My name is Flight Lieutenant Susan Kirts and I want to tell you about a crisis situation which too many people are ignoring. The problem is simple – there are too many homeless people in space. This may be stating the obvious to some of you, perhaps most of you with any common sense, but you’d be amazed how many politicians are in denial about this shameful state of affairs.
I’ve written to my former political representatives on Earth and a number of high profile social campaigners, and now I am writing to you, the compassionate readers of this esteemed journal. So far no one I have written to seems to care beyond offering perfunctory responses and meaningless platitudes. Some of these people have even suggested that I am exaggerating the situation here.
However, according to the UN Space Communities Commission there are an estimated 2.2 million homeless and rootless people of Homo sapiens origin, and a further .5 million of non-Homo sapiens heritage, stranded beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. 40% of those people are war veterans. A million of these people are currently trapped on the Moon, either in official transit camps, or illegally hiding so as to avoid forced re-allocation even further afield.
A high percentage of these homeless individuals are disabled veterans of the Lunar border wars, and other, younger physically and mentally disabled veterans of the more recent Water Conflicts. We all know someone with the devastating debility of severe depression and anxiety, or someone who has lost a limb or their eyesight, but try to imagine what it is like to be homeless in space while coping with such challenges.
These individuals, myself included, are sometimes referred to as ‘Lunar impotents’. The term implies that we have no cause to blame ourselves or be blamed by others. While this is indubitably true, the way in which we are treated is barely less Draconian than that of the criminals who are exiled in space alongside us.
I would like to point out that I myself am a decorated veteran of two Lunar wars and am currently living as a homeless fugitive in an overcrowded tetra-tent city in an undisclosed maria, a deep Lunar ‘impact basin’ alongside several hundred other veterans. This basin provides tenuous living conditions to say the least, the artificial atmosphere often reverts to a stifling near vacuum, but it is all we have to call ‘home’.
Of course the irony of this location is not lost on those of us who live here – we suffer the impact of Terrestrial politics and yet we cease to exist when we are out of sight. The impact basin is the place where we shelter from your Earthly neglect.
The Moon has a very low reflection coefficient or albedo, it has a similar degree of reflectance to coal. This lack of reflectivity serves you well on Earth, you can forget us when you do not see us and yet, we are the second brightest object in the sky after the Sun. We live in the full glare of this paradox, we who were once feted as heros and Promethean pioneers, are now ignored or patronised as feckless sufferers.
To give you some exquisite detail – Moondust, which is pretty much like ground glass, gets everywhere, even into our food and clothing, it stinks of burnt gunpowder and makes our nasal cavities swell, so we feel like we have hay-fever all year round. We grind Moondust between our teeth at night and spit it out in gobs of grey grit and blood in the mornings. The tetra-tents we live in are either freezing or stifling.
With water always in short supply we rarely get to wash, which doesn’t exactly promote self esteem. The camp stinks of human fetor. If you sleep near a veteran with liver failure you get the added aroma of ‘fetor hepaticas’ or ‘breath of the dead’. If you’ve ever been licked by a cow with rotten teeth you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Living in what is essentially a four billion year old desert isn’t the ideal location for rest and relaxation, which, I am sure you’ll agree, is what our war veterans deserve. And yet, the World Economic Forum have recently voted to withdraw funding for Lunar outreach and repatriation, stating that ‘homelessness figures have improved dramatically since the cessation of conflict on the Trojan asteroids’. I beg to differ.
I would like to tell you something about my own story to try and bring a human face to an issue around which considerable ‘compassion fatigue’ has clearly set in.
I was once a proud Flight Lieutenant in the Lunar Airforce, based at the Copernicus Space Base from which I flew with my fellow crew men and women into many dangerous conflicts, including the first Lunar wars and the Sea of Nectar conflict. We faced incalculable danger most days of the year, and indeed, it came to pass that our craft was fatally hit, not by enemy forces, but by a Government drone which had mistaken us for narconauts. Miraculously four of the eleven crew survived, but I, like my crew mates Thomas and Cara lost my right arm and experienced severe psychological problems, having seen seven of my comrades burnt to death (sorry to be so dramatic) and the others horrendously injured.
After that my life imploded/exploded, I don’t know how to put it. I can’t put it. In one day I lost my crew, my job, my arm, my home, my peace of mind. But let’s not focus on my feelings alone – there are many individuals here who are suffering. Most of us have PTSD, depression, anxiety, obsessional compulsions and all the other co-morbid problems that come with trauma and violent injury.
I, like so many others, have received no help with my psychiatric problems, and no medical assistance beyond a clean amputation. I was discharged with a months’ wages, a chest full of medals and no idea how I could continue to support myself.
I am sure you can imagine the rest of my story – the unravelling of those decencies which almost certainly hold your own life together – work, family, self-esteem, hope. They all fell away from me and with them my capacity to function. When my money ran out I found myself doing the most monotonous factory work just outside the Grimaldi Crater. For six months I carved up iron ore chunks for a dollar a day. I think they took me on out of charity, needles to say I was a cack-handed worker. When that employment dried up I slid into homelessness with a dizzying rapidity – homeless and 384,400 km from Earth.
Try to imagine yourself in that situation. What do you do? Where do you go? How do you look after yourself? The answer is – you find other homeless veterans who are still reasonably sane/healthy and you try to survive together.
I have met hundreds, if not thousands of people in a similar situation to myself, but the government would like you to believe we do not exist. They have a number of clever tricks for hiding us statistically. Four dimensional causal loops aside, let’s look at some other statistical sleights of hand they use:
- Re-classifying Homo sapiens with minor implant technology as robotic-mechanical entities so they do not count in human homelessness audits.
- Visiting cruise craft taking in Lunar homeless for 1 day while the audit takes place – we have evidence that a fleet of 20 mega-liners were involved in this, taking around 20,000 individuals out of the count.
- Threats to withdraw ‘street’ medics if homeless veterans do not provide an address.
And it’s not just about people sleeping roughshod on the mountains of the Moon, or having to hide for weeks and months in the dark far-side for fear of being moved even further out into space. You can still be homeless if you are sleeping in a friend’s ship, staying in a space hostel, suffering from overcrowding, or other bad conditions. There are an estimated 400,000 ‘hidden homeless’ without a roof over their head on the near side of the Moon alone. Figures do not exist for those who have been evicted and moved further out to the other Earth satellites.
So I am imploring you, the good readers of this journal – please do not forget us. We may be far away but we are still in resonance with the Earth and with you, our fellow human beings. We deserve more than this. Please lobby your political representative – not tomorrow or next week – but today, on this night of the full Moon, while we are fully illuminated and no one can pretend we do not exist.
With thanks for your time and compassion,
Flight Lieutenant Susan Kirts