Melissa on Hapdorn Television

Courtesy of Hapdorn Television One
Translated by Lanni Hargelstope, ApD


The show opens with two deceptively Scandinavian-looking chairs on either side of a small table, upon which is an artsy flower arrangement. The backdrop is a mural-sized motion picture of Manhattan from the air. Through video special effects, the chairs and the table appear to be floating against the backdrop. The backdrop is impressive, but does not overwhelm the foreground.

The chair on the viewer’s left is occupied by a tall black man with very dark skin, handsome features, and a pleasant smile. His name is Minsel Trothe and he is a regular anchorman from the evening news. He is wearing a forest green suit and a white shirt. The jacket has no lapels, and the collar fits tight around the neck. There are four flapless pockets on the jacket in the usual places. There is a broad gold-colored band around his left wrist.

The theme song fades.

Minsel:
Abresh gol, thorgeleoma! This is your reporter Minsel Trothe with another “Visitor from the Sky”!
Applause. Tight close-up of Minsel.
Once again, I would like to remind our viewers in Hapdorn Province that educational credit is available for this show for children between the ages of twenty-four and thirty-two who are enrolled in courses in exosociology or anthropology. Contact your instructor for details.
The music swells momentarily. The screen shows a full-figure view of Minsel.
Minsel:
Tonight’s guest is a young Human woman from Sol 3, and a citizen of a nation called the Federated Provinces of Amerikka. Please welcome Melissa Franklin!
There is applause as Melissa enters from the right, smiling self-consciously. She nervously brushes her long, light brown hair away from her face with her right hand as she walks gracefully across the stage towards Minsel on the left. She is wearing brown high-heel shoes and a brown form-fitting knee-length skirt. Her matching brown jacket has sleeves which are puffed at the shoulder. The jacket is open in the front, revealing a ruffled blouse with a high neckline and an understated but elegant gold necklace.
Because of the special effects, she appears to be walking on air. Minsel rises from his seat to greet her. They shake hands, hug briefly, and seat themselves. Melissa is seated on the viewer’s right. She runs her hands down the sides of her thighs, as if to smooth the skirt. Finally, she straightens her back and smiles stiffly at the camera, looking posed rather than poised.
Minsel:
Abresh gol, Melissa! Are you comfortable?
Melissa:
Oh yes, thank you. (She looks uncomfortable)
The backdrop changes to an shot of the Arc de Triomphe at night
Minsel:
I must confess that my notes have me a trifle confused. Is your country of origin called “the Federated Provinces of Amerikka” or just “Illinnoi” ?
Melissa:
No, Illinnoi is just one of the “federated provinces.” You introduced me correctly.
Melissa is more at ease. The backdrop changes to an airborne shot of Botany Bay
Minsel:
What would you most like to see during your stay in our beloved Duchy?
Melissa smiles bashfully, looks at her knees and adjusts her skirt.
Melissa:
Actually, I’d like to see a Hugmup, but I know they hibernate during winter. (She looks up and directly at the audience.) I’m sure everyone knows that there is no equivalent of a Hugmup on Earth.
The audience gasps in surprise.
The closest we have are dogs and cats, very similar to Homelander pjanel.
Barely audible noises of disbelief from the audience.
(Melissa’s voice is defensively higher) They have been domesticated for thousands of years and make good pets. (She relaxes as she sees that the audience is willing to believe her.) To small degree, these animals are empathetic, and psychologists have noticed that people with pets are emotionally more healthy than people without pets.
The backdrop changes to a panorama of Cologne, from the cathedral to the Deutzer Brücke
Minsel:
(Leaning forward earnestly) So it is true that Humans could benefit from a companion species if they had one. (Melissa nods affirmatively). Do you have one of these pets on Earth, and if so, what does it tell you when you are sad?
Melissa:
(Chuckling) These animals cannot speak, but they can obey simple commands and can be punished or rewarded verbally. They aren’t true companions, they are just domesticated animals. Most of the time (she chuckles again) they just follow you around the house in case you should do something delicious! (The audience titters.) Their ability to cuddle is limited by their anatomy and their small size. I love my pet cat—don’t get me wrong—but based on what I’ve heard, I’d rather have a Hugmup.
The audience makes a sympathetic and endearing “ah” sound. The backdrop changes to the Grand Canyon.
Minsel:
It must have taken a lot of courage to travel all these light years to visit us!
Melissa:
Fortunately, I have a lot of determination. It comes from having a hard life. At first I thought that it was an exercise in silliness. Most of my friends back on Earth still don’t believe I’m here! We all thought the accounts of Thorgelfayne were fictional!
Minsel:
What changed your mind about that?
Melissa:
I met one of the “fictional” characters in person! That seemed to clinch the case for me. Even though Earth is in the Universal Postal Union, I even had to fight the post office to get them to accept my letter of application! For a while I thought I was trapped: I could get mail from Homeland, but I couldn’t send any, because they didn’t believe Homeland existed! But as you can see, everything worked out just fine in the end. (Melissa brushes some imaginary lint from her right knee.)
Good natured laughter from the audience. Melissa beams happily and loosens up. The backdrop changes to famine in Somalia.
Minsel:
I understand that the day on Earth is much shorter. Has that given you much problem?
Melissa:
Oh, yes it has! The Earth day is only about twenty-eight hours and twenty-five minutes long as opposed to the thirty-two hour Homelander day. That means that my biological clock slips four hours every day.
Minsel:
Is there a medical solution to that problem?
Melissa:
Not really. After all, my biology has already spent eons of time adjusting to a twenty-eight hour cycle, so I can’t expect to overcome all that in a few short days! But the Homelander physician who examined me explained how I could develop a pattern of sleep and wakefulness that would help me cope. (She shakes her head to make her hair fall behind her back.) It’s really just a minor nuisance.
The background changes to show Angkor Wat.
Minsel:
Have you gotten to see much during your stay so far?
Melissa:
I have only been here a week and a half (glances at her watch) —yes, exactly twelve days—so I have not been very many places yet. I even got to meet the Duke already, but just about everything is an adventure!
Minsel:
What do you mean about everything being an adventure?
Melissa:
(After looking upward briefly in thought) I’ll give you a few examples. Back home we drive on the right side of the road. Light switches have a lever which moves up and down. Here in Thorgelfayne they move side to side, which means when I want to casually flip on the lights, my instinct is wrong and it doesn’t work! My poor hosts nearly laughed themselves to asphyxiation watching me! (The audience chuckles.)
Minsel:
That must have been hilarious!
Melissa:
Unfortunately for my dignity, it was. Another adventure is turning on the water. (Minsel looks incredulous.) Hot and cold are on the wrong sides! And somehow I thought there would be a tap in the middle for harng!
The audience chuckles. The backdrop changes to scenes of the Imperial Palace and the Ginza.
Minsel:
(Smiling) That’s only in hotels!
Melissa:
So I found out. And all the food looks different. It doesn’t look terribly strange or anything, and it does taste great; but some of your vegetables sure would raise an eyebrow or two back home.
Minsel:
Which one looks the oddest to you?
Melissa:
Oh, I’d have to say the red peas, definitely. On Earth, many vegetables that are red are piquant. So I didn’t even try them for a very long time. (In a reassuring tone) I’m really going to miss them when I get back down to Earth!
Minsel:
Speaking of Earth, why do you call your planet Dirt?
Melissa:
(Smiling) I know you’re just asking that in fun! “Earth” and “dirt” (she says these two words in English) are two separate words for us. “Dirt” is filth. “Earth” is soil, farm land, or just the ground. We call our planet “Earth” because we live on the “Earth,” that is, we live on the ground and not up in the air. (She pauses, then adds) You might say that we call our planet “Down” because if you are up, and you go down, that’s where you’ll be!
(Defensively) But it makes a lot of sense when you consider that Humans are essentially... er, I forgot the word,
Minsel:
You mean “planet-bound.”
Melissa:
Thank you!
Melissa smiles triumphantly as the audience laughs. The backdrop now shows the Kremlin.
Minsel:
The reason that I ask is that Humans are the only race with that sort of name for their planet. “Zerpick” means “home” in the Natonian language; “Chern” means “origin” in a widely spoken language on that planet, and “Horstmingle” —if I recall correctly—means “our land” in one of their official postal address languages. So you can see that “Earth” is really an odd-ball name.
Melissa:
I always wondered why Homelanders had a problem with that. I’m glad you explained. Now I have an important question for you, Minsel!
Minsel:
Well, I’m not sure I can answer it, but let’s give it a try.
Melissa:
I understand why the sky is blue; that’s caused by water vapor. What I don’t understand is why the gestures for “yes” and “no” are the same!
Minsel:
You mean shaking the head up and down for yes, and side to side for no?
Melissa:
Exactly! Why is that?
Minsel:
That is because we all have our jaws at the bottom of the head and they all open the same way. A theoretical exobiologist can explain the reasons for that better than I can. However, if an child opens its mouth to receive food, its head goes up. The “yes” gesture is the same movement, only stylized.
Melissa:
So that explains it! And we move our heads to the side to refuse food, and that becomes our “no” gesture!
Minsel:
Exactly. That is why these two gestures are universal.
Melissa:
I’m so glad you explained that to me. You know, when you visit a strange planet, you expect things to be different than at home. It’s the similarities that really puzzle you!
(Extended laughter from the audience.)
Minsel:
I think a number of people share your experience. This brings me to my most important question: What was your particular reason for wanting to undertake the trip to Homeland?
Melissa looks at her shoes and is suddenly quite serious. She bites her lower lip momentarily. An arctic village appears behind her.
Melissa:
Because of my eye. It’s a very small birth defect that makes half of my face look slightly sleepy.
In a burst of nearly defiant courage, she raises her head, brushes back her long hair and points to her eyelid for all to see. There are sympathetic “ooohs” from the audience. She brushes her hair back into place with her hands. Speaking at first with hesitation, she gains courage as she recounts her life story. She has the tone of a confident adult, recalling the bitter experiences of youth. She tells of the cruelty of childhood playmates and the thoughtlessness of adolescent friends. It just pours out. Even as she speaks, she realizes that she has wandered from courage to recklessness. Figuring that she’s in too far to back out, she throws caution to the winds and tells all. Bitterness. Disappointment. Rejection. Loneliness. Ill-starred marriage which ended in divorce. Finally, she concludes with a stirring resolve to overcome all odds, to conquer all fears, and to live sanely, soberly, and happily ever after.
Life is a picnic, she asserts, but she won’t let the ants ruin it for her.
Then Melissa relates how she learned to love Homeland and Thorgelfayne through a Thorgelfaynese anthropologist stationed on Earth. For once in her life, she wanted to visit a place where people would accept her for her inner self. And that’s why she came to Thorgelfayne.
Melissa sits, head bowed for a moment. Suddenly she realizes that all is silent except for a few faint sobbing sounds in the audience. Minsel has buried his face in his right hand. She looks up in a rush of panic, instantly regretting her outburst.
The backdrop is now an aerial shot of Rio de Janeiro.
Melissa:
Oh, I’m so sorry! I really didn’t mean to ruin the show by pouring out my problems like that!
Minsel:
(Choking out the words) It’s perfectly all right, Melissa. If you are typical of the Human race... (he pauses) It was the most moving, heart-rending story of moral fortitude I have ever heard!
A female voice comes from the audience. Minsel and Melissa look up in surprise. The camera swings around to show the audience. The house lights come up as the camera focuses on a standing woman. Her cheeks glisten in the studio lights.
Woman in the audience:
Melissa, no right-thinking Homelander would refuse you employment, housing, family membership or sponsorship if you wish to immigrate. I for one extend you that much. You are a fine and valiant person. You would do us a great honor to live among us. You should not be forced to return to Earth against your will!
Melissa, expecting rejection, is astonished to find acceptance instead. A man rises to his feet.
Man in the audience:
I agree! We must also do what we can to free Humans from their poverty. How can we allow an entire sentient species to treat each other as they have treated Melissa?
Voice from the back:
(Indignant and frustrated) I cannot bear to hear this! What is being done about it?
Melissa is confused, dazed, and delighted, all at once. This is certainly an unexpected turn of events! The camera swings back to Minsel, who has regained his composure. The backdrop now shows an African tribal dance.
Minsel:
(In a reassuring tone) The World Council of Countries and Independent Jurisdictions has an Earth Watch Program which seeks to diagnose and treat this problem. We have the support of Zerpick and Chern in this endeavor. It is through this very program that Melissa has come to us; and I might add that in selecting Melissa they may have chanced upon the best possible spokesperson to further their work of rescuing Humanity.
The audience rises to give Melissa, now beaming with tears, a fervent standing ovation. The backdrop shows guerilla warfare in some jungle somewhere.
Minsel:
Melissa, thank you very much for an informative evening. I am greatly honored to have had you on my show.
Melissa:
(Shakily) The honor is entirely mine.
Theme music rises and the camera backs off. Minsel is hugging Melissa, whose body shakes. The special effects are turned off; the back wall of the studio and the stage floor are now visible. Members of the studio audience walk onto the stage to hug and congratulate Melissa. The credits roll by on the screen. A group of people has gathered respectfully around Melissa, who is explaining something. The copyright notice appears.
Announcer’s Voice:
Please join us next week as Minsel Trothe interviews Hlakma Nestar, a resident of the smallest nation of Chern. Hlakma plays an intriguing musical instrument never before heard on Homeland!
** END OF TRANSCRIPT**