Michael’s Moonwalk

by Yap Gaa Mun

Illustration by Kong Yink Heay

Illustration by Kong Yink Heay

Imagine looking through your magnifying glass and you will find the Coccinella saltare a really amazing creature.

Analogous to a lady bug, it was the apple of the eye for any biologist. This bug was named Coccinella that registered the genus of the bug and saltare which meant dance in Latin as inspired by its proverbial swarm behaviour – when flying in aggregates, the colony wafted in figure-eight pattern as if they were dancing in the air.

Some insects were meant to be cute but not when it was about to collide with a planet full of living human beings!

For the human beings, C. saltare was a gigantic monster from outerspace the size of Godzilla, terrifying cities and towns once a year for hundreds of years since the year 2020. Like migrating birds, it flew from one galaxy to another, resting on earth for a week before flying off to another galaxy. For many years, biologists could not understand the reason this bug chose this region during its migration period.

But this did not stop one scientist from finding out the truth.

Michael Goh had been studying the C. saltare for 5 years already. He believed that the bug was genetically modified. After collecting sufficient data, he was sure that he had discovered the underlying reason for the migration of the bug to this region. All he needed to do was to test his hypothesis. The year 2500 was supposed to be his “eureka” year but the government suddenly withdrew all fundings for his research and instead invested in military to defend against C. saltare.

Depressed, he confided to his friend, Kumar, “I was this close. This close! If only I had enough money to fund my research.”

“Buddy, if I were you, I would not be crying like this,” consoled Kumar. “Get Up! And dance!”

“Dance?”

“There will be an anti-gravity dance competition organised by a lottery company. The first on earth. The grand winner brings home 10 million dollars. That money should be more than enough to fund your research.”

Trying his best to be optimistic, Michael thought that it was a good opportunity since he was a dancer in his youth. He asked, “But how can I learn to dance?”

“No worries. I shall teach you the science of dancing.”

Michael agreed with a gulp.

So, every evening, he would practise dancing at Kumar’s dance studio. With 10 years of experience in anti-gravity moves coupled with yoga, Kumar was credible to be his dance instructor.

The anti-gravity dance move was actually a new dance move developed within the decade after humans discovered that by manipulating the gravitational waves using technology, could enable anything to float. So, choreographers took the opportunity to dance while afloat giving birth to the anti-gravity dance.

Although Michael had never tried this dance genre, he found that the anti-gravity dance easy as it did not require much strength since he did not need to move his limbs and head so much to fight low gravity. Whenever he was lazy to practise, Kumar would say to him, “Get Up! And dance!”

Finally, the day of the competition dawned on a sunny afternoon.

Hundreds of participants went up to the digitally controlled stage to show their moves. Each dancer had a nickname and none revealed their real names. The audience that crowded the perimeter of the rectangular stage, watching them move 10 metres above the stage, performing from beginning till end.

When it was Michael’s turn, butterflies were in his stomach.

“Ladies and gentlemen! I now present to you… the “Saltare”!

He was finally on the stage. Kumar was at the backstage watching everything. The moment music started blasting from the speakers, Michael was lifted off the stage. He started performing to the sounds of the electronica music. Flashes of holographic laser beams criss-crossed the stage as the theatrical lights focused on Michael.

Suddenly, there was a blackout and Michael slowly descended to the stage like a fallen angel. The crowd silenced. The speaker muted. The judges were murmuring.

Stunned, Michael merely stood on the stage with 60 seconds left before time’s up.

“GET UP! AND DANCE!” shouted a voice.

Out of a spark of ingenuity, Michael started performing the moonwalk. He was not sure when the dance move started but it was passed down in his family for generations. He watched his grandfather did it like a folk dance when he was young. His footwork on the stage was so smooth, it was almost criminal.

The time was up.

His score was 99.99%.

Michael won the grand prize and the 10 million dollars was his! Kumar was overjoyed to see his student’s success.

With the huge sum, he continued his research and was finally able to test his hypothesis. He discovered that C. saltare was attracted to the high carbon dioxide levels of the ocean due to global warming of the earth.

Disclaimer: All names, including the species Coccinella saltare, are fictitious and that any resemblance to real person is purely coincidence.

About the Author

Yap Gaa Mun is a first year student studying physics at the University of Malaya. Her hobbies include writing fiction, photography and proposing scientific hypotheses. She hopes that one day, films will be directed based on her fictional stories. Currently, she dreams of a scientific career. Find out more about Gaa Mun by visiting her Scientific Malaysian profile: http://www.scientificmalaysian.com/members/gaamun