Floris M. Kleijne, the first native Netherlander to be a member of SFWA, and a Winner of the Future, has broken into print with a number of short stories, including this one, his twenty-second original publication.
Dear Mr. Ghruoxavazr,
Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from Maec Lhyabr Co.
I wish I could claim that the commute is my main motivation for quitting. In fact, the commute itself is no problem at all. As promised by your head-hunting drone in my second interview, travel from Earth to Khylom is near-instantaneous. However, every night I’ve returned home from work over the last few days, civilizations have risen and fallen, continents have shifted, and at least one extinction-level event has occurred. I am sure you will counter that prospective employees are expected to work out the parameters of their travel arrangements for themselves, but as I am far from conversant with relativity theory, the changes on my home planet came as somewhat of a shock.
In retrospect, I understand that the stasis bubble you provided as part of my employment package served as more than just home security, and for that I am grateful. The time I returned home to find my house embedded in the inner crater wall of an active volcano, the spectacular views from my kitchen window would not otherwise have provided my primary focus that evening.
Nor can I blame our less than optimal communication for my decision, at least not entirely. After all, while your language remains beyond me, you have acquired admirable command of the English language—or at least, your translation computer has. However, the delays as your systems translate my words into your language, slow them down sufficiently for you to process, wait for your interminable response, and translate that back to English, frankly drive me up my cubicle walls. The subsonic (to me) droning of translations and answers sets my teeth on edge and throws my cardiac rhythm out of whack.
What’s worse, by the time your answer reaches me, so much time tends to have passed that I’ve forgotten what it was I’ve asked. To give you an example: my first question to you was where I could find the bathroom. By the time your answer came out of the speakers, I had already done my business in the pot of what I can only hope was a houseplant.
Perhaps commute and communication together would have provided sufficient grounds for my resignation. But if I had any lingering doubts, your (I apologize, but I can’t think of a more diplomatic term that conveys the same meaning and intent) lecherous ways have clinched the issue. When on day five my fillings told me you were spending the morning speaking a brief sentence, I was still under the impression that the long, curved, snake-like form that had been added to my workplace that night was a piece of art. But by the time the droning stopped, and the translator speaker hummed to life, the tentacle—for that is what I now understand it was—had unmistakably moved toward me.
While I cannot be certain about the intent of the motion, an extrapolation of its trajectory would have brought the tip of your tentacle to a location on my body. Although our biological differences beg the question what you were hoping to accomplish, I do not welcome an employer’s physical attentions under any circumstances. The translator confirmed my worst fears, when it said: “Let’s <untranslatable verb associated with the reproductive process>.”
This may be perfectly acceptable behavior on Khylom, but back on Earth, it would constitute grounds for dismissal and legal action. With both my lawyer and my union representative quite a number of centuries in my objective past, I feel that the action I personally took was justified and in no way disproportionate. I have not been able to restore the toppled filing cabinet to its upright position, but the severed tentacle has ceased its unwelcome explorations, and the withdrawal of the stump was followed by enough “<untranslatable expletives>” from the translator that I feel confident my message has been received.
Since the generous severance remuneration I am entitled to after termination of my contract is of very little practical value any longer, I wonder if I could impose upon you to let me keep the stasis bubble and the high-performance recyclomat in my home instead? After my return, I would very much like to sit at my kitchen window and enjoy the spectacle of my Sun going nova.
Marketing & Communications Executive
Maec Lhyabr Co
Copyright © 2018 by Floris M. Kleijne