“A Short Temper For Tall Tales,” by Michael Augustine Dondero

Aug 20th, 2018 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Lunar Base Commander Raines reporting to Houston. I’m not sure what you witnessed on your end, but we’ve got a bit of an issue up here.

I know this is going to sound fantastical but here goes:

I’m fairly certain that Command Module Pilot Aikman is a werewolf.

Okay, let me qualify that statement. Based on the evidence at hand, I’m fairly certain that Command Module Pilot Aikman is a werewolf. I’m working off the hypothesis that if you send a werewolf to the moon, it’ll transform the moment the shuttle catches a full view of the satellite. Doesn’t matter the time of month.

Now, this all follows a line of reasoning congruent with the mythology of werewolves, which, of course, we know to be false.

But, I got to tell you, up here we had a pretty good view of the footage being transmitted from inside the cabin and we all saw Aikman start to convulse violently in his seat the very instant the shuttle entered the stratosphere. He snapped free of his straps and, yes, it appears that he grew hair all over his body. He then proceeded to attack the rest of the crew. Talbot, Ramirez, Jackson, Gupta. All deceased. Something–which I can only assume was blood–ultimately obstructed the camera’s view, sparing us a sight of the grisly spectacle, but we heard every last scream, growl and howl until the sole survivor of Apollo 23 was James Aikman, lycanthrope.

I apologize for the gruesome details. You must think I’m mad, but I am simply sticking to the facts at hand.

The shuttle crashed roughly three kilometers south of the Cauchy Crater. A rescue crew, comprised of myself, Captain Conaty, and Doctors Wilder and Gossamer, was dispatched immediately to the wreckage. After arriving, any hope that Command Module Pilot Aikman might’ve been killed by the crash or hypoxia was dispelled when the beast burst forth from the debris, soaring forty feet into the air, its supernatural strength surely heightened in low gravity. The glowing blue Earth silhouetted the ragged form of the monstrosity momentarily, almost as if the planet itself was propelling the fiend straight toward our base with the force of a thousand years of fables and tall tales. The creature: the manifestation of all of humanity’s irrational fears and unfounded myths. This was the revenge of superstition, laughing at us for having ever mocked the wisdom of our ancestors. Here to infest our new science-based culture with old wives tales!

Oh, excuse me. I got carried away.

Back to the facts. The creature got to Gossamer first, ripping him off the rover as we attempted to flee. Wilder, in the driver’s seat, immediately sped off in the direction of the base. Conaty fired repeatedly at the beast as it disposed of Gossamer most expeditiously. (Poor Conaty. As if blasters could defeat it. Everyone knows normal weapons can’t beat a werewolf.)

Done with Gossamer, the beast resumed its dogged pursuit of our rover. He got Wilder next. I took control of the swerving vehicle and continued on toward the base while Conaty still fired her feeble blaster at our relentless pursuer. It snatched her a mere fifteen feet from the base’s entrance. I, the lone survivor, managed to enter the base, and the door sealed shut behind me.

I report that I am safely within the compound along with the remaining survivors of the Lunar Base.


Logical reasoning has led me to the conclusion that Aikman isn’t going to transform back into a human as long as he is actually on the moon.

That is, of course, if I were to believe all this werewolf mumbo jumbo. As you all know, I have a short temper for tall tales. Belief in magical beasts is precisely the sort of bedtime tale we didn’t want invading a logical, science-based society like the future Lunar Colony.

And yet, that’s the shit I’m dealing with currently. None of the issues we expected. No, no. Not issues of terraforming, food rationing, disease control. Freakin’ werewolves.

Who is there to blame here? You can’t expect NASA to screen for werewolves when selecting their candidates. Nor can you train your colonists to prepare for an attack like this. You could blame Aikman, I suppose, but I take a more sympathetic approach; it’s very possible he had no knowledge of his condition. Most werewolves have no recollection of their actions.

Christ. “Most werewolves.” What am I saying?

You know, hearing myself say all that out loud…yeesh! I am realizing how crazy I must sound. Maybe I have gone insane. A lunatic in the truest sense of the word. Was there ever any Conaty, Gossamer, or Wilder to begin with? I suppose I should sleep this one off.

This is Commander Raines signing off.

Oh, just one last thing.

Maybe I am delusional, but given that there is something lurking around the perimeter of the base, defying the very laws of physics that got us here, I would to like to suggest that, should we not survive, on future missions, it wouldn’t hurt to send along a few boxes of silver bullets.

Just in case.


Michael Augustine Dondero is a writer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. He is the co-creator of the The Lost Signal Society, an upcoming horror podcast. His film and television credits include producing historical documentaries for PBS and working on TV shows such as Mr. Robot and High Maintenance. Aside from writing, Michael is an avid hiker and bread enthusiast. His work has appeared previously in right here in Defenestration. You can reach him at www.augustinedondero.com.

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