NEW 📗Story: Radio

A New Year

Tuesday, Jan 5, 2021
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The New Year in Vekllei rings out during its months of darkness and cold. This calendar runs the regular affairs of the country, like it does the modern world. To Vekllei people, however, it is plain that New Years occurs not in darkness but instead in the summer solstice in June, the way it has for thousands of years in the dramatic cycles of light and dark in the country. In this sense, the end of December resonates among businesses and little else, much like the financial year elsewhere. An ancient pagan festival, one of twelve each year, takes its place in summer. This event is called Rascismion, or “Rebirth of the Season” in the old Vekllei usage of the word — meaning the complete cycle of seasons.

As a spiritual artefact of Upen, it is no surprise that the Solstice brings good luck and rebirth to Vekllei. It marks good fortune then, that the assembly and launch of the Desg met the Solstice, launching for Jupiter’s Europa just before midnight on June 21st, 2064. Constructed by the Solar Concern of the Vekllei Commonwealth Materials Bureau (or Solaburo) in cooperation with the Rocket Navy of the Vekllei Commonwealth Armed Forces and the Cosmos Office (or Cosmoburo), the Desg will land material on Europa to prepare for human arrival in six years. It is named after the Desg creatures of Vekllei mythology, who passed messages between malicious and benevolent factions of creatures before human settlement.

Although it was nearly midnight, it was the Solstice and the sun would not set tonight. Ayn and Tzipora had spread out plates of Vekllei Kimisosyo stew across a blanket just south of the Lita Cosmodrome to watch the launch. The Royal Borough of Lita was not far from Copette (map of Vekllei here), one of the Five Crown Boroughs of Vekllei, but this was Vekllei’s glacial interior and it felt a million miles from anywhere. Its geography was ancient and violent, strikingly barren and brutally volcanic. Why visit Europa? It was alien enough here.

Ayn had brought her portable television. Baron was supposed to meet them there, but his train was delayed and he was stuck somewhere in Miyatvousi with the beer and fruit spritzers. Tzipora liked a drink, but Ayn liked it too much and had given it up years ago.

“I suppose it’s better than being drunk,” Tzipora said, nursing a fizzy drink.

“Oh, it’s not at all, Zelda… Getting drunk feels great, that’s why I got drunk,” Ayn said. She was watching some teen-agers cuddling further down the hill, and sighed after a moment. “That’s the trouble with it. A warm night like this, tired and with nothing to do? It’s the best feeling in the world. Let’s not kid ourselves.”

“I like wine,” Tzipora said stupidly before erring a moment later, embarrassed at how childish she sounded. “Well, you know. I drink alcohol, but not much. I like sweet things mostly.”

Ayn felt sorry for girl as the awkwardness of the conversation settled on Tzipora. It was worse to be self-aware, sometimes.

“Baron likes a drink,” Tzipora continued. “He drinks a lot. He’s okay though, I don’t think he can get drunk. He’s a cool cucumber, he doesn’t change at all.”

“Is that right? Anyway, what time is it? It’ll be launching soon.”

As the minutes ticked closer to launch, Tzipora began to fret that Baron wouldn’t make it. The New Year was very important to her.

He was out-of-breath and wrestling a crate of beer back under his arm as the distant boom of the atomic thrusters caught the mountaintops. He crested the hill as a dull roar invited the distant glitter of rocket engines that flickered out of the Lita Cosmodrome Launch Basin. He saw Ayn and Tzipora not far away and called to them, but they couldn’t hear him — the Desg had called in the New Year, and all eyes were on it as it shined in the sky, brightest of all the stars. 2064 had became 2065, or Year 59 of the Floral Period.

Happy New Year!