Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pandora’s Gate - 2

Pandora’s Gate
Copyright © 2016 by The Other Sean

This is the second part in an experiment in epistolary fiction. The first part is here.  We’ll see how it goes.

My dear nephew,

I’m sorry my last letter ended so abruptly. I shall explain why after I’ve finished what had been interrupted.

New Jutland is mostly flat, much like its namesake on Earth, but it is far larger and possesses hills and mountains at one end. Many people have moved from Earth to Baltica and the other worlds, but even with the children born here families must work for years to make the land home. Much of the land remains wild and uncultivated.

Nyhavn is largest city in New Jutland, and the site of a great natural harbor. It was founded when I was still a boy, but it was a difficult process. I mentioned the horned lizards, the great sea serpents, and the pseudo-crocs. All of them and more faced the first settlers and the work crews attempting to construct the docks and port facilities. Dozens of people died before the creatures in the area were thinned out enough for work to proceed in relative safety.

When my father got the job with the railroad here, and we moved from Earth to Baltica, Nyhavn was safe enough, but no man dared travel outside Nyhavn without rifle or shotgun. Our train crews always carry a few in case a situation arises.

Conditions have since improved, but in the outlying farms and some of the more far-flung settlements, a weapon is still a necessity. The settlements are somewhat spread out, and there is often wild land between them. It can take a man on foot a day to travel from one town to its neighbor.

That is where the railroad comes in. For land trips of any great distance, passengers and freight move by rail. The roads are too poor for long trips by automobile, though I hear rumors the Governor General is planning to pave the road from Nyhaven to Langtbro. As for airships, they are far too expensive – and too limited in freight capacity – to carry the bulk of what the railroads carry. For trips across the sea, though, they do have the advantage of not falling prey to sea serpents.

I mentioned earlier that New Jutland has mountains. Beyond them lay the German colony of New Prussia. Given the past experiences of Denmark and our family, a tight watch on that frontier is warranted. My father and his parents, your great-grandparents, were driven from Slesvig, and I do not wish to see a recurrence.

For the moment, though, our relations with our German neighbors across the mountains are little cause for alarm. The tension between Russia and the German Empire, however, has caused stress for some in our Army. Last night they demanded the railroad ship additional supplies and troops from the base here at the Nyhavn to the frontier in the mountains. That’s why the boss called me in.

I had more to say about the early days of New Jutland. However, the last few days have been quite long, and I must rest. Give my love to Elizabeth. I hope you are both doing well over there in America.

Your uncle,

My dear nephew,

I hope this letter finds you and Elizabeth well. Things remain hectic here. We’ve been more running extra trains for the Army. Yesterday involved moving a trainload of horses and soldiers. The cars we used for the horses stank by the time we got them back to the yard at Nyhavn. I am glad my job does not involve cleaning them. The evening newspaper says the Germany-Russia situation is settling down – perhaps this means the end to the extra trains. I shall write you more later. Until then, stay well.

Your uncle,

Dear Uncle Viggo,

Elizabeth and I are both well, and thank you for your letters. We like hearing about Baltica and New Jutland. Mom never told us very much about them, even though I know she lived there with you and our grandparents for a while. Please tell us more. You never finished explaining why you call it Pandora’s Gate.

Yours truly,

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