Linus was running later than usual. He had somehow agreed to finish up a co-worker's overdue paperwork. He hurried up the elevators with the completed folder of documents. He smiled to himself imagining Theo's nightly greeting of non-stop "daddy!" for 20 minutes. The elevator doors open and Linus skipped out, spinning the folder in his hand. He happily anticipated and assumed the daily gossip that Dora would have to share. I bet Rhonda still didn't apologize about telling everyone that Dora's handbag was a knock-off. He thought as he turned a corner. Just then, Linus heard a door being open and people's voices echo through the empty hallway. He walked the few feet and dropped the folder in the proper after-hours slot. He was in his own head and almost at the corner when he realized he recognized one of the voices as Errol Wayne. He thought it odd, Mr. Wayne rarely visited, he knew him from the media and company wide memos. He unconsciously stopped and began to eavesdrop. submitted by
"...been delivered and received... well, considering the circumstances. The King of England is refusing to accept, but I can almost guarantee he will be there, do NOT re-book his suite." Errol Wayne instructed. "Any other leader refusing to accept?"
"Our evidence is hard to refute sir, all others have accepted the facts of the situation." The man paused and began more cautiously, "However...There are a few leaders that refuse to leave and choose the same fate as earth." The man spoke quick and clear but without confidence.
"Re-book their suites immediately." Mr. Wayne ordered.
“Y-y-yes Sir. Everything is on schedule, we are finalizing needed resources for the trip. We have taken all precautions to eliminate any leaks." He snorts a bit of a giggle when he says, "Some random conspiracy forums, that have minimal following, have made some allegations in respect to Rex, but nothing of importance.”
“Why mention it then?” Errol scoffed.
“I apologize sir..." The man sounded as if an apology is his go-to form of communication. "Excuse me sir?....I had one more issue to discuss in person." He waited for Mr. Wayne to encourage, he did not. Linus heard someone press the elevator button. "Sir...I could not find my name on any of the ship manifests..." The elevator doors opened and closed and the conversation was not longer audible.
"MO55-R3X, affectionately called Rex, will be the largest, closest meteorite to pass through the earths atmosphere. It will reach its closest point on Nov. 23rd and many people are throwing Rex parties", was an article title on Linus's home page this morning. In the last few weeks there had been a growing glowing mass in the sky. The news reported that it would get uncomfortably close to the earth but just far enough to not cause any long lasting damage. They claimed it would be a sight of the Millennia. Every article and newscast, pertaining to Rex, assured that everyone was safe.
Linus was a realist. He lay awake that night, mulling over the words of a very powerful man. He was a nobody, a worker, an employee, a slave seeking the comfort of things and dreams. He tried to think of any other possible meaning for the words but he came to the same conclusion every time, him and his family were not important enough to save.
Linus didn't know how to share this information with his wife. He wanted to tell her and have someone else's opinion on deciphering the conversation.
Linus enjoyed his weekend family time despite in the back of his mind he was looking for a best segue to, " Honey, the world is ending." After Theo went to bed for the night, he explained the best that he could to Dora. She didn't believe him. Lately she had been a little distant, more interested in the T.V or phone. Conversations consisted of Linus saying something and Dora responding with "uh huh" or "Really?" unenthusiastically and absent-mindedly. He didn't take it personally, we all have bad days, weeks or months. He was just a little frustrated that he felt he couldn't get through to her. She called him crazy, told him he was having an existential crisis and he should sleep on the couch for the night.
Linus worked for a company called Futransport or FT. FuTransport was founded by a brilliant man name, Errol Wayne. They were one of the first companies to manufacture hover vehicles in the U.S and designed, manufactured and sold many other ingenious and unique modes of transportation. FT creates everything from motorcycles to military aircraft and sea craft. However most of their efforts were to fund their main project which was space tourism.
Futransport had completed their exclusive space resort named The Eves of Saturn, a few years ago. Executives and some elite others were the first to travel to the premier resort. Articles and marketing of the destination boasted "Entertainment that was not possible on the planet earth", nondisclosure agreements prevented any other details. The last of touches of the shuttle fleet were being completed by Linus and his co-workers. The shuttles were luxurious ships in themselves, offering beautiful apartment suites for each wealthy family. Each suite has its own themes based on the guests preferences, the ships boasts top of the line technology for security and entertainment. The Shuttles were each named for famous explorers, there is ' Da Gama', 'Couseteau' and 'Himilco'. On the two month journey, guests could enjoy many different activities and entertainment, as well as delicious food from every culture. It is rumored that there is a waiting list for popular performers to work on the ship, they don't even get paid, but do get a discounted price and that wait list is shorter than the 'regular' guest waiting list. It is something Linus would never be able to afford in his lifetime. The lack of details on the resort have imaginations spewing rumors. People have asked to be ensured that all activities are ethical which has lead to many debates on ethics, legalities and enforcement in space. At a press conference, Errol Wayne placated the masses by not addressing the claims directly but by answering each question that was asked of him with an example of integrity in his business. For Example, when Sharon Wilcox from the Watertown Times asked "Will you have a private police force at Eves of Saturn?" Wayne never lost his small sincere smile. "Good question..." he squinted to view her press pass. "...Sharon. uh The smallest of my facilities is 1 million square feet." He paused. "And all of my properties need to be secure for my guests and employees. I-I-I employ security that follow all company rules and all laws. At times we have had to, uuuuh, detain an individual that have or attempted to break a-a-ah the law on our private property..." he looked up from his papers just for a second before adding "...Only when necessary and only until we can ummm hand them over to the proper authorities. That is what we have always done and that is what we continue to do. uuuuhhh Thank you....Next question." The Bon Voyage event for the shuttles was scheduled for November 23rd in the afternoon.
Linus knew the meteorite wouldn't hit until after the shuttle launch on the 23rd. He had a little over two weeks to come up with a plan to save his family. He felt slightly invigorated with the new task, it was a risky but the reward was proportionate. His first thought was of his great luck to have access to the shuttles. He needed an ally and he knew who would fill that role.
Marty was a engineer at FuTransport and Linus's best friend. Linus had worked for FT for over 10 years and met Marty his first day on the job. They both worked at the largest FT campus in Watertown NY. After a few days of cooperative work, Marty invited Linus out for a beer. A couple hours at the pub and it became obvious that Marty's intention for the night was a romantic date. Linus was enjoying their conversations. He apologized shyly to Marty and explained the miscommunication as delicately as he could. Marty raised his eyebrows in feigned offense. Linus began to apologize and gather his belongings. Marty laughed out loud and said, "You are not obligated to date me, we can be friends." They had been best friends ever since.
Linus woke early with Theo poking his belly button and whispering "Daddy?...Daaaddy....Dadddy....Daddy?". Linus opened his eyes to see his son was pretty serious about his belly button poking, focused on his finger, he turned to notice Linus's eyes open and smiled happily and clapped. "Breakfast, Daddy?" He tilted his head. Linus made breakfast for them both and left a note for the still sleeping Dora. He buckled Theo in a drove to his best friends house.
Marty happily welcomed Linus and Theo. Theo immediately headed to the back yard with Marty's 6-year-old Cocker Spaniel, Rusty. Marty could instantly tell that it was not a social visit with Linus's unannounced arrival and preoccupied look. Andy, Marty's boyfriend was sitting on his laptop at the kitchen island surrounded by plates up cut fruit and two coffee mugs. He smiled to greet Linus, but continued with his computer task.
"What's going on?" Marty asked as he motioned toward a stool and poured a cup of coffee and set it in front of said stool.
Linus shook his head and said, "I am not crazy." Marty looked bemused and Andy peeked over his laptop seeking a glance from Marty. Neither of them spoke, imploring Linus to continue. He carefully describes to them what he had overheard. "How would you decipher this?" Linus asked after a moment. He had gained both of their attention. "I am not crazy." he repeated.
"I don't think you are crazy." Andy stated.
Marty rolled his eyes but smiled and stepped behind Andy to rub his shoulders. "Mr. conspiracy theory here." He chuckled. "He has read everything he can find about Rex..."
"It's not a joking matter! People have died, Martin!" Andy Scolded.
"We are all going to die, but I have an idea." Linus was solemn.
" I have tried to convince him." Andy says over his laptop. "There has been multiple scientists, researchers and journalists whom have released evidence to something more sinister relating to Rex. Many of them have been found dead!...DEAD!" He tensely used his hand to chop his open palm. He was breathing heavily. Andy used air quotes and said, " 'Suicide' is documented as the cause of death." his voice quivered on the last sentence.
Linus looked to Marty with a slight smirk, "I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't heard what I did."
"Jesus Christ!, we really are all going to die and you didn't believe me!" Andy's voice was high-pitched and holding back a sob, he was facing Marty.
Marty looked over his partners head and gave Linus a look that said 'oops', Linus gave him a knowingly nod. "Baby...I am sorry. I'll figure it out, we will figure it out." Andy was sobbing quietly and hugged Marty. "Come on, why don't you go somewhere quiet and meditate while we make a plan?" Marty soothed as he walked Andy to another place in the home.
Andy and Linus devise a plan to secretly build a secret room in Himilico.The security cameras were not operating inside the shuttles as of yet and the ones in the FT were only monitored if something happens or suspected to happen. They could be careful enough to do it during the work shift. The area they planned on modifying was an area that had already been inspected. It was the part of the ship that was created to house some of the necessities for pets. It was a large area with a veterinary station, kennel areas, large turfed areas for exercising pets and bathing facilities. They could easily build a faux wall and create a space for both of their families. They only needed to stay hidden until the shuttles blasted off. They would not be returning. The last part of the plan was going to be the trickiest. They had tickets to the exclusive Bon Voyage party for the shuttles. They would need to attend the event and sneak onto the shuttle.
Linus spent the next couple of weeks attempting to adjust to what would be his new reality. He bought his wife flowers everyday and offered to take the family on small trips and events.
At work, Marty and Linus used some extra materials to create a wall. They attached a closet to the wall with a small loop handle that would open the back of the closet to the secret room. They moved some extra bedding and food supplies into the hiding spot. They also added some oxygen masks and copied a set of keys to an "life boat" ship, just in case.
On the morning of the 23rd, an announcement came. Interrupting all morning broadcasts. It was told through multiple different News casters. They reported that Rex was no longer going to miss the earth, instead was going to crash right through our planet and not leave anything living. There was nothing that humans would be able to do and the calculations of when the planet would die of the effects of the meteorite were varied. They varied anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year.
Dora had no choice but to believe Linus at this point. He was able to ease her panic when he explained that he and Marty had a plan.
Linus and his family arrived at the Bon Voyage event to meet with Marty and his family. The ship was beyond huge and was situated behind a very tall fence with razor wire and guard towers. Helicopters and jets landed one after another, the ship was being loaded with the most powerful individuals on earth. It was already overwhelmed with people. They were shouting and some even had guns. Linus picked up Theo and squeezed him tight. They all locked hands and pushed their way to the front gate. Behind the gate were men with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders. Linus screamed over the noise of the crowd
“ We have tickets for the launch!” He pushed his tickets to the fence.
One of the men lifted his helmets visor and said. “ The ceremonies are canceled due to the circumstances.”
Linus’s heart dropped. This is it? After years of working hard to improve his station in life. He was a good person. He rarely called in sick at work, he helped his neighbors and co-workers, he was a dedicated loyal husband and father. Linus’s eyes started to tear up.
Marty patted Linus's back and stepped forward. “ The world is fucking ending man. What do you gain by not letting us in?” He calmly asked the guard.
“A ticket for my family.” With that, the guard tipped his visor back down and turned away, ignoring any further attempts at contact.
Linus squeezed Theo tightly. They joined the crowd pushing on the fence. They were making some progress the fence was beginning to loosen and give. The security personnel gathered in front of the crowd and pointed their weapons.
“ Back up!” One of them shouted, as the crowd continued to push while screaming and some crying. One of the men shot his gun in the air and the crowd quieted to a murmur accented with some sobs. “ Anyone touching the fence will be shot at the count of three! ONE!...”
The crowd collectively let go of the fence, except for one man. It was a frail elderly gentleman with a sagging wrinkled tan face and milky eyes. His lips sunk into his toothless mouth. Everyone stared at the man.
The man gazed fearlessly at the guns pointed at him.
The crowd tensed. It was quiet, the man counting said through his helmet. “ Come on sir, we don’t want to shoot you.” The elderly man didn't ﬂinch. A shot rang from the guards, the bullet whirring through the air could be heard, almost in slow motion. It hit the man in his lower abdomen and he crumpled. All heads, including the guards turned towards where the shot came from.
The guard that seemed to be the calling the shots, pulled his helmet from his head. “Dammit Cruz! Did I order you to shoot?”
Another guard pulled her helmet off and shook her blond curly hair from her face. “ Yes sir!”
“NO!” The leader was red in the face and pulling his gloves off as he stalked towards Cruz.
“ You said we would shoot anyone who was touching the fence on the count of three.” Cruz's smile was cocky and cold.
A shrill shriek moved everyone’s attention. Some of the people from the crowd were tending to the shot man. A woman was pushing through towards them. “ Who did this?!”
When she reached the man she knelt and gently touched him. He weakly turned his head and she smiled and begun signing to him. He slowly moved his hands in response before passing out. The woman’s smile quickly turned to a look of rage. “ Which coward shot a defenseless, deaf and senile man?” She stood glaring through the fence.
Cruz stepped forward towards the fence. “ Who leaves an elderly, deaf man alone in this type of situation?” She smirked.
The woman glared back with her mouth open and tears streaming down her face.
The original counting guard quickly punched Cruz in the face. She fell and touched her face to feel blood oozing from her nose.
“ Motherfucker.” She mumbled as she stood up.
As soon as she is on her feet she started swinging at the guard that punched her; he didn't hit her again. He tried to restrain her while she is spinning, writhing and screaming. He had her wrapped in his arms while she was trying to bite when, the ground begins to rumble. It grew more powerful with each passing second. Everyone looked towards the ships. The engines had been turned on and it was beginning the launch process. All the guards from every direction started running towards the massive ships, the snipers climbed down from their towers. The crowd rushed the fence with panicked force and successfully pushed the fence down. The mob charged over the fence messily and forcefully. People were getting cut by the razor wire and just continued to race towards the ship. People fell while running and the horde promptly trampled them. The man who was shot was forgotten with the rumble of the engines; his daughter stood by screaming at the masses as they carelessly crushed him.
Linus held his son and his wife’s hand as they also followed the crowd. As the people reached the transporter, some tried to mess with the entrances and super reinforced windows others just pounded on the metal with their ﬁst's, feet and tools. Linus reached the ship and stared at it as the feeling of hopelessness crept in. Theo was in his arms, miraculously sleeping. His arm was beyond exhausted but he refused to let go of his son. His wife was in a haze and didn't seem to accept the situation, or maybe she had more so than any of them.
Marty pulls Linus from the ship and says, “This is it Linus, we tried. When this thing takes off we will all be burnt to a crisp by the engines. Let’s go, enjoy the last days.”
The next morning Linus woke at his usual time to see Dora not in bed. He quietly looked around the house to no avail. He called her cell and was forwarded to the Voice mail.
Linus began to make breakfast for three, glancing out the window every time he heard a car come onto the block. His mind began to circle every bad situation he could create. He imagined Dora going to free all the animals in the zoo for the last days on earth. She most likely got eaten by a Polar bear. Her phone continued to go to voice mail, obviously because a bear ate it.
Theo questioned his mother’s absence during breakfast. Linus told him she was out today and attempted to mask his worry.
“ She’s coming home soon.” Theo said matter-of-fact and shoved a piece of toast in his mouth.
Linus slowly cleaned up after breakfast, hoping Dora would walk through the door anytime. His phone rang and he jumped to grab it from the counter, seeing Marty’s name on the screen, he answered. “Hey, have you seen or heard anything from Dora?”
“ uh uh, no...why would I? Wait! What is going on? Is she missing?”
“ No, no...well kind of. She will come back. She needs to deal with the situation in her own way."
Dora came home with the smell of alcohol leaking from her. Linus and Theo are playing video games with when she stumbled in the door.
“ Mommy!” Theo jumps up and runs to Dora, he knocked her down with his running hug. They both landed on the ﬂoor, laughing. “ Daddy says I don’t have to go to school and can stay up as late as I want!” Theo bounced on his knees excitedly. Dora drunkenly bobs her head from her position on the ﬂoor, attempting to focus on her son and laughs. Theo grabs her hand and pulls his mother towards the couch, she continues to laugh on the ﬂoor. He eventually gives up and runs and jumps on the couch picking up his video game controller he is still smiling and squirming with excitement but looks at his mother curiously.
Linus is not sure how to interact with his son now that everything they know will be gone, he wants him to experience life and gain knowledge but he doesn't want him to be scared. “ Mommy’s drunk” Linus says when he notices his sons curiosity.
Theo acknowledges his father and looks at his mother shyly. “ Will she get better?” Theo whispers in Linus’s ear.
“ Yeah buddy, she will be okay.” Linus hugs his son.
The next morning Dora sleepily makes her way to the kitchen table to drink the coffee and eat the aspirin Linus had placed out for her. “ Theo, when you ﬁnish breakfast do you want to go over to see Mr. Astor feed his snake?”
“Mmm hmm!” Theo shovels a few more mouthfuls of cereal and runs out the door.
“ He never stops...” Dora moans.
“ Where did you go yesterday?” Linus asks
“ Ug, I have a headache, can you just stop” Dora put her head on the table.
"Dora, we aren't going to survive this shit.”
“I never go out.” Dora says dismissively.
“ Ooookay, your son may never get the chance to go out.”
"Why did I never go out?” She paused “I met so many nice people, so many. I never experienced life, always been so caught up in this” Dora lifted her ﬁnger and pointed in a circle motion.
Linus looks around the room with his mouth open to see he is still in his kitchen. “ What!?…are you insane?” Linus grabb his head like he is trying to keep it from exploding. “ We are your family! We love you. Don’t you want to spend time with us?”
“ I’ve spent most of my life with you, I need to experience more than...” She is quiet for a couple of seconds, “ just more."
Linus stared at her in disbelief. She quietly sips her coffee and texts on her phone, smiling periodically, oblivious to her husband.
“I was going to take Theo to the beach today, I was hoping you would come.” Linus said in a quiet even tone. “I know we are two different people and the fucking world is ending, we each deal with it in our own ways, there is no right or wrong way. I just assumed you would want to spend it with us.”
“ Oh don’t fucking do that! Don’t try and make me feel bad for wanting to do what I want to do for once!” Dora spat with a dirty look.
“If you feel bad, that is on you, I was trying to be understanding.” Linus scoffed but kept calm and compromised, “ Do you want to go the beach with us today, and then you can go with your friends tonight?”
“ No. I already have plans. See! I just met these people and they already invited me, they are just so welcoming.” Dora smiled at herself. “I am going with my friends to a waterfall with a swimming hole. I’ve never seen a waterfall in real life, 30 years old and have never seen a waterfall... and what the hell is a swimming hole? What makes it a swimming hole as opposed to a pond? I am thinking it is just a super deep hole, ﬁlled with crystal clear water.” Dora chuckled introspectively.
“ Great, Theo can see a waterfall for the ﬁrst time too.”
Dora looked up abruptly, “ No no, you guys don't have to go.”
“ Dora! Again, we WANT to spend time with you.” Linus pleaded.
Her silent stare gave Linus hope that he was ﬁnally getting through, she was ﬁnally considering her family. “ Okay, go get Theo. My friends will be here soon, I was going to follow them in my car.”
Linus rushed out the door towards the neighbors. He happily thought about all the pieces falling into place. He and Dora always said they could get through anything together. He was an insignificant little spec of dust in this universe, hell in this town or even in the neighborhood but he was going to make the most out of Armageddon!
When him and Theo came in through the kitchen door, Dora was no longer sitting at the table. “ Dora!” Linus yelled but he instinctively went to the garage door to see her car was gone. Maybe she ran to the store really quick, he attempted to convince himself until he saw the note. On their bedroom mirror it was taped. It read: I really need this “ me” time. You are not Brad Pitt in some apocalyptic movie, get over yourself."
The announcement of the end of the world, not only changed his wife, it changed society into depraved monsters. Some people continued to go into work because it is their passion or they felt obligated. A male newscaster continued to air random news reports. He reported the incident at the ship. Looters had cleaned out most stores. A few shop owners stood guard and continued to sell necessities, as per the usual. Suicides were rising, as well as murders. The police force and military were almost all abandoned. One soldier took a tank and drove it through a few towns. He didn't do any damage, he would just stop randomly and pop out of the hatch to happily wave at any passerby’s. People were living out their bucket lists. Some were having sex in public places, others stealing cars and boats just to get to drive them. People were seen doing dangerous acts. Hang gliding through the city, jumping from planes, riding a skateboard as it was pulled by a car. The unleashed sadistic criminals were the worst, but with the current threat of complete annihilation a gun to people heads was not as convincing as it once was. But some people could be seen tied to trees or car hoods, covered in cuts and bruises. And this is the behaviors that were not behind closed doors. All the prisons and jails were emptied.
Linus held Theo close, keeping him safe and secure. Linus and Theo were staying at Marty’s. He had left notes for Dora, but she hadn't come by. Marty’s house was larger, safer and it had a pool. They all laid out in the backyard as Theo played in the pool, Rusty was running back and forth or the edge of the pool excitedly, but not jumping in. Rex shone bright above them now even visible during the day and getting larger with ever hour.
“ Should we go to church?” Andy asked.
Linus scoffed “Why? God only exists if we exist. If he did exist, he wouldn't let this...” he waved towards Rex, “ happen.”
Andy looked worried. “ You were always the one trying to get us to go to Sunday Mass. Why would you change your beliefs now when it is needed more than ever?”
"I know...I know, I don't really believe that." Linus paused and forced a smile. "We just don't need church anymore."
Linus stood to grab his son a towel when the sky exploded in a fiery inferno. A deafening whoosh ending in an explosion and rumble like never heard filled the air. Waves of orange, red, yellow and blue flames rolled in plumes up above. The heat was intense but also came in strange bursts. They all stood at awe at the sheer beauty of the end of the earth, but at this point they are still alive. Smoldering debris began to fall from the clouds of fire.
Linus broke his trance of terror and awe and yelled above the thunderous noise. "Inside!"
They all ran across the manicured lawn as larger debris began to smack the landscape around them. They all huddle in the basement away from the windows. The intense colors and eerie lighting were still visible. Theo cuddled onto Linus lap as Linus soothed him with loving words. Marty and Andy hugged saying thier last goodbyes.
When death did'nt come and the hell fire storm begins to recede, they wait some more. It is late at night when they feel safe to go upstairs and take a look around. The house is littered with glass, debris and ashes.
"Is this hell?" Marty asked.
They all laughed, way more than the question warranted.
Someone thought to turn on a radio or TV and this is the repeated statement that was coming through on all stations:
“ Attention Humans, This message is being broadcast world wide in every conceivable language. In the past few days life as we know it has changed drastically, it will never be the same BUT you will survive to meet your unpredictable death. Many of you know my name while others will just be learning it. I am Errol Wayne, I will be the one to lead us into the next phase of human existence. The knowledge that this meteorite was going to collide with Earth was discovered much earlier than when it was announced. My company, Futransport, was contracted to create comfortable escape pods for the leaders and the wealthiest of earth. Although they believed the ruse was on all of you here on earth, it was actually them who were fooled. While the ships did have the most luxurious accommodations they were actually engineered to defeat the huge rock that threatened humanity. In extreme secrecy the ships were programmed to keep course towards the meteorite, technology was installed to ensure the complete destruction of the threat. Today will be forever known in history as reclamation day. Now, every leader that stood by their people during this event, I like your style, I will be contacting you very shortly with further instructions. Everyone else, this is Reclamation Day! Relax, enjoy, tomorrow we will begin the new era.”
Previous submitted by
| First DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to own any of the ideas or worlds described in the story. The ‘They are Smol’ universe is the intellectual property of u/TinyPrancingHorse. Nothing in the story is canon to his universe, and I’d suggest you visit his writings if you love wholesome stories about humans being human.
—|—|—|— ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER:
This story was NOT
written by me. It was, instead, created by the beautiful and certainly not a snake-person “@not-a-jornissian
” (currently @spookwoodle) on the They Are Smol discord. I was given permission to post his wonderful story on his behalf, so please direct all praise to him. I’m just the messenger. He’s the good writer.
—|—|—|— ADDITIONAL ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER
“You’ve read They Are Smol. You’ve enjoyed They Are Smol (If you haven’t, well, prepare to not enjoy this one either). But this is smols like you’ve not seen them before. This is extreme smolness with a lemon twist: smols fucked up big time
in this one, and Earth, well… Earth is empty of smols. At least the ayys hope so, because it’s fallout time back there. The ones that got away — and let’s face it, it was all of them that were left — had no place to go. Homeless, smol and needing protecting, they were taken in. For the lucky ayys out there, they’re our
This is a not-so-serious slice of life alternate universe where the entire population of Earth - what was left after the dead man’s switch was flipped and the nukes successfully
irradiated the planet - was evacuated en masse and then taken in by the galactic civilization at large.
I’ll probably write a few more in this silly, comfy alternate timeline to expand on what’s different, but don’t take it too seriously, okay?
So, without further ado...”
Part 5: Murder Darts
“So… this says… the… ball is red. Really? haven’t we covered this page before? But… what’re all these extra details if I turn on—”
“[Whoops! You’re not quite ready for all that yet. It’s too complicated.]”
“I’m not a child you know!”
I pouted — I could feel
the pout even though I felt stupid for acting this way — as Cherry turned off the extra details in the ‘book’ I was reading. The ‘book’ was a typical alien affair, a lightweight yet sturdy device with one large screen that could be rolled up or folded, was touch sensitive, could speak in multiple languages — including my own — and held vastly more than just the one nursery-level story adventure about a bright red ball that I was reading for probably the fifth time.
The book actually held a good chunk of the sum of all Senate-species books produced over the last however-many thousands of years. It was a standard data terminal given to pre-schoolers when they were practicing their reading and writing. It kept my place between lessons with cherry little creatures that I presumed were native to karnakia and helpfully gave me tips on how to improve my reading comprehension skills with their happy animations and infinite patience.
It patronized me even more than Cherry did.
I was using it to learn Karnakian and Galactic Standard Script, a midway language that was fully computable and logically consistent. Nobody natively
spoke GalScript, but it was used as the go-between in all translators, including my own collar. It was also used galaxy wide as the standard script for all multi-species documentation, signage and other written communication. That now included all official Terran-Senate communication.
Humans were learning it en masse as part of our integration tasks, even those not living with the aliens on a daily basis. The GalNet news stations were reporting on the difficulty working with Newport on Mars which had proclaimed itself a sovereign state for the benefit of humans only, but the independent colonies were picking it up well, as were Luna and United Earth Government members on the moon.
In some ways, for the people in my position, it was harder to learn GalScript than for those in the colonies. We had our translators and our benefactors looking out for us, and it was stupidly
easy to put puppy dog eyes to good use. With the way they fell over backwards to give us everything we could ever want, I for one didn’t quite have the strength to not take advantage of it. It didn’t work in the colonies where human teachers were quite able to be harsh enough for their students, of any age, to get them to shape up or ship out.
Newport, of course, didn’t want to pay ball in general. They weren’t entirely anti
alien, but they definitely weren’t interested in becoming part of the Senate at large. The Martian city was being built with the lowest, sturdiest technology available that the Senate were willing to give unrestricted access to. It was comparably cramped, smelly, dirty and a far cry from the comfortable, airy, well-appointed quarters I enjoyed. True to their word though, the Senate were air-dropping materiel and machines from orbit, and hadn’t set scaly hide, talon, paw, claw or feathered backside on Mars, nor would they so long as the colony remained viable.
Of course, I didn’t have any pretensions that showing the naked truth of non-integrated living wasn’t deliberate propaganda by the Senate, and part of the effort to integrate the majority of mankind into the galactic community at large, but it was
“But… why won’t you turn it back on?” Annoyingly, puppy dog eyes weren’t working this time.
“[No. You’re not ready for it. You can barely manage your lessons as it is! You’re not ready for that level of detail, not yet, it’ll just distract you and you’ll make no progress at all.]”
I narrowed my eyes, poking at the screen attempting to turn it all back on, but Cherry had used her ‘parental permissions’ to lock me out. “That’s very fair of you, stifling my inquisitive nature.”
Cherry fluffed up angrily. “[Okay… you asked for it. Holoprojection, data display, level [ten] Galactic Standard Script, last spoken phrase by [Dean].]”
There was a burst of light as the dwelling’s holoprojector activated. The room flooded with information. I was almost blinded. All that for a simple phrase?
“[Here is the basic meaning, that you believe I am a fair and just giver of knowledge… but that’s not what you meant, was it? No, the modifier noted by this axis negates the normal adjective of that clause, actually inverting it. The predicate and arguments here show your emotional state, a frustration with the boundaries given, implying I think you are a rowdy chick who is anxious to show off his first moult before the feathers are even full. Do you want me to go on?]”
I grumbled, swiping to ‘turn the page’. “The ball is bouncy and… pretty.”
“And if you’d been paying attention you’d know you were being asked to provide the extra meanings from these words this time. It means the ball is ‘rubbery’ and
‘interesting’.” Cherry clucked, dismissing the light show with a wave of her talons. She then sat down again and gently but insistently turned off the book, pulling me into her feathery embrace as she made herself comfortable in the reading nook hollow of the den.
“[You have time, [Dean]. You have plenty of time to learn. It is hard to learn a new language, especially GalScript. Would you rather try Karnakian again?]” Cherry gestured and the holo-emitters fired up once more.
I couldn’t speak
Karnakian, but I was doing a relatively good job of learning to read it, even if that was through—
“[Dancing through the stars! We found them! [One and all!] Upon their green world, blue sky and waters! [All the colours!] Come to us, small heroes! Defend your lands from terror! TALONS! TEETH! WARMTH OF HEART! SMALL HEROES!]”
—cartoons. I didn’t know whether to be amused or insulted, but [Small Hero Colourful Friend Defence Team] was certainly popular and I never missed an episode, though plenty of snobs said the Karnakian vis-dub — somehow the show was being produced in English, like some sort of reverse alien anime — was unfaithful to the English original. It featured a band of alien children who accidentally washed up on a version of Earth that was in danger of being attacked by evil space pirates and plundered for their cute denizens and other riches. Through quick thinking, magical powers granted by talking trees and technology from ancient machines, the children aided by their human allies sent the dastardly space pirates packing in episode after episode. I watched it in Karnakian, and had the house systems translate into both English and Karnakian subtitles.
The Senate had tried to ban it from being displayed on Zephyr stations, but that ban had been about as effective as you’d expect. With all their technology, they’d seemingly forgotten about things like the Streisand Effect. In moments from the initial premier, it was the hottest traded commodity from the restricted pile, so much so that they just gave up and looked the other way when it was surreptitiously rebroadcast on the local datanets.
Come to think of it, allowing [Small Hero Colourful Friend Defence Team] to flourish may have been the simplest way to let off steam and avoid even more sensitive shows becoming so highly sought after.
I settled into the cool floof as Cherry combed my hair. Karnakians enjoyed grooming each other almost as much as Dorarizin did, but human hair fascinated them even more than usual. I had to be stern during such sessions or she’d be putting bows in again. Karnakians adored fetishes in their feathers and manes, but I wasn’t quite so fond of the idea.
“I just don’t like feeling stupid,” I grumbled. I was working with material that aliens practically a tenth my age — or so it felt — had already mastered. Cherry shuffled about in the seating hollow we were in, clearly distressed.
“[You’re not stupid,]” she said, swaddling me with her wing-like arms. “[You’re brave and clever and smart… you’ll learn soon enough.]”
I was saved from further platitudes and ruminations by Chuck’s return. The other member of our household was on a staggered shift compared to Cherry, but during the on-station evening they were both home most of the time as they had me to look after. He noisily shook himself out as he crossed the threshold, unbuttoning his waistcoat and dropping his sash onto a nearby hook. He kicked his shoes — more ceremonial claw-guards than what I would call actual footwear — across the room into a corner before stretching out in a long karnakian sigh, rattling his fur-like feathers as he did so.
“Long day?” I asked. Chucky just ducked his head in a karnakian nod, gesturing for the house to widen the pit so he could join us.
“[The [humans] with children are mostly safe, but we had a whole commune to evacuate in one go, all of them malnourished, many of them sick. They were… they were very scared.]”
Cherry nibbled at his neck-fluff where the desert-dweller’s scalier hide gave way to the thin, reed-like fur-spikes. “[They are safe now, they will learn not to fear us.]”
“[I wish they had learned quicker.]” Unsaid was that something had happened, but it was written large across his features, so plain that even I could read it. He may not have been on the ground, but he still got telemetry and co-ordinated raw, unfiltered video feeds.
“You do your best, that’s all you can do. Sometimes it’s not enough. Like Cherry says, they’re scared. As far as some of them know, they lost a war. For all they know, you might find humans as irresistibly tasty as you do cute.”
If pointing out how I was basically a cross between an exotic pet and a child made them upset, you can imagine how saying that made them feel. It was the closest thing to anger with me that I’d seen.
“[How could you—!]”
“[Don’t even joke—!]”
“[We would never!]”
“I’m sorry! It was just a joke! A joke!”
“[To suggest such…!]”
It took me until after the episode had finished — it’s not like we didn’t have the whole season so far downloaded, this episode included, but it’s the principle of the thing — to calm them down.
On reflection, I felt sorry for what I’d said, truly sorry. By now I’d heard enough rumours to understand that they’d accidentally yet badly injured a human during the initial first contact and that this whole mess was kind of their fault. For me, I tended to see it as taking two to tango, what with the whole nuclear fallout thing. It certainly wasn’t Karnakian missiles that destroyed my home after all.
Most Karnakians were rather straightforward and honest people, loving to a fault. For them, they could never forgive themselves for the absolute travesty that First Contact had turned into, it would be generations before the hurt would fade. With their lifespans being at least a thousand of our years, that meant grieving and pain for a span as long as a good chunk of recorded history so far. My life pre-contact, whilst comfortable by historical standards, was a far cry from the modern amenities I now enjoyed in their care. The kind of dark humour that I was used to made them uncomfortable at the best of times, and to even joke about eating
sentients was beyond the pale.
“I’m sorry Cherry, Chucky. Come here… I’m sorry, really.” I pulled their heads down towards mine, bumping foreheads. The standard expression on Karnakians easily translated to ‘angry’ for humans who were uninitiated, but I’d learned to read past that. They were sad and hurt.
“You can forgive your [dilligent little school chick] can’t you?” I looked up at them, wide-eyed and innocent. I couldn’t speak Karnakian, but I could
speak GalScript, or at least the standardized Terran pronunciation of it… when aided by the house’s holo-projector and my collar. It was below the belt, really, but as much as they knew I was a full adult, something about us humans just screamed
‘wobbly helpless chick’.
Chucky was the first to fold. He closed his eyes. “[I forgive you, little one,]” he sighed. “[I t-try so hard…]”
I made small, soothing noises, patting his side. I picked at his feathery fur around his head in an attempt to groom him, and a few moments later he was doing the same to my hair.
“Who’s my big strong Karnakian EM Squire? I know you’re the best on the boards. And Mommy
is such a friendly, helpful Karnakian too, isn’t she? You’re both doing a great job at saving humans like me, I know you are.”
Cherry squawked in annoyance, gently picking me up and pretend-snapping her teeth across my face and down my chest in an impromptu grooming session, it was similar to having a large dog slobber all over you, only worse.
“[How many times have I told you not to call me that!?]”
is being mean to me!” I mock-pouted, rubbing the knuckles of my fist on Cherry’s face as she fluffed up in annoyance.
“[You’re not helping your case you know!]” Cherry continued, but by now even Chucky was laughing, trilling helplessly as tears rolled down his muzzle. The tension slowly leaked out of both of them, though I knew I’d be getting grumbled at later. For now though, it meant we could finally wind down as a strange family.
It was a bad habit, perhaps, but I let myself fall asleep held by either or both of the Karnakians. I don’t think I’ve found anything quite so comfortable as an oversized alien space-raptor for a couch. I had my own bed, of course, but I let them take me to it. Don’t look at me like that! I know how you fall asleep watching the telly, and how you’ve never watched all of Star Wars
and you used to wake up only half way through the credits. This is pretty much the same, just with less steps.
When I woke up again, it was still ‘night’. That didn’t matter for me though, I’d had enough sleeping for a while and really needed to get out, to clear my head. I didn’t want to wake Cherry and Chucky this early — they, we, had a joint free shift in the ‘morning’ — so I’d make do with just the emergency glow from my collar to get me to the front door. I’d shucked my pants when I’d gone to bed proper, now I pulled them on as quietly as possible, cussing only infrequently as I struggled to get the legs the right way around. A few minutes later and I was out the front door.
Looking back at the house, it remained dark. Streetlights, sensing my motion, slowly grew in brightness until their blue-green glow suffused the area with a friendly light. I took a deep breath of the ‘night’ air, it was fresher and cooler at this time of day, rolling in from the park found spinwards and aft of our house. The center of this cylindrical residential zone was speckled with mobile drones full of lights and holo-effectors that could make the space above the houses look like anything from outer space to a chasm on a distant moon — every so often someone would get to pick a vista for it to display — but right now it was showing the stars as they would appear outside, as if I were on the inside of a partially see-through tube floating in space. Beautiful, but eerie. The lights of other dwellings twinkled distantly on the other side of the ‘arch’. Beneath my feet, the rough and regular footwalks stretched onwards through the habitable zone as it stretched right the way around to the opposite side of the tube, above me, and back down again the other side behind.
I made sure my collar was happy about my relatively unplanned constitutional, the last thing I wanted was to wake everybody up with the silent alarm causing the station security forces to lock the whole floor down and descend en masse, then started walking up the street.
This arcology platform was something else. I was living in suburbia, in space. Despite being quadrillions of tonnes of exotic alloys, it was practically able of landing on a planet — not that it was supposed to — and came complete with its own gravity generators. Where I’d expected our apartment to be down some meandering space corridor with a door like any other, it wasn’t. It was a relatively uniform yet distinct house, complete with garden, babbling brook and patio, just the way Cherry and Chucky liked it. I liked it too, but I had places to go. A hover-skimmer soon descended on my position, picking me up. There was no driver and no charge, the perfect taxi.
“Charlie’s,” I said. The taxi interrogated my collar, picked out where I meant and then accelerated at speed, the inertial dampers meaning I couldn’t even feel it as the scenery first fell away then sped past below me. A few minutes later, I was entering the ‘downtown’ district, the next floor ‘down’, aft of my own.
From the air — and we weren’t all that high up, we were after all inside a space-station — the ‘downtown’ district was a blaze of neon. Dropping to ‘floor’ level on the inside of the cylinder’s walls, the taxi slowed to a halt, the gull-wing doors rising up as I stepped out. Here the lights were less dazzling, the sidewalks less gargantuan. This was ‘little Terra’, a home away from home for us humans, especially when the ‘babysitters’ were sleeping. It was almost disorientating when the door was normal sized for once, and it somehow felt… not cramped, but the ceiling being a normal height — at least in the patron side of the bar — was kind of intimate. Even the outside of the buildings were hauntingly familiar, in a strange kind of fashion.
“Hey Reshy, had a good one so far?” I asked the bartender.
“[Starting to warm up,]” replied Chrlesshnethggrethraf noncomitally. He reached up, took down a pint glass and pulled a pint of cider for me. The red and white striped adder-type slid the glass across the top of the bar. I took it gratefully.
“Put it on my tab.”
“[You know you don’t have a tab, right?]”
I snorted, taking a swig. “You say that every time. It’s the principle of the thing.”
I grinned, then wandered over to the jukebox and dropped in a few of the fake coins passed around — for some reason, they had pictures of random humans on them instead of any specific monarchs, along with writing on the other side in a variety of alien languages — before punching buttons on the deliberately clunky interface. Tunes from my home blared over the speakers as I sank into the ratty yet comfortable seats. The fake patina was slowly being replaced by real stains, and although it looked dog-eared, I knew it was meant to but was in fact as new as the rest of the human adaptations to this space station.
Taking another swig of cider, I finally started to relax. Thinking back on the day — evening, for ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’ — I reasoned that Cherry, Chucky, and in fact not only all the karnakians but all the resident aliens, were doing their best to set right what they’d set wrong, even if it didn’t always feel like it. I figured that was because I didn’t see the full situation back on Earth with the holdouts who, rightly or wrongly, were scared of the aliens. Instead I was here, in absolute comfort, because I wasn’t.
I guess that’s why I came to places like Charlie’s. ‘Charlie’ may have been a Jornissian, but the rest of the denizens were, broadly speaking, humans. This was what Cherry and Chucky were working towards, the ability for us humans to have our own culture once more, our own space. I just wasn’t sure the aliens were ready for it.
“Okay, are we ready?” Ollie, special forces vet, was acting as referee tonight. A stalwart Northerner from the UK, he was keeping the peace between Ivan and Seamus, at opposite ends of one side of the room. The crowd was cheering them on.
“Murder darts! Murder darts! Murder darts!” The chanting started up, getting louder and rowdier as the excitement built up.
“Aye, I’m ready,” Seamus said, once Ollie had gained a modicum of control over the crowd. He took a swig from his own bottle as he eyed the shots in front of him.
“Da! Let us begin!” Ivan said, hammering his chest with one hand.
The chanting started up again after that. “Murder darts! Murder darts!”
“I want a clean competition, one drink, one shot, alright? Okay, go!”
Each competitor took a shot of the clear liquid in front of them, then took aim, and...
The crowd winced as one as twin darts sank into the two competitors. One in the arm of Seamus, and one in the shoulder of Ivan. With the medical abilities of the aliens being so far ahead of hours, otherwise debilitating injuries were more or less just an annoyance. Hence, pastimes like ‘murder darts’ had grown in popularity, where injuring yourself or someone else was the aim of the game.
“Give up yet, ya pansy?” Seamus taunted, pulling his dart out. A dribble of blood ran down his arm
“Go cry to your mama,” Ivan retorted, slamming back another drink. He flicked the dart in his shoulder contemptuously to the floor. Seamus took another shot.
“Remember! Miss, and your opponent gets a free shot, their choice of dart or drink!”
“Ivan will not miss.” Ivan took his shot, and took a shot.
“What, you think I’m gonna back out? Feck off.” Seamus did the same.
Two more darts went sailing across the room, more drinks were knocked back, followed by another pair of drinks and another pair of darts. Money changed hands, though in the strange situation we humans found ourselves it was more a set of IOU’s. Eventually, the whole initial row of shots was emptied, their glasses upturned. Both competitors looked a little woozy, but that was because they’d not been drinking on an empty stomach. They’d put alcohol in it first.
“Alright gents! Warmup’s over! Neither of our stars are backing down! It’s time for another round!”
The clear gutrot was once more portioned out, and soon darts once again went flying across the room, finding their targets, though with a wider dispersal now. Some of them did miss, usually to be replaced by a drink from the victor. Off to one side, separate games of ‘punch-face’ were starting up, where the winner of a timed downing of a pint got to punch the loser in the face before having another pint. Things were getting interesting. Having sunk several double shots of my own in addition to a number of pints of cider — quite how many, I was no longer sure — I got up from my seat to move a little closer, maybe take a part in the betting. Unfortunately, several others had the same idea and a pint glass caught my elbow, to get sent flying over me and its owner.
“Oi! What the fuck do you fink yer doin’?”
“Oh shut up you gibbon,” I retorted, words slurred as I wiped myself down, livid. “If you’d looked where you were going—”
“What the fuck did you call me?” I was interrupted by the gibbon in question, all greasy hair and dragging knuckles, and barely a single pair of brain cells to rub together.
“I said you’re a gibbon, you half-witted, window-licking, crayon-eating, knuckle-dragging simpleton, waving your stupid hands all around instead of watching where you’re going. You’ve got your piss-water all over me!”
His friend squared up. “I think you’d better apologize, you little shit.”
I sniffed. “Alright. I’m sorry your friend is a half-witted, window-licking, crayon eating, knuckle-dragging simpleton. Sorry your girlfriend—”
In hindsight, that may have not been the right answer. Live and learn. Predictably perhaps, the gibbon drew back his hand, made a fist, and punched me in the face. I was sent staggering backwards through the rapidly parting crowd into Ivan, who slipped with his dart and sent it sinking into Ollie, who slapped two others in their faces, spilling their drinks, which set them
off and the rowdy game of murder darts devolved into a rousing rumble.
“Come on then! One at a time or all at once, ya slags! I’ll nut ya!”
By this time, chairs were flying across the room, the wooden floor was stained with beer and blood, glass littered the tables, Charlie had put up the blast screen, and as for me, I found myself heartily defenestrated. I rolled to a stop outside in the road as a whole pack of armoured dorarizin descended from rapid-response troop carriers. Drones buzzed around, lights piercing the otherwise dark streets, as the peacekeeper forces arrived.
For some reason, at least one of them was wearing what appeared to be a British policeman’s outfit, the strangely bell-shaped archaic hat on his head looking rather out of place. He bent down and cleared his throat as a circle of light surrounded us two in particular.
“[You’re [nicked], [mate],]” he said, through a thick mask that was probably intended to prevent the inevitable dorarizin hug that followed unscented humans and instead made him look like a nightmare in metal, leather and fangs. “[Did that translate properly?]”
I burbled something through the blood streaming out of my cut lip in rough assent and he nodded, seemingly satisfied. At some point after that, the world went dark. Chr'ter trilled softly in annoyance as the call was resolutely passed through both the privacy and courtesy firewalls and filters, waking her up. The house systems did their best not to intrude during bedtime, but when you do have to handle a priority communication, intruding comes as part of the job.
“|Hello? ...Yes, I am Chr’ter of House Tr’ck’rk’tktk, what…|” she stifled a yawn, feeling all the feathers down her back flutter, her tail-fans cramping, “|what can I do for…|” She sat up straighter as the voice on the other end of the line — audio only for privacy’s sake at this time of night — inquired whether she had one ‘Softy Tr’ck’rk’tktk’ as a part of her Family.
“|By Br’nk’trrr’s last feather,|” she swore. She took a deep breath. “|I do, is this — yes, the local peacekeepers, I under — no, no, he’s a good boy, he’d never… injured? My baby is injured? If you’ve hurt him I’ll tear every scale from your… just you try to charge me with verbal assault and I’ll have your hide! What did you do to my baby!? Chrk’chrk, get up! Right now!|”
“|Rrff? Mff? Wha’?|” Chrk’chrk was kicked in the face by a very agitated Chr’ter. He circled his jaw and shook his head, making sure nothing was injured. “|My prr’nktun blossom, what is it?|”
“|The [peacekeepers]! They’re holding our baby prisoner! He’s been arrested by the not-so Noble-Family-Hunters-Yearning-For-Life!|”
For a brief moment, Chrk’chrk was still, then a low, rattling growl emanated from deep within his body. “|Ripped pinions, tell them we will be there momentarily and that they had better have a very, very good explanation.|”
The call was cut on a frantic jornissian as she tried to calm things down. She decided clocking off early was probably a good idea as the equivalent of a dial-tone was her only companion.
“[Hi [Mommy], hi [Daddy],]” The little-needs-protecting croaked out, smiling through the gaps in his missing teeth as he tried his best ‘little lost chick’ act. It was a bit of a stretch, given how he was currently lying on a relatively spartan bench in a plascrete cell, in the middle of the detention block. His soul-lights were a whirl of painkillers, inebriation and injuries barely suppressed by nano-meds. He was also rather worried about his ultimate fate this night, as he should be.
“|Don’t you try that with us! What did you think you were doing?|” rumbled Chrk’chrk, his spiny feathers rattling. Chr’ter, however, had other things on her mind than her errant’s ‘chick’s behaviour.
“|You have him restrained? In [handcuffs]? Are you a [barbarian]!? Let him free this instant!|”
“[Miss, it is customary in his society—]” the jornissian civilian safety officer tried to explain, but Chr’ter had her back feathers rising and there was a low growl emanating from her throat. Her tail-fans widened and she tried very, very hard not to gouge the floor with her claws.
“|He is not in his society right now, he is in mine and if you do not start treating my baby with a little bit more care I will show you—|”
“|[Burnished feather of the morning light], please calm down. There is already one member of our family in trouble, we do not need another,|” said Chrk’chrk soothingly, trying his best to keep his own feather-spikes down. He then turned to the jornissian that was standing to one side in the grey detention block of the peacekeeper’s station and narrowed his eyes, forked tongue flicking over his lips. “|On the [flipside] of that, if you do not release him this instant I am not responsible for what may happen. He is perfectly safe to handle, and most certainly will not be escaping our tender mercies.|”
“[Un-understood… now if you would just sign this release form and-and-and w-waiver—]” Rsssthssprrktthh tried very hard to keep smiling and remembering to blink. She herself knew what it was like with children, you never forgot the feeling of their teeth as they clung to you, it made her warm even now thinking of the warm-cuddle she’d been tending, so she knew what it was like for the two Karnakians in front of her. [Dean] had been so cute, despite her being forced to keep the warm-cuddle restrained as per his society’s customs until his carers arrived to request he be relinquished from his cell.
“|Waiver?|” growled Chr’ter.
“[He, ah, was part of a public disturbance and-and-and—]”
“|How badly was he injured?|”
Rsssthssprrktthh rattled off a list of injuries, which included bruised livers, cuts and abrasions and a broken shoulder to an increasingly irate karnakian. “[But his teeth will grow back, though you may want to have him on a liquid diet for a while.]”
“|And you want me to sign a waiver for what before you will let me take him home to be properly cared for?|”
“[He was p-part of a p-public dis-disturbance and-and… and I suppose we know exactly where to find you should we require any more information! Just sign th-the release form! Here and here and… thank you he should come into a [little-needs-protecting] hospital later today or tomorrow for another standard dose of nanites, medi-skin re-application, more antitoxins for the intoxicants he digested, and removal of the quick-cast for his broken arm, but for now you are free to go and please don’t come back!]”
The jornissian signalled the cell to release its occupant, then vanished as quickly as her long, yellow and orange tail would let her. For their part, Chr’ter and Chrk’chrk turned to the widely grinning little-needs-protecting. He smelled happy, hurt, pungent from ‘alcohol’ and very, very recalcitrant. His soul-lights were also calmer now that he was back with his family.
“|You have a lot of explaining to do, [Mister],|” grumbled Chr’ter as she pulled the sliding barred door open.
“|Indeed. Just wait until your moth… er, I mean Chr’ter and I, get you home!|”
The little-needs-protecting’s face fell as he was gently, but firmly, pulled to his feet.
“|So you say you were innocent?|” Chrk’chrk asked, his feathers rippling up and down his body.
“[Honest. I was just there for some… time to myself. W-with others. I mean—]”
“|With others of your own kind. We understand. Just… that’s a… a bad part of town—|” Chr’ter stated.
“|Sorry, but it is. And then you got into this… riot?|” Chrk’chrk continued.
“[I didn’t mean to! I wasn’t going to get involved in anything dangerous or illegal when I went out!]”
“|At least you’re safe now,|” Chr’ter said, fussing over Softy’s injuries. She yawned, fluffing herself up as she pulled the injured little-needs-protecting into her embrace. “|Now all we need to do is relax a little. Maybe put the holoprojector on whilst we wake up properly.|”
“|...In local news today, there was an altercation with the [little-needs-protectings] at a bar colloquially known as [Charlie’s]. A fight broke out over a dangerous game known as [murder darts] went awry during an illegal betting session.|”
“|You WHAT!?|” Chr’ter felt the little-needs-spankings tense up in her grasp as she heard and saw the news footage.
“|The instigator of the fight has been identified and appears to be one [Softy Tr’ck’rk’tktk], and will be—|”
“|YOU ARE SO GROUNDED!|”
Warning. Great Wall Of Text ahead.
So you've decided to head across the Pond to London for the two game series at the end of June. You're an absolute legend, following your team across an ocean, and we should have a suitcase statue in Monument Park for dedicated people like your good self.
The only problem is, you don't know what you're going to do with yourself. Maybe you already have a game ticket, maybe you're hoping to snag one outside the stadium in the Stratford area of London, maybe you just want to visit London and having the Yankees there gives you an excuse to check things out. But all you have right now is a vague notion that you want to make a memory of a lifetime and the clock is ticking.
You don't want to stick out like a newbie. Thankfully, you've got an old pro helping you out. Fifteen years working on the railway, including working at Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations, and a thorough love of finding out the best way to do anything quick and cheap and easy. Jackpot777 at your service with a brain full of London.
I've broken this down into sections with bold headers. Look for what you need to know, get prepped, get excited… let's shag it, people. Oh, and I'm using a hotel that one person is actually staying at as my examples. Thanks to Fantasysage
for that. I already gave him four musical things to find in his own area, four pieces of musical rock & roll history that would take just a short afternoon to do, but if you're near Leicester Square / Piccadilly Circus / Oxford Street and you love music you can check out those yourself too by reading this from my announcement thread
Yada yada yada, here we go. And apologies for mentioning the iPhone a lot, the examples I'm giving use it because that's what I have.
Getting over there. What do you mean you're waiting for inspiration?
First off, a saying that'll make it sound like you backpacked around the world since you were two months old and this is the norm for you. The best time to book your tickets was four months ago. The second best time is right now.
As we get closer to the date, the less likely you are of getting a flight on the cheap. Even closer still, you're not likely to get a seat at any price. Get onto Kayak or Travelocity and book the flight. Now. Read this section first, book your flights, then come back and read the rest. You're flying to London in summer, you're coming back to America around the 4th of July when SO MANY PEOPLE plan to come back, so if you can go for ten days and return when most of the firework displays and family shindigs are happening you'll save an absolute packet. Airport time.
If you're able to go from JFK (you may have noticed that every passenger airport in the world has a three letter code), those are probably the cheapest flights. London to JFK is like a cheap pipeline with airlines competing for your money. After that, flights are relatively cheap from Newark (EWR). All those flights will get you either to Heathrow (LHR) which is technically within the London Zones area or London Gatwick (LGW) which is just south (more on those Zones in the TfL section). Right now, round trip flights are around $600 but prices might even creep up if enough of you keep searching for the same dates and same routes. It's all supply and demand, so searching can raise the price. Be wary of that.
If you're in upstate New York or you're a RailRiders fan in the Scranton area, one cheap option is to fly from Stewart (SWF) with a connecting flight at Dublin to London Stansted (STN) which is east of London or London Luton (LTN) which is north of London. That will cost a little more than the previous options, but it's a lot cheaper than flying out of Wilkes-Barre Scranton (AVP) and changing at Detroit or Charlotte or Philly. Drive up I-84 as if you're going to Poughkeepsie for 90 minutes and you're there.
Think of those outside-of-London-Zones airports as being like Newark, by the way. Technically not in the city, not even in the same county, but a short ride on public transport to the middle of everything.
If you can wiggle your departure and return dates, especially because there are going to be a LOT of people wanting to visit family for the 4th or (more probably) the Saturday after when all the fireworks displays are, I heartily recommend it. Use the functions on the websites to compare prices and book accordingly. Here's an example from Kayak of a RailRiders / Yankees fan going on that flight via Dublin and then arriving in either the county of Essex or Bedfordshire (Stansted and Luton airports respectively) and coming back around the 4th.
It's actually cheaper to fly back ON the 4th because most people don't want to split the actual holiday with a day of travel. And coming back to surprise the family on the 6th is where the dollars pile up. The tools are available on the travel booking sites. Use them. Figure out of staying an extra day actually saves more than you'd earn working. OK. You got your flight. Now you want to think about a hotel room or something. Where in London should you stay? This is a very simplified Tube (the subway system is called the London Underground but locals all call it The Tube) map of central London.
There are also above-ground trains run by rail companies, and bus routes, but I'm keeping it simple here. The more astute of you might notice there's a shape to central London that looks like a milk or stubby beer bottle on its side with the yellow line. When the games happen, the stadium is going to be a bit further off to the right of this map, so if you want to still be in the middle of things for the touristy stuff but still have a short-ish journey time to the London Stadium, I recommend staying to the middle or right hand side of this milk bottle based on what your nearest Tube station is.
A more complex version: the British equivalent to Zip Code +4 (the bit across the Gerard Avenue from Yankee Stadium is in the Bronx area of 10452, and the offices at 901 Gerard Avenue are 10452-9992) is called a post code. With the London Stadium, site of the two games, the post code area is E20 (for East London region 20) and the part of "East 20" that has the stadium is 2ST, so their version of the Zip+4 is E20 2ST. Just as with 10452-9992 where the important part is the 10452 bit, the important bit of E20 2ST is the E20 bit. London East postal district
20. So you want to be more in the east than the west, and E20 is in the north part of east London so north of the River Thames is preferable to south. Anywhere with a Central (EC or WC number) is still good. Other places outside of London get postcodes based on a nearby big city (like LS for Leeds of M for Manchester) or the nearest large town (LU for Luton Airport because Luton's the biggest town in the area or CM for Stansted because Chelmsford is the big nearby urban area) but London is big like New York so it gets North and West Central and -- you know what? I'm getting sidetracked. With London post codes, east rather than west and north rather than south for accommodation.
In Fantasysage's case, he's staying in a hotel in W1. Didn't I say east rather than west? I did, but his area of W1D (West 1 D) is right on the border, two minute walk away, from WC2H (West Central 2 H). He got a great deal in Soho just north of Chinatown, close to the lights of Piccadilly Circus (it's like Times Square, there's even an M&M Store nearby but don't go to London just to visit that) in a hotel with great review scores. NW1, W1, and SW1 postcodes are good areas because they're basically joined to the Central codes.
And yes, like with the 212 area code and Zip Code snobbery here, the same thing exists in London too. East End boys and West End girls, as the Pet Shop Boys once sang about. It's good to know a bit about that so you stay in a good area, just like any big city.
This is a lot and we've only just got the flight and hotel room booked. Now what?
Prepare to hit the ground running before you get there. Your smartphone helps SO much (even with no connection)
You probably know that your Verizon or AT&T plan isn't going to just transpose over to a UK network. AT&T has a deal where you can pay $10 a day to use your phone in London, and you're only charged for the day you use it like a traditional cellphone
for example, but be aware that your data limit per month is still the same. Personally, I like traveling over there and leaving my iPhone in Airplane Mode so it doesn't ping cellphone towers and you don't inadvertently run up a horrendous bill. What good is that? Well, like in any big city, there's free WiFi all over the place. Fast food places or Starbucks, in your hotel room, some areas of London provide free connection like the N1C area of Kings Cross
because Google have an office there (so that means anywhere with a postcode beginning with N1C just became very desirable). There are black phone boxes that are hotspots.
You can arrange to communicate via Facebook Messenger or Skype or iMessage and FaceTime (video or just audio) on an Apple device. If there's some reason for you to remain connected with someone back in the US of A, agree on the method, download the relevant apps, and try it out before you travel to make sure it works for you. Some people swear by getting a region-specific pre-paid SIM card and popping that in the phone for their stay.
It's cheaper than the AT&T option I mentioned earlier: an O2 provider card giving 8GB of data with 2,000 talk minutes and 5,000 texts for a whole month costs less than $30 and you don't have to worry about looking for a WiFi signal. But, like your mother says, put the WiFi on when you get home so you're not eating up all that data watching Fortnite flossing videos or whatever it is you kids do. Get off my lawn.
Apps. By the GODS, there are some great ones. The best one I can recommend is CityMapper for Apple or Android. Every decent travel website
and YouTube travel video urges you to get it, and I agree. I used it in London and Paris last year, planned journeys before I got there, and if you're connected to WiFi or decided to connect with the SIM card you bought it'll update travel info in real time.
If you use Google Maps, you can download areas and access them offline.
I still have a HUGE area of London saved on my phone and it takes up less than 100MB of space because it's just vectors, just colored lines and a font or two. You don't need a cellphone signal to use them because your phone navigates via orbiting GPS satellites and that uses 0% of your data or cellphone signal. And like any Google map, you can pinch and zoom and search in that area as if you were online.
Also remember that you can store PDFs and other documents on your phone. If you save a PDF map of the entire Tube system, an iPhone puts it in your iBooks. You can store all types of maps that can be enlarged for details in there. In fact, here's a link to one of those maps now.
Save it to your iBooks or whatever the other phone equivalents are.
Just take another look at that bigger map. You can still see the milk bottle on its side in the middle, in Zone 1. And you can see the other Zones spreading out like concentric ripples. The Tube lines are color coordinated: the Central Line is always red, the Northern Line is always black, the Piccadilly is always dark blue and the Victoria is light blue.
Now would be a good time to start with how to get around.
Transport for London. That's what TfL stands for. IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ANY AIRPORT EXPRESS TRAIN OPTION
. You may see the Gatwick Express can get you to London Victoria in 30 minutes, or the Heathrow Express can get you to London Paddington in 15 minutes or 20 minutes if it’s Terminal 5. And they can. But unless you are specifically going from that airport and your nearest station to your accommodation is the relevant London location, these options are a waste of money.
A journey from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Green Park by conventional Underground takes 50 minutes and costs under £15 for that and all your other public transport for the day. The same journey involving the super fast train to Paddington and then changing for the Bakerloo (Brown) and Jubilee (Silver) lines takes two minutes longer and just the Heathrow Express part alone costs £22.00. You may think about getting a cab from Heathrow to your hotel.
It’s £65 one way, almost $85. Don’t be a dozy pillock, that’s the kind of money you could be spending on beer. You may be thinking of a hire car for the week.
Don’t be an even more dozy pillock. Cost of fuel? Parking? Steering wheel on the other side of the car? All the other cars on the other side of your car? Road signs you don’t understand? Road markings that mean you’re not allowed to pull into this intersection, do you know what they look like? Rush hour in a city with nine million residents and millions more commuting in and out, plus a few million more tourists? Good luck with that idea, you’re having a laugh mate. Stick to the buses and tube and trains. WHEN USING THE ESCALATORS, ALWAYS STAND TO THE RIGHT AND WALK ON THE LEFT. One station tried changing the system for six months in 2016. It nearly led to an overthrow of society as we know it.
When someone comes out of their own Personal Tube Bubble to call something a “fresh hell”, you know the system has failed! The experiment was scrapped
because, and I am not making this up, it “goes against everything about being British”. Someone else said it went against etiquette and “there was always the danger of people thinking they could stand on the left at other Tube stations - can you imagine?” which is possibly the most British thing I’ve ever heard.
You have all your travel pre-paid before you even fly out, if you have one of the following:
This is because Transport for London (TfL) has been rolling out contactless pay for seven years now. Buses in late 2012, and the rest of the network in 2014.
All these things contain a standard type of chip that deals with the payments.
HOWEVER - some people reported problems with trying to use a non-UK card payment to jaunt around. There is a card you can get specially as a travel smartcard. It's called the Oyster Card and there are two types.
You can either buy one when you get to London, it's the standard blue one… but I recommend getting the one only Visitors from other nations can get
, the Visitor Oyster Card. It makes for a nice souvenir, and you can pay for it with an amount preloaded onto it. That way, you arrive in London and head straight for the public transport, press the card on the sensor and it starts deducting your fares. And there are a few perks
with the Visitor version …for example, if you spend £5 ($6.50) in the Beatles Store near Baker Street tube station and show a Visitor Oyster Card, you get a free gift. 15% off your purchase at M&M World. Alright. I give in. Go to the M&M store for half an hour. Treat yo self. Currency. Forgot about currency.
One pound, £1, will cost you around $1.30 or so. The exchange rate fluctuates but right now it's around that. Something costs £10, that's around $13. A Big Mac in a McDonalds (if you must) is £2.69 (that's $3.49, which is actually cheaper than what it costs over here). Something £10 is $13, £50 is $65. Add a third on top to any British price to get a close conversion to how much that is in dollars. And there's very little tipping for service, it's a cultural difference. Visa and MasterCard are accepted everywhere too, but call your card issuer on their number on the back of your card to tell them when you’ll be in London. That way your account won’t be frozen for suspicious transactions when you’re 3,500 miles from home. ApplePay and SamsungPay and GooglePay too because they use the same chips as the cards and it all links back to Visa and MasterCard anyway... those contactless payment terminals are everywhere. I paid for a pub meal in Hertfordshire (just north of London) last year using my iPhone 8 because I have my LLBean Visa card stored as a method of payment. Used it to buy pre-packed sandwiches and a bottle of water at a pharmacy (Boots Pharmacy, the UK version of CVS).
Just don’t expect anyone to take dollars. Any shop that does will give a lousy rate of return. Get maybe £150 in cash for the week for small transactions like buying beers but do most stuff on credit card. Payment protected, and you get the best rate of return. If you have to exchange dollar bills into Pound banknotes and coins over there, go into a high street bank or building society (they’re a little like credit unions, you could say) and ask if they exchange foreign currencies. The exchange rate is better than at a street “Bureau de Change”.
ATMs are everywhere. The locals call them “cash machines” (like the Hard Fi song) or “hole in the wall” (like the eleventh pub’s name in The World’s End). Your bank may charge an additional fee or you may have an account that waives ATM transaction fees worldwide. Ask at your local bank. That’s money dealt with.
Back to travel. Going back to that large map
, and see London and its Zones. Most of the tourist stuff are in Zones 1 and 2. The stadium is near Stratford and Stratford International stations to the east (E20, remember) in Zone 3 and is served by above ground trains and the Central (red) line of the Tube. Heathrow is in Zone 6 on that dark blue (Piccadilly) line to the bottom left in South West London. Gatwick is out of the Zones and is mentioned at the bottom of the map.
When you travel, there is a maximum you will be charged. Once you reach that Daily Cap, every trip after that is effectively free. And the price depends on what Zones you use. The further you travel, the larger the cap for that day. This man suggests buying the Oyster Card in London. You don’t get the shopping perks but you can surrender the hardware on a standard card at the end of your trip and get the £5 fee back, and maybe just load £15 onto it for the first day and then top it up on a regular basis during your stay.
And as you see, everyone stares at their phones and has earphones in too. If you do that, you can check your travel plans on your smartphone screen and nobody needs to know you’re a tourist.
If you travel via Heathrow Airport in Zone 6 into the middle of the sideways milk bottle in Zone 1, the most you can charged for that day, Zone 1 to Zone 6, is £12.80.
So let's imagine that day you arrive. You arrive early on a weekday morning on that red eye flight from JFK and start travel before 0930 because you got a flight arriving dead early, and you take the Piccadilly Line regular tube service and get off at Piccadilly Circus station so that's £5.10 charged (your hotel is in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and Oxford Circus and the app said that's the shortest walking route). Get to your hotel and they say you can check in before the usual 2pm (or whatever) check in time because there is a room already cleaned that wasn't used last night, and it still feels like six in the morning to you even though it's 11am local time so you set an alarm for 2 hours and grab a quick sleep. Wake up, shower, change of clothing, you connect to the hotel WiFi and Google map somewhere to eat that involves a short Tube ride. There's a pub called The White Lion
, it's two stops further up that same dark blue Piccadilly line at Covent Garden (totally in the middle of that milk bottle) and that English guy that writes novels for tourists on the Yankees subreddit said their fish and chips in their upstairs dining area are good and their beer is decent and cheap enough because the pub is owned by a brewery called Nicholson's and they serve their own product (and you want to try a local beer so that's perfect). That trip cost another £2.40 because it's totally within the middle two zones, so you're up to £7.50. You then travel to Kings Cross (Zone 1) after your lunch and slow beer to visit the Harry Potter store on Platform 9 and three quarters so that's another £2.40 so you're up to £9.90. You heard that Camden Market is the place to check out Doc Marten boots like Vinnie Jones wore in Lock Step & Two Smoking Barrels so off to Camden Town tube stop in Zone 2 for another £2.40 which puts you up to £12.30. You see a London double decker bus going to Euston (your PDF map and the CityMapper app show you that's back in Zone 1) and buses are only £1 so you should be up to £13.30… but this first day is capped at £12.80 so the bus only cost you 50p (50 pence. The subdivision of one pound is one hundred pennies, or one hundred pence). The tube back to Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Street or Leicester Square for the hotel is free because you hit your cap.
Just make sure you tap in on a sensor at the start and the end of any journey involving rails, and on a bus you just need to tap in on the sensor at the start of your journey. Tap in, tap out.
The next day you stay totally within Zones 1 and 2. Palace, Westminster, London Dungeon, Baker Street, but never outside the middle. That day caps out at £7.00 so your third trip on the Tube is discounted and anything after that is free.
Travel to the London Stadium. If you have tickets, it'd be a shame not to use them.
On the day you go to the game, you need to travel to the Stratford area of East London in Zone 3. The daily cap for that day, assuming you don't venture further out into Zone 4 and beyond (effectively residential areas) is £8.20. When you get off at either Stratford (regular rail station or Underground station, they're the same thing) or Stratford International from St Pancras International (the six minute train ride on a Eurostar type train), there'll be lots of people helping the fans. The stadium is an Olympic stadium, it's huge. And everyone will be walking to it. It's like following the crowds up River Street if you've never been to Yankee Stadium. The crowd carries you forward.
The stadium is now the home to Premier League team West Ham United so head for the 55,000 seater stadium that says West Ham United on it. Their colors are claret red / light blue / white and their emblem is a shield with two hammers on it, so their nickname is either “The Hammers” or “Irons”. They used to play at the Boleyn Ground just three miles or so away in East 13 but the opportunity came to move into a new already-built stadium starting in 2017 so they took it because their old place dated back to 1904. The old place was demolished and it’s a park now. A bit like the old Yankee Stadium story ten years ago. Here is what it was like for fans of The Hammers when they went to their first home game at the new stadium in 2017.
That’s the experience you’ll have.
So you’ve probably figured out how much to load onto the pre-paid Visitor Oyster Card (which you should order soon so it gets delivered before your trip). £12.80 for the day you arrive. £7.00 for any day just doing tourist stuff in Zones 1 and 2. £8.20 for game day. If you’re only going to Heathrow on the final day, another £5.10 for that single journey. Add up the days based on that, come to a total, and pre-order that amount on the Oyster Card ASAP.
This is all part of the transport info, but what do you do with any small amount of credit left on the card when you get to Heathrow for the flight back home? Well, you can check the remaining balance at any time from a machine at the stations and that machine will also refund a balance up to £10
so don’t put TOO much pre-paid on it. But what if you don’t put enough on it? Well, you can use those same machines to top up the card with a few quid more.
Quid is a slang term for pounds, like bucks is slang for dollars. It’s always quid, never quids. Ten quid is thirteen bucks.
Get me to a bar of likeminded fans. The vaguest section here.
Right now, I don't know of any bars or pubs that have said "we're definitely showing the game, and we want as many Yankees fans to come" but that will change. Keep watching YES to see if they mention a place, keep reading the subreddit in case info makes it here. It will. And that's when you make those plans.
If you’re over there, watch ITV News London or BBC London News.
And if we find out anything, I’ll amend the shit out of this section.
General tourist information and how you know more British stuff than you think.
The same rules apply in London as in New York. People that look like they know where they're going don't get accosted by society's more nefarious people. Anyone that looks fifty years old that steps off a Tube train wearing an NYU sweatshirt and a Giants cap may as well paint a huge target on their back as being a potentially easy target. Tourists don't know the place well, they don't know you have to dial 999 for emergency services instead of 911, they're more likely to be carrying around lots of currency they're not naturally comfortable with and more credit cards than the average punter. This woman will set you right on how to blend in. Blending in is always key.
Don't flash cash and cards around. Don't talk at 95 decibels about how new you are and how confusing everything is and how you're totally lost. Generally: don't be a feckless wanker. Be smart, which means be criminally minded (to borrow a line from KRS-One).
Culturally you'll fit right in. Britain and the States share a lot of media, and a lot of that is centered around London and New York. If you or your wife likes Leona Lewis or Adele or Mumford & Sons or Gorillaz songs, they're from the general London area or have members that are so you know that. If you remember Wonderwall by Oasis or Song 2 by Blur or Common People by Pulp, you basically already know of the Britpop music scene of the '90s (which is a major part of the contemporary British psyche). You may already know some slang from Harry Potter films, you may know a few Bond movies and how Austin Powers makes that stuff comical (and Mike Myers is Canadian), Star Wars has had a British and American influence for over 40 years. You may even be able to carry on lengthy conversations with a Londoner about the best moments in Top Gear, Doctor Who, Monty Python, Game Of Thrones, anything starring Idris Elba… all it is when it comes to being there is the small differences. Steak sauce is brown sauce, a truck is a lorry, pants are trousers and so on. Just look at the small language differences as being like a form of slang.
Some stuff can be weird and unexpected. Some nice, some just weird.
The voltage is different. Make sure you have the travel plugs and adaptors you need for the UK. They're at 220-240 volts, 50 Hertz.
There are free newspapers at stations on weekdays. Metro in the morning, Evening Standard in the afternoon. Grab a copy to keep up with the world. I’m sure Metro will have the Yankees - Red Sox games in it the Monday after the games. Grab a copy as a free souvenir.
Washcloths. My wife reminded me of this. You get the usual assortment of of hand towels and bath towels and floor towels, but enough places haven’t had washcloths (or as the British call them: a flannel) that I’m including it. There is a chance your London hotel doesn’t do washcloths and I don’t know why. Pack a cheap washcloth or a shower poof from the dollar store for the trip and leave it in the shower. Usually, hotels only wash towels you leave on the floor because it’s an ecological thing so hang the washcloth in the shower and you’ll be fine.
Temperatures are in Celsius. Quick rough-and-ready conversion that’s super easy and pretty accurate: take the Celsius number, double it, then add thirty. So if it’s going down to 10°C at night, double it to 20 and add 30 to get 50°F (which is actually correct). If they say the high will be 27°C or 27 degrees, double it to 54 and add 30 to get 84°F (27°C is actually closer to 80°F but it’s close enough for you to know it’s short sleeve weather).
Daylight is longer. London is 52 degrees north of the equator, New York is between 40 and 41 degrees north. The Bronx is closer to the equator than the North Pole, but with London it’s the opposite. That means winter days are shorter but summer days are longer because you’re further north in summer. They have daylight savings time (British Summer Time, BST for short) so the birds start their twilight singing at 3.00am or so. I’m not even joking, if the clocks hadn’t been put forward that shit would be 2am local time. Sunrise is at 4.45am the time you’re there. Sunset is 9.20pm. It won’t get totally dark until around 11pm. Look forward to long summery late evenings. I bet you didn’t think astronomy would be in this guide, but if you’re not ready for songbirds “giving it all that” at three in the morning it could be quite an unexpected shock. I promised you lot a comprehensive guide and that’s what you have.
And try actual British Cadbury’s chocolate. I recommend the Cadbury Flake. You’ve not experienced chocolate until you eat a Flake.
You'll do alright. Wait, I typed HOW MUCH?!?
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