Kyeo's head hurts very badly. He doesn't remember how he got that way but he can guess that he's taken a blow to the head. That doesn't explain why he's not on a spaceship any more but he should probably not expect to figure that out right now. He looks confusedly at the non-spaceship around him for a minute before closing his eyes.
He can give their Ibyabekan names, sure...
Then the interpreters stop!
And he has food three times a day-- oatmeal or scrambled eggs and bacon or pancakes or muffins for breakfast, chicken noodle soup or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and carrots or chicken quesadilla with refried beans and avocado for lunch, turkey breast with yams and apples and green beans or eggplant parmesan spaghetti with carrots and peas or teriyaki tofu with brown rice and a quinoa salad. With lunch and dinner he gets a regular rotation of chocolate chip cookies, vanilla ice cream, chocolate pudding, and vanilla milkshakes.
Other than that, they leave him alone. There's a television in his room. Next to his bed, there's a basket with some brightly colored magazines, a deck of cards, a book of some kind of puzzle apparently called "sudoku," a sketchbook with colored pencils, and knitting needles and yarn.
He has no idea what kind of point they're trying to make with the food but he'll eat it. He attempts, when he feels able to get out of bed, to turn on the TV.
Their dialect of Kularan is weird enough and his head still hurts enough that he will go ahead and watch the firefighting bunnies for a bit, trying to figure out what the differences are from what he learned.
Judging from the voice acting, exactly fifty percent of the firefighting bunnies are female, and two of the male bunnies kiss after the fire is put out. The farmers are VERY happy that the firefighter bunnies have saved their farms!
The next show is about nine sea creatures-- four female, four male, and one Kyeo can't classify-- who find a starfish washed up on the beach! They must search through the ocean from top to bottom to figure out where the starfish is supposed to live and put it there. If Kyeo could speak Weird Kularan well enough he'd probably be learning all kinds of interesting facts about starfish habitats.
The presence of a sea creature he can't classify explains it: he's just not very good at identifying the genders of weird-dialect Kularan by voice acting and cartoon alone. (It's plausible they have female firefighters, though, since wherever this is it isn't Ibyabek.) It seems like they only use one of the Kularan words for "and", and sometimes they draw it way out and add extra sounds. None of the sea creatures look non-Terrestrial, so it's set on Earth or a place without wildlife. Actually, maybe this is Earth. Food probably grows well on Earth since all the crops were originally developed there and so did the languages Kularan is stitched together from.
The next show is a live-action educational show. Small children (of conspicuously diverse ethnicities, dressed uniformly in shorts and T-shirts, and with hair of varying lengths but no other obvious gender signifiers) play outside. The setting is conspicuously rural: it's set in a forest interspersed with picturesque houses, and pigs and chickens wander through the scenes without anyone seeming to care. The small children are stuck on one side of a stream, and decide to build a bridge to cross it. An adult man comes by to speak to them, and Kyeo can put together that this is probably about how they were doing engineering. We are shown pictures of bridges and houses and roller coasters and a primitive starship. The children play with blocks and Legos and (supervised by an adult woman) circuitry. The letter of the day is E for Engineering. The number of the day is Twelve for Twelve buildings. There is an interview with an adult female engineer. Someone gets frustrated that their Lego castle keeps falling down, but the man supervising the children encourages them to take deep breaths, and then they can build it so it stands up! Children instruct an adult in building a block tower; he gets the instructions humorously wrong. The children dance and sing a song about bridges falling down. Engineers have to measure things! Children practice measuring their block towers and Lego castles and bridges.
He's getting the hang of the numbers now, which are about half the same as he learned at least from one to twelve. It seems good that there is children's content about bridge-building, he supposes.
There is a lot of content about bridges, actually.
The next three shows are:
-a VERY EXCITED PERSON who wants to tell you ALL about EXCAVATORS and MONSTER TRUCKS and TRACTOR-TRAILERS and DITCH DIGGERS and CRANES.
-a documentary about babies from around the world. One of the babies lives in what Kyeo recognizes as a city; one of the babies lives in a house with backyard chickens and a garden, located near similar houses; two of the babies live on farms with extremely primitive technology. The primitive babies seem to have a father and a mother and an extended family; the city baby has one mother and no father; the backyard-chicken baby has two dads and a large rotating cast of other caretakers who, judging by their skin tone, are not all related to the dads. The dads kiss and hold hands with each other.
-the story of a small girl who wants someone to play with, so she asks her mama, but her mama is busy! so she asks her mommy, but her mommy is busy! so she asks her mom, but her mom is busy! so she asks her dad, but her dad is busy! so she asks her grandma, but her grandma is busy! so she asks her grandpa, but her grandpa is busy! so she asks granny, but granny is busy! so she asks granddad, but granddad is busy! so she asks her uncle, but her uncle is busy! so she asks her Alex, but her Alex is busy! so she asks her Leaf, but her Leaf is busy! so she asks her Francis, but her Francis is busy! and then it turns out everyone was busy making a surprise party for her, yay, so she gets to play with her mama and her mom and her mommy and her dad and her grandma and her grandpa and her granny and her granddad and her uncle and Alex and Francis and Leaf. (the uncle is about fifteen; Mama, Mom, Mommy, and Dad are all in their early twenties at the oldest; the grandparents are maybe in their forties.)
Yes, yes, he's heard that on United Kular sometimes - ugh. He assumes some words for family relationships are lost on him due to this not actually being standard Kularan.
He does eventually try other channels. And makes attempts at the magazines.
Other channels have Probably A News Show, and a self-consciously artistic movie he doesn't know enough Weird Kularan to understand, and a hospital drama that turns into pornography halfway through, and a black-and-white film with tapdancing, and some people who are VERY enthusiastic about cucumbers. Magazines seem to be selected for having very pretty pictures of mountains and undersea life and outer space and exotic animals.
Why is there pornography! What! How fortunate he knows how to change the channel now.
The pictures of outer space are weird. Maybe it's false-color.
And once his head has recovered they take him to a room and put him in front of a computer. The computer has a program with a cartoon owl. The cartoon owl shows him pictures of cats and dogs and trees and cars and houses and men and women and something called an "enby," and says their names and has him repeat after them. Then he has to hear the word and choose which picture goes with it, or see the picture and pronounce the word. It moves on to adjectives (TALL girl, BROWN dog, WET car) and verbs ("the boy runs," "the cat climbs," "the man builds," each illustrated with a little video).
He recognizes almost half the words between having studied Kularan and watched a lot of TV, but he's not fluent. He will do the exercises. He is not sure what an enby is but the word isn't hard to pronounce particularly.
At lunchtime someone collects him and walks him to the hospital cafeteria, where he can choose between chicken noodle soup and meatloaf and chicken quesadilla, and salmon and congee and cheeseburgers and caprese sandwiches and a mixed vegetable plate and fried rice and black beans besides. At the dessert table, he can choose between four different kinds of cake or five different kinds of pie or ten different flavors of ice cream or fifteen different cookies.
He supposes they probably have food like this on Earth. Wow. He'll take, uh, meatloaf and fried rice and cake???
He can read magazines while he eats.
When lunch is done, the person collects him and takes him back to the room.
The next few weeks continue like so. Wake up, breakfast delivery, cartoon owl teaching him Weird Kularan, lunch, more cartoon owl teaching him Weird Kularan, dinner, back to his room. The cartoon owl moves on to sentence structure and verb tenses and more complex vocabulary, which it begins to define through words rather than pictures. It has some weird choices of vocabulary: "time travel" and "xenoanthropology" and "far future"; the entire periodic table and the parts of the atom and math concepts through calculus; "parliament" and "monarchy" and "dictatorship" and "vote"; "famine" and "infertility" and "pandemic" and "torture" and "human rights violation."
Wow, Weird Kularan's grammar is brutal. He's beginning to suspect it's one of the languages that got creoled in its separately developed form and hasn't had a nice collision with half a dozen other languages to smooth it out. He will learn the vocabulary, though some of it is kind of weird.
And then one day instead of being taken to the cartoon owl room he's taken to a nice meeting room.
"Hi! I'm Lev Aarons. I work with the government of Cascadia. --You're in Cascadia, by the way."
"Pleased to meet you," Kyeo says, "I'm Kyeo Sebe Luk. Is this Earth?"