Esperantoland: A Continuous Duolingo Community Story Adventure
So even though my Esperanto is pretty weak at this point, someone gave me the idea to write a story. I was inspired by the woman yelling at motorists in Esperanto. Someone on my page asked me if I was going to go through with a story. I had the idea of creating one rather suddenly and the next thing I know, I had a really good idea on my hands.
The rule is simple. Anyone can contribute a chapter of any length. The plot is simple enough to follow. Two of the characters I've created are thrown into an alternate dimension where everyone speaks Esperanto in a country called Esperantoland. I don't know if I'll ever have time to continue this and I'm far from fluent so I welcome anyone to jump into this, and this is entirely for fun.
You can write in English or in Esperanto as much as you want. Try to use as much Esperanto as possible. My suggestion for posting is create another post separate from this if it's a long chapter and leave the link on this thread and a link to this chapter on yours. Amuzos!
A continuous Duolingo story adventure
I suppose you could say it all started when she was yelling at motorists in Esperanto. Amber was a woman who was driven in general; driven to succeed in life, and driven to learn. But when she was driving and in heavy traffic, or getting cut off by unwise risk-takers, she would channel that and multitask, which was just so like her. Amber found it easier to remember things she was yelling. I heard her spouting some of her favorites.
“Pli rapida! Foriri! Ne faru tion! Vi estas la filo de ŝakalo!”
“It means jackal.”
I, however, was the opposite of Amber. In almost every way we were polar opposites, but we were the only two people in town who were learning Esperanto. We teamed up after I put up an ad on craigslist. Amber and I had little in common, but we could both “revas”. Ni lernu kune, you see. But whereas I was quiet (trankvile), Amber was loud (laŭta), where I was always avoiding conflict, she would always confront, where I would be shy, she would be outgoing and extroverted. Most of all I was always making jokes and she was more critical and serious. But surprisingly, we got along really well.
Today, I was tagging along because she was delivering a bunch of antiques to a new client. Her family owned a small antique store and we had a couple of really cool things that had been paid for over the phone. Amber’s parents didn’t know anything about the internet, and she was savvy enough to take photos of everything and put it up on ebay. Business was doing much better for them these days. In the back seat, there were a couple of things, a box with a 19th century clock perfect for a mantelpiece, some old pulp magazines, and a few pieces of jewelry from the 1920s. And a box filled with necklaces of polished, wooden beads. Dozens of them.
“Kiom for estas,” I asked. How far is it?
“Kelkaj minutoj,” she replied. A few minutes.
We drove up soon enough and the place was…it was amazing. It was a mansion. We turned off the main road, onto a dirt road bordered by tall brambles and hedges making a narrow entryway. At the end we came to a very tall metal fence and not far beyond it was a house straight out of fairy tales. It had to have a dozen gables. I wondered what the word for gables was in Esperanto. I turned out to be “gable”. I shared this with Amber and she just snorted. Tall columns, or kolumnos, gave it a look out of the Victorian age. It was a gloomy day, with ominous clouds. Behind the house was a copse of trees and the rise of some hills with no other houses to be seen.
“Ĝi aspektas timiga,” she said. “What do you think, Sam?”
I tried to laugh it off, but I had a truly creepy vibe from the place. The windows looked blacked out, either with paint or dark curtains. I gathered the box of antiques and Amber took the box of wooden bead kolieroj. We walked up the way to the porch. Stone lions guarded the front entrance. Amber knocked with the heavy metal door knocker.
“I think someone was born with some serious monon,” I said. I patted my hair nervously and put on my best smile.
“HELLO! IS ANYONE HOME!”
The door creaked open. A beady eyed woman stood there, and if looks could kill they would have. She had very white hair, was slightly plump and dressed in a parka. Yes, a parka. Like, the kind you wear in the Arctic. But in 60 degree weather Fahrenheit.
“Hellooo,” I said, greeting her carefully, trying not to stare. I was always chipper in the face of the odd. I was Mr. Chipper. (note: this is not my actual name) Amber, with her black eyeliner, and goth outfit, didn’t have any problem staring as she tilted her head to the side.
“Yeah, we’re from the antique store. Are you Mrs. Gates? You paid for a home delivery.”
“Oh, wonderful! I was glad to find a local place that could deliver something so soon. Please come in.”
“Hi, I’m Sam! This is Amber,” I said courteously. “Where shall I put these, ma’am?” I asked.
“Oh, follow me, follow me.” I followed her through rooms that would have put any mansion from various horror movies to shame. Antiques of all kinds crowded the walls. Large statues decorated dimly lit rooms. Some looked like reproductions of Michaelangelo or Titian but a few looked like Indian gods or stranger and more grotesque pieces I was only able to briefly glance.
“So, your name is Gates. Any relation to Bill and Melinda?” I laughed at my own lame joke. Amber looked behind her and gave me an unamused “don’t mess with my profit margin” look. “What? Who are they? Friends of yours?” Mrs. Gates said, in her parka.
“I…yeah. Yeah, I just thought, since you had the last name.”
“Don’t know anyone named Bill. Possibly a Melinda or two.”
We turned right. Up the narrow flight of stairs that doubled up and we came to the second floor. Heavy, polished wooden floors greeted my feet. A large dinosaur statue , , about fifteen feet high stood in a large room we walked into. A library. But big. Granda biblioteko.
“That’s a cool statue,” Amber said, appreciatively.
“Oh thank you, my grandfather was the one who had it stuffed.”
“No, see, I don’t think that word means what you think. Stuffed means it was alive and if you had it stuffed…” Amber trailed off.
“Yes, yes. Well, you can leave the clock here, I think.” She indicated a tablo for me to put the clock. “Oh, that’s beautiful. 13th century, correct?”
“Uh, no…” Amber said. We exchanged a glance. Her look said “get me out of here.” Amber put her hands in her pants poŝoj. She looked a bit nerva.
“19th. 13th is a little difficult to come by. People didn’t really need clocks back then. It’s difficult to carry a sundial on your wrist. Unless you’re Fred Flintstone. We can always go to Bedrock for one of those later, right? ”
Amber’s look of wanting to leave became more intense.
“I was just joking, of course,” the old woman said with a dismissive laugh, smiled and her smile quickly disappeared as she turned back to the jewelry box, from which she put several pieces of juvelarto, and put them on the tablo. “Oh, yes, these will do nicely. And lastly the magazines.”
“There are quite a few,” Amber replied, perfectly businesslike. “These are all we had for the Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. But if you want me to search for something specific I can.” “Oh, that’s alright, dear. These should have just what I need. They should last me for a while. I do love to read the classics of the imagination.”
“Those are some pretty cool revuoj!” I said, mixing in Esperanto. “I mean magazines.”
“Did you say reviews? I think some of these might have some,” Mrs. Gates replied.
“Oh, no. I’m just practicing my vocabulary. We’re both learning Esperanto.”
“Oh! You don’t say!” The old woman looked up at me in fascination. “Now let me see if I remember this correctly. Kiel vi fartas?”
“Mi estas bona! Hey!” I smiled broadly.
“Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton?” Amber asked, her interest peaked.
“Oh, just a little. I do a lot of traveling so I always like to learn the language of wherever I go., whatever place I visit.”
Amber and I exchanged a look. This day was going to provide a great story to tell later to friends.
“What do you mean?” Amber asked. “I mean, since you can’t go anywhere that it’s spoken. I mean, where everyone speaks it.”
“Oh. Yes. That’s, well, oh, oh, dear.” The old woman slumped to the floor.
“Oh my gosh! Are you okay?”
“Get…get my pills! On the bed!”
“Where’s your bedroom?” I asked, knowing this place was huge.
“Third floor, go to the left, all the way down. Last door on the left. OH!” She winced in pain.
“I’m calling the paramedics right now,” Amber said, whipping out her cel phone. I ran. Rapida rapida rapida! I thought. Iri iri iri iri iri!!!
I ran up the ŝtuparoj to the tria floor, turned maldekstra, and sprinted until I got to the end. This domo was way too granda! Even the doors were big and bulky. I looked quickly. No pills on the bed. But next to the bed there was a stand. Bingo. There were the piloloj. I kuris as fast as I could and when I got there Amber looked horrified.
“I can’t get any reception. There’s this weird sound on my phone. It’s weird, I’ve never heard that sound.”
The old woman was still conscious but in pain. I got a pill and gave it to her and I saw that the large parka coat had been taken off. Amber had used it as a pillow and laid the woman down to rest on the floor of the biblioteko.
“We have to get you to a hospital,” Amber said. We can put you in the car. It’s a thirty minutes drive, we can both lift you and-“
“Oh, I’ll be fine, dear. There’s some water glasses in the bathroom a few rooms down. Could you get me some?”
I went and got the akvo and brought it back. She took it gratefully. She seemed much better and got up.”
“I’m just a little bit dizzy. I’ll be fine.”
“Mrs. Gates-“ Amber began.
“Oh, call me Beverly,” she said. “And I don’t need to go to the hospital.”
“You seem to be a lot better.”
“They’re very good pills!”
“No pills work that fast,” Amber said. “Look, if you want I can call someone when we get in range.”
“Oh yes, the house prevents calls.”
“The what?” I asked.
“Oh, I need to lie down. Just for a little while. It’s the sea serpent bite. Got it when I was younger, maybe twenty years ago. The venom still affects me from time to time.”
“Ma’am, no offense, but you do not seem okay. Is there someone we can call?” I asked.
“Sam, right? Sam, I am as sane as they come but there isn’t much time. The gate is closing and I need to be there. Now help me to the cellar, dears. And could you hand me my parka? Dankon.”
We didn’t really think we could just leave her.
“She’s obviously crazy,” Amber whispered to me as we followed behind.
“Yeah, but she seems cool with it.”
“I’m going to hurt you.”
“Vi ne ponas. Mi estas tro bela.”
Beverly led us down the stairs to the first floor, then across marble floors and the ceilings down here were adorned with carved and elegant supports. The cellar staircase was very narrow and I had to turn on my side to get down as I was taller than the other two, but the small electric light made it visible enough. It was further down than I thought it would be. An electric blue light glowed in the room below.
Beverly, Amber and I walked into a room that looked more like a cave. Electric blue light poured out of what was the craziest thing I’d seen so far in this house, which was pretty crazy. A large metallic art sculpture that looked like a bunch of arches, about ten feet high, had hundreds of glowing little bulbs built in. It looked so strange. There were no wires that could be seen.
“I…Mrs. Gates. Beverly? What is this?” Amber asked.
“Well, now. Please don’t be angry, but…I need you to do me a favor.” Beverly walked over to a stand that looked like a control panel of some kind, with buttons emerging all over. Holographic projections appeared all around her very briefly. Visions of light filled the room, numbers and letters in alphabets I’d never seen. And I’m a linguistics fan.
“What in the world?” I said.
“Well, dear, I’m afraid it’s not. Of this world.” Beverly hit the panel again and it hummed. The lights all disappeared and a window appeared within the gate, and we were looking suddenly at a snowy glen with a couple of deer milling about.
“That’s impossible!” Amber shouted.
“That’s my home. I’m afraid I just need to return for something. Dear, I’m almost out of pills. I take two different prescriptions and I only brought one with me. I’m having an attack. I can’t wait. I need you two to wait here for me. I need someone to guard the gate!”
“This is happening.” I said, stupidly.
“If a minotaur comes, you need to shut it down.”
“Man, if I had a dime for every time I heard that!”
“Sam,” Amber growled.
“Sorry, Mi bedaŭras.”
“The green button CLOSES the gate. The red one opens it up again. I can’t control it from my side. If a minotaur comes, hit the GREEN. You can open it again with the RED but wait a while. I’ll be fine.”
“Okay, assuming this is real, shouldn’t I come with you to protect you from…you know…mythological beings?”
“You’re sweet but I can deal with them, they just came come in here where they don’t belong. It would be an environmental disaster! You know what happened with all the frogs in Australia, don’t you?”
“So, you’re saying we could be up to our armpits in minotaurs. Fair enough. Bon voyage!”
“Sekura veturo! Mi revunos!” Beverly replied happily as she wandered into the snow on the other side of the trans-dimensional gateway.
“So…seen any good movies lately?”
“I saw Jurassic World.”
“Ĉu bona filmo?”
“Oh yeah, it was awesome. So, we’re waiting for a rich old lady to get her pills and also guarding our planet from minotaur frogs.”
“Sounds like a good day to me!”
“Sam, how can you possibly not think this is…amazing! Crazy! We’re looking at another dimension!”
“Yeah, it’s kind of impressive. But I have Tivo so you know. Meh.” Amber rolled her eyes at me. We waited an hour. Then I saw Beverly trying to run in the snow. A brown blur was behind her. She was faltering and I could see something coming up and it looked pretty much like a dude with a giant bull head.
“I’m about to do something stultaj!”
“Okay, just go. Go!”
I ran out and it took me a minute to get to Beverly. I picked her up and put her on my back. One of the benefits of lifting weights is that you can actually lift a lot of weight. I saw the minotaur coming up fast behind us. I was almost there. Amber was on the other side screaming, but I couldn’t hear her. I should make a joke later about how fortunate that is to her, I thought, as I heard the minotaur snorting and grunting just behind me as I ran into the cellar just as Amber slammed the VERDA button. I put Mrs. Gates down and waited for her to rest before helping get her to her bedroom. I helped get her the piloloj out and gave her some water.
“Could you two stay the night? I have a number of extra guest rooms.”
“I can’t stay,” Amber said.
“You can’t? Really? We just saw a minotaur! Well I didn’t see it, I mainly just heard it. That was kind of timiga! Anyway, this is the coolest thing that ever happened!”
“Well my dad needs me to help him with another delivery. What do I tell him? Sorry, dad, I want to explore another universe?”
"Well I'm not doing that, it's rude."
“Could you give him a ride back tomorrow, dear?”
“Sure. Yes, sure. Jes jes. Kompreneble.”
So I stayed the night and had a short talk with Beverly. She was tired and really needed por dormo. I took a room that had a really nice canopy bed. It was like being in a hotel! How cool. The next morning when Amber came back, Beverly had made us crumpets and jam, eggs and cut up some pineapple.
“Mmmmm, ananaso!” I happily slurped.
“So, let’s talk business. You know my secret,” Beverly began. “I have a proposition for you. I have been a visitor to your world and many others. I came to this house because it has the gateway and I sort of became its keeper. But I can’t do it forever, I’d like to retire eventually. And the gateway has many places to go but one of particular interest to you two. Now I’m not allowed to really give you access to too many worlds, so I’ll have you decide just one.”
“Multiple Earths.” I said.
“Oh yes, I should have said that plainly. Parallels. Other universes. Universes right next door.”
“This is happening.” Amber said. “Tio vere okazas.”
“Yes, dear. And in exchange for your discretion, not mentioning this to anyone…you didn’t tell anyone did you, dear?” Beverly looked worried.
“Oh, no, I don’t think you have to worry about that from me.”
“Excellent! Bonega. Well, there is a world I think you two will love in particular. Now it’s an alternate Europe. Very different from here. They have a few megalofauna still. A few dinosaurs and a few mastodons here and there. The country of Esperantoland is a very hot tourist destination around this time of year…”
“Esperantoland?” We said it in unison.
“Esperantoland! A place where everyone speaks it. They speak our languages, too. But it really caught on there. After WWI in their universe it became a much bigger cause. WWII never happened. There was a rather large war among the floating cities, though. It didn’t last long but they finished with that nonsense. So! When would you like to go?”
Five hours later, we had backpacks loaded with snacks and cameras from home, all of our Esperanto notebooks and dictionaries, and we were ready to go to an alternate universe where Esperanto had approximately 300 million speakers. Our first destination was a large city that didn’t exist in our world. Its name was Triasulo.
“Ready to speak some Esperanto?”
“I am, Sam. I am.”
The gateway opened. We were staring at a graveyard mausoleum. The gateway is designed to open in places without a lot of people around. We walked through. We would meet back the gateway in approximately tria hours. If we for any reason missed the jump back, Beverly would open the kluzo once every six hours. It was 3 PM in our world and in this one it was 9 PM at night, according to Beverly’s estimates. This gave us until midnight, noktomezo, to get back. The graveyard looked very old and we headed for the street ahead of us.
“We’re in another dimension!”
“En alia dimensio,” Amber replied, and smiled.
We had no idea the adventure that was ahead of us.
I'm still coming up with ideas. I'm inspired mainly by children's literature here, mainly the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books by Edward Packard etc that I used to enjoy as a kid. But I don't speak a lot of Esperanto yet, so I'm trying to make it a learning tool as I'm...learning it. That's kind of my challenge here.
Also my life is sort of in a whirlwind right now, but I definitely want to continue it as a post series. Thanks for the encouragement, though.
Possible future plots include: being kidnapped and taken to a floating island, art thieves involving our characters in a madcap scheme, and maybe some other pulp elements. I dunno. Maybe they actually meet up with their doubles in the Other Universe or possibly some superintelligent genetically engineered talking dolphins or something. I picture Esperantoland being really all about communicating with everyone, so some people are also fluent in Dolphin.
Ideas are welcome.
Patiently waiting ;) At least you are trying to use what you learn and perhaps that could more influence the direction of the story and gain ideas from the sentences presented on the course. Though I must admit, I am now intrigued what super intelligent dolphins might have to say ... Points for making it surprising ;)