NEW Story: Drip
✿ This article was part of Vekllei’s Mail Week in February 2021
It was the hottest day of June so far, in that time of year where the sun never set on Vekllei. It was the first week of sleepless nights; the windows thrown open, air sticky and pungent with the smells of the rainforests, tossing and turning in the heat.
A stab of panic shot through her as she woke, bleary-eyed and senseless, to the quiet bedside clock. She blinked a couple of times before the terror set in. She’d overslept — 08:32 — but critically, the Travelling Post Office left at 8:30. Shit, shit shit.
Maybe, just maybe, she could run to the next station and catch it when it stopped to offload the grocer’s produce.
Lying atop damp sheets, she rolled out of bed and made a racket on the wooden floor of her house, wiping her eyes as she looked for her friend’s package. She flew out the front door moments later in the shorts and tee shirt she’d slept in, raking a sandal across the gravel as she landed awkwardly. It was usually a fifteen minute walk to the station, so she ran as fast as she could, the package bouncing off her leg painfully as she took off down the drive. Warm raindrops started to hit the dirt around her.
As she rounded the corner where the dirt track met paved path, she met it — the No. 76 Mail Train, closing in from behind. The mist had rolled in and the hot rain was belting down. No. 76 was going to overtake her — but she still might catch it before it departed. This was going to be close.
Mail Trains, or Rail Post Offices, are a common sight in Vekllei once you leave the dense urban infrastructure of its coastal cities behind. The further you venture into Vekllei’s dramatic, tendril-like mountain ranges and igneous valleys, the smaller towns become. Some, like Montre-Lola, had their post offices closed long ago, and today are served by a series of travelling post offices that run along the ubiquitous web of commuter rail lines in the country. The advantages are obvious; one train, running along a single line, can service six or seven towns in a morning.
They pull into a siding, usually the platform of the local station in quiet towns, and wait for fifteen minutes or so to allow for the loading and unloading of mail. They can also perform duties of regular post offices, like the renewal of identification and travel booking, as long as you phone ahead.
Modern Mail Trains are typically based on the Series 225 EMU in 2-car configurations. These are modern locomotives with electric motors in each car, allowing the 225 (known as the RM Series in its Mail Train configuration) to easily run along Vekllei’s old interior rail lines, which have steep gradients and tight curves. The exception is the Siviouscopet de Desmisnion, or Ambassador of the Postmistress, a special mail-sorting train based on the 6-car Series 4000 trainset that operates between the Capital and Montre. The Ambassador is particularly special, since it houses a fully furnished office available to the Postmistress General for her use in running the Royal Vekllei Mail.
Tzipora here has encountered the simple adventures of rural living; navigating the friendly bureaucracy of her government from small towns long since forgotten in common memory.