CHAPTER I

 

by which the traveller giveth some account of himself, and his family; the author’s first inducements to travel. Shipwrecked, he falls out of an hotel window and runs for his life; get safe in Voun Town by way of a thicket; is made a subject of said country.

 

     I am climbing out of the hotel window after an unsuccessful sexual encounter with my mother when I am suddenly shot through with a horrible realisation I shoplifted sixty pounds’ worth of groceries at the corner shop by an honest mistake, and I am being pursued. I tumble down a cliff, recollect myself atop a sandy beach with only minor scuffs and surface lacerations and sprint the length of the hotel, which smoothly transitions into the high rises of my childhood.

     The grid of balconies goes on and on until I am completely out of breath. Before I have a chance to duck into the neighbouring estate my pursuers spot me cutting a corner. Surrounded by garden gnomes and unruly hedges, all is positively hopeless. I vault over the pastel chain-link nursery fence and dart towards the forest. I am making good headway through the thicket when I suddenly lose my footing and fall into in a foxhole. What tripped me up, it transpires, is a branch extended by a creature not unlike a very authoritative garden gnome.

This is how I first encounter a Voun. A Voun is between a verb and a noun, in the sense that it can be contained neither as a subject nor an action. Unsure at first how to pronounce the name of their kind, I am reminded of the mythical being known as a faun, and wonder if this is perhaps how Vouns originally entered popular consciousness. Anyway, these reflections come to me later. Upon my discovery in the thicket I am subject to much debate and an in-depth enquiry. Although the Vouns expected my arrival and, indeed, laid out the trap that I so conveniently slipped into, I remain a threat to their community. They make that known by waving what I recognize as baseball bats crudely stripped of varnish coating. When it becomes apparent that I am not going to put up a fight, the Vouns stow me away in a provisional enclosure of twigs and clingfilm. The material has been woven across multiple times over and has the texture of calloused skin. Its bounces back when I touch it.

Something about the Vouns gives the impression of wool that had been felted until it lost any memory of ever being fibre. Under the surface layer of dried mud, they appear full of vitality that is unknown to me. It is impossible to imagine a Voun tired, bloated, or terminally ill. The Voun Town reflects this, ostensibly lacking even the barest of necessities like shelter or access to water. As I watch, the Vouns rapidly collect wood and build a fire. They adhere to a strict division of labour, the logic of which I am not able to grasp. One of the Vouns sluices the logs with paraffin and the fire rises, instantly establishing itself at the centre of the settlement. Another approaches me with a somewhat solemn expression and proffers what I recognise to be a freezer bag filled to the brim with distilled potato spirit.

The gathering proceeds in an orderly fashion, with each Voun speaking in turn. There is no obvious facilitation but it appears that before any Voun takes the floor, they are required to scramble through the fire. I become aware of a faint chemical scent as they emerge. It is like the reek of burnt plastic but inexplicably pleasant. It makes me think of fireworks, the homemade kind. Upon crossing the flame, the Vouns shed their muddy coating and leap out glistening in a whale-like fashion.

The spectacle makes it hard for me to concentrate on what is being decided. The language is remote enough from my own that I am not in position to follow it fully. Their phonation follows a bumpy sequence like pebbles skimming water. Unable to make anything of my future destiny, I turn my attention to the edges of Voun Town, now visible to me by the glow of the fire. The Vouns have marked their territory with strips of torn carrier bags, their concentration apparently higher in certain areas. I can see a well-trodden path leading off into a faraway clearing, where I can just about glimpse a vast heap of some description, possibly a decorative hillock.

Presently Vouns come to an end in their deliberations, and rouse me from what must have been exceptionally deep sleep. I get to my feet and look down at the ring of Vouns that reaches approximately to my mid-section. With limitless patience, they explain that my bigness is part of the problem, making me unsuitable for any conventional Vounish task. However, this hindrance could easily be turned into advantage should I follow their strict training and learn to employ it to the benefit of the community.

At this point I suppose it could be instructive to outline the social structure prevalent among the Vouns. Their entire organisation rests on the premise that the identity of each individual Voun is defined solely by their occupation; when they are not at work, they are simply not to be seen. Thus, each Voun is nothing more and nothing less than the singular action they perform. Despite my initial misgivings, I soon find that this apparent restriction is in actuality a blessing, as it removes much tension and disquiet.

I am informed that the individuals that would determine my fate are the Vouns in Governance, the designated debaters with the specialisms of presenting evidence, arguing for and against my case, and overruling the final outcome. After this mission is completed, the Vouns in Governance curl up on the ground and all but disappear, melting into the forest floor or assuming the appearance of gnarly branches.[1]  It is made clear to me that I, too, would accept this State of Rest when free from performing my task. My unwieldy size makes this difficult, but I receive meticulous instructions on the exact curling up procedure and the mental exercises that accompany it. After a few attempts I manage to leave behind all the sensations in my body and sink into the ground.[2]

 

CHAPTER II

 

by which the traveller derives great benefit and useful learning in Voun Town. The traveller’s discourse disapproved by the Guiding Vouns. The arts wherein the Projectors employ themselves. Antient and modern history corrected.

 

I regain consciousness to the sensation of being gently shook by the Awakening Vouns, who subsequently go on to arouse the Guiding Vouns so that my training can commence. The Guiding Vouns are a peculiar coterie, full of pedagogical enthusiasm and panache. They seem to have an immediate grasp of my language, although the forms they employ are very odd indeed.[3]  In the spirit of true collectivism, the Vouns begin each sentence with the word we.

‘We have come to observe that you have thus far shewn yourself courteous among our public. We have decided to offer you establishment on our land, supply you with clothes of our own making and feed you with salads. We remind you as our guest and a person of obvious quality that these privileges naturally conjur responsibilities to match. We thus commend full participation in Vounish projects, and prescribe duties of work on the land-filled alongside us.’

‘Thank you for your generosity, your highnesses. I am most flattered, since in my younger days I did fancy myself a bit of a projector. However, I must ask, what do you understand by land that was filled?’

‘We shall request you withhold any questions until a later date. We call for your patience while we present you with a complete explanation of our public and its ancient virtue…’

And thus began my tour of the Town of Vouns. Mindful that future sightseeing opportunities would be greatly limited by the binary states of work and rest, this gentle foray into the ways of the Noble Vouns was something I greatly appreciated. Over the course of a day, I was introduced to a number of Projectors, each of whom was hard at work to bring about a new advancement in Science. The vast majority of such projects were concerned with upgrading and repurposing plastic waste. Although the technology was far superior for my grasp, I could detect familiar processes such as molecular stitching, compression by heat and phase-separation. Conscious of my wonder, the Guiding Vouns did not let a pedagogical opportunity go amiss.

‘We trust you are aware of the tragic scale of futility that accompanies the efforts of humans to reduce their waste. Your technological inadequacies are accompanied by a pitiable lapse in work ethic; for should it not be obvious to all that in the face of disaster all priorities must be shifted? Your one saving grace would be to hence devote all of your time and effort into bettering yourselves; however, this is unlikely to be within your moral horizons. Thankfully limited contact with humans has assured us that, instead of reason you are only possessed of some quality fitted to increase your natural vices; as the reflection from a troubled stream returns the image of an ill-shapen body, not only larger but more distorted.’ This verdict struck me as not untrue, and provoked a brief spell of melancholy, accompanied by an unpleasant hiccups. Luckily, this soon dispersed as I was consumed by the demonstration of an upcycled hadron collider.

Other Projectors, known as Reflecting Vouns, undertook designs yet more ambitious. These convened in the School of Speech, which consisted of an intersection of branches up near the top of the tallest trees. Initially I understood the Project of Reflecting Vouns to be that of improving the language of their country. The current proposition was to shorten discourse by cutting polysyllables into one, and leaving out verbs and particles; for in reality all things imaginable are but nouns.[4] This, understandably, was thought controversial by the remainder of the Voun community. However, I was soon corrected that the primary function of Reflecting Vouns was simply to reflect the sun rays, condensing heat which in turn lent itself to the recycling processes. All the while, Reflecting Vouns were also engaged in an exercise known in my land as one-handed pull-ups, leading to a noticeable growth in upper body strength and general acclaim, seeing as remaining idle is one of the most serious offences in Voun Town.

I allowed myself to be lost in discourse with one tireless Reflecting Voun when it was brought to my attention that the tour has now concluded and I must undertake the next step of initiation into Voun Town.

‘We have done our very best to prepare you, traveller – and now we must show you the very purpose of our labours here – the ever-growing land-filled. Are you ready for your audience?’ Still dazed and raspy from a spell of pull-up bravado, I was at first unable to compute what was asked of me. I looked about me, unconscious of any audience as all the nearby Vouns were busy with their tasks.

‘But where is my audience, oh Guiding Vouns? Who are they?’

‘We are truly astounded by your ignorance, traveller; for we speak of no one else but the pillar and mainstay of the Constitution of Voun Town; the controller of our conduct and shaper of our destiny; the object of universal homage and absolute adoration: need we say that we mean our Heap of Matter? We once again bid you to answer, are you ready for your audience with her Majesty the Absolver of Sins?’

‘Ah, but of course, I shall be most honoured to meet yet another Voun of merit.

At that moment, the Guiding Vouns hopped to their feet and burst into a song I was not immediately given to understand. They grabbed me by the hand and, together, we careened towards the path I had glimpsed the preceding day. As we approached the path, we were intercepted by Singing Vouns, just as the Guiding Vouns dropped off one by one into the State of Rest. The chant became increasingly clear until I could distinguish singular words: ‘I am coffee grounds… I am orange peel… I am wisdom… I am growth’. Soon I was singing along with my generous teachers the Vouns, cajoling down the path, and it goes without saying that this was the merriest I had found myself in a long time.

 

CHAPTER III

 

by which the traveller maketh some acquaintances amongst persons of the best fashion, including the Heap of Matter and its Court Vouns. A confession is made and the author absolved; a high title of honour conferred upon him. Humours and dispositions of the Heap of Matter very particularly related.

 

We arrived to the broad elevation in landscape which I had the previous eve misidentified as a decorative hillock. It was now blindingly clear that this disjointed collection of matter was most definitely not intended for aesthetic purposes. I was not entirely clear on what it represented. It varied greatly from the displays of accumulated plastic which I had seen on newspaper pages and in the bellies of whales. Nonetheless, it had a characteristic which I would describe as plasticity, or a capacity perhaps. It was conveyed to me in whispers that this was the land-filled; and sure enough, there was a presence within the land, by now inexplicably in motion. Still chanting, we swayed from side to side in time with the movement until an entity rose out of the land-filled alike a loaf of bread, impressing itself upon me with its dimensions, scent and dynamism. In respectfully hushed tones, I was informed that this was the Honourable Heap of Matter.

As the Heap of Matter lifted itself out of the land-filled, blinking repeatedly, chanting Vouns scurried away to be replaced by Court Vouns, who although full of grace remained largely motionless and on call throughout the interaction that ensued. The Heap put on what appeared to be a pair of spectacles and opened its mouth as if to speak. I fell on my knees, silently begging the honour of kissing her imperial foot, should such a limb become visible. For perhaps a hundred seconds no sound was heard. The temperature in the clearing rose visibly, and we became enveloped in a cloud of what I recognized as kerosene jet fuel, but with more than a hint of corruption. Then the voice came, as sweet and caring as the voice of my dearly beloved mother.

‘What brings you here, traveller?’

‘After being subject to much misfortune, I have taken refuge in this forest. This is how I have come into the acquaintance of my gracious companions, the Vouns’

‘Well you should know that you are most welcome here’, proclaimed the Heap. Having mustered the courage to lift my head, I looked into her merciful eyes. They seemed to overflow with tears brought on by empathy, or perhaps near-sightedness, or simply a secretion of liquid that naturally accompanies the decomposition process. ‘However, if you are to find establishment in the Town of Vouns, you are first to pay your dues.’

‘I should be proud to devote my life to the service of her Majesty and the Distinguished Vouns.’

‘Perfect. You are now permitted to make your confession.’ This confused me, as I had not been to church in a greater number of summers than I wish to disclose. Certainly I was not in a position to recall the exact words of the sacrament. However, as it was demanded of me, I duly began.

‘Forgive me Mother, for I have sinned. I have… allow me to consider this a moment.’ The Heap responded with a barely noticeable nod. The Court Vouns were still elegantly poised along the edges of the land-filled, although their look could now be described as expectant. Luckily memories of my own remorse soon came to mind. ‘I have betrayed the trust of others, engaging in unjust and shameful gossip in their absence. I have let prejudice bear upon my perceptions of others, forgetting kindness… I have overparticipated in social interactions, effectively silencing the voices of others… all of this, and more, happening with some regularity.’ I wiped the sweat off my upper lip.

‘But we don’t care about any of this,’ the Heap of Matter interjected matter-of-factly in a faux-Eastern European accent.

‘You don’t?’ I could not tell whether I was overcome with relief or profoundly disappointed.

‘You shall start over again, and make your confession to the land-filled. Acknowledge your folly or depart from my dominions.’

‘Oh.’ This was simultaneously much easier and, all things considered, entirely impossible. I let several hundred seconds pass until I began again.

‘I do not recycle correctly even though I know how. I make jokes about the ozone layer. I refrain from chastising others for their recycling mistakes. Big budget television helps me get through the night. I fly multiple times a year and I never make it carbon neutral. I spread misinformation about various types of plastic in order to appear more competent than I really am. Despite having the capacity to do so, I choose not to partake in civil action against environmental damage. A great majority of my purchases are single use. Climate crisis has never, and I repeat, never, been a priority for me. The only thing that truly bothers me is that whales keep dying.’ A humid, viscous silence fell upon us.

‘…how much then?’ demanded the Heap after a long interval.

‘Four hundred and thirty-two tons… and that’s just to date’. My voice was trembling with emotion as the full weight of my confession became apparent to me. I brought my head down in shame. I was ready for that final pronouncement – that I have lived long enough, caused enough damage.

I half expected the full bearing of the land-filled to come upon me, burying me within a mess of faded colour, stifling me with its warm, moist secretions. But instead I heard but the faintest rustle, a shift in the corner of my eye. The ground surged beneath me, and I had the sense of breath passing through the earth’s shoulders, a giant shrug as though none of it really mattered. In that instant I knew I was absolved, and I laughed a violent laugh, a laugh that brought the leaves down from the trees and sent the Court Vouns into an ecstatic dance, the steps of which I comprehended instantly and started to imitate. We were sent spinning down the sides of the Great Heap of Matter, which shook and stirred in unmistakeable hilarity. A slow chant began to rise, ‘One fine day, they will pay…Come what may, we can wait…’

As soon as the general merriness subsided, the Illustrious Heap of Matter looked me soberly in the eye, and observed, ‘That, forsooth, is rather average. Nevertheless, do you or do you not hail from an advanced capitalist economy? If such is indeed the case, it oughtn’t to be a problem for you to grow your impact rather profusely over a short duration of time.’

‘May Her Majesty kindly elucidate on what is required of me?’

‘I bestow upon you the rank of Growing Voun. From now on, you shall apply yourself to growing the landfill. All of our resources are at your disposal, and you shall have the counsel of a Learned Training Voun.’ I have bowed my head yet again in acceptance of this benevolent offer. ‘You shall now assume the State of Rest,’ the Heap commanded, and the Court Vouns rushed to assist me in curling into the position required. Soon I was knocked out cold, and slept in the hush vibrancy of the land-filled.

 

CHAPTER IV

 

By which the traveller is permitted to undertake gainful employment. He shews skill in collecting plasticks. An account of victuals available in Voun Town. The author in distress for want of a chair, is at last relieved. Diversions and habit of Joey described.

 

Thus has begun my period of employment within the Town of Vouns. All of my endeavours occurred under the supervision of my designated Training Voun, an official of a relaxed and pleasant disposition. Although the use of names is not customary in Voun Town, for the sake of ease we had come to an agreement that I shall refer to their person by a word of my own choosing. I settled for the name of Joey, a decision I congratulated myself on as I felt it befitted my Training Voun particularly well. Stitching together multiple reusable shopping bags, Joey helped me fashion a tunic which protected me from the onslaught of sour rain washing over the land-filled. I felt a pang of regret that my hometown friends could not see me in this attire, which I came to think was rather in keeping with the styles of the epoch. Joey, naturally, did not require any such protection, being perfectly adapted to all atmospheric conditions. Their only adornment was a chain of curtain rings strapped over their chest, inadvertently focussing my attention on Joey’s toned physique.

I had been most fortunate in the steady provision of victuals. Amongst my favourites were the local love apples, which as it transpired, abounded in immediate vicinity of the land-filled – one can only presume this was due to the increasingly fervent conditions of the atmosphere. Red and voluptuous they streamed from the vine, calling to shame the miserable efforts of my countrymen. Alike worthy of praise were the various tubers I dug out of the ground.

Such aliments fortified me in my daily travails, as I crossed the woodland to make my way to the beach on which I had originally been shipwrecked. Careful of the hotel in which my mother presumably was still residing, I collected an indefinite number of plastic remnants, some free floating, some removed from the council bins. These I subsequently transported back to the site of the land-filled, unto which I would with great pleasure add, singing praise of the Esteemed Vouns and the Heap of Matter as I went along. Another of my tasks as Growing Voun involved transporting giant vats of kerosene jet fuel and emptying them onto the land-filled. I felt it to be a joy and an honour to contribute to the noble mission of the Vouns, and hoped that I could thus redeem myself at least partially.[5]

Joey and I soon struck up a relationship of true camaraderie, and often diverted ourselves in our labour with light conversation.

‘Oh Joey, if I may be so bold to ask, how did the Eminent Vouns obtain such formidable command of the English language?’

‘We have had several visitors here before you, and linguistic prowess is within Vounish nature.’

‘Visitors you say – how curious! Who were they?’

‘Captains, navigators, castaways…’ I didn’t fail to notice the slip from the accepted use of we at the beginning of the sentence. I did, in fact, suspect that Joey’s assignment to my person had not a little to do with this air of casual individualism that they so often displaed.

‘How riveting! And what had become of them since, oh Joey?’

‘Ah, for the majority of them we could unfortunately find no use. They assumed the State of Rest, and in that they have remayned since.’

‘Oh I see! But I thought the State of Rest only lasted the duration of a half turn of the Earth’s axis.’

‘The State of Rest continues until one has to resume their work.’

‘And what happens when one’s work is done?’

‘That’s for me to know and you to find out’ Joey bared their teeth at me. Perfectly formed, they brought to mind the long afternoons I spent on the sheep rug, playing dice with my mother. Momentarily lost in thought, I realised that more words had issued from Joey’s mouth.

‘Pardon me, oh Joey?’

‘We should be getting on with work now.’

Unfortunately, after several days of my joyful exertion, I had become greatly fatigued. The State of Rest no longer provided any relief. Seeing as I was entirely unconscious throughout and had no memory of rest thereafter, it was as though I had been working continuously. Had I not invested full trust in my Patrons the Vouns, I would have likely suspected trickery. Soon it became clear I could not continue my work without any leisure. Despite obvious conceptual difficulty, I resolved to explain my conundrum to Joey. I hoped that they might be more understanding of this than other Vouns, seeing as Joey’s own job consisted mostly of lounging on the land-filled while I troted down the beach path. And so, one day when the sun was high in the sky and I had returned with a particularly impressive loot, I ventured:

‘If I may remark so, oh Joey, my pace of work would improve significantly if I had the option of taking a break every so often without falling into the State of Rest’.

‘An illicit state of not-quite-rest… How would you proceed about attaining this in your home-land?’ It was this open curiosity that really set Joey apart from the other Vouns I had met.

‘We would normally demarcate the state of not-quite-rest by sitting down, preferably on a chair.

It turned out that Joey had not a little difficulty processing the idea of furniture. I explained that furniture in general, and a chair in particular, is an object created exclusively with comfort in mind and, as such, constitutes proof of existence of a divine entity. I thought it wise to omit the human nature of that comfort.

Radiant, Joey exclaimed, ‘This should delight her Majesty the Venerable Heap! We shall cease our Growing work immediately in order to construct such an altar.’

Using but a simple stick in the sand, I pictured to Joey what I had in mind. They issued a thoughtful nod and declared that they had seen objects just like that not far from where we were.

And so, we proceeded across the land-filled, taking greatest care not to disturb the Heap of Matter. A plume of smoke was rising from her heart, signifying undoubtedly that some highly calorific thinking was underway. After a brief trudge, we reached a site populated with what I first took to be the skeletons of whales. In awe of the majestic creatures and the untimely end they met here, it had taken me a moment to realise that these were in fact hundreds of aircraft bodies, lined up to resemble a graveyard. Severely water damaged, the planes were all of a model that has long been discontinued, reminding me of the makeshift devices that pioneer aviators used in centuries past.

‘I cannot help but wonder, oh Joey, how these vehicles found their way to Voun Town.’

‘It is with shame that I recount this but back in our ancestral waters, we had offered our prayers to these leviathans. When we first emerged onto land, we brought them with us, only to meet the wrath of the Heap. Once the Heap of Matter ascended to prominence, all idolatry was purged and Voun Town established. After decades of disuse we took to making use of these crafts to travel the world and bring back resources to grow the land-filled. Once we have amassed enough material, we siphoned off the remaining fuel and left them here in memoriam.’

Nothing about this convoluted explanation made sense to me. I was reminded of Joey’s previous mention of captains, navigators, and castaways who had visited Voun Town. Acutely aware that something amiss was going on, I nonetheless had the discretion not to ask any more of Joey. In a suspiciously cheery mood, they directed me inside one of the wrecks. Clumps of kelp clung to the wings, and strange formations peeked out of passenger windows. I entered with utmost caution. A salty smell hang in the air. Without the slightest effort, Joey yanked an airline seat out of the floor.

‘How about this?’

‘Wonderful – thank you. If you would be so kind as to permit me to do so, oh Joey, I should like take my break immediately.’

‘By all means. In the meantime, I shall investigate the cockpit.’

I reclined in the chair luxuriously. As I pondered on the turn of events that has brought me into the stomach of this airborne beast, I presently fell into a tranquil state midway between dozing and waking, by which I perceived visions which I shall readily proceed to describe.

 

 CHAPTER V

 

by which the traveller experiences crushing abandon; the malice of humankind and a rocket launch described. The author taketh his last leave of the reader; proposeth his manner of living for the future; giveth good advice and concludeth…

 

In that one instant, all of Voun Town lay clear before me. Hovering as though a giant bird upon the sky, I could perceive all Vouns absorbed in their work: Reflecting Vouns flexing their biceps; Compressing Vouns squashing plastic in cast iron presses; Awakening Vouns wielding twin bell alarm clocks; and many more. I shall not give in to the temptation to enlarge upon these sights. For I soon noticed that something was amiss. The entirety of the land-filled has peeled itself off from the rest of Voun Town, as though a minute hexagonal incision has been made around it. I struggled to detect how this happened. The smell of jet fuel was rising as though a thousand candles burned around me, dulling my senses like a powerful anaesthetic. No sooner could I perceive any detail than its coordinates escaped me. I despaired in the weakness of my perception until perchance I came to realise that the hexagon was in fact rotating at an almost imperceptible speed. Once my eyes adjusted, I could also see that the land-filled was slightly elevated in comparison to its surroundings.

As I gazed from my celestial location, I watched the hexagon pick up speed, spinning faster with each revolution. I was reminded of the tensile strength of that shape, so prevalent in nature and architecture alike. The stink of kerosene and burnt plastic was now completely overpowering, and I was on the verge of fainting. As I gradually abandoned all earthly sensations, I glimpsed a wave of Vouns hopping onto the land-filled, which was now at a considerable height in relation to Voun Town. The muscular Reflecting Vouns were helping others clamber onto the hexagon, until all of them were safely upon it. I realised Joey was not among them. The land-filled had all but broken off now, and a compelling roar rose from beneath it. A cloud of dust obscured my vision with dollops of melting plastic spurting in all directions. I was overcome by a sense of countdown, and grit my teeth preparing for a shock. Presently, the cloud erupted into a fireball the magnitude of which I have never even imagined before, burning my lashes and brow in one clean ignition. All colour turned to blinding light, and the engine blast drowned in a soaring cinematic soundtrack. I closed my lashless eyes as tears streamed down my face, only to dry immediately from the sweltering heat.

In my vision, I saw the Heap of Matter transcend its earthly form with but a single goodbye – ‘So long, suckers,’ as the Vouns chanted and rejoiced beside her. I watched them all ascend into the skies, bound for bigger and better things. I watched the Heap of Matter spread and expand into a vast oceanic planet, where Vouns swam and cavorted like baby orcas. I watched them abandon all semblance of their complicated labours, as after all it was not worth it in the slightest to commit their talents to the absolution of a kind as wrongful as ours. And I could not blame them for their betrayal, as I knew that in their position I would have done the same. I only wished they had trusted me enough to include me in their midst. As I despaired, I became conscious of a weight upon my shoulder, and I opened my eyes to see Joey slumped in the seat next to me, napping leisurely and drooling a little onto my shirt.

The aircraft glided across the skies, and land masses moved beneath us. Although thankful to my friend for launching the machine, I could not shake loose the sense of loss I experienced upon the departure of the Vouns. A considerable amount of time elapsed, leaving me alone with my thoughts, until Joey stirred out of sleep and blinked their eyes open.

‘A most tragic thing has happened, oh Joey’.

‘Ah. But I think we’re better off without those stuck up Town Vouns.’

‘But weren’t they your brethren?’

‘Yeh, but,’ Joey was too preoccupied with the nuclear sunset to grace me with an answer. Indeed, from this vantage point it was rather striking.

‘I’m just concerned that all of these travel tales end with characters breaking off and pursuing their own selfish ends. Or coming back home, and nothing really changes.’ –

‘Well, this is a very narrow view, you know.’

‘We should at least disembark this aircraft… In the context of it all, flying is very inappropriate.’

‘It’s fine. I really am warming to this notion of not-quite-rest that you suggested. Let’s give ourselves a Break. We’ll get off the plane soon enough.’

A silence fell during which we focussed on riding off more or less happily into the sunset.[6]



[1] It is but not lost on me that this most likely has a significant positive effect on corruption in Voun Town. Not one Voun is tempted to instill policies that would benefit them personally, seeing as they would be asleep outside of working hours anyhow.

[2] But prior to this, they had dawbed my face and both my hands with a sort of ointment very pleasant to the smell, which in a few minutes removed all the smart of bruises and grazes I collected during my escape from the hotel. These circumstænces, added to the refreshment I had received by their victuals and drink, which much nourished me, disposed me to sleep. I slept about eight hours as I was afterwards assured; and it was no wonder; for the Healing Vouns, by the order of the Vouns in Governance, had mingled a sleeping potion in the plastic bags out of which I had drunk distilled tuber liquor.

 

[3] This strange turn of language does not surprise me, as whenever a singular society remaynes isolated for a lengthy enough duration, they are apt to become new fangled in their words; which they change every year; insomuch, as I remember upon each return to mine own country, their old dialect was so altered, that I could hardly understand the new.

 

[4] Another, ostensibly yet more radical Project, has met with a great deal of popular approval. This was a scheme for entirely abolishing all words whatsoever, urged as a great advantage in point of health as well as brevity. For, it is plain, that every word we speak is in some degree a diminution of our lungs by corrosion; and, consequently, contributes to the shortening of our lives. An expedient was therefore offered, that since words are only names for things, it would be more convenient for all Vouns to carry about them such things as were necessary to express the particular business they are to converse on.

 

[5] But I must freely confess, that the many virtues of my excellent Patrons, placed in opposite view to human corruptions, had so far opened my eyes and enlarged my understanding, that I began to view the actions and passions of humans in a very different light, and to think the honour of my own kind not worth upkeeping; which, besides, would be impossible for me to do, before a person of so acute a judgment as Joey, who daily convinced me of a thousand faults in myself, whereof I had not the least perception before, and which would normally not even be numbered among human infirmities.

 

[6] That said I am a bit of a planner and so as we were taking our own version of a luxury cruise to the end of the world, my mind was already on the furniture workshop Joey and I would set up once we settled somewhere nice, preferably not in the immediate vicinity of the hotel which my mother to this day inhabits.

Built with Berta.me