Pat. Patter. Pitter pat.
Pat backwards is tap. A tap's a pat's a tap. Too much pat is a tap and that's why.
Some of us are backwards. Can't help it. But I'm not.
Upside down is me. Weightless. Was. No, now I'm Pat. Pat. Not someone else. I'm standing pat like a pat of butter.
Sometimes I see it. Eyes. Ten thousand million billion eyes. Diamond eyes. Glass sharp eyes. Looking. Looking at me. At you too. Who's who.
Is me. Is me. Hold on. Is me. Otherwise they come. Sharp things. Not eyes, but needle things. Then there's dark, which is good, but sleep dreams, which is bad.
I remember. You think I don't, but I do.
There's the pole of fire. Not really a pole, I know that. But like a pole. But real fire. No sharp things. That's just what I used to call it. Pole of fire. Just a ship. Space ship. I know that. You think I don't, but I do. And us in that tiny little little tiny pod thing.
Mars, where we were going. Pat to Mars. Stand pat on Mars. Me and them. All them. Russian, Japanese, Chinese, German. Global crew, they said. No no no. It's all red. It's the eyes. The star eyes. They told me.
I'm asleep. No needles. See, I'm asleep.
I'll whisper. I'm pat Pat.
The moon fooled us. We went there, no problem. Bad moon. But we went further. We did. That was me, us. Past the moon.
What was it we didn't know? Gravity something? Solar something? Something something?
Past the moon. On course, of course. Pitter pat of little pat rocket motors.
Then the eyes. Star eyes. Billions. Billions of billions. Staring. At me. A pat down. But only I could see eyes. Only me. Why? I eye, captain. Or hear what they said, the eyes. Not said, like to hear, but see what they said. Letters. Pictures. In the stars. The eyes.
Or they had voices, the eyes. Vices of voices. Sharp glass voices. Or one voice, that big.
I warned them all, the others. I warned them. Look, I said, they say go back. It's not for us. But they didn't listen. So I patted them. One by one. What else could I do? Just a pat for each one. From Pat the Patter. Then turned the ship, flew back. Like the eyes said. I'm a good pilot. Got it down pat.
It was the eyes. The bright sharp eyes. They made me. So many. So sharp. We can't go there, they said, with their pictures, their glass voices. How could we? I had to come back, to tell them. They didn't like the patted ones, too red, too pat, but I had to tell them. They didn't see it, so big, so watchful, so many sharp eyes.
Here they come, sharp needles and sleep dreams I don't like. Pat them too. Maybe.
Richard Jay Goldstein dropped his story off in the middle of the night. Woke me up. Had night vision goggles on. My dog was barking and oh my god it hurt our ears. That might be why he didn't stay long.