Copyright © 2016 by The Other Sean
This is part four of my ongoing experiment in epistolary fiction.
Dear Uncle Viggo,
Thank you for all the letters. John has been reading them to me. I love hearing your stories.
My dear niece,
You’re welcome. It is great to hear from you. You’re writing has improved much. How is school going? Please write more.
My dear nephew,
I hope this note finds you well. I have almost completed my tale of why I call the gate Pandora’s Gate. To explain that I have to explain some details that might be a bit rough – though it also explains why my dear sister never spoke much to you of Baltica. You’re not a young boy anymore, so you should be able to handle it, but please do not share the details with your sister. She’s far too young.
I told you about the animals and vegetation and the plague and colonial squabbles.skirmishes on land and sea. I did not tell you about the vegetation, though some of it was brutal enough. I have not written, though you may have heard, of some of the skirmishes and minor wars that have been fought over colonial claims her in Baltica. Those were all bad enough, but what happened in the 1892, eleven years after the gate appeared, was in many ways far worse.
I was eighteen then, newly hired onto the railroad, and your mother was a girl of thirteen. Mother had taken her on a trip to a seaside village where mother’s cousin had settled. Though the pseudo-crocs deter bathers, the strand was a popular place to stroll. That’s what they were doing when the lizard men came. When their longships approached the strand, our kin and the others fled toward the village. The lizard men hit the village only a minute or two later.
The lizards killed several of the villagers before our kin could get to relative safety inside our cousin’s cottage. As mother described it, there was screaming, and shouting, and chaos all about. They made it to shelter, but others weren’t so lucky. She said things were quite scary until the villagers figured out what was going on, got their guns out, and started shooting the lizards. It didn’t help that half the men were out in the fields. Eventually, they killed enough of the lizards that they fled back to their longships and went back to the sea that had brought them.
My dear sister wouldn’t speak for days, and she was withdrawn for weeks even once she did. She had terrible nightmares. In the end, your grandparents moved back to Earth with your mother, and she improved.
I stayed here. The attack your mother witnessed was among the first of their attacks. There had been no warning before those first attacks, but the news spread quickly. More attacks followed, but there was less panic.
Vigilance became our watchword on the railroad. When the lizards came ashore and raided, sometimes they’d attack the trains. Our trains in New Jutland had always carried a few guns to deal with the unruly wildlife, and we found ourselves using them to fight off the lizard men. Were it not for our guns I would be dead today. Several coastal and river villages that were unprepared were entirely wiped out.
It was years later before the main lizard settlements, and the gate that brought them to Baltica, were found. Thousands died in their bloody raids, and for years the Lizard Wars rages across Baltica and through the Lizard Gate. But ultimately Baltica was secure again.
So now you know the horrors that were unleashed by the gate, that none would have encountered but for the gate. But the tale of Pandora’s Box dealt not just with the horrors let loose from the box. There was also the hope that was left behind.
And that brings me to why the gate has brought hope. There hasn’t been a major war between human powers since the Baltic Gate opened. Settlement has been steady ever since the lizards were fought back. Any man seeking land to call his own can find it on Baltica, though many have chosen Pacifica or Columbia instead, I know. There’s a boundless vista of possibilities open before humanity.
That is why the Baltic Gate is Pandora’s Gate to me. Because it brought hope along with horror.
There’s more tales to tell, if I’ve not bored by favorite nephew and niece yet. I hope you are both well, and look forward to hearing from you.
PS Please encourage Elizabeth to write more.