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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 33: Brown 11
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Previous chapter: Chapter 32: Kondor 52
Derek had one of those strange boyish attitudes about bathing: it was almost impossible to get him into the tub, but it was nearly as hard to get him out. Long before he had had enough of soaking in the cool well water, the nameless disfigured servant, whom he was sorely tempted to call Igor, had brought him a fluffy cotton towel and a silk robe. Since the creature seemed unlikely to go away until he had availed himself of this aid, he reluctantly drew himself out and dried off, wrapping himself in the robe.
Then he thought this would be a good opportunity to get the blood and mud and mire out of his clothes. He told Igor his intention, and brought his bicycle downstairs and gradually unpacked all his things and washed them as well as he could by hand, ringing them on the stone floor. He found a sunny room upstairs with lots of candelabras, wooden chairs, what appeared to be empty weapon racks, and other bits of furnishings, and spread or hung all his clothes and such there. The other gear appeared still to be in good shape, but of the electronics he could only check the laptop and the hand-held video game, as they had their own batteries. These seemed a bit worse for wear, but still worked, so he set them aside while waiting for his pack to dry.
There was a bench in the sunny room where his things were drying, and he stretched out on it. He had forgotten how tired he was, how hard it had been to slog through the mud with his gear. It was kind of these people to let him get cleaned up and offer him dinner; perhaps his luck was changing. The breeze through the castle was not unpleasant, and was as cooling as the sunshine was warming. His mind wandered back home to his friends and family. He wondered if they were worried about him; but of course they were, he thought. After all, this had to be a dream, or a series of dreams. He hadn't died, but was lying in a coma being attended by doctors and nurses, probably pretty young nurses, who all said there was still hope. He could see himself in his own bed, the doctor carrying a black bag and looking at the thermometer in his hand–just like the old movies, when doctors made house calls. There wasn't any reason for him to be in the hospital if they couldn't do anything for him there. He was just sleeping in his bed, and eventually he would awaken to find everyone waiting for him.
He gradually realized that he had dozed off; there seemed to be a discontinuity in his thoughts, as if he had stopped thinking altogether but had been dreaming for a while, and was now thinking again. But the sun was still shining; it had shifted, and he was now in the shade. And that castle draft had changed direction, and was now carrying the smell of...flowers?
Derek opened his eyes and sat upright. He was on a park bench in a glade of trees; his clothes were mostly draped across branches or dropped on the ground. There was a momentary sharp pain on the front of his neck, somewhere between a nasty mosquito bite and a mild bee sting, but it passed immediately.
Blast, he thought; it really was a vampire, or something like it. I must have been killed while asleep, and now I'm here. Or maybe the dream just shifted. Anyway, he picked up his things, folded them (or actually for the most part rolled them into balls) and stuffed them into his pack and his bike baskets. He changed out of the robe and towel into jeans and a T-shirt, and started wheeling his bike along the path which led through the woods past the bench.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #86: Novel Conflicts. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: