The Domes on the Moon
While the world's most sophisticated telescopes remained trained on objects far into deep space in search of possible life forms, it took amateur astronomer Harold Pockmarke to notice the first of them. With his backyard telescope zeroed in on the full, shining face of the June Moon, Harold noticed the small, round dome-shaped object slightly north of the Copernicus crater.
Harold had never before observed such a feature on the Moon and none of the photographs of the lunar surface in his possession showed such an entity. Harold returned the photographs to a drawer and rushed back outside for another look. To his astonishment, when he again focused his telescope on the Moon, several more of the domes had appeared.
"Pimples!" Harold exclaimed to himself. "The Moon has pimples!"
And that's exactly what Harold said to the Palomar Observatory scientist he contacted by telephone to relate his finding.
"Pimples!" scoffed that worthy gentleman. "Nonsense!"
When on the following day the news reached the ears of security officials in Washington, D.C., Moscow, Beijing and Paris, military camps in those cities became boiling nests of pulsating activity. At first, each of these camps suspected world-threatening behavior on the part of one or more of the others.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.
"We need to put together an exploratory expedition to the Moon," said General Gomer in Washington. "Get NASA on the phone!"
"We agree with you, for once," said General Russo in Moscow. "We will join you in this enterprise."
The space ship eventually landed, of course, and everyone piled out to stretch his or her legs.
Several French generals and admirals also wanted to tag along on the endeavor, for none of them had ever been to the Moon before. The Chinese government promised to round out the group with a dozen or so scientists and observers.
In due course, a giant space ship blasted off and lumbered its overladen way to the Moon. Back on Earth Harold Pockmarke and other astronomers monitored the Moon's surface and kept count of the steadily increasing number of little round domes.
The space ship eventually landed, of course, and everyone piled out to stretch his or her legs, for it had been a terribly cramped up journey. Then they looked around for the little domes. At first they saw no such thing. Then one of the Chinese artists who had accompanied the generals and admirals reminded the group of the properties of perspective.
"On Earth Moon Domes look tiny," he said, waving an artist's brush around. "Here, next to them, they appear like this huge bubble thing."
So saying, the artist tapped the side of the big dome with the tip of his brush. The punctured dome immediately began spewing a veritable lava flow of steaming-hot, yellow pustulence. The goop poured out in an overpowering splash and the Moon Dome collapsed.
When the group managed to wade back to and launch the space ship so as to return to Earth, they found upon embarking that no one would come within thirty yards of them. The smell! The terrible smell!
Many, many years trundled by before anyone seriously suggested a return trip to the Moon. In the meantime, the blemishes that now completely covered that unhappy globe became known as Pockmarke's Pimples.