The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

Zuangeng Kidnapped

Zuangeng continued walking through the grass. He thought he heard voices closer than before. They came from his right. He stopped. He turned the direction of the voices. He looked over the tops of the grass. He thought, “That must be them. They’re heading this way.”

He picked up the pace. He hurried to the beach. He came out of the grass onto the sand. He looked at the vista before him. The beach was littered with the remains of outrigger canoes. Some were obviously built for the lagoon only. The rest were built for the open ocean. However, they were in various stages of decay. It seemed that they hadn’t seen water for years. He remembered hearing of an island that was deserted some time before his birth. He said to himself, “This must be that island!”

He searched the boats. He found one that was more seaworthy than the rest. He had learned more spells including one of repairing objects. He said the spell. The outrigger returned to its pristine condition.

Captain Garaad decided to check the beach. He walked down to the sand. He looked east. He spied Zuangeng. He screamed, “There’s fuckin’ Zuangeng! Everybody to the beach! Somebody find Bilal and Muse! Tell them to have everybody head to the damn beach!”

Captain Garaad took off running toward Zuangeng. Everybody with him followed behind him.

Captain Garaad yelled, “Zuangeng! So there you the fuck are! Get yer ass here!”

They reached the outrigger graveyard. Muse, Bilal and their men came out of the forest. They bolted for the beach, hearing Captain Garaad’s scream.

Zuangeng heard Captain Garaad. He turned his head to the right. He spied the man. accept for being beached the boat was ready. He could not push it into the water. He climbed on the deck. He sat toward the stern. He said another spell.

Captain Garaad watched as the boat floated slightly off the ground. The boat floated toward the water. Zuangeng was watching him. Captain Garaad yelled, “So the damn twerp knows fuckin’ magic. Everybody find the best damn boats! We are going back to sea!”

Muse and Bilal with their men reached the beach. They joined the rest. Everybody found some boats that seemed seaworthy enough. Together, they pushed them into the water.

Zuangeng’s boat reached the water. The single sail had been laying across the deck. He grabbed the halyard. He pulled it raising the sail. The boat settled on the water. He looked behind him. The men were scrambling to push their boats into the water. He wondered, “Do they even know how to sail? Do they only know steamships?”

He knew sails. He had spent his first six years onboard the sailing ship, Serikua. In the last two years, he had lived with his uncle, aunt and cousins on a farm. However, he had taken advantage of being able to go to the harbor. He had taken lessons on sailing outriggers.

The sail was still furled. He grabbed the reef holding it. He pulled on it. The boom was already tied to the sail. It was hinged at the mast. The boom fell. He dodged it in time to prevent being hit by it. The boom swung port. He grabbed the sheet. The boom swung until it was perpendicular to the hull. He held the sheet to prevent it from going further. He turned his head to look behind him. He found the only outrigger on starboard.

The men had their boats in the water. They were foundering with the sails. Obviously, they knew next to nothing about sails.

These outriggers used rudders instead of oars for steering. Zuangeng grabbed his tiller. He steered his boat to port. He ducked as the boom swung starboard. It swung almost perpendicular again. Zuangeng stopped it. He looked at the sail for the first time. It was adorned with a greenish blue stylized sea dragon. He looked behind him. The pursuing men had finally managed to set their sails. They were after him. Their boats were not in the best of shape. They still had some problems. He said to himself, “Obviously, they are not really seasoned sailors as far as sails go. They’re mishandling the sails.”

Captain Garaad’s crew managed to get the boats into the water. Some of the outrigger support beams were either broken of missing. Some of the mast stays came loose. They quickly tied them in place. They had to study the mast and rigging. They had never sailed sailboats before. They struggled with the sails and rigging. They abused the rigging. Some of the rigging were frayed. The sails were well worn and ripped. They made the best of the situation. They watched Zuangeng handle his boat with ease. They became envious of him. Captain Garaad said scornfully, “When I get my hands on the damn bastard, I’m gonna fuckin’ force him to teach me that before turning him over to Shokura!”

They managed to set the sails. They were finally back under sail.

Zuangeng turned back to his own boat. He pulled the sheet. The boom swung toward the hull. The sail tightened nicely. The boat picked up speed. He looked back again. The others had managed to get under way after him.

He found favorable wind. He steered back to starboard. He pulled on the sheet more. The boom swung more to center. The boat picked up more speed. He looked behind him again. He was out racing them, gaining distance.

Captain Garaad watched Zuangeng gaining distance. He said, “Damn, he’s fuckin’ outrunning us! These damn boats are poor fuckin’ excuses for boats!”

They came to the reef. A big wave flowed over the reef toward shore. Zuangeng steered his boat to perpendicular of the wave. He pulled the sheet more. The sail tightened. The boat sailed up and over the wave. More waves came his way. They increased in height as they advanced. The boat rode the waves as it encountered them.

He looked back. The other boats were riding the waves with no difficulties.

Soon, everybody was past the reef and in open ocean. Zuangeng looked back again. He said to himself, “I wonder how seaworthy are those boats. I hope they make it. I may not like them, they maybe my enemies; but, I do not wish ill of them.”

He continued in the direction he ended in. He did not know where he was going. The sun was now high in the sky. He looked behind him. The island they left was out of sight. All he saw was water, blue sky with no clouds and the pursuing boats. He looked in all the other directions. All he saw was water and sky. All he knew was he was going south and east. To what degree he knew not. The only thing else he knew was he had no provisions. He was in too much a hurry to go to get any.

He kept looking forward with an occasional look back. The crew seemed to be learning how to handle the sails. It seemed like they were starting to gain on him. He pulled the sheet, bringing the sail closer to center. The boat picked up more speed. He gained more distance from his pursuers. They did not have enough sail to keep up. Their sails were tattered whereas his was pristine.

About an hour later, he lost sight of his pursuers. He kept in the direction he was going. He thought, “I hope I reach land before the day is gone. I’m hungry. There is nothing to eat or drink.”

The day wore on. He continued sailing the same direction. The day turned to night, still no sign of land. He was starving, now. He had no way to obtain food without becoming a dragon. He thought, “I don’t know if I can leave this boat. They might be able to catch up with me if I did.”

He looked into the night sky. Still, there were no clouds. The stars were out by the thousands. There was no moon. He looked for familiar constellations. They were no help in determining which way to go. So, he did not vary his direction. He said to himself, “Eventually, I must come upon land.”

He continued sailing throughout the night. His stomach started to hurt from hunger. He never paused. He stayed fully awake all night. He tied the sheet to a post near him. All he had to hold was the tiller.

The sun rose. There was still no sign of land. About midday, he saw some birds floating in the water. He said to himself, “There be birds in the water! I hope, there is land nearby.”

The afternoon wore on. Still no land. He looked on with dismay. Evening came. The sun was low on the western horizon. A dark line appeared on the horizon in front of him. He thought, “That must be land ahead.”

As he got closer, the line changed. It did start to look more like land. His hope peaked. He started to see some lights. He said, “At last, I’m coming to an occupied island.”

As he approached the island, the lights took form. He found a pair of torches at the outer end of a vacant wharf. He released the sheet to let the sail loose. He stood up. He walked up to the mast. He held the reef in his left hand. With his right hand, he lifted the boom. He tied the sail with the reef to reduce surface.

He walked back to the stern. He picked up the sheet with his left hand. He grabbed the tiller with his right. He pulled the sheet. The sail regained the wind. The boat moved forward. He steered the boat toward the pier. He approached it at an angle. Sailboats cannot sail directly into the wind. He remained standing as he sailed toward the wharf.

When he got close, he let out the sail, slowing the boat. He tied the sheet and tiller. He walked to the bow. He grabbed the painter in his left hand. He was approaching the wharf on his left.

The boat reached the wharf. He grabbed a pier with his right. The boat came to a stop. He tied the painter to the pier. He walked back to the stern. He released the sheet and tiller. He walked to the mast. He untied the reef. The boom fell. He pulled on the reef. The boom swung up. When it was against the mast, he tied the reef to a peg in the mast. He folded the sail and stuffed it in the crack between the mast and boom.

He walked to the bow. He stepped off onto the wharf. He noticed that the boat had swung to parallel with the wharf. He walked toward the stern. He knelt down and reached for the stern painter. He got it and tied it to the pier.

 

 

 

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Twenty Eight

A Murder

One day, he was walking down a street. He heard some noise coming from an alley to his right. His curiosity got peaked. He turned the corner. He entered the alley to investigate. He saw two Jalapean men arguing in the middle of the alley.

One man appeared to be in his twenties. He was of average height. The other man appeared to be about Zuangeng’s height. However, he spoke with a deep voice. His hair was grey. His face was wrinkled with apparent old age. Zuangeng figured, “He must be late fifties or early sixties in age.”

Zuangeng continued down the alley. He was pretending to mind his own business. He noticed that the short man was wearing a pair of black gloves. His left pants pocket was bulging. He heard the men speak street Jalapean. The short man said, “Ke wan’deni mami e’fu mia tano sit’ni! M’mi tazami ke kwo (fuckin’) lipa m’mi kesho!”

The tall man said, “M’mi ti’ kapon’ pond’sha (in) kwamba (damn) chache moja wakat’!”

“M’mi fen’pona (give a fuck!) Lipa m’mi kambla!” the short man said.

The two continued arguing. It heated up. Suddenly, the short man pulled a pistol out of the bulging pocket. A large shadow crossed the scene. He aimed the gun at the tall man’s chest. The tall man started pleading for his life. The short man pulled the trigger. The bullet hit the tall man in the chest. He crumpled to the ground. The killer walked to the body. He shot it in the head for added measure.

The killer turned to the right. He saw Zuangeng standing there, mouth agape. Zuangeng appeared to him as a young lad, perhaps six years old. The boy had lighter brown skin than his own. He had dirt over his face and hands. He had dusty, straight, sandy blond hair that fell below the shoulder blades. He wore filthy rags for clothing and a necklace. The killer turned his gun on the boy.

Zuangeng saw the killer point the gun at him. He spun left, hair flying out. Some dust flew out of his hair. He ran, hair blowing behind him, to an alcove in the nearest building. The alcove was small. A door was at the end. He tried the door. It opened into a dark room. He ran through the doorway. He slammed the door closed. He was in pitch darkness. He groped for a lock. He found a deadbolt knob. He turned it. He heard the bolt slide into place. He heard a click. The door was locked. He slid down the door to his knees. He turned around. and sat on the floor. He leaned against the door. He sat in the dark. He was shaking, exhausted from the run. He felt his heart pounding his chest. He listened as footsteps rapidly approached the door.

The killer saw where the boy ran. He ran to the alcove. He found the closed door. He tried turning the door  knob and pushing the door. It would not budge. He tried rattling the door. It would not open. He backed out a few feet. He took a running start. He slammed the door with his left shoulder. The door still would not budge. He gave up, rubbing his painful shoulder.

He left the alcove He walked back to the body. He dropped the gun on the ground next to the body. He exited the alley.

Zuangeng heard and felt the door rattle. He heard footsteps fade. Then, he heard rapid footsteps approach. He heard a thud and felt the door press against him. He felt the door vibrate. The door remained steadfast. He heard footsteps fade and the gun drop. He heard footsteps approach again. They went on past. They faded to silence.

He remained sitting for a while longer before moving. Silence remained outside. Once he calmed down and his heart ceased to thump, he stood up. He groped for the lock. He unlocked the door. He opened the door a crack. He peered outside. No one was there so he opened it wider. He walked to the alcove’s end. He peered out in both directions, still no one.

He walked back into the alley. He found the body laying on the ground. The gun laid next to it. He walked to the body. He knelt down beside it. He examined the body. He touched neither the body nor the gun. This was the first time he had ever seen a dead human body. He found it morbidly fascinating. This was how the police found him.

Three policemen entered the alley. They walked to Zuangeng from behind and the body. Two of the officers bent down. They grabbed Zuangeng in the armpits. Zuangeng cried, startled, “Eh! Ingayala!”

They picked him up. They pulled him from the body. They held him. Zuangeng did not bother to struggle. He watched the third officer examine the body. The officer was a typical Jalapean man. His hair was short cropped. He wore a white pair of pants and short sleeved shirt. He had black leather shoes. He wrote in a small notebook.

He stood up. He turned around. He looked at Zuangeng and the two officers. The officers were similar to him, including the clothing. He saw the same boy that the killer saw.

Zuangeng looked at the officer in front of him. The officer’s left shirt breast had a gold badge. Zuangeng could not understand the writing on the badge. He wore a brown leather belt around his waist. A leather holster hung form the belt on the officer’s right side. The holster held a pistol in it. The officer spoke Jalapean, “Pileka lemtato mbole.”

The officer on Zuangeng’s left pivoted around. The officer on Zuangeng’s right walked around. Zuangeng, confused, turned with them. All three remained silent. The officers holding Zuangeng exited the alley with the boy in tow. They led Zuangeng to the police station. It was a five story, red brick building. They climbed some concrete steps to the double wood door.

One officer opened a door. They entered the building. They walked down a flight of steps leading below ground. They took Zuangeng to a cell. They put him in it. They locked the cell door shut.

Zuangeng stood in the cell. He watched the officers leave. Once they were gone, he looked around. Sunlight shone through one small barred window. It was located in the far wall near the ceiling. Men were in other cells. He was glad that he was by himself with steel bars between him and them. They did not look friendly and frightened him. They talked among themselves. Some stared at him. A cot sat against the wall with the window. It stood in the wall’s middle.

One man in the next cell to Zuangeng’s right approached the bars between their cells. He spoke Jalapean to Zuangeng. He said, “Hey, kijana! Guniwa ke ne kwo?”

Zuangeng said nothing. He stood there, studying the man. The man was Jalapean. He wore black and white striped pants and shirt. He wore black leather shies. Everybody else in the cells were similarly dressed. Zuangeng was the oddball of the lot. He still wore his own clothes, torn as they were. He was the only person not Jalapean.

The man had a partial sneer on his face. He said,  “Guniwa moja (fuckin’) nini?”

Zuangeng still said nothing. He turned toward the far wall. The man said, “Tiakaponi hapana (fuckin’) sema?”

Zuangeng ignored him and the others. He walked to the cot. He laid down. The cot was a little uncomfortable.

The third officer remained at the crime scene. He found the gun. He picked it up. He studied it.

Two more officers appeared with a litter. They were dressed the same as he was. He told them to take the body.

The officers laid the litter on the ground near the body. One officer stood by the head, the other by the feet. They crouched and bent over. The officer at the head put his hands under the shoulders. The other officer grabbed the feet. Together, they picked the body up. They laid it on the litter. They picked up the litter. The officer at the head had his back to the litter.

They carried the litter out of the alley. They carried it to a horse drawn wagon. The wagon was oak with police painted on the side. Behind the horse was a raised bench running across the wagon. The reigns were tied to a post on the left side. They carried the litter behind the wagon. A gate hung down from the bottom. They placed the litter on the wagon bed. They lifted the gate into place. They latched it to both sides. They walked to the front, one on each side. They climbed in. They sat on the bench. The officer on the left untied the reigns. He held them and gave them a quick flick. The horse started to trot. They drove off.

The remaining officer pocketed the gun. He exited the alley. He walked to the station.

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

Scenes looking for a novel

Lieutenant Surya Yaa trod down the metal deck of the ship. She left a trail of water puddles and mud. With every step, water slushed in her flooded, wet, muddy boots.  Water dripped from her black, tightly curled bushy hair and rifle slung on her back. She had come in from the rain and three feet of water.

Lieutenant Yaa trudged through water up to her hips. Occasionally, she had to work her feet free, for they would sink in the mud. The mud stuck to her boots. The wind was brisk. Waves washed against her, sometimes, up to her waist. Rain pockmarked the water. She carried her rifle in her hands.

She was returning from patrol. She had scouted the area. She was heading toward the ship. Waves washed up the entrance ramp.

She climbed the ramp to the entrance. Water ran down the ramp.

Lieutenant Yaa knelt on the beach of what passed for land on this planet. She was up to her shoulders in water. Wind blew in her face. Waves lapped against her up to her neck on occasion. The sun was shining brightly. She rest the butt of her rifle on her leg with her left hand. In her right hand, she held a pair of binoculars to her eyes. She was watching some landing crafts carrying Yauntzy.

The Yauntzy were approaching her. Soon, she said, to the twenty men with her, “Head for the trees. Hide in them.”

Everybody stood up. They were hip deep in water. They trudged toward a grove of trees. The trees were supported out of the water by their roots.

The men entered the grove. They climbed onto the roots, hoping to leave the water. Lieutenant Yaa climbed a tree into the branches.

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Sea Gypsies of Ngoguyon

They exited the terminal through the front exit doors. A row of taxis waited for passengers. They walked to the last taxi. Jonathon and Kiribourey loaded the luggage into the trunk of the taxi. They climbed in. The adults sat in the front seat. Kiribourey sat on the left. Sopheary sat in the middle. Jonathon sat on the right. The children sat in the back seat.

Kiribourey put his card into the dashboard slot. He said, “Launfrabeng International Seaport, Dock Three Twenty Seven.”

“Seaport,” Jonathon asked, bewildered.

Kiribourey said, “Yes. We are taking a boat home. It will take some hours to get there.”

“Would a plane be faster,” Jonathon asked.

Kiribourey answered, “Maybe; but, we would need a boat anyway. This way, you get a chance to see some sights and time to learn some of our language. The children can learn some English as well.”

They arrived at the dock. Everybody bailed out. Kiribourey got his card. Jonathon and Quenan unloaded the luggage. They walked on board the boat. Kiribourey said, “This is the only way to the house. You will see why when we get there.”

Kiribourey took Jonathon below deck. He showed him to a spare cabin. He said, “When we travel on this boat, this will be your cabin.”

He walked up. He walked to the dock office. He informed them that he was ready to leave. He exited the office. Two men joined and followed him.

Kiribourey walked onto the boat. The two men removed the gangplank. Kiribourey closed the gate. He walked onto the bridge.

Quenan was on the bow, headset on his head. Boupha-Kannitha was on the stern. Jonathon joined Quenan. The dockworkers untied the painters. They threw them to the children. Jonathon watched Quenan catch his painter. Quenan pulled it in. He coiled it on the deck.

Joanthon walked onto the bridge. Kiribourey had his headset on. He noticed Jonathon and nodded. He got a third headset out. He handed it to Jonathon. He said, “Jon, put this on so you can hear the radio even if you don’t understand what id being said. You will get a taste of our language.”

Jonathon put the headset on. He watched Kiribourey throw the switches to turn on the panels. Quenan walked astern to look for traffic. Kiribourey alerted harbor control. They cleared him for departure. He sat in the chair and grabbed the helm. He threw the four motor switches back. He flipped the motor power switch back. He grabbed the lever and pushed it forward a little. The boat slowly backed out of the slip. Quenan informed him all was clear. When the boat was clear of the docks, Kiribourey cranked the helm left. The boat turned to port. The bow faced downriver.

He straightened the helm. He pulled the lever back. He flipped the motor switches forward. He pushed the lever forward about a quarter of the way. The boat moved downriver to the mouth. Quenan appeared on the bridge. Jonathon said, “How old is Quenan?”

Kiribourey said, “He is ten years old. Why?”

Jonathon said, “I noticed what he does, so far. He wears the same headset as you.”

Kiribourey replied, “Each of the children carries some duties and responsibilities as befitting their age. Que carries the most since he is the oldest. One of his duties is to help me run the boat.”

“How old are the other two,” Jonathon asked.

“Boupha is eight and An is six years old,” Kiribourey answered.

Jonathon looked out over the bow. Water was all he could see. Small swells were in it. Kiribourey cranked the helm to the right. The boat turned to starboard. He straightened the boat. He turned to the map panel. He touched it and spoke Sarginese, “Amboalla.”

He confirmed the choice and touched it again. He spoke Sarginese, “Que, it is time for your first lesson in speaking English.”

The three of them walked off the bridge. They walked astern. A white metal round table stood port of the cabin door. Five white, brown cushioned metal chairs were arranged around the table. They sat in three of the chairs. The other two children exited the door. Kiribourey spoke Sarginese, “Analin, kombat sibana tudempo. I am starting your first lesson in speaking English. With Jon here, you need to know English. This, also, will help you in the future.”

The children nodded and sat in the remaining chairs. Kiribourey continued in Sarginese, “The first thing you need to be able to say is our guest’s name. Kedang ‘Jon’.”

“Jon,” Quenan finally said first. Boupha-Kannitha said it next followed by An-Toan Kim. They were getting comfortable having Jonathon around.

“Bajiceng,” Kiribourey praised them.

“What was that word you just said? Bajiceng? I hope I pronounced it right,” Jonathon said.

“You pronounced it right. ‘Bajiceng’ is Sarginese for the English word ‘good’. ‘Ana’ is child, ‘Analin’ is children. ‘Kombat’ is come, ‘sibana is and, and ‘tudempo’ is sit,” Kiribourey explained.

“Analin,” Jonathon repeated. The three children looked at him. He repeated the other words. The children took turns saying the English words. They spent hours learning basic words in both languages.

Sopheary came out with drinks and snacks. She walked back in. She came back out with a book. She poured herself a glass. She walked to a lounge chair starboard of the door. She set the glass in the cup holder in the right chair arm. She sat and read her book.

Later, the alarm startled Jonathon. He said, “What’s that!?”

“That’s the alarm signaling us that we are approaching the house. Come with me. You’ll find out why the boat is the only way to get there. This concludes the lesson,” Kiribourey said as he got up. He repeated the last sentence in Sarginese. The lesson came to an end. Jonathon, Quenan and Boupha-Kannitha got up as well.

Boupha-Kannitha walked to her station at the stern. Kiribourey, Quenan and Jonathon walked toward the bow. Quenan continued to his station at the bow. Kiribourey and Jonathon walked onto the bridge. Kiribourey  sat in the chair. He touched the map screen, disengaging the autopilot. He grabbed the helm.

Sopheary and An-Toan Kim got up. An-Toan Kim picked up the tray . Sopheary laid her glass on the tray. She opened and held the door for him. They walked through the doorway. They walked below deck. They put the snacks away. They put the dishes in the dishwasher. Sopheary put her book away. They walked back on deck.

 

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Sea Gypsies of Ngoguyon

Jonathon was a light skinned brunette. He wore a grey and red plaid short sleeve shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes.

He was waiting at the gate for the Launfrabeng shuttle. He stood at a window. The bottom was curved into the floor. He looked through it. A part of the planet was in view. It was largely blue with some blotches of green, brown and white. The curving horizon and edge of the blue atmosphere were visible. Beyond that was black space with some stars.

He spotted the white triangular shaped shuttle against a patch of blue. It came close to the station. It was big and airfoil shaped. One red light shone at each corner, top and bottom. A couple lines of white light spots ran along the side he could see. The lines only went about three quarters from the nose back. Further back was one of the engine nacelles. Spurts of what looked like steam came out of the nose and front of the nacelle occasionally.

The shuttle’s nose slid into a hole in the station’s side. A few minutes later, people came into the waiting area. Jonathon looked to his right. A voice came on. It said in multiple languages, “Launfrabeng Shuttle Two Three Five, now disembarking.”

Some of the people disembarking were greeted by the people waiting for them.

The voice came back. It said, “Shuttle Two Three Five to Launfrabeng, now boarding.”

Jonathon walked through a doorway into another room. The shuttle’s nose section was in the room. An opening in the shuttle’s side was further back. The door was on the shuttle’s side behind the opening.

He walked to the opening. Just inside was a female humanoid android. He had his ticket in hand. He gave it to the android. It checked the ticket. It gave the ticket back. It said in a female voice and English, “Have a nice flight, sir.”

“Thank you,” Jonathon said. He walked in and to his seat, next to a window. He looked out the window. A part of the station, planet and shuttle’s leading edge could be seen.

All the passengers were on board. A oice came over the intercom. It said in multiple languages, “Please, be seated and fasten your seat belts. We are about to separate from the station.”

Everybody sat and buckled. An android flight attendant checked them. The shuttle separated from the station. It dropped below the station. It went into orbit around the planet. It spun until it was upside down.

The voice came back. It said, “We are currently in orbit above Ngoguyon. We will orbit several times. Please, remain in your seats and buckled. It you look out your window, you can view the planet. If you have no window, there is a monitor in the back of the seat in front of you.

“The planet is eighty five percent covered with water. Land consists of islands. The largest ones are about two billion nine hundred sixty six thousand one hundred square miles. Population on the planet is about one billion people. The planet was colonized about five hundred years ago.”

After several orbits, the voice came back. It continued, “We are now getting ready to leave orbit. We will descend into the atmosphere. Please, remain seated and buckled during entry. If you see part of the shuttle glow and some glowing around the shuttle, do not be alarmed. This is normal on atmospheric entry. You are perfectly safe.

“We are rotating the shuttle in preparation for braking. You may feel yourself being pressed against your seats. This is due to our firing the engines. We will rotate the shuttle again in preparation for atmospheric entry. Please, remain in your seats and buckled during these maneuvers.”

The shuttle rotated until it was right side up. The shuttle flipped over. Jonathon felt himself being pressed against his seat. The sensation lasted for about one minute. The shuttle flipped over again. He looked out his window. The shuttle’s leading edge began to glow. An outward slanting wall of light rose from the edge. It lasted for about thirty minutes. The wall disappeared. The glow of the edge faded.

The voice came back. It said, “We are now in the atmosphere. We will circle the globe as we descend. We will descend at a rate of fifty feet per minute. You are now free to walk about the cabin.”

Jonathon remained in his seat. He pulled a book out of his right pants pocket. It was blue around the edges of a black screen. He turned the device on. The screen turned light grey with black letters. He thumbed the screen to the page he was reading last. He read the book. He ordered a drink when an android flight attendant asked.

Occasionally, he looked out the window. He watched the planet surface pass underneath. He saw the islands and clouds as they passed. They grew in size each pass. When it grew dark, he saw areas of light on the islands. When he looked up, he saw stars in the night sky. The shuttle circled the planet several times.

It was daylight. The voice came back again. It said, “We are approaching Launfrabeng. Please, everybody take your seats and buckle in. We will be landing at Launfrabeng Interstellar Spaceport shortly.”

Everybody up sat in their seats and buckled. Jonathon put his book back in his pants pocket. He looked out the window. He watched the city approach.

The shuttle settled on the tarmac. It rolled to the terminal. A tube extended out to the shuttle door. The door opened. Jonathon got out of his seat. He walked to the door.

He exited the shuttle into the tube. He heard music playing. The tube walls glowed in a changing variety of colors and patterns. Another voice came over the music. It said in multiple languages, “Welcome to Launfrabeng, capital city of the Makassarbugis Archipelago.”

In the waiting room, a voice announced in multiple languages, “Launfrabeng Shuttle Two Three Five is now disembarking.”

Kiribourey stood up with the card. He held it up to his chest with both hands. He waited. His children stood with him. His wife remained seated.

Jonathon walked out of the tube into the waiting area. He looked around. He spied a man standing with a sign with his name on it. He walked up to him. He said in English, “You must be ‘Ki re bow ray Te ka’. I hope I pronounced it right.”

He noticed the three children standing with the man. One was almost as tall as the man. They were looking at him seemingly out of curiosity. He wondered if they had ever heard English spoken before.

Kiribourey said in English, “You were close. The actual pronounciation is ‘Ke re boo ray Tak a’ i’. You can call me ‘Kiri’. You must be Jonathon Seville.”

Jonathon said, “That is correct; but, you can call me, ‘Jon’. Is this your family here?”

Their mother stood up. She joined her family. Kiribourey said, “Yes, they are. This is my wife, ‘Sopheary’.”

Sopheary bowed to Jonathon.

“This is my oldest son, ‘Quenan’.”

Sopheary told him in Sarginese to bow. Quenan did.

“This is my daughter ‘Boupha-Kannitha’.”

She bowed in imitation of her brother.

“This is my youngest son, ‘An-Toan Kim’.”

He bowed as well. Kiribourey switched to Sarginese for the children. He said, “Analin, kedang, ‘Hi, Jon’.”

Quenan was the first one to try it. He only managed a squeak. Jonathon thought that the boy was a little nervous.

His father said, “Sorry, about that, Jon. My children have never spoken English before. They only speak our language, Sarginese. They have had no need for any other language before.”

He spoke Sarginese, “Try again, ‘Hi, Jon’.”

Quenan tried again.

“Hi,” was all he managed. The other two managed about the same.

Jonathon said, “That is alright. I don’t know Sarginese, either. I would like to learn it, though. I will need to talk to some Sarginese only speaking people during my research.”

Kiribourey said, “My children will need to learn English, eventually. While you’re here is as good a time as any. Again, what is your field of research?”

Jonathon said, “It is for my doctorate thesis in anthropology (sociology?). We can teach each other.”

“Sopheary does know English. In my job, I have a need for multiple languages including English,” Kiribourey said.

“What is your job,” Jonathon asked.

“I work for the federal government in environmental protection. We need to get your luggage.” Kiribourey said.

They left the gate. They turned right. They walked to luggage claim. They waited at the carousal where they were expecting the luggage. Jonathon said, “I have two suitcases and a computer case.”

The items showed up. Jonathon grabbed the computer case and a suitcase. Kiribourey grabbed the other suitcase. They set the suitcases on the floor. Jonathon slung the computer case’s strap over his left shoulder. The suitcases had wheels. They extended the handles. They pulled the suitcases as they walked. Jonathon followed the Tekais.

Kiribourey said, “Now, to customs. Got your passport, visa and immunization records ready?”

“Got them in my computer case,” Jonathon said. When they got to the customs office, he got them out.

They entered the office. Two officers stood behind the counter. Two long lines of people waited. Shortly, a third customs officer came out of a door behind the counter. He recognized Kiribourey. He spoke Sarginese, “Kiri, come up here. What are you up to?”

Kiribourey and Jonathon walked up. The officer, like the other two, had brown skin and short, naturally straight black hair. He wore a white short sleeve uniform shirt. On each sleeve was the seal of the Makassarbugis Archipelago. On the left shirt pocket was his badge. Over the pocket was his name. Kiribourey spoke English, “I have someone who just arrived from Earth with me.”

The officer spoke English, “Let’s see what we got. Passport and visa, please.”

Jonathon handed them over. The officer looked at them. He said, “I see you’re an American. You will be with us for sometime. Immunization records, please.”

Jonathon handed them over. The officer looked at them. “Everything seems to be in order. Do you have anything to declare?”

“No,” Jonathon said.

“Let’s see what you have in your bags,” the officer said. Jonathon handed him the computer case. The officer opened it. He looked through it. He closed it. He came out from behind the counter. He wore black pants and leather shoes. He inspected the suitcases.

When he was done, he walked back behind the counter. He opened the passport. He stamped it with the national seal. He handed the passport, visa and immunization papers back. He said, “Welcome to Makassarbugis Archipelago. I hope you enjoy your stay.”

Jonathon put them back in the computer case. He said, “Thank you. I intend to do so.”

A third line had formed behind them. They walked beside it. The next person stepped up. They exited the office.