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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 111: Slade 37
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Previous chapter: Chapter 110: Hastings 38
A lot had happened in a short time. Slade figured that he was shot in the back by a blaster, which must have broken his neck. He'd had a stiff neck when he got his bearings again in the woods. Once he had gathered his gear, there was still that feeling that led him to his things, only different. So he had followed it for two days, and came out here.
"Here" was some kind of Indian village, small wigwams by the side of a lake, and in the largest of these were two people, a guy about his age in an army uniform, and a lady, older but still pretty, in a sweat suit. The feeling seemed to point to them, and he guessed they might be like him. The sun had just set when he reached them, but it was still light enough to see into their home.
"Am I interrupting?" he asked. Neither of them had said anything yet.
"No--oh, no, not at all. Please come in," the lady said. "I'm Lauren, Lauren Hastings. This is Joe Kondor."
"Hi," he said. "I'm Bob Slade. Been here long?"
"About half a year for me; Joe arrived a few weeks ago."
"Pleased to meet you," Joe said. "Welcome to the land of the birdmen."
"Oh, you haven't seen them, then?" Joe asked.
"No, just got here. Place is pretty quiet."
Lauren said, "I guess you just missed them. They don't have lights or fires, so they tend to wake and sleep with the sun. You have a sleeping bag?"
"Bedroll," he said.
"Well, once it gets dark, it will be a lot tougher trying to get settled, so dump your stuff out there, and your bedroll in here, and we'll talk until we fall asleep, and then get you oriented and introduced in the morning."
"That's the best invitation I've had from a lady in more years than I can count."
"Oh, don't go getting the wrong idea," Lauren said. "It's just a place to bunk down for the night. We'll figure out something else tomorrow."
"Yeah," Joe added. "Don't make me regret her hospitality."
Slade had to admit that he was tired, and the floor of the wigwam looked much nicer than the ground in the forest had been last night. He set his pack down by the door, dropped his sword, dagger, and blaster beside it, got out of the leather armor, and shook out his bedroll. In the fading light, he was able to straighten it on the soft floor between the others, and settled in to sleep.
"So, Bob," Lauren said, "where have you been?"
"Oh," he began, "worlds away. Deep under a mountain, far up in the stars." But if he said anymore, he didn't remember it, as sleep swept over him.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #64: Versers Gather. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: