals were perfected and I decided to make the moon my home. Our home.

Dr. Moray grew silent, her face expressionless.

What happened? Luna pressed, focusing as hard as she could, fearful she might awaken, yet hoping she would.

Dr. Moray was silent for a long time. After what seemed an eternity, she raised her head and pushed back her hair.

Luna's father left shortly after she was born, but we remained on Earth for several years. When I was offered an opportunity to work on the moon, I couldn't resist. I had so many ideas. I just wish more of my colleagues were as visionary.

The woman grew silent again and, for a moment, Luna thought she would awake and Dr. Moray would disappear.

I ran experiments on her. Her voice was slow, halting.

Like you did with me.

I wanted Luna to survive on the moon without the need to don a cumbersome spacesuit every time she stepped outside. I injected her with substances I thought would work. I . . . I was wrong.

A tear streaked her weathered cheek.

Faint memories surfaced in Luna's mind. Pleading with Dr. Moray—"Mom"—to let her come in, that she couldn't breathe, her lungs were burning. Why wouldn't the door open?

You killed her. Revulsion filled Luna.

I didn't mean to. I wanted her to survive in both worlds. But I failed.

Then she became me? Luna could no longer hold back the question that had been pressing on her mind. Is that why I have memories that couldn't be mine, including some from Earth?

Dr. Moray rubbed at her wet cheeks and nodded. I was able to preserve her brain, which I kept for many years until I succeeded in creating a new body for her. I gave you her same basic appearance and made you the age she was when she died.

So, I look just like her?

Dr. Moray smiled. Yes. All except for your eyes and hair. She did have beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes like mine, but I was inspired by the Earth since I missed it so but was not allowed back. I purposely made your eyes the color of earthlight and your hair to match Earth's clouds.

You wanted to replace the original Luna. Luna could feel the dream fading. She was waking up, but didn't need to breathe. Was she back on the moon? Panic tightened her throat.

You will always be mine. Thank you for deactivating my prison. If it wasn't for you, I never would have escaped.

Luna jolted awake, her heart hammering in her chest. I'm still dreaming.

Her eyes flew open. She was back in Wendy's room, but Dr. Moray was there, standing over her, bathed in moonlight.

"Luna . . . " Wendy's voice was a weak gasp. "Who's that? I . . . I can't breathe . . . "

The girl slumped back onto her pillow, slipping into unconsciousness.

Luna scrambled to her feet. The air in the room was much too thin. She could sense it.

"What's happening? How did you get here?" She hurried to Wendy's side and shook her. The girl didn't stir. "Did you kill her too?" A hatred she had never believed she was capable of bubbled within her.

Dr. Moray grinned, an expression that deepened her wrinkles. "She's not dead. Not yet, anyway." She spoke with words, not with her mind, although her voice sounded oddly distant. Thanks to you, I was able to escape my prison and use the portal, just as you did."

Horror trickled through Luna. What had she done?

"Then what's wrong with Wendy?" Her shout came out as the faintest whisper.

Dr. Moray held up a small device, a glass cylinder that glowed like moonlight.

"This is one of my inventions. It is gradually sucking the oxygen from every room in this residence. In seconds, this house will be as airless as the moon."

"You're killing the Garcia family." She could barely release the words, and felt a helpless rage surging through her. The air was thinning quickly. It wouldn't harm her since she'd been designed to survive in both worlds. She looked at Wendy, lying still and pale on her bed.

Luna lunged at Dr. Moray, knocking her to the floor. The woman fell with a moan, dropping the device, which clattered under Wendy's bed. Luna fell onto her hands and knees, scrambling for it. As she grabbed it, the glow grew blinding and a burning heat seared her palm. She yelped and dropped the device.

Dr. Moray grabbed it back from her and rose to her feet. "I'm the only one who knows how this works. It is controlled through my mind."

Luna froze. Her heart pounded but her lungs stilled. She no longer had to breathe.

What did the Garcia family do to you? She found the only way she could communicate with Dr. Moray in the nearly airless room was once again through her mind. She struggled to her feet.

They took you. You are all I have left of my daughter. I will release them this second if you promise to return with me to the moon.

Pain filled Luna's chest as she realized what she had to do. Just let them live.

Dr. Moray placed her hands on Luna's shoulders and stared down at her with eyes that were made even more icy-pale in the moonlight. Is that a promise? You will never try to escape again?

Luna's head felt heavy as she nodded. Yes. Experiment on me all you want. Create more like me. Whatever you need to do.

Dr. Moray grinned. Her smile, shadowed by the moonlight, resembled a narrow chasm.

Good. She held up the device. The glow instantly faded, leaving it dark. But you will now be more than an experiment. Now that I am free, you will be my protégé. You will help me create more beings like yourself. The moon will be our personal paradise. I will be the queen and you the princess.

A breeze like a cool fan blowing swept through the room. Luna looked over at Wendy and was relieved to see the girl draw in a deep breath and stir in her sleep.

"Don't forget your promise," Dr. Moray said, vocally this time. She grabbed Luna's hand and dragged her through the house, into the backyard. The portal-shed shimmered in the moonlight.

Luna glanced back at the house. Tears blurred her eyes. That was a new experience, since she had never cried before. At least not in this body.

She breathed deeply, inhaling the mingling scents of flowers and grass and a summer night. The moon kept steady watch.

That's my home, where I shall remain. The scentless, airless moon. But the Garcia family is now be safe. Tears tickled her cheeks. She didn't bother to wipe them away.

The door to the portal-shed slid aside as they approached. Luna closed her eyes, knowing what came next. The pervading blackness, then waking up under the enclosure where she had lived. At least I'll always be able to view the Earth.

Her eyes flew open at the sound of shuffling, booted feet. Several figures, garbed in spacesuits stepped from the portal and surrounded Dr. Moray.

"What—" Her gasp of surprise was cut short. They surrounded her and pulled her into the shed-portal.

Luna stumbled back onto the grass in shock. It felt wet and itchy.

"Dr. Garcia alerted us that you might try to get away," one of the figures said to Dr. Moray. "You're going back with us and this time we'll make sure you don't escape."

Dr. Moray's screams were muted as the door slid shut behind them.

Luna sat still for several seconds, her breath rapid, her mind spinning. Something warm and soft nudged her.

She jerked back in surprise until she realized it was Tippy, his tail wagging.

Sudden joy bubbled within her. "I hope you didn't suffer too much. You seem to be all right now." She buried her face in his soft, curly fur. It held a musky smell, which she deeply inhaled.

"Was that the bad lady who killed her daughter?" Wendy plopped down next to her and rubbed Tippy's head. "The one who you had lived with?" Luna nodded.

Carlos, Olivia, and Eric surrounded them.

"Thanks to your story, I contacted my colleagues on the moon right after dinner," Carlos said, crouching down until he was eye-level with her. "They noticed that the enclosure was damaged and Dr. Moray had gotten out."

It was my fault. Luna swallowed. "She wanted to take me back." She clutched Tippy to keep from shaking and couldn't help but laugh when he licked her face.

"I saw Dr. Moray in my room," Wendy piped. "And then I couldn't breathe, and that's all I remember."

"Well, we're all safe now." Olivia knelt beside them.

"Does this mean Luna can stay with us?"

Carlos and Olivia looked at one another and nodded. They turned to Luna.

"Welcome to the Garcia family," said Olivia, hugging her.

Hot tears filled Luna's eyes and spilled onto her cheeks. But these were different tears than before. Joyful ones, which Tippy instantly licked away.

The End