Hapdorn stories


Capital of the Grand Duchy of Thorgelfayne

All Aboard for Homeland!

Dear Ken,

The purser said he’d mail this for me if I finish it in time!

I’m on board the space liner now! I am too busy getting everything tucked away to be terribly overwhelmed by the experience, but I am sure that I’ll have plenty of time for that once we get underway. The purser told me that we have a few hours till departure, and agreed to get this note to a mailbox before we leave—if I’m done in time!

I want you to know that I am very proud of myself! The purser does not speak any human languages, so I had to do all that in Thorgelfaynese! I was very nervous about making mistakes, until I noticed his grammar wasn’t too good either. He’s Halakanian, and so Thorgelfaynese is a foreign language for him as well! That really put me at ease. I’m sure you already know what a heady experience it is when you need to speak a foreign language in a pinch, and you pull it off for the first time.

Well, I digress. The space liner is really a surprise! I was expecting modernistic chrome and steel, weird lights and strange sounds; but it didn’t turn out that way at all. It’s kind of cramped, with small rooms and low ceilings (a nuisance for the really tall people among us) and very efficient use of space. Most of the colors are Earth tones (or should I say: Homelander tones?) with delightful splashes of red or green as an accent color. My cabin has a lot of browns, with green pillows and bright artificial flower arrangements. The cream-colored carpeting is delightful, and I even have three large floor pillows!

It’s a lot like being in a miniature ocean liner designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for an obscure and frumpy European country. (I waffle between being impressed and wanting to giggle!) It’s very small, but not cramped, because everything either folds into the wall or does double duty. The sofa is a bed and the easy chair converts into a table! I could entertain about five people in here either by folding everything up and using the sofa, the chair and the floor pillows; or I could convert the chair into a table, get out the folding chairs and host a card game—if I knew any card games, which I don’t!

No, there aren’t any windows, but I have a television screen in my cabin. I don’t know how to use it yet.

Now about our itinerary. We leave the Moon in about two and a quarter hours, according to my watch. Four minutes before take off, all passengers must strap themselves into a reclining position, where we must remain for about thirty-two minutes until the crew announces that we can move around freely. At that point we have an eight-hour enforced relaxation period, during which we are not permitted to leave our cabins. The purpose of the eight-hour enforced relaxation is to begin adjusting our biological clocks and to acclimatize ourselves to space flight. I’ve brought a long some reading material (in Thorgelfaynese, of course!) for that. After that, it’s just like an ocean cruise! We will be maintaining a Homelander-style clock and calendar, with occasional adjustments so that everything comes out even in the end.

I’ve signed up for dancing lessons, a discussion group for people who speak Thorgelfaynese as an Additional Language, and the bowling league. It isn’t quite the same as bowling at home, but close enough. So I’ll be busy. It will be very interesting to see where they find the room for all this stuff!

We only have four days or so of subjective time (I don’t know what it means, I just report the facts) until we reach the Alpha Centauri Transfer Point. Then we will have an objective day lay-over until we board another ship, which is a full-fledged, regularly-scheduled space liner. We’ll be joining the Zerpick-to-Homeland flight in mid-journey.

They say that the layover will be very boring, because the Alpha Centauri system is uninhabited. The transfer point was located there strictly for navigational reasons, and if I understand correctly, the construction work led to the discovery of humanity. Alpha Centauri is four light-years away, and our four-year-old radio and television broadcasts caused some unexpected interference. It’s as if someone built a super highway through a convenient mountain pass and then discovered a primitive tribe which happened to be living in the jungle nearby.

I was a little depressed that the human race would have gone undiscovered, unknown, and unappreciated if it hadn’t been for malfunctioning radio equipment; but I was told that all discoveries of one civilization by another have been by accident. The only exception was when the Zerpickers discovered the Chern-Homeland Cultural Interchange in a deliberate search sponsored by a Zerpicker country which no longer exists.

I have to wind this up quickly! The purser is here and he says that he has to have my letter now if I want it mailed.

Drop you a note from the Alpha Centauri Transfer Point!

Fenap θorgelma,


PS: That’s the Thorgelfaynese way of ending a letter, it means: ‘In the bond of friendship, from your Melissa.’