Oct 20, 2018 9:27 PM
cleanliness is next to godliness
Menu
Amentans in Gilead
Permalink

If you were a Gileadite kid in the nineties, there weren't a lot of fantasy novels. Fred read the Narnia books until the covers fell off his copies, and every time he saw a hall closet or a wardrobe he would sneak in and press his hands against the back and hope that someday the fur coats would turn into snow and fir trees and a lamppost.

Now he is a dignified adult, close to fifty, and he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. So he doesn't check the backs of closets anymore, at least not often or when anyone is looking. 

So when he opens his closet door and sees a bar instead of his ordinary suits, without hesitation he goes inside. 

Total: 595
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

The bar is currently empty, and currently small and cozy. There are stars exploding outside the window.

Permalink

"Hello?"

He feels a bit silly for expecting the bar to immediately produce a distressed fawn or a talking beaver or some other sort of immediate connection to the plot.

Permalink

Hello, reads a spontaneously generated napkin. Welcome to Milliways. Can I interest you in a drink? First one is free.

Permalink

"Don't mind if I do. Black coffee, please."

Permalink

A black coffee materializes. Enjoy.

Permalink

He takes it and sits by a window, watching the exploding stars. 

To be honest, if he spends his Not Narnia experience drinking a black coffee in space, that will be enough. 

Permalink

Stars explode.

And the door opens to admit a young woman with cobalt blue hair busy on a handheld device and speaking into an earpiece. "Thank you, Uncle, I appreciate that. Every vote-counting volunteer makes it that much easier on the rest of them -"

Permalink

Cobalt blue is not a color hair comes in in Gilead. Not because it's illegal or sinful, of course, God didn't make any commandments against blue hair, but it's considered vaguely disreputable, not the sort of thing our kind of people do. 

Still, Fred considers himself a cosmopolitan man of the world. It occurs to him that she might not be human, but he dismisses it quickly. Reality is not a low-budget science fiction TV show, and he knows enough to expect aliens to be truly alien. Cascadian maybe? Canadian? Maybe even European? Any of them would make sense of a woman being involved in vote-counting. 

God, he thinks, I'm not complaining, but there are way easier ways to get me to talk to a Cascadian.  

"Ma'am?"

Permalink

Her head snaps up. She looks about in evident bewilderment. The door clicks shut behind her, and she looks back at her device, frowning. She hesitates, then takes out her earpiece.

"Yes?" she asks him, appearing to expect that he'll explain himself.

Permalink

Definitely Cascadian. Outside of Cascadia, no one with blue hair has that much of an air of authority.

"Hello, ma'am. I am Commander Waterford of the Republic of Gilead and when I opened my closet this morning it turned into a bar. I assume a similar thing happened to you?"

Permalink

"I'm Acting Governor Avalor of Voa and I was attempting to enter my office."

Permalink

So not Cascadian, there is no place called Voa in Cascadia. Maybe Voa is a province in some country in Africa or Asia or something? Where they had white people with blue hair being governor? 

Fred wishes he had paid more attention in international relations class.

"The bar communicates in napkins and will give you a free drink if you ask for one."

Permalink

Avalor looks skeptically at the bar. "I see," she says.

Permalink

"I'm quite sorry, it's my fault-- what country is Voa a province of?"

Permalink

"Voa is a country," she says. "I'm reasonably sure there is nowhere called the Republic of Gilead on my planet, and your hair color is also implausible."

Permalink

Pause.

"...So what you're saying is that either this is a very elaborate practical joke, or you're a bad-sci-fi-show alien."

Permalink

"If your sci-fi shows also use implausible hair colors to mark aliens while using ordinary actors to play them, yes, I suppose I am a bad sci-fi alien," says Avalor coolly.

Permalink

"Usually they go with rubber foreheads and enlarged ears."

Permalink

"Ah," says Avalor. "Well. Is the fact that I hear you speaking Voan a technology of yours or of this location?"

Permalink

"It's not mine. The bar could write napkins in English, which makes me think it's the location."

Permalink

"I see." She addresses the bar. "Are you producing this translation effect?"

Not me personally, but the establishment is, yes, replies the bar.

"Thank you," says Avalor. "Could you explain it in more detail?"

Persons in the bar, as well as the hotel upstairs, the other common rooms, and the backyard, will be able to understand one another as though speaking and writing a common language. Writing brought out of the bar will in this case be written in the language intended by its creator. Person departing the bar retain no unusual comprehensibility or comprehendibility.

Permalink

The bar has the power to change what Fred can see and hear. So far, the bar seems to be friendly, but he should take care before taking any serious steps based on what he sees or hears here. Fortunately, he has access to linguists in Gilead, who can learn Voan and double-check any information he gets from her in this bar. 

...That might explain why Avalor looks human except for her blue hair. The bar is giving her a form that he's comfortable with. 

Still, no need to rush into the revelation of her monstrous tentacled form. He sips his coffee and says, "why don't you get a drink, ma'am, and we can compare notes on our countries?"

Permalink

"I'm not thirsty, thank you, but I'd love to hear more about the Republic of Gilead."

Permalink

She couldn't have asked a more specific question? Oh, yes, Fred, summarize your entire country in three sentences for the blue-haired alien who may or may not secretly have tentacles. 

"We were established about twenty years ago, after the fall of the United States of America. It's been a bit of a rough transition, I'm not going to lie, but things are getting more stable every day. We try to serve God, to protect the family, and to bring peace and justice to our people-- none of which, I might add, the United States was particularly good at."

Permalink

"Some of that isn't translating usefully... Voa was recently released from hostile occupation by a foreign conqueror, the Empire of Oahk, following a coup leaving the Oahkar government incapable of continuing to project power abroad, and I'm reconstructing Voa as best I can. How did the United States fall? What is God?"

Total: 595
Posts Per Page:
Back to Top