The Loneliest Man on Ganymede (Flash Fiction)

Richard took a look at his watch. He wasn’t quite sure why as time on the solar system’s largest moon was completely random; at least compared to the uniform timespans on earth. While its seven days and three hours to orbit Jupiter were consistent and unchanging, the sun seemed to appear when and wherever it wanted. There was a pattern to it but Richard had never bothered to try and work it out. He often tried to work out how long it had been since he arrived on Ganymede. It could have been six months. It could have been a year. He just wasn’t sure.

Walking around and looking at things was all he’d done since his arrival. Jupiter had been an awe-inspiring sight initially; the planet dominating the sky when he was on the side of Ganymede that was tidally locked to its parent planet. Like most things though, it soon lost its majesty and appeal, as did the frequent sights of Io and Europa whizzing by. There was also frustration when Jupiter’s gargantuan disc blotted out the light of the sun. While the effect was dramatic and brought the stars of the Milky Way into amazing clarity, Richard was simply unable to see properly where he was going!

Ganymede itself was an extremely boring place. Rocks and ice were the only things present. He’d heard that there was a subterranean ocean. Without any way to dig there was no way of finding out for certain. Besides, what would even be the point? It was hardly like he could go for a swim or fish in it! The most amazing things to see on Ganymede were in the sky, so not even actually on Ganymede at all.

It was cold. The warmest days saw temperatures of almost -110°C. Although Richard had adapted to it, that didn’t mean he couldn’t feel it. Often he’d cast his mind back to the time he laid on a beach in Bali and remember how warm he felt. That was one of the very few good memories he had of his home planet. He loved earth; however, he hated the people on it. They were the reason he left.

There was no particular reason he’d chosen Ganymede. It seemed as good a place as any. Mars was too close to earth for him to feel comfortable—plus they were planning on sending a manned mission there eventually, which would negate the whole reason for leaving. Io was far too volcanic and violent and Europa too icy. He couldn’t skate so imagined he’d only constantly slip if he went there. He’d strongly considered Titan until he realised that Saturn’s largest moon was abundant in methane and imagined that the smell wouldn’t be pleasant. Despite that, there were myriad other places he could have gone rather than Ganymede.

Richard missed earth. He didn’t miss the people. If they were eradicated—every last one of them—then he’d happily return. Conversations he’d had throughout his time on earth replayed in his head; confirming why he was right to leave. People only served to aggravate him. Their avarice, their arrogance, their spite; they all combined to create something horrendous. What an awful species!

When he thought of the human race, Richard always felt better about his cold, bland, and dull surroundings. Ganymede’s monotony was infinitely better than suffering his own kind. He did wish there was more going on though. Some weather would be nice or even a decent hill to climb. Ganymede was extraordinarily flat and featureless. There were a decent amount of craters but little more than that.

He looked towards the sky and could see the beautiful, glowing celestial body of Saturn. If there was one sight that had never lost its allure then it was this. On Ganymede, Richard was half as far away from Saturn as he had been on earth so the ringed planet appeared twice as large; almost as big as Jupiter looked from earth. The lack of light pollution meant he could see it much more vividly too and, if he concentrated hard enough, could even make out the rings. Why couldn’t he have chosen a saturnine moon instead? It’s not like Titan had been the only option. Jupiter was beautiful; he wouldn’t deny that. It just didn’t hold the same majesty that Saturn did.

With a sigh, Richard began walking again. Where he was walking to was anybody’s guess. There had to be something on this ginormous moon, larger than the planet Mercury, interesting enough to provide him even a few minutes’ entertainment.

Richard would often say to himself, “I’m alone—I’m not lonely.” How could he be lonely? He despised people. Being so far away from them was bliss. This was everything he’d ever dreamed of. How many people’s dreams actually became reality? He was tremendously lucky!

And yet, he felt melancholy on a daily basis, even if he wouldn’t admit it to himself. He’d come to Ganymede in search of inner peace. While he’d had it briefly, it soon wore off. Now he was left with turmoil. It was different to the turmoil he’d experienced whilst still living among his own kind on earth. Convincing himself that living on this cold, desolate moon was better than living on earth only worked up to a point. Were humans really as bad as he made out? It no longer mattered. This journey had always been a one-way thing. There was no going back. When he left earth, he’d agreed that he was going to Ganymede to stay. All traces of his life on earth had been wiped out. Nobody even knew that he’d existed there.

He had the provisions to last him a lifetime. He wanted for nothing where sustenance was concerned. What he didn’t have was anything with which to keep his mind and body occupied. Endless walks across unchanging scenery were all that kept him from going mad and they weren’t working anymore. Richard could feel his grip on reality loosening more by the day. He literally had to tell himself not to go insane. He had only basic tools and so was unable to construct anything; not that there was any material from which he could construct anything. Even if he could cut the damned rocks that were strewn over Ganymede, he had no mortar to hold them in place. Besides, what would he fill any kind of home with?

Richard stopped walking. He slumped to the ground on his backside and sat there with his head in his hands. “I’m alone—I’m not lonely!” he said quietly.

A sudden flash of light caused him to look up. He only caught the last second of it as a Trojan asteroid passed by and skimmed off Ganymede’s thin atmosphere, causing it to glow brightly. It was quite a sight and Richard smiled widely. He continued to stare at the same patch of space for a long time after; as though the near-miss of the Trojan wasn’t a freak event and would happen again shortly. Richard slowly rose to his feet again, still staring, and shook a fist in the direction of where he was looking. “I’m alone—I’m not lonely!” he bellowed maniacally.

5 thoughts on “The Loneliest Man on Ganymede (Flash Fiction)

  1. I often imagine leaving earth…..starting afresh. I wonder what it would be like to be alone but not lonely. This was thought provoking…I couldn’t help thinking of the John Lewis ad with the man on the moon😂…but your story is better 😊 X

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    1. There was no real inspiration other than a somewhat pretentious title. The story just sort of came to me. I left a lot of questions intentionally unanswered, such as how did he get there and how does he breathe as I make no mention of a spacesuit. One more in the know about Jovian moons might also ask how he survives the radiation. These questions, among other things, I leave to the imaginations of the readers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize I used this account to comment… I it was using my fiction site when it said I was moderated! (This one is a work one… I was so confused just now when I logged in and saw your reply LOL)

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