Save the Moon for Kerdy Dickus

This story is copyright and full credit is given to Tim Wynne-Jones for his wonderful story. 


Save the Moon for Kerdy Dickus

by Tim Wynne-Jones

This is Ky’s story. It happened to her. It happened at her place in the country wasn’t there when it

happened, but I know what her place in the country looks like, and that’s important. In this story, the way

things look is really important.

There’s more than one version of this story. If Ky’s younger brothers, Brad or Tony, told you the

story, it would come out different. But not as different as the way the Stranger tells it. We know his name

now, but we still call him the Stranger. Perhaps you know his version of the story. It was in the newspapers.

Well, the National Enquirer, anyway.

Ky’s father, Tan Mori, built their house in the country. It’s a dome. It looks like a glass igloo, but

it’s actually made of a web of light metal tubing and a special clear plastic. From the outside you can see

right into the house, which Ky didn’t like one bit at first, because it wasn’t very private, But the house is

at the end of a long driveway surrounded by woods, so the only things that can look at you are bluejays,

raccoons, the occasional deer and, from way up high on a hot day, turkey vultures circling the sky.

It wasn’t a hot day when this story happened. It was two days before Christmas and there was a bad

freezing rain. But let me tell you more about the house, because you have to be able to see the house in

order to under- stand what happened. You have to imagine it the way the Stranger saw it.

For one thing there’s all this high-tech office stuff. Ky’s parents are both computer software

designers, which means that just about everything they do can be done on a computer. Word processors,

video monitors, a modem, a fax machine – they’re always popping on and off. Their lights blink in the


You also have to know something about Ky’s family if you want to see what the Stranger saw when

he arrived at their door. You especially have to know that they have family traditions. They make them up

all the time. For instance, for the past three years it’s been a tradition that I go up from the city for Ky’s

birthday in the summer, and we go horseback riding. I’m not sure if that’s what tradition really means,

but it’s nice.

It’s also a tradition with Ky’s family to watch the movie It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas. And

so, two nights before Christmas, that’s what they were doing. They were wearing their traditional

Christmastime nightclothes. They were all in red: red flannel pyjamas, even red slippers. Ky had her hair

tied back in a red scrunchie. That’s what the Stranger saw: this family in red.

They had just stopped the movie for a break. They were going to have okonomiyaki, which is kind of

like a Japanese pizza and pancake all mixed up together with shredded cabbage and crabmeat and this

chewy wheat gluten stuff called seitan. This is a tradition, too. Ky’s father, Tan, likes to cook. So they

watch It’s a Wonderful Life and they have this mid-movie snack served with kinpara gobo, which is spicy,

and other pickly things that only Tan and Barbara, Ky’s mother, bother to eat. But the kids like


Tan Mori is Japanese. Here’s how he looks. He wears clear rimmed glasses. He’s short and trim and

has long black hair that he wears pulled tightly back in a ponytail.

Ky doesn’t think the Stranger had ever seen a Japanese person up close before. He probably hadn’t

ever seen someone who looked like Barbara Mori, either. She isn’t Japanese. She has silvery blonde hair

but it’s cut very, very short so that you can see the shape of her head. She’s very slim, bony, and she has

one of the nicest smiles you could imagine. She has two dark spots beside her mouth. Ky calls them beauty

marks; Barbara laughs and calls them moles.

It was Barbara who first noticed the Stranger while Tan was cooking the okonomiyaki and the boys

were getting bowls of shrimp chips and Coke and Ky was boiling water for green tea.

The freezing rain was pouring down on the dome, but inside it was warm, and there were little

islands of light. A single light on a post lit up the driveway a bit.

“There’s someone out there,” said Barbara. “The poor man.” She went to the door and called to him.

The kids left what they were doing to go and look.


He was big and shadowy where he was standing. He was also stoop-shouldered, trying to hide his

head from the icy downpour.

Barbara waved at him. “Come!” she called as loudly as she could. “Come.” Her teeth were

chattering because she was standing at the open door in her pyjamas and cold wind was pouring in

The Stranger paused. He seemed uncertain. Then a gust of wind made him lose his balance and he

slipped on the ice and fell. When he got up he made his way toward the house slowly, sliding and slipping

the whole long way. He was soaked clear through all over. He only had a jean jacket on. No gloves or hat.

As he approached the house, Ky could see that, although he was big, he was young, a teenager. Then

Barbara sent her to the bathroom for a big towel.

By the time she got back with the towel, the boy was in the house, standing there dripping in the

hall. Barbara wrapped the towel around his shoulders. She had to stand on her toes; he was big. He had

black hair and he reminded Ky of a bear she had seen at the zoo after it had been swimming. He smelled

terrible. His wet clothes smelled of alcohol and cigarette smoke. The kids all stepped away from him.

Tony crinkled up his nose, but Barbara didn’t seem to care.

”Come in and get warm,” she said, leading him towards the kitchen.

I haven’t told you about the kitchen yet. Well, there is a kind of island shaped like a kidney with a

built-in stove and sink. Since the walls of the dome are curved, all the cupboards and drawers and stuff are

built into the island. Lights recessed into the ceiling above bathe the island in a warm glow so that the

maple countertop looks like a beach

Tan was already pouring the Stranger some tea when Barbara brought him over and tried to sit him

down near the stove where it was warmest. But he wouldn’t sit. Tan handed him a tiny cup of steaming

tea. ’1’he cup had no handle. The Stranger didn’t seem to know what to do, but the warmth alone was

enough to make him take it. His hands were huge and strong and rough. The tiny cup looked like it would

break if he closed his fist.

He took a sip of the tea. His eyes cleared a bit.

“Dad’s in the truck,” he said.

“Oh, my God,” said Barbara. “Where? We should get him. Tan?”

The Stranger nodded his big bear head in the direction that the truck was but, of course, you

couldn’t see it from the house. Ky looked down the driveway, but there is a bend in it so she couldn’t see

the road.

Tan had turned off the gas under the frying pans and was heading towards the closet for his coat.

“I’ll bring him back.” he said.

“No!” said the Stranger. His voice cracked a little. “He’s okay. He’s sleepin’. Truck’s warm.”

Nobody in the Mori family knew what to do. Tony looked about ready to laugh. Ky glared at him.

Tan shrugged and looked at Barbara. ”It’s not too cold as long as he’s sheltered.” She nodded and Tan

turned the stove back on. The okonomiyaki were ready to flip. He flipped them. The Stranger stared at

them. Maybe he thought they were the weirdest pancakes he’d ever seen. It’s hard to know what he was

thinking. Then he looked around.

“Where am I?” he asked.

“The fifth line,” said Barbara, filling his cup. The Mori house is on the fifth concession line of

Leopold County.

“The fifth?” he asked. He stared around again. He looked as if he didn’t believe it. “The fifth?” He

stared at Barbara, who nodded. He stared at Tan. Tan nodded, too. The Stranger kept staring at Tan, at

his red pyjamas, his long ponytail, his bright dark eyes behind clear rimmed glasses. “Where am I?”

That’s when the fax machine started beeping and the Stranger spilled his tea. Brad got him a tea

towel but he didn’t seem hurt. He stared into the dark where the computer stuff is. There are hardly any

walls in the dome.

The fax machine beeps when a transmission is coming through. Then it makes a whirring sound and

paper starts rolling out with a message on it. The boy watched the fax machine blinking in the shadows,

because the lights were not on in the office part of the dome.

“It’s just what my parents do,” said little Tony. The machinery was still a mystery to him, too.


The Stranger looked at Tan again – all around at the dome. There’s a second floor loft but it’s not

big, so the Stranger could see clear up to the curving roof and out at the rain pelting down. If there had

been stars out he could have seen them. He seemed to get a little dizzy from looking up.

“Sit,”,said Barbara, and this time she made him sit on a stool next to the kitchen island. He steadied

himself. To Ky he looked like someone who had just woken up and had no idea what was going on.

By now the fax machine was spewing out a great long roll of paper which curled to the floor. The

Stranger watched it for a minute.

“I think we should get your father,” said Barbara in a very gentle voice.

“No,” said the boy firmly. “He’s asleep, eh. We was at Bernie’s. You know Bernie?”

But none of the Moris knew Bernie. “Cards,” he said. “Having a few drinks ... Christmas ...” He

looked back at the fax. “What is this place?”

Tan laughed. He flipped two okonomiyaki onto a warm plate and handed them to the boy. “Here.

You look like you could do with something warm to eat.”

“More to read?” asked the boy. He thought Tan had said more to read.

Tan handed him the pancakes. “Try it,” he said.

Ky went and got the spicy sauce. She poured a bit on the pancake and sprinkled some nori, toasted

seaweed, on top. The Stranger looked at Ky and at the food steaming under his nose. It must have smelled

funny to him. He looked around again. He was having trouble putting all this together. These strange

sweet salty smells, these people all in red.

“You never heard of Bernie?” he asked.

“No,” said Ky.

“Bernie Nystrom?”

“Never heard of him.”

“Over on the ...” he was going to say where it was that Bernie Nystrom lived, but he seemed to

forget. “Dad’s out in the car,” he said. “We got lost.”

“Not a great night for driving,” said Tan, filling the Stranger’s cup with more steaming tea.

“Saw your light there,” he said, squinting hard as if the light had just shone in his eyes. “Slid right

out.” He made a sliding gesture with his hand.

“It’s pretty, icy,” said Tan.

“Never seen such a bright light,” said the Stranger. Ky remembers him saying this. It rankled her.

He made it sound as if their light had been responsible for his accident. Her mother winked at her.

Tony looked like he was going to say something. Brad put his hand over his brother’s mouth. Tony

struggled but the Stranger didn’t notice. The fax stopped.

“You sure you ain’t never heard of Bernie’?” he asked one more time. It seemed to matter a great

deal, as if he couldn’t imagine someone not knowing good ol’ Bernie Nystrom.

“Is there someone we could phone for you?” Barbara asked. “Do you need a tow or something~

The Stranger was staring at the okonomiyaki. “Anita who?” he asked. At that, both Brad and Tony

started giggling until Ky shushed them up.

“A tow truck,” said Barbara, very carefully. “To get you out of the ditch.”

The boy put the plate down without touching the food. He rubbed his hands on his wet pants. He was

shivering. Barbara sent Brad to get a blanket.

“Could I use your phone?” the boy asked. Ky ran to get the cordless phone from the office area,

There was a phone closer, but Ky always uses the cordless.

You have to see this phone to imagine the Stranger’s surprise. It’s clear plastic. You can see the

electronic stuff inside it, the speakers and amplifiers and switches and everything.

1he Stranger stared at it, held it up closer to his eyes. That was when Ky thought of all the time

travel books she’d read and wondered if this guy was from some other century. Then she remembered that

he had come by truck. That’s what he’d said, anyway. She wondered if he had been telling the truth. He

sure didn’t want anyone going to look for his father. Maybe he had been planning on robbing them? But

looking at him again, she realized that he was in no condition to rob anyone. She showed him how the

phone worked.


“What’s your number?” she asked.

“Don’t got no number,” he said. But he took the phone and slowly punched some numbers anyway.

He belched, and a sour smell came from his mouth. Ky stepped back quickly, afraid that he was going to

throw up.

The phone rang and rang and no one answered it. Ky watched the Stranger’s face. He seemed to fall

asleep between each ring and wake up again, not knowing where he was.

“Neighbours,” he said, hanging up after about thirty rings, He looked suspiciously at the phone, as if

to say, How could I reach anyone I know on a phone like that?

Then he looked at Ky and her family. “Where am I really?” he asked.

Brad came back with a comforter and Barbara suggested to the Stranger that he could wear it while

she put his wet things in the dryer. He didn’t like that idea. But as nice as Barbara is, as small as she is,

she can be pretty pushy, and she was afraid he was going to catch pneumonia. So the Stranger found

himself without his clothes in a very strange house.

Maybe it was then, to take his mind off wearing only a comforter, that he tried the okonomiyaki. He

was very hungry. He wolfed down two helpings, then a third. It was the first time he smiled.

“Hey,” said Ky. “It’s almost Christmas. You’d better save some room for turkey dinner.”

“What?” said the Stranger. “You’d better save some room for turkey dinner.”

The Stranger stopped eating. He stared at the food on his plate. Ky wanted to tell him she was just

kidding. She couldn’t believe he had taken it so seriously: She was going to say something, but then he

asked if he could phone his neighbour again. He still didn’t have any luck. But now he seemed real edgy.

Then the telephone answering machine in the office took a long message. It was a computer expert

phoning Tan, and he talked all in computerese, even though it was nighttime and two days before


The Stranger must have heard that voice coming from the dark side of the dome where the lights

flashed. Maybe that was what threw him. Or maybe it was when the VCR, which had been on Pause,

came back on by itself. Suddenly there were voices from up in the loft. Ky can’t remember what part of

the movie it was when it came back on. Maybe it was when the angel jumped off the top of the bridge to

save the life of the hero. Maybe it was a part like that with dramatic music and lots of shouting and

splashing. Maybe the Stranger didn’t know it was )ust a movie on TV. Who knows what he thought was

going on there? Maybe in his house there was no TV.

He got edgier and edgier. He started pacing. Then, suddenly, he remembered his neighbour, Lloydy


“You know Lloydy,” he said.

Nobody did. “Sure,” he said.

“Lloydy Rintoul.” He pointed first noith and then east and then north again as he tried to get his

bearings in this round house with its invisible walls.

“You don’t know Lloydy?” The Stranger, despite his size, suddenly looked like a little lost boy. But

then he shook his head and jumped to his feet.

“Lloydy, he’s got a tractor,” he said. “He’ll pull the truck out.” He started to leave. “I’ll just get him,

eh.” He forgot he didn’t have any clothes on. Tan led him back to his stool. Barbara told him she’d check

on the wash. Tan said they should maybe phone Lloydy first. But Lloydy didn’t have a phone, either. The

people Ky knows in the country all have phones and televisions. But there are people around Leopold

County who have lived there longer than anyone and lived poor, scraping out a living on the rocky soil

just like their forefathers and foremothers did.

Maybe the kids were looking at the Stranger strangely then, because sud- denly he got impatient. Ky

said that he looked like a wild bear in a downy comforter cornered by a pack of little people in red


“I’m gonna get Lloydy,” he said loudly. It sounded like a threat. It scared the Moris a bit, Barbara

decided to get him his clothes even though they were still damp.

And so the Stranger prepared to go. They didn’t try to stop him but they insisted that he borrow a

big yellow poncho because it was still raining hard.


Now that he had his clothes back on and his escape was imminent, the Stranger calmed down a bit.

“I’ll bring it back,” he said.

“I’m sure you will,” said Tan, as he helped him into the poncho.

Ky went and got him a flashlight, too. It was a silver pencil flashlight she had gotten for her

birthday. She had to show him how it worked.

“I’ll bring this back,” he said to her.

“Okay,” she said. “Thanks.”

And then he was gone. He slid on the driveway and ended up with a thud on his backside.

“He’ll have awful bruises in the morning,” said Barbara.

She called to him to come back. She told him she would call for help. He turned halfway down the

driveway and seemed to listen but his hearing wasn’t very good even up close, so who knows what he

thought she said. She did mention getting the police. Maybe he heard that. Whatever, he turned and ran

away, slipping and sliding all the way. Tan considered driving him, but the ice was too treacherous.

“What are the bets,” said Brad, “that we never see the stuff again?”

They never did. The Stranger never did return the poncho or the flashlight. In the morning the

family all went out to the road. There was no truck there. Somehow, in his drunken haze, the Stranger

must have found Lloydy Rintoul or somebody found him or his dad woke up and got the truck out. It was a


Ky tried to find Bernie Nystrom’s name in the phone book. There was no listing. The boy had never

said the name of his neighbour and they already knew that Lloydy Rintoul had no phone, so there was no

way of tracking him down. The Moris didn’t really care much about getting their stuff back, though. It

was Christmas, after all.

I saw the story in the National Enquirer in January. I was in line at the grocery store with my

mother, reading the headlines of the tabloids. I enjoy doing that. There are great stories about tribes in

Brazil who look like Elvis Presley, or some seventy-five-year-old woman who gives birth to twin dolphins,

or families of eight who live in an abandoned filing cabinet. Hut this headline jumped off the page at me.


Country boy undergoes torturous experiments

while constrained in an alien flying saucer!

Experts wonder: Who or what is Kerdy Dickus

and what does he want with our moon!

I don’t know why I flipped open to page 26 to read the story. I don’t know why I paid good money to

actually buy the rag. Somehow I knew. And when I showed the picture on page 26 to Ky, she gasped.

It was him. There was the Stranger showing the huge bruises inflicted hy the aliens on his arms and

ribs and thighs. He told of how he had seen a blinding light and the truck had been pulled right off the

road by the saucer’s powerful tractor beam. He told of how the aliens had hypnotized him and brought

him to their saucer, He told of the drugs they had made him drink; how they had tried to get his father,

too, but he had stopped them. He told of the weird food they had made him eat and how it had made him

throw up all the next day. His mother could attest to his ill health. “I’ve never seen him so green,” she

said. “And he’s normally such a healthy lad.”

It was his mother who had contacted the National Enquirer. She read it all the time and she knew it

was a story that would interest them.

His father, too, although he had managed somehow to stay out of the clutches of the aliens’ hypnotic

powers, could attest to the attack on the car. And then – blackness. There were two hours missing out of

his recollection of the night. The aliens had obviously zapped him.

“Something ought to be done about this kind of menace!” said the father.

According to the newspaper, the boy underwent several sessions with a psychiatric investigator after


the incident. The investigator specialized in AATf: Alien Abduction Trauma Therapy. He put the boy in a

deep trance and interviewed him at length. “Truth drugs” were administered, and all the results

concurred: the boy had obviously undergone a close encounter with alien beings. Under the trance the boy

revealed some overheard conversation that might, the investigator believed, partially explain the purpose

of the aliens’ trip to earth.

“This might be a recognizance mission.” Other experts in the field agreed. “But their long-term goal

has to do with our moon and the saving of it. From what? For what? It is hard to tell.”

One line had become imprinted on the boy’s mind. The only spoken part he recalled vividly from his

close encounter.

“Save the moon for Kerdy Dickus.”

“Perhaps,” said the psychiatric investigator, “there is some alien purpose for the boy remembering

this one line.”

The article went on to give a pretty good account of the aliens, what they looked like, what their

flying saucer looked like. But you already know all that.

I had heard about the Stranger from Ky. That’s how I somehow recognized the story in the

Enquirer. The next time I saw the Moris, I showed them the paper. But after they had all laughed

themselves silly, we talked about it a lot.

Should they try to find the Stranger, now that they knew his name? Even without a phone, they

could easily track him down. Should the paper be contacted, so that the truth could be known? What about

the psychiatrist who specialized in AATI? The experts?

“I wouldn’t mind getting my flashlight back,” Ky admitted, but she wasn’t really serious.

And so they have never followed up on the story. Ky always imagines she’ll run into the Stranger

one day in the nearby town. I hope I’m with her. Maybe I’ll be up there for her birthday. Maybe it will be

raining. Maybe we’ll be coming out of a store and he’ll be coming in wearing the big yellow poncho. He’ll

walk right by us, and Ky and I will turn just as he passes and whisper the magic words.

“Save the moon for Kerdy Dickus.”

Then we’ll hop in our saucer and slip off back to our own world.


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