Monday, November 24, 2008
Curse of the Moon Men
I used to think Moon Men haunted one of the shopping malls where I grew up. Moon Men, I thought, crashed into the Earth many years ago and created communities underground. I’d seen the creatures driving their moon vehicles out of tunnel openings in the mall parking lot, searching for victims to prey upon.
I now know that what I thought were Moon Men were actually mall maintenance men, and the vehicles they drove were those golf cart-sized maintenance trucks. The “underground city” I saw the Moon Men access from the mall parking lot was an underground tunnel for mall employees.
Yes, I’m old enough and wise enough to know there are no Moon Men living underground. But as a kid, those Moon Men were real . . . and they were real scary.
The last time I went to that mall in my hometown, the mall I called Moon Man Mall, I was maybe 6 years old. My mom took my brother and me. We arrived at about 10:30 a.m.
Some background: Moon Men are unlike your average monsters that hide in swamps, in big castles or in dark alleyways. Moon Men come out among the people. After all, if they’re going to feed on people, they have to go where people go.
Knowing this, I made sure my mom got us home before the creatures came out from underground looking for humans to eat -- we had to leave the mall before noon.
At noon, my mom was ready to go home. We dumbly wandered out into the lot in search of our car -- we were McDonalds Happy Meals made to order for Moon Men. And sure enough, Moon Men had come up from the east tunnel, driving around in search of lunch. I tried to hurry my mom and brother along by taking the lead and walking really fast.
“Mike, slow down,” my mom said. I knew how to handle that. I said, “OK.” And then I walked faster.
I noticed more Moon Men coming up from the west tunnel. We’d never make it to the car alive. I broke into a sprint to the car. My mom grabbed my brother by the hand and chased after me.
“Come back here, Mike,” my mom said.
My running might’ve gotten us to the car faster, but it attracted the attention of the Moon Men. The creatures passed up a Brady Bunch-sized family without even taking a bite of them. They had appetites for me only.
At the car, I yelled, “Get in! They’re coming!”
“Who’s coming?” my mom asked, fumbling for her car keys as she tried to spot the oncoming trouble.
“Just hurry, woman!” I yelled.
She dropped the keys to the ground. I picked them up and unlocked the door. And then I armed myself with my little brother, using him as a shield as we got into the car. The Moon Men turned down our lane.
“Go, go, go!” I yelled.
My mom turned the key in the ignition. We had a 1975 AMC Pacer that always had trouble turning over. This time, the car finally did what it wanted to do so many times: it died. Was this a sign that we were going to die, too? I looked out the back window, and there were Moon Men approaching from both sides of the Pacer.
My mom made the classic “you’re gonna get killed” mistake, and got out of the car to look under the hood.
“Stay here!” I yelled. “The Moon Men are coming for us!”
And then the Moon Men passed us by.
My family loves to remind me about my Moon Men fears. Last weekend, my wife asked to go to “Moon Man Mall” (she’d just heard the story from my mom). Not giving in to her mockery, I took her to the mall. I pulled into the parking lot, drove up to the entrance . . . and I dumped her off and hightailed it out of there, keeping my eyes peeled for Moon Men. The love of my life took a cab home.