The Truth is Dead

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Authors: Marcus Sedgwick
he looked back at the three stark crosses, and rain started to fall.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler was treated for an injury in the crypt of Messines Church, Belgium, in the winter of 1914. Shortly after this he was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery, for rescuing an officer under heavy fire. Hitler is known to have produced many drawings and paintings during his time as a soldier, one of which shows the ruined cloisters at Messines.

    Matt Whyman
The nuclear stand-off between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, part of what was known as the cold war, dominated global politics for more than four decades after the end of World War Two. By the 1980s, people lived with the very real fear of a nuclear Armageddon…

    I missed the moment that the moon exploded. Like so many people, I was fast asleep when it happened. According to my friend Maisie, whose neighbour works a night shift, it looked just like a mothball fragmenting into the void.
    The morning after, I discovered my father staring out of the kitchen window. He was barely blinking. On the radio a news report claimed that America was demanding some explanation from the Soviets. At a time when the world lived in fear of a nuclear strike from one side or the other, it seemed like an act of madness for Russia to launch a lunar attack. My father didn’t appear to be listening, however, and at first I didn’t realize the enormity of what was being broadcast. It was only when I sneezed on account of my hay fever that he noticed me.
    “Sleep well, cupcake?” he asked.
    “Sure,” I told him, looking around. “Where’s Mum?”
    As he pressed his lips into a smile, I noticed his eyes shine over. “She’ll be back later,” he said after a moment. “I promised her I’d tell you that.”
    At school I found everyone talking about the same thing. At first I thought I was the victim of a grand hoax. How could the moon just cease to exist? I had only been alive for fourteen years. Considering a lifetime without it seemed unthinkable. I remember that first day was clear and bright. The sky, as blue as a lagoon, had not a cloud in sight. During a special assembly, our headmistress explained that with the loss of the moon we faced a time of great uncertainty. Nobody knew for sure what effect its disappearance would have on everything, from the ebb and flow of the oceans’ tides to the rate at which the earth revolved. Still, she assured us that nature would adapt and survive, as would mankind.
    Throughout each lesson that followed, we kept turning our attention to the window. Even the teachers couldn’t resist looking, despite the fact that there was nothing unusual to see.
    Come dusk, as we made our way to our homes, stars began to prick the twilight. I kept looking up and around. I wasn’t sure what I was hoping to spot. The moon might have sailed through every night sky for billions of years, but sometimes clouds, tall buildings or trees conspired to cover it up. Everything just looked so normal up there, so peaceful and serene. I saw no smouldering remains or hole torn out of the heavens. Had I spent the day in my own company, without news or gossip, it would not have struck me that anything was different. Still, as an urgent breeze picked up all the litter in the streets, I couldn’t help feeling that perhaps we had taken things for granted.
    “Come and sit with us, cupcake. There’s something we need to discuss.”
    I had found my parents facing one another at the kitchen table. Like everyone, they appeared a little shell-shocked and bewildered. They looked up when I came into the room. As soon as my father invited me to join them, I realized I had just killed a conversation.
    “What’s the latest on the moon?” I asked, noting the television switched on in the corner. The sound was muted, but the footage of the rockets climbing into the sky looked ominous.
    “The moon?” My father paused and gazed at me. It left me

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