The Sadie Hawkinsearliest post first | most recent post first
Since we’ve begun letting Hettie smell the mail, our destinations have taken on a more familiar flavor. Rickety painted ladies on craggy outcroppings under a full moon. Mid-century moderns in desserts. Rooftops of aging apartment buildings in limitless cities.
Our transactions have become more mundane as well. @Billy Nails has lent me a messenger’s cap to avoid confounding stares as recipients open their doors to this ex-cat burglar airship waif and her giant Fire Breathing Plasma Moth. “Special delivery!” I say in my sweetest sing-song voice. Our delivery fees are starting to add up.
The only one who’s grumpy is the old toothless hag. She searches through my bag for new silver envelopes then hisses and spits when she finds nothing new.
There’s a mean look in her eye, but I feel sorry for her.
“Hrrrrrrroooom?” Hettie agrees.
We've discovered that letting Luna, the giant space moth, sniff the mail allows her to jump to that specific destination. This makes mail delivery far more efficient.
Old @Billy Nails insists on prioritizing our mail from @Lilx, ahead of the additional mail that @Starry Skye brought back, and the toothless hag drools over. The rest of the crew agrees, given that it's paid work, and they're all here to send their young ones off to school on some better world.
Luna doesn't so much as smell the mail as she caresses it. Her feathery feelers come down and roll the silver envelopes around. She gives it tiny tastes and kisses with her lips and proboscis.
And she's off again, with a puff of ozone.
First time sorting interdimensional mail, kid? Yeah I can tell. It's less about trying to figure out what all these scribbles mean and more about just a feeling. Like that one. Hold it in your hand, close your eyes, and take a breath. Is it near or far? If it's far, though it over there. If it's near, drop it right in front of you. Now, how near? Nearer than the last one? Just trust your gut. The thing is, we've got Lilix's mail from that Psychic High School, and now we've got an increasing amount of crazy mail that Starry Skye and Sparkleshine keep bringing back from their little trips. And yes I know that Starry Skye says the moth's name is something different but I already told you what I know about names. The point is, the mail from Lilix is something we're getting paid for, and get paid on delivery for as well. Half up front, half on delivery, that's the deal. But this other mail is what they call pro-bono, and no matter how much that toothless hag drools on it, I don't count half-cooked eel as payment! So let's figure out which of these letters are for paying customers, and make sure the captain doesn't forget we've all got bills to pay.
Hettie's sonic blasts are hyper-directional--super focused straight out of her mouth--which means they don't hurt your ears at all if you're riding her. You don't want to have one pointed at you though.
Similarly, the puff of purple plasma that accompanies each one adds to the dimensional tearing effect, but the little bit that blows back on you is barely enough to singe your eyebrows.
It's unclear how our targeting works. What prevents us from slicing a hole in our universe and ending up in a sun's nuclear core? Or the bottom of an ocean of methane? The worst we've encountered is a bit of a gale. Hettie must have some sense of what's beyond as we flitter from dimension to dimension, dropping off mail and picking it up. How does she even know where these letters are addressed to? It's almost as if it doesn't matter, like we're just scattering some kind of informational pollen throughout the neighboring universes. Rocky spires floating between moons, mushrooms the size of mountains. We find eager recipients wherever we go, flagging us down, going through our saddle bags for the silver-inscribed envelopes and replacing them with their own.
Back on board the Sadie Hawkins, the toothless hag pours through the bags and cackles.
Mighty happy to have @Starry Skye back in the fold. And her descriptions and maps of the lands beyond the Fields of Cairn are an invaluable addition to the Sadie Hawkins' nav banks.
After all her time away, Starry was happy to spend a night in her cabin, and take dinner in the mess.
"I really didn't have a lot of experience camping out," she says between bites. "I was a city girl, before I met you all. And Hettie."
"Yes? The Giant Plasma Moth?!?"
"Oh, I thought her name was Luna."
"You mean Sparkleshine," @Billy Nails offers up.
"Uh... right. It's Hettie. Sleeping in the saddle's a new experience too. But frankly Hettie's more comfortable than most beds I've been in. Moth fur is the softest."
"Pweeeeeeeeet!" Luna dives past the observation window and peels off a sonic plasma blast.
"Still," Starry continues, "we both need our space now and then. I can tell Hettie holds back a bit when I'm riding. I don't think she's had a chance to really see what she's capable of yet."
"And this portal you entered at the Fields of Cairn... how exactly did you discover that?"
"Mrrrrrawhgh!!!!" says the toothless hag. She insisted on accompanying the sack of interdimensional mail that Starry brought back through the portal. She offers us more eel, but no one's eating it but her. We're sticking to the waffles.
"Well," continues Starry, "I'd assumed it was a localized phenomenon, something about the Cairn, or just a thin spot in space. But when we came back, it felt more... intentional. Both Hettie and I knew we were ready to return, and suddenly, we just jumped."
"Pweeeeeeeeet!" Luna dives past the observation window again, but this time disappears into plunk of purple flame, like a stone thrown into a waterfall.
"Kinda like that," Starry says.
Captain Armando Lupiz
(The Sky Wolf)
onboard the continuous merchant dirigible Sadie Hawkins
See what I told you, kid? This is why we never leave crew behind.
Sure, it was cold, and we didn't have anything left to eat but those eels the old toothless hag kept bringing to us and throwing on the fire, but when the sky ripped open and that purple flame came out I just knew it was all working out. When Sparkleshine poked her nose out and came wafting through on her plasma plume, it's like I'd already seen it happening all before, just like that. And when Starry Skye hopped off and dumped that big bag o' mail at our feet I just knew it was all for a reason.
That old cackling hag seemed to know it too, when she scrambled up to the bag and started digging through it, letters flying everywhere. I know I shouldn't go readin' other people's mail, but here's a copy of one that landed by my feet:
Now Billy Nails knows there's lots of different languages in our universe, and you can't quite see it in a copy like this but those symbols floated above and inside the piece of silver onionskin they were writ on. I ain't seen no letters like that before.
And that old hag just keeps on cackling.
Wow there sure are a lot of new addresses here!
The homes and buildings sit perched on lumps of land floating in every direction. Occasionally connected by a rainbow bridge or a waterfall, most of the divots stand alone, sprouting grasses and mushrooms and rocky outcroppings. There's usually a clear "top," where things grow, and an "under" of dark roots and dripping stone. Hettie and I swoop between them, avoiding the clouds and rain and sky devils that pass between.
But this certainly isn't Grenderpex. It doesn't even seem to be our universe.
The natives speak a patois of languages, some of which are almost familiar. They shove envelopes into my hands with addresses neatly printed in unknown alphabets--many of them three dimensional. Or at least three dimensions I can see.
Somehow they know I'm a mail deliverer. Or they just have an intense need to communicate with people far away, writing letters to strangers, randomly inventing addresses that must exist in a universal wave function interpretation.
I'm trying to head back the way I came. Hettie's saddle bags are stuffed.
Still no sign of Starry Skye anywhere in the Fields of Cairn. We've traveled as far as a plasma moth can fly in day in every direction from the Castle Shard, which is the recognized central landmark for this region of Grenderpex. The natives of this region are a taciturn bunch at best, and no one was interested in mentioning their recollections of a girl riding a giant moth surrounded by blue flame passing through.
There was one old woman, toothless, dressed in rags, who insisted on dragging us deep into the cairn fields, ranting in some language not even her neighbors understand. She's insisting we decamp here. And wait. She seems calm enough now, but when I approach her and tell her we need to be on our way she becomes so agitated that I bend to her will, squatting down for another cup of her wretched, earthy tea.
Captain Armando Lupiz
(The Sky Wolf)
onboard the continuous merchant dirigible Sadie Hawkins
When you’re a real crew, kid, then nobody gets left behind. Ever. That’s why we’ve been stuck in this endless search patten for so long, tryin’ ta find a sign of that stowaway, and her flying plasma moth Sparkleshine.
I guess she’s not really a stowaway any more, not after all we’ve been through, but since we’ve never been properly introduced I don’t feel comfortable calling her by her given names. Back where I grew up, our real names were secret and sacred, and we only ever used them if things were real serious, so I’ve always been real careful with names.
But ya know, the more we scour these purple meadows and ancient cairns, the more it just makes me want to say:
Where are you, Starry Skye?
Purple skies over fields of mint. I assume they have seasons here, but the year can be odd on these tiny moons and a winter might ever come--just wispy clouds extending high into the atmosphere, the sister moons so close and visible during the day it’s hard to tell where the sky ends, or even if it does, rolling through and endless summer.
Hettie and I bob and weave around the Sadie Hawkins, honing her skills and mine at flying as a team. It’s all fun and romping as we do loops around the ship, then dive bomb a heard of two-headed gazelles and watch them bound leaping over the fields.
Custom mail delivery to remote destinations takes detective work and perseverance. When there aren’t streets, you’re stuck with “30 degrees windward of the castle shard when the noon-shadow is behind you.” There are universal spatial coordinates as well, but on the barely charted tattered edge of the map, sometimes those coordinates aren’t so universal.
Which is why Hettie and I flew flown ahead, scouting out locations.
Uh oh what's that---?