The Octology of the Seven Hats
Part One: An Odd Beginning
Chapter One: Vilhaun
Malbo Kanaty awoke to the glorious sound of his alarm clock ringing. He sat up in his bed, yawned, and promptly knocked his alarm clock off his side table. “Ergh,” he thought as the clock smashed on the cold tile floor. “That’s the third clock I’ve smashed in the past seven days. I wish I wasn’t quite so clumsy.”
Malbo walked to the other side of the dark room; the time was just six in the morning. On the other side of the room was a closet. Malbo entered the closet where he found a pile of about 50 alarm clocks, all in boxes. These clocks had been given to him by the city’s clock maker, who had finally gotten so frustrated at having to fix Malbo’s clocks every other day that he had given Malbo these clocks to not be bothered again. Malbo selected a clock (it had orange hands), reset it to just after six, and placed it on his side table.
Malbo changed and then walked out of his room. His house was far from large. It had only one bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a larger room he used to entertain his very few guests. Malbo wasn’t very old, being only twenty-six, but he had a good-paying job. However, he preferred to live by himself. He had very few friends the local bakery where he worked, but he didn’t mind that much. If there was one thing Malbo loved to do, that was to cook.
Malbo walked through his kitchen and out the back door into his backyard. His bare feet padded across the damp grass as he walked to his chicken coop. In the coop, six chickens began to cluck as Malbo approached. Malbo grabbed a bucket of feed lying in a corner outside the coop and began feeding the chickens.
After feeding the chickens, Malbo looked up at the sky, where he saw the star rising. This star was not our Sun. Instead, it was the star Eapo. This star is about two light-years from ours, and is surrounded by eight planets, all of which are inhabited by humans. Malbo lived on the first planet, Edd. As Malbo watched the star rise, he could see one of the moons. Edd had three moons, Minco, Chab, and Kend. By his lunar calendar, this moon was Minco. Although Minco was supposedly uninhabited Malbo often saw mysterious lights shining on it that did not appear to be reflections. In Malbo’s opinion, all three moons were inhabited, but by what he did not know.
Malbo gathered the four eggs lying in the henhouse, and then stopped at the garden to pick some fresh winter cilantro for his breakfast. Other than a cilantro plant and a patch of overgrown carrots (he had been saving these to make a cake some weekend), his garden was bare. It was spring on Edd, the date was Alechok 4, the fourth day of the fourth month in the Eapoan year (a year on Eapo has 365 days and 13 months). After this, Malbo returned to his house.
Just as Malbo stepped over the threshold into his kitchen, he heard his doorbell ring. “Now who could be calling at this time of day?” Malbo wondered. Malbo set his things on the kitchen counter and walked to the door. He opened it and found an out-of-breath mailman at his door. The mailman’s cap was tipped slightly upwards and his shirt-collar was ruffled. He appeared to have been in a hurry. His bicycle lay sprawled on Malbo’s small front yard.
The mailman handed Malbo an envelope sealed with fresh red wax. Malbo, taking the envelope, examined it with sincere curiosity. Though it had no return address, it was clearly addressed to Malbo Kanaty, 1003 S. Umgrad St., Lugh¹, North Umbria. Malbo turned over the envelope and opened it.
Malbo paused and turned to the mailman, who was twiddling his thumbs while patiently waiting to be dismissed. “Do you know who sent this letter to me?” Malbo asked.
“Not in the slightest,” came the reply. “Some fellow, a very odd one if you ask me, just walked up to me on the sidewalk and asked me to deliver it. Gave me a rather good tip too. I don’t have the faintest idea who he was. I’d say he’s pretty mysterious. He disappeared just like that.” The mailman snapped his fingers.
“Hmm, interesting,” Malbo said. He shrugged and pulled a letter from the envelope. Malbo read the letter aloud, more to himself than to the mailman, “Greetings, Malbo. This letter has been delivered to you at precisely 6:25 in the morning on the fourth day of Alechok in the Eapoan year 4909² by a mailman named Ralkha.” Here Malbo paused and asked the mailman, “Are you Ralkha?”
The mailman paled suddenly and nodded, saying, “I didn’t tell him who I was, honestly.”
Malbo then looked at the large grandfather clock in his kitchen. It showed that the time was 6:29. “Hmm, how queer,” Malbo said before continuing. “Today at precisely 8:42 AM, go to the corner of Schoslerom and Calabrine Streets, the corner with the abandoned house, and when you get to the edge of the sidewalk, whistle the tune that you have stuck in your head at that moment. I will come and tell you what I need done. Have a very good rest of your day. P.S. If you do not come, I know how to find you. Don’t worry, this won’t endanger your life.”
“Interesting,” Malbo declared. Then he noticed that Ralkha was still standing at the door. “Would you like some breakfast? I was just about to make mine.”
“No, thank you,” said Ralkha. “If you don’t need me to mail anything, then I will continue my route.” He promptly walked to his bicycle, hopped on it, and pedaled away.
“This has been a very odd day,” Malbo said.
Malbo then cooked his breakfast, which consisted of two eggs and a piece of toast. While he ate his breakfast, he reread the letter. Then he cleaned up. By then, the time it was 7:02.
Figuring that it would take a while to get to his destination, Malbo left his house. He did not think of turning off anything, after all, he would be coming back later that day. He did not know at that time that this would be the last time he would see his house for a very long time.
Malbo walked and walked. No cars had been invented yet; very few electronic things existed in those days. The Eapoans were about as advanced at this time as people living in the United States in the 1850s.
About an hour and a half later, Malbo arrived at his destination. He stood at the edge of the sidewalk specified in his letter. He looked at his watch, one that had been given to him by his grandfather almost twenty years ago. The watch read 8:41 AM. Malbo looked around, but saw no one. His watch’s time changed to 8:42. Malbo, not knowing anything else to do, whistled the tune that was stuck in his head at that moment. Although he had never heard any tune like it, he felt he had known it for years. Suddenly, Malbo had the odd sensation that he was falling. The wind rose around him and the world around him began to swirl. Malbo closed his eyes to overcome the dizziness, but that didn’t work. The last thing he remembered was darkness.
²Eapoan year 4909 is 409 AD.
Come back next week for Part Two!
The Octology of the Seven Hats copyright 2018 by Stewart Forthofer. All rights reserved. All likeness of any characters in this book to any person, past or present, is purely coincidental.