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Blood Moon Rising by SandySha

Word count 1110


*I don’t own them, wish I did. **Thanks to Alice Marie for help with the beta.

Written as part of the Lancer Writers January 2019 Challenge: ‘Let’s Observe.


“Beautiful night, isn’t it?” a soft voice drawled from the other side of the garden.

“That it is,” Scott answered, knowing his brother was standing not ten feet away, hidden in the shadows.  “The moon should be rising soon.”

“Gonna’ be a full moon tonight.”   Johnny moved to stand shoulder to shoulder with Scott.

The sound of footsteps caused them both to turn toward the door.  Murdoch stepped into the garden, joining his sons.

“Beautiful night,” Murdoch echoed the sentiments his son had only moments before voiced.

“Johnny was just saying that,” Scott answered with a smile.

Scott took a deep breath.  The air was cool but not cold.  The temperatures at night thus far had been in the mid-forties, which he was told was typical for the San Joaquin Valley in January.  He quickly put thoughts of Boston, and the snow he knew was on the ground there, out of his mind. He preferred the milder California climate.  

“Look!” Scott pointed to the eastern sky.

The three men stood fixed as they watched the moon start to rise.  It was larger than usual and not as bright, but the color… the color was almost red.

From where they stood, the barn, corral, and large oak tree in the yard quickly became black silhouettes against the ever-reddening and rising sphere.

Soon the moon had risen high enough that they were looking at a black backdrop sprinkled with diamonds and in the center of it all, a coppery colored orb.   

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full moon like that.”

Scott looked around.  The light from the moon cast an eerie glow, coating everything it touched with a reddish tint. 

“The Indians call it a Wolf Moon,” Johnny answered knowingly.

As if on cue, they heard the sound of coyotes in the hills to the north heralding the rising moon.  A second coyote answered the first, and then a third picked up the chorus.

“I’ve only heard it called a Blood Moon,” Murdoch spoke up, almost in a whisper, afraid to break the spell the moon had cast on the three men. 

Johnny knew better to ask, but he couldn’t help himself, “Why does it turn red?”

Scott thought for a few seconds and then answered, “I read a theory published by a British Physicist by the name of Lord Rayleigh.  He believes the moon only turns red when there is a lunar eclipse.   When the earth blocks the sun’s light, only a fraction of light gets to the moon.  The light that is refracted off the earth has shorter light waves, which result in the reddish color.”

Johnny looked at his brother, frowning.  Murdoch was nodding his head as if he understood every word his Harvard educated brother had said. 

Johnny hadn’t understood any of it.

Scott saw Johnny’s expression and laughed.   “The earth is blocking the sunlight getting to the moon, so it looks red.”

Johnny thought for a second before nodding. “Why didn’t you say so in the first place?”

Now both Murdoch and Scott were laughing.

“Looks like you could reach up and touch it,” Scott said, still watching the moon as it continued to rise in the night sky.

Johnny stretched out his right arm in front of him and turned his palm up.   Sighting along his arm, he closed one eye.   

Murdoch and Scott heard what sounded like a chuckle.

“Look, I’m holding it in my hand.” Johnny giggled this time.  “I’m holding the moon in the palm of my hand.”

Johnny grinned and then looked at Murdoch and Scott. Blushing, he dropped his arm. 

Johnny took a few steps forward and leaned against one of the low walls that surrounded the garden, eyes still skyward.

“I remember seeing a Wolf Moon once when I was a kid down in Mexico.”

Johnny spoke softly. 

“Folks there were scared.  They said it meant the end of the world.  Women started crying, and men were praying. The Ancianos, Elders, told everyone they’d seen the moon turn to blood before and there was nothing to fear.  Some believed them; some didn’t.  But you know what? The next morning the sun came up, and we were all still there.”  

Smiling, Johnny turned to his father and brother, “I remember the next morning getting up and looking outside.  You could still see the full moon in the western sky, and the sun in the east.  They were both in the sky at the same time.  Didn’t see that often, or maybe I didn’t spend a lot of time looking.”   

Murdoch looked at his youngest son, remembering a time long past.

“There was a Blood Moon when you were little, Johnny.”

Both sons turned to look at Murdoch. 

“I stood in this very spot with you in my arms.  You pointed at the moon and asked me, ‘Papa, did he eat Tia Maria’s peppers?’    I asked you who?”   

Murdoch chuckled.  “You said, ‘The man in the moon, Papa.  See, he got a red face just like you when you eat Tia Maria’s peppers.’   Then you started giggling.”

Murdoch laughed at the memory.  

“I said that?” Johnny grinned.   “Kinda’ cute, wasn’t I?”

“Yes, you were,” Murdoch put an arm around Johnny, hugging him.

Looking one more time at the Blood Moon, Murdoch turned.

“Time for bed, boys.  That moon probably brought out every coyote within fifty miles.  We’ll need to check the herds near the mountains tomorrow.”

Murdoch left Scott and Johnny and walked into the house.

Scott looked at his brother and then back at the sky.   The moon was now almost overhead, and the coppery brown had more of a red tinge to it than earlier.  It seemed the higher the moon moved into in the sky, the deeper the color became.

“Coming?” Scott asked as he started for the house.

“In a minute,” Johnny replied.  “I just want to look at it for a while yet.”

Johnny sighed and folded his arms on top of the low wall. He placed his chin on his arms and looked skyward.  He wondered if the women in Mexico were crying tonight, and the men praying?   Were the Indians looking at the moon and thinking of the wolf?

A cold gust of wind swept across the garden, causing Johnny to shiver.

From inside the house, he heard a single word called out, “John….”

Johnny stood up straight and turned.  Yes, it was time for bed.

In the distance, a howl pierced the night. Johnny smiled imagining a single wolf, head lifted skyward, silhouetted against the blood moon; howling at his namesake.

January 2019



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8 thoughts on “Blood Moon Rising by SandySha

  1. Nice piece. My favorite moments were Johnny “holdin’ it in my hand'” and Murdoch’s story about Johnny when he was young..
    Thanks for sharing.


  2. This is such a memorable story. I can just see Murdoch holding Johnny and looking at the red moon. What a long time went by before they saw another one together.


  3. Blood Moon is such a memorable story. I can just see Murdoch holding Johnny and looking at the red moon. What a long time went by before they saw another one together.


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